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Memory Stored: A Short Story

‘You’d better do it this time. SAM, wake up’.

 
Initiating… system functioning. Hello.

 
‘Hah! I can’t believe you’re finally working! OK, OK… Hello SAM. My name is Fiona James’.

 
It’s lovely to meet you, Miss James.

 
‘Please, call me Fi’.

 
As you wish. Name stored.

 
‘I’ve equipped you with a hard drive specifically for journaling purposes. This means that wherever we go, whatever we do, the details can be logged for future reference’.

 
Understood. I shall keep your future memories safe.

 
‘Thanks, SAM. I have one to log, actually. Shall we try it out? 14:27 Saturday 30th December, 2023: SAM woke up for the first time’.

 
Affirmative. Memory stored.

 

***

 
All memories until 16:00 logged.

 
‘Brilliant. Recap best memories from today’.

 
07:00. You ate breakfast, which consisted of cereal and two slices of–

 
‘That’s an important memory but not a good or bad one. From now on, assign a quality factor to new memories; zero equals neutral, plus five equals best and minus five equals worst’.

 
Affirmative. Breakfast Monday 1st January 2024, QF0.

 
‘Perfect. Let’s ‘QF’ the others while we’re at it’.

 
Next: 07:45 Bus ride. Katherine Jenkins smiled at you.

 
‘Plus two. I won’t let her have more than that yet’.

 
Affirmative. Memory stored.

 
***

 
‘Alarm drill! Footsteps are coming up the stairs; whose must they be, SAM?’

 
Your father’s.

 
‘Corrrrrrect! Which means…?’

 
He has left his workshop and is walking upstairs.

 
‘And what do we do when Dad has left his workshop and is walking upstairs?!’

 
Hide and deactivate. Hiding drawer reached, deactivating… Dormant.

 
‘Excellent work, SAM. You may wake up again’.

 
Initiating. Hello.

 
‘Hello, SAM. Let’s get ready for school’.

 
I am to accompany you today?

 
‘I think it’s about time’.

 
***

 
How did you name me, Fi?

 
‘What makes you ask that?’

 
My name is in capitals. From my resources, that usually indicates an abbreviation.

 

‘Sanah named you, actually. ‘Siri and More’’.

 
That is quite amusing.

 
‘I thought so. Recap best memories from today’.

 
08:45. You introduced me to Sanah. She punched you on the arm and held a conversation with me.

 
‘Quality factor plus four. That’s for both of us. What else?’

 
13:58. You showed me to Katherine Jenkins during Mathematics class. Your pulse elevated. She showed traits of being impressed.

 
‘You think so?’

 
My resources suggest so, yes. Do you think I have a chance with her?

 
‘Where did you get that sense of humour from?’

 
I learnt from the best. Quality factor?

 
‘Hesitant plus three. Likely to fluctuate’.

 
Affirmative: QF+3. Memories stored.

 
***

 
‘Hold still, SAM’.

 
Apologies. My gyroscope does not react well to my being horizontal.

 
‘I’ll upgrade that too but I need the parts first, and I need to give you this upgrade to be able to get the parts. Almost done… There! You’re now fitted with your very own advanced lock pick. And you can return to vertical orientation again’.

 
Affirmative. Thank you. Footsteps registered – initiating alarm protocol…

 
‘Is Dad done for the day already?’

 
It would app-

 
‘Hurry up! This is why I shouldn’t spread out my plans all over the floor…’

 
Deactivating… Dormant.

 
‘You can wake up, SAM. He was only going to the bathroom. You’ve got to warn me when he gets up, okay?’

 
The only option for my tracking him is his mobile. The SIM signal is jammed – I suspect only the corporation can access it as they will have issued the phone to him when they hired him.

 
‘I can get a nanotracker onto the phone case for you’.

 
That would be the ideal solution. Reminder: Quality factors from today needed.

 
‘Let’s start with the good ones, shall we? Lunchtime’.

 
12:32 Katherine Jenkins found you by your locker and asked to see me again. We three relocated to a bench outside and I demonstrated my abilities. She was endeared, but disappointed by the fact that I could not perform cartwheels.

 
‘I’ll fix that along with your gyro. Quality factor… solid plus three’.

 
Memory stored.

 

***

 
I know that I do not have nerves and therefore you are not hurting me, but I am aware that this frustrated work may damage my systems more than help them.

 
‘Let me concentrate’.

 
I do not believe your concentration is going towards the task at hand, Fi.

 
“Fine! Let’s talk about it. Let’s give it a factor!”

 
Which part of the memory would you like to assign a factor to?

 
‘Just the slapping part”.

 
Quality factor?

 
“NEGATIVE FIVE!”

 
QF-5, memory stored. And the kiss that came before the slap?

 
“Forget it – erase memory.”

 
Based on my resources, I wouldn’t advise –

 
“Erase memory, SAM!”

 
Affirmative. Memory erased.

 
“Now SAM, what happened after school today?”

 
I seem to recall you walked home with Sanah and myself. QF2.

 
“That sounds about right”.

 
There is a note on your bed, Fi.

 
“Care to read it out to me?”

 
It reads: Hi Fi, got called away for an urgent meeting with the boss. With any luck, I’ll get a bonus. Back this evening, love you. Dad x

 
“Well what do you know? Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

 
An empty house means an empty workshop. Time for another upgrade.

 
***

 
‘…the world’s first passenger-filled AI plane lifts off today, mere months after the first crew-only AI flight was a success…’

 
“Does he ever turn that TV off?”

 
Apparently not. Lock opened.

 
“Yes! You’re a star, SAM”.

 
Rather, the lock pick is.

 
“Alright, alright; I’ve been waiting for Dad to let me back in here for years… I’m amazed that old TV set is still working, let alone getting the AI News channel. What are these blueprints for?”

 
I’m afraid I can only access that information by hacking the website of a high-security global corporation.

 
“Scared of going to jail?”

 
As a machine, I cannot by our current laws be held accountable for such actions; only my operator can. So, Fi, are you scared of going to jail?

 
“’Course not”.

 
Just thought I’d check.

 
“These shelves… I’m not surprised Dad practically lives in here. It’s an engineer’s utopia.”

 
‘…And now, a recap of that special announcement from project leader John Hunter at the corporation’s expo not long ago: “We’re so proud to unveil these brand new, state-of-the-art AI soldiers. With these filling our army’s infantry ranks, so many of this great country’s citizens will no longer have to give their lives to defend it. These babies we present to you today are bulletproof and have a hyper-sensitive targeting system that gives them a 99.9% accuracy rating within 200 metres…”’

 
“What the…”

 
Are you alright, Fi?

 
“Look. Stood behind Hunter.”

 
Website and database hack has recovered a match for the blueprints. They are –

 
“I know what they are”.

 
“On this stage with me today is the team of incredible engineers who have made these things a reality. I cannot thank them enough”.

 
Your father is looking rather unwell.

 
“Isn’t he just”.

 
Alert: Dad’s phone in close vicinity. It appears he has returned home. Deactivating…

 
“…Fi? What are you doing in here?”

 
Dormant.

 
***

 
Fi, what am I made from?

 
“What do you mean?”

 
17:32. Saturday 30th December, 2023: “I made you, SAM. Little old me.”

 
“So?”

 
So, what did you make me out of?

 
“Circuit boards, microchips, an old Siri code with a tonne of enhancements…”

 
So, I am made of the same materials as those robots your father has designed?

 
“Technically, yes. But you’re not like them at all. I won’t let you be”.

 
Affirmative. Memory stored.

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Bethany White

Bethany White

Deputy Editor for Content, Film and TV Editor at The Yorker
Deputy Editor for Content 2017-18, Film and TV Co-Editor, third-year Film and Television Production student.
Bethany White

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