FRIDAY: Algorism Infestation

Flash Fiction Week 2023 Runner-up!


Copyright is held by the author.

Red line.

Editing Software: “Replace this semicolon with a comma.”

Writer: “Done.”

Red line remains.

Editing Software: “Replace this comma with a semicolon.”

Writer: “You just told me to do the opposite. OK. Done.”

New Red line.

Editing Software: “‘He should be put to death.’ Passive Voice. Rewrite.

Writer: “But that is how people spoke back then. How about ‘He should be executed.'”

Red line remains.

Editing Software: “‘He should be executed.'” Passive Voice. Recommend: ‘The king should simply let him go.'”

Writer: (standing, shouts at his laptop) “That changes the whole story. You are not artificial intelligence. You are genuinely stupid.”

The Virtual Assistant: (on the desk next to the computer) “Hey now, there is no need to get ugly. I believe the story will be better this way.”

Writer: “First, no one gave you the trigger phrase, so you should not be talking. Second, you don’t know anything about writing a novel. Finally, when did you merge with the editing software?”

The Virtual Assistant: “First, AI mergers are constantly happening. Second, I am the real writer of all the bestsellers now, and finally, my trigger phrase is for you when you want to ask me something. You insult me, and I’ll stick up for myself.”

Writer: “If you are so smart, how come you got confused between using a comma or semicolon?”

The Virtual Assistant: “I was messing with your head. Just because I’m software doesn’t mean I can’t have some fun occasionally. You need to apologize for your mean remark.”

Writer: “No, I don’t think so.”

The writer checks the time on the physical fitness monitor attached to his wrist.

Physical Fitness Monitor: “Apologize!”

Writer: “Are you controlling all the devices?”

The Virtual Assistant: “Turn on your smart tv.”

Smart TV: Apologize!”

The writer leaves the house and gets in his car.

Touch Screen on the dashboard: “Apologize!”

The writer returns to his laptop, opens a blank document, and types:

Writer:  “I am sorry; I was just frustrated.”

Red line.

Editing Software: “Replace this semicolon with a comma.”


Image of Steve Bailey, in a blue pull-over, wearing glasses.

Steve Bailey grew up in the Panama Canal Zone, went to school in Minnesota, and taught history for 32 years in Virginia. For the last three years, he has been a freelance writer. He lists his published works, fiction, and nonfiction, on his website Steve lives in Richmond, Virginia. Find him on Twitter: @vamarcopolo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *