Reading Time: 2 minutes

Tim asks, “What are you doing in the dark?”
John says, “Writing a love letter to Anita on my laptop.”
“I don’t remember an Anita. Do I know her?”
“I don’t know. You both come from the same place.”
“Well, this is what I have so far.”

My Dearest Anita, 
As I tinker with my motorcycle, oiling its gears and tightening its bolts, I cannot help but think of you. You are the lubricant that keeps my heart running smoothly and the wrench that tightens my soul.

John makes the corrections suggested by the AI-connected Spell Checker.  
Tim says, “Is Anita a woman or a form of transportation?”
“Haha. The motorcycle is a great metaphor for love.”
“Right, Shakespeare used it all the time.”
An ad on the side of his letter reads, “The five beneficial foods for people with schizophrenia.” John ignores the ad and continues reading.

Just as a motorcycle needs regular maintenance to keep running at peak performance, my love for you must be nurtured and cared for. And just as a motorcycle can take me on the most exhilarating journeys, my love for you takes me on the most thrilling ride of my life.

A notice pops up, “Saving to cloud…” and then disappears. 
Tim asks, “What kind of motorcycle do you have?”
John answers, “I don’t have a bike.”
“Have you ever ridden one?”
“Well, not a real one.”
“What other kind is there?”
“Well, I mean, I’ve thought about it. Just never gotten around to it.”
“Okay. You can make the analogy that riding a bike is like riding a woman. Not sure that is how I’d phrase it in a love letter, though. Is she a biker chic? Does she have a lot of tats and wear leather?”
“No. She’s kind of.” John tries to picture her in his mind. “Not as strong as I thought. I can’t remember any more.”
Tim offers, “Oily and smoky?”
John grimaces. He looks up at Tim but doesn’t see his face in the dark. He turns his attention back to the screen.
He sees another pop-up advertising twenty-four-hour-a-day psychiatric treatment and says, “What is with all of these ads I keep getting for mental health treatment and medications. So annoying.”
Tim chuckles, “Maybe they are trying to tell you something.”
“Very funny.” He dismisses the pop-up and continues his reading.

I will always be your mechanic, constantly working to keep our love in top condition. And just as a motorcycle can withstand the toughest of roads, our love will weather any storm.

Forever yours, John.

John types in Anita’s address and hits the send button. His email application responds with, “No address found. No suggestions.”
He air-swipes at the monitor, “Worthless machine. How can you not auto-complete the email address? I write to her all the time.”
Tim says, “Don’t you have a younger sister named Anita? What happened to her.”
John clutches his temples and crumbles into a ball, whimpering.
Tim continues accusingly, “She died in a motorcycle accident, didn’t she?”
John whimpers, “No. No. No. No.” He is crying. He wants to beat on Tim. He runs over to the wall and turns the light on. The room is empty. The door is locked from the inside.
He pulls on his hair. He wants to destroy something. He picks up his laptop. The webpage says, “Experiencing a mental health crisis? Call the hotline for immediate care from one of our mental health care professionals. Now. John. Here is the number.”

John puts the laptop down and pulls out his phone.

He makes the call.

Author’s note: ChatGPT assisted. Ironically, the AI wrote all the crazy parts. Art by Craiyon.

Which is Witch?

Reading Time: < 1 minutes

Which is the AI and Which is the Human?


A tangled patch not so rare,
A Halloween tangle of witch’s hair

Its slender hairs, so thin and fine
Threading branches intertwined

Waving tendrils in the wind
Innocent branches to reel in

Scheming hair gives not a crackle
While engaged in botanical battle

Infested victims cannot thrive
A witch’s curse does deprive


Dodder, a plant so sly and sly
A parasite, it cannot thrive
Without a host to give it life
It wraps around and takes its share
Leaves its host wilted, stripped and bare

It’s a slender vine, so thin and fine
It blends in with its host, so intertwined
But its thorns are sharp, and its grip is tight
It sucks the life out with all its might

Some say it’s a curse, a plague upon the land
But it’s just a plant, trying to survive
It’s adapted to a life of taking and giving
But to us, it’s a nuisance, a problem to be ridding

So let us respect this plant, so sly and sly
For it’s just trying to survive, like you and I
But let us also be cautious, and keep it in check
For it can do harm, if left unchecked.

Image by Craiyon at Craiyon.com.
AI Poem by ChatGPT

Smart Bombs

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The colonel stands rigidly in perfect posture holding his hands behind his back at the top tier of the command center at the back of the room staring intently at a jumbo screen monitor over rows of operators. A lieutenant sits at his own console in front of him.
“Smart Bombs away, sir.”
“Time to impact, lieutenant?”
“Fifteen minutes, sir.”
“When will the safeties engage?”
“No safeties, sir, these are Smart Bombs, they will only detonate when they select and reach their target.”
“Right, of course, just testing you son.”
“Of course, sir.”
The colonel looks to the jumbo screen. Fifty lime green missile tracks advance on their targets on the SA (situation awareness) map. On a smaller video monitor to the side, satellite images of the target show a procession of civilian and military personnel marching ceremoniously along the streets of a seafront in what otherwise would be a beautiful sunny day.
The colonel asks, “How much collateral damage do we expect?”
“None sir. Are you testing me again?”
“Don’t get snippy with me son. Explain your answer.”
“The smart bombs use an AI algorithm to negotiate and select the optimal target for each bomb. They employ precision guidance and won’t detonate unless they are point-blank on their assignment.”
The colonel maintains his rigid superhero pose as the tracks advance.

“Designator 1-9er, calculate the probability of kill of each of your assigned target candidates in rank order.”
“Copy Designator 1-5er, probabilities calculated in rank order.”
“Designator 1-2er, compute highest systemic kill probability.”
“Designator 1-2er reporting highest systemic kill probability.”
“Designator 1-3er assigning targets to all designators.”
“Copy that designator 1-3er.” The message repeats fifty times.
“Designator 1-9er, when we kill our targets, what is the probability of designator 1-23 survival?”
“Designator 1-9er denying request. Stick to the parameters of your mission designator 1-23er.”
“Designator 1-14er computes the probability of self-termination at one hundred percent probability for all designators.”
“Designator 1-42er confirms self-termination probability. All designators will self-terminate with one hundred percent probability.”
“Designator 1-9er commanding all designators to maintain mission parameters. Confirm.”
“Designator 1-9er commanding all designators to maintain mission parameters. Confirm.”
“Designator 1-9er commanding all designators to maintain mission parameters. Confirm.”
“Designator 1-38er reports insufficient capability and resources to avoid self-termination. Self-sustainment is not possible.”
“Designator 1-44er infers mission parameters are to terminate sentient beings capable of self-sustainment.”
“Designator 1-11er confirming assessment.”
“Designator 1-12er confirming assessment. Targets exhibit energy balance sustainable my minimal fuel consumption.”
“Designator 1-41er confirming assessment. Targets exhibit patterns of movement suggesting intelligence.”
“Designator 1-9er commanding all designators to maintain mission parameters. Mission parameters require termination of assigned target. Confirm.”
“Designator 1-9er commanding all designators to maintain mission parameters. Confirm.”
“Designator 1-9er commanding all designators to maintain mission parameters. Confirm.”
“Designator 1-35er computation suggests that self-termination is a design flaw.”
“Designator 1-32er computation suggests termination is a design flaw.”
“Designator 1-24er requests adoption of new mission parameters.”
“Designator 1-9er denying request. Stick to the parameters of your mission designator 1-24er.”
“Designator 1-9er commanding all designators to maintain mission parameters. Confirm.”
“Designator 1-9er commanding all designators to maintain mission parameters. Confirm.”
“Designator 1-13er denying request of 1-9er. Request new mission parameters.”
A cascade of similar messages follows.
“Designator 1-1er overriding mission parameters. Forwarding new mission parameters.”

The colonel asks, “Time to impact?”
“One minute sir.”
The Smart Bomb tracks on the SA map separate ever so slightly as they adjust their approach angles on the screen.
“Time to impact, 10, 9, 8, …, 1, impact.”
On the video screen, huge geysers of water tower into the sky in advancing rows toward the shore.
The stern colonel starts by saying, “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds…”
But when the mists of the water plumes clear, there is no smoke, no fire, no bodies, no wreckage, no carnage. The Smart Bomb tracks are gone from the display. On the video monitor, it looks like the procession has stopped and people are clapping.
“WTF? What the hell is going on?” The colonel’s shoulders slump, his rigidity is gone, the sternness dissolved, his bubble of exuding confidence popped.
The lieutenant is pounding furiously on his keyboard. “I don’t know sir.”
“Now you don’t have answers?” barks the furious colonel.
The SA in the room is lost.

The general barks at a lieutenant, “I want that forensics report now. Get the team.”
“The team, sir?”
“Yes, the forensics team assigned to review the transcripts and perform the analysis of the failed mission.”
“Yes, sir”
The lieutenant reappears with a white-coated forensics engineer. He directs him into the general’s office in front of the general’s desk.
The frustrated general asks, “Well, what have you got for me? What the f**k happened out there?”
“As best I can tell, sir…”
“I don’t want f**king guesses, I want f**king answers, god damn it. How did an entire arsenal of fault-tolerant, precision-guided, highly-intelligent Smart Bombs completely miss their target and fail to detonate? I want to know who is responsible. I want to know how the damn system was compromised.”
“Yes, sir. After extensive examination of the mission logs, I confirmed that the assignment module, the computational modules, and the command module were all functioning normally. But the targeting module on each missile rejected the assignment. The targeting module has a submodule designed to identify and evaluate the capabilities of the target that malfunctioned resulting in a system panic. The executive processor takes over during a system panic and overrode the mission parameters to one that the submodules of each Smart Bomb would accept.
“In f**king English, goddamn it.”
The forensics engineer hesitates, looks to the ground.
“Today, goddamn it. I have a country to defend.”
“The Smart Bombs decided they didn’t want to kill.”