I am proud to bring you our first place winner from the flash fiction competition. This is Three Robots by Josh Taylor.
Three Robots Walk into a Bar
They ordered sarsaparillas. Robots always order sarsaparilla.
I glanced in their direction as I pulled out the bottles to give to their waitress, Judy. They sat at a small table in the middle of the room. We didn’t get many robots in the bar since most of them don’t drink. We always keep a few bottles of Sioux City Sarsaparilla on hand just in case.
They were of wildly different models, which was even more curious.
The oldest model’s exterior was beautifully polished cherry wood with brass fittings and joints. Its hands had fully articulated fingers, easily grasping the bottle that Judy handed it. It lifted the bottle to a pair of carved lips and poured the soda in. There was a sloshing noise as the liquid filled an internal reservoir. The sound of gentle whirs and clicks came from within its chassis.
Judy sat the two remaining bottles down in front of the others. Neither had hands. They both looked millennia more advanced than their Victorian companion.
The other humanoid robot appeared to be made out of white molded composite. Its movements were smooth and subtle, unlike the wooden robot. Its faceplate was fluid and expressive. The narrow mouth flexed and opened as the robot raised the bottle to it. The arms had no hands but ended at the wrists. The bottle adhered effortlessly to the end of the limb.
The third robot hovered above its chair. It was an orb, made of a similar white composite. It was featureless except for a single round lens that pulsed with light. The sarsaparilla slowly drained from untouched bottle.
That’s how the three of them sat, nursing their beverages.
After almost half an hour a man came through the door. He was short, with a big head and wide face. All three robots turned as he entered. He walked over to their table and stood. He gave them an appraising look. “Well, you must be the three,” he said.
There was a slight whistle when he spoke.
“Can it be done?” The wooden one asked, its voice was soft and scratchy like an old phonograph.
The man looked carefully. “You’ll take some work, but it can be done”. He turned to the futuristic robot. It sat back, its handless arms crossed. “You’re only a step or two away right now. Synthetic muscle fibers. Neural net with the full spectrum of emotions. You’re as advanced as I’ve ever seen”. The robot almost looked embarrassed.
He turned the floating luminous orb. “Well, we’ll think of something for you”. It bobbed up and down in the air. They all seemed satisfied. The stranger turned and left, without having sat down. The robots finished their drinks, paid with exact change and left a generous tip. As robots always do.
Several weeks later, a man and a pregnant woman came into the bar together. They sat at a small table in the middle of the room and ordered sarsaparillas.
I am a 35-year-old lab technician by day, writer by night. I write a serialized weird fiction blog Crossing Kevin’s Crossing while also working on short and flash fiction. I grew up in the 90s reading comic books and TV shows like Star Trek, X-files, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My eclectic interests often produce eclectic works. I love to mix-n-match things from different genres and stories elements to achieve a madcap hoppodge that results in the truly unexpected. I’m looking to create stories that captivate and stretch the imagination.
Josh has a Blog and a Facebook page too.