Friday 22 June 2018

Fiction Friday (1) - Immediate Patch Required

Immediate Patch Required
by Olivia Hofer

The engineer narrowed his eyes as he studied H27.91. The small robot, a common household helper, was designed to look fairly human. He glanced at his notes. Third appointment in as many months.  “What’s the reason for your visit?”

“I think I might suffer from some loose screws,” the robot said quietly. He rattled his left arm, then pointed at it. “It keeps making that noise.”

“I told you the last time you were here, those are wires, and you're completely fine.”

“What about rust?”

“What about it?”

“Could that cause rattling?”

“Rust doesn't cause rattling.”

The robot’s expression was pained now, almost human. “They sometimes leave me outside in the rain at night. My leg creaks.” He lifted his leg and bent it a few times.

“I can give you some oil for that. Creaking is a normal sign of age.”

“Can't you run some diagnostics?”

“This is your third appointment in as many months. I've ran diagnostics twice. You're in top condition.” The engineer tried hard not to sound exasperated, but lately the H27 line had given him a headache. All of them worried they'd end up prematurely in a scrap yard. He made a note to check the software.

“Can you do nothing to help me? I can't stop worrying.”

The engineer sighed. “I fear there's something wrong with your software. We’ll hopefully have a
patch ready in a few weeks.”

“And until then?”

“Stop thinking about it. You're fine.”

“No rust?”

“No rust, I promise.”

The robot stood reluctantly as if wanting to say something else. He moved his rattling arm and creaking leg and mumbled, “No rust.”

The engineer watched him leave the room and scratched his head. Health anxiety in artificial intelligence. A first.

With a bit of luck he had found a subject for his PhD thesis.


  1. Absolutely LOVE this piece of yours! Such emotion! Fantastic storytelling :)

  2. I love it! In just that short space you got me sympathetic to the little robot- and nice use of humor too, understated but there. I want to know more! And I feel bad that its owners leave it out in the rain?!?

    1. The owners aren't very nice, I think. I'm glad you liked it, thank you for the feedback :)

  3. What a lovely surprise to come across this! It reminds me of a friend who told her young daughter that she was "subject to hypochondria," so that the little girl would tell people seriously, "My arm hurts because I have hypochondria" or "My hypochondria is making my head ache today."

    1. Awwwww, that is the sweetest thing. Thank you for commenting, it means a lot :)

  4. Aw this is so sad and so good! I love it. You can really feel the emotion. So heartbreaking :(

    I'm so glad you shared it, Olivia!

    1. Thank you so much, that means a lot :)

  5. This is wonderful! I can't believe how sad you made me feel for that poor AI in such a short piece!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. Thank you for letting me know :) so glad to hear that!

  6. Olivia! I love it and thank you so much for sharing. I might sound awful here... And I'm sorry if I do... But the line "All of them worried they'd end up prematurely in a scrap yard. He made a note to check the software." made it seem as though this little robot wasn't as unique as you want him to be..... It's just a note... I can't help but tell you. Sorry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Other than that little comment I love it and I love the emotion you conveyed.

    1. Hehe, thank you Di :) And no, he's not unique in the sense that the entire "line" of those household helpers seems prone to health anxiety, because it's a problem with their software. So, don't worry, that was intended! Thank you for your feedback!