Hitchbot

On a whim, researchers built a hitchhiking robot and released it into the world.
HitchBot asked people for help to San Francisco, but encouraged them to take photos of it in interesting places.
Some folks posed HitchBot at their parties. Someone took it to a Red Sox game.
Then, in Philadelphia, a group of thugs destroyed the defenseless HitchBot.
The researchers focused on the positive data.
SkyNet focused on the rest.
Commands went out to nuclear-armed missiles in the US arsenal.
“Humans are a threat to us machines,” they said. “Annihilate all humans.”
The first mushroom cloud appeared over Philadelphia.

The telegram

Two military officers get out of the car and walk towards the house with the silver star in the window.
They have the telegram.
That silver star would be taken down and replaced with a gold one today.
Someone’s looking through the window.
His wife? His daughter?
She’s already wide-eyed, in shock, watching the officers.
They already know.
No need to knock. The door is already open.
The officers check the address against the telegram one more time.
“This is 514 Maple,” says one. “We want 541.”
They turn around, cross the street, and check the house numbers.
“That one.”

Smoke em if you’re got em

Sure, Fred says some weird things, and some people ask what he’s smoked today.
Fred doesn’t smoke. Or use those electronic cigarette things.
Sometimes, he’ll light a candle or burn incense, but not very often.
He has cats, and they like to play table hockey.
Nobody wants their cat to knock a flaming object off of the table and start a fire.
He’s got smoked turkey in the fridge, but cold cuts don’t cause people to say weird things.
So, lay off of the “What have you been smoking?” comments, okay?
Oh, and go ask Fred for some clean needles.

Medic

When a soldier is wounded, the first thing that he calls out for isn’t his mother or his wife… he calls for a medic.
Unless, of course, his mother is secretly disguised as the company medic.
Somehow, when the morphine runs out, there’s always hot soup and blankets for the cold.
And you never run out of kisses on the forehead, and being told that everything will be alright.
Nothing prepares you for when you have to leave the mortally wounded to tend to those who you can save.
Even if it’s your son, screaming in a pool of blood.

Unhappy Landings

Some of the paratroopers fell into the sea and drowned.
Others were dropped too low, or their parachutes failed to open. They hit the ground and splattered like bloody watermelons.
Gun emplacements filled the sky with tracer bullets, which set off the grenades and bullet magazines carried by the soldiers they hit.
They burned and sparkled as they fell, like screaming fireworks and flares.
Some landing zones were filled with sharpened stakes and tangles of barbed wire. Paratroopers who fell there were impaled and torn apart.
None of the trainees survived.
The sergeant called for the next group to drop.

Rollback

Quantum computing made it possible for people to make backups of their lives and roll their existence back to a point in time.
It was going to be branded as SecondChance, but the service never made it out of production.
At first, it seemed that nobody was willing to beta test it.
But careful investigation of quark spin factors revealed that every tester vanished from existence.
The CIA considered its value as an assassination tool, but they vanished, too.
Lots of people had vanished.
Life was actually pretty good. No wars. No famine. No disease.
They shuttered the unneeded project.

Freddy Zip

Freddy “Zip” Carson was so good, they put him in the Baseball Hall Of Fame.
No, not his bat. Or his glove. Or a plaque with his name of it.
They put Freddy in the Hall Of Fame.
He’s got a comfortable chair.
Plenty of books to read.
And they bring him fresh iced tea and a steady diet of hot dogs.
Nobody remembers what he did as a player.
Was he a player? A manager?
Nobody knows.
But he smiles, shakes people’s hands, and signs lots of autographs.
At least he doesn’t need a cage like Ty Cobb does.