A while back, I was driving home from downtown Juneau, when I heard about a short story contest on the radio. The 3 Minute Futures – Flash Fiction Contest is being put on by the radio show To The Best Of Our Knowledge. The rules of which sounded simple.
Your story must be set in the near future and draw on the tradition of “hard” science fiction, science fiction that is scientifically plausible.
Possible story themes include: communication, energy, computing, robotics, biomedicine, drones, spaceflight, nanotechnology, ecological concerns, food production, reproduction, end-of-life, surveillance.
It should be 500-600 words, short enough to be read aloud in three minutes. It must be suitable to air on public radio. You can submit only one story to this competition.
Since I enjoy writing and lately short stories, I figured it was worth a shot to enter the contest and see what happens.
Now, I have never written a story this short before and it posed some unique challenges. All if which I found to be enjoyable to the process of creative writing.
I have now submitted my story and will learn if I am a winner on April 9th. The neatest part of winning the contest to me is that the story will read by Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation), on the air.
Below is the story I have submitted to the contest. Hope you all enjoy it.
Intelligence House Inc.
By: Youseph Tanha
Joseph was the last to leave the cemetery. His suit was drenched as he got in his car. He’d just laid his mother to rest. She hadn’t passed from disease, but from old age. This was a surprise as Joseph’s mother smoked.
The funeral was well attended and Joseph gave all the guests the opportunity to visit and share personal stories about his mother with him. Stories that brought tears to the one’s telling them. Joseph, himself didn’t cry. He couldn’t. Throughout the whole funeral his mind was blank, save for one thought. He was going to see his mother again.
As Joseph pulled away from the curb his thoughts shifted from nothingness to what he’d do once he arrived home. For the last eight years, Joseph’s mother had lived with him in his new house. She was supposed to stay just long enough to help him put his belongings away and decorate. But it was clear that his mother was the happiest she’d been in years helping her son. So Joseph asked her to move in and she accepted.
Joseph’s house was state of the art. How social media of the 20th century let people document and share everything, Joseph’s house documented and recorded everything. No longer would families have to take photos of birthdays and Christmases. The house would do it all for you. You were now free to give your full attention to the moment.
Everything that occurred in the house was recorded 24 hours a day. The house’s software automatically organized and stored everything. The house’s residents could access this recorded data from any television or computer plugged into the house’s network. This data was also backed up to the online data storage center provided by the home’s manufacturer, Intelligence Homes Inc. This protected the homeowner from losing their data in a disaster and allowed them to access that data from anywhere in the world.
The house could also project 3D holograms anywhere inside. Want to experience an intimate concert with your favorite performer? Not a problem with the Intelligence House. Purchasing performances and playing them in full stereophonic and visual 3D right in the livingroom was possible. Entertainment had forever changed.
In recent years Intelligent House Inc., could recreate people. Using information gathered from house recordings, blog and social media posts, the Intelligent House Operating System, or HouseOS, could compile data to create an interactive 3D projected representation of anyone. It allowed people to interact with realistic representations of celebrities over breakfast or at dinner parties. It was on that thought that Joseph’s mind settled as he arrived home.
For eight years his mother had lived with him in his state of the art home. Her every action recorded and documented within the House’s software. That, coupled with every social media entry she ever made had been recorded onto the data drives of the HouseOS.
Before leaving for the funeral, Joseph asked the HouseOS to compile all of his mother’s data and create a 3D representation of her. Joseph never expect the HouseOS to be able to recreate a 100% perfect copy of his mother, but he believe it would come close.
Still wet from the rain, Joseph knew he had to change his clothes before he caught cold. As he unlocked the front door and stepped inside he saw his mother standing before him. Her familiar gray hair and the warmth of her smile hit him at his core. She put her hands together and said, “Hello Joseph.”
Joseph fell to his knees and wept.