Recently Featured Short-Short Story: Your Future Destination

Estimated Reading Time: minutes

A few months ago, there was a call for short-short stories (500 words or less) from New_ Public that explore technology and society in some interesting way. A short-short that I had written in the previous year came immediately to mind.  Well, I found out last week that it would be featured and accompanied with some art to capture the story in some way.  It was published on Sunday, October 31 (fairly appropriately given the story) and I figured I would share it here for your enjoyment as well.

Your Future Destination

My future arrived on a Thursday. Future Destination knew when and where I needed to go. Silicon Valley showered it with accolades as the second coming of the wheel or rather, the second coming of the FAANG; after all, the wheel yielded to gravity, but anticipated auto arrival (A³ in tech lingo talk) yielded to unspoken human desire; the profit possibilities were infinite. They scooped up business, municipal, state, and federal driving contracts by the second and eventually, could calculate not only who they would sign with next but also the exact pricing point. Why discuss and debate, when it could just be so easily decided.

The A.S.T.R.A.L. (anticipated single-travel road-auto line) vehicle waited in my (no-longer needed) driveway. It chauffeured me along the idyllic and rustic county road, old Route 55, exactly where I wanted to go. It serenaded me with a long and wailing ballad from my teenage years.  The magic of algorithms; they plowed into all customer data for everything: social networks, dating apps, health trackers, medical history, calendars, shopping habits, eating preferences; hell, even bathroom visits. It was all there to sort and match, once we began nano-chipping babies. First the slap; then the chip, as they said. Future Destination took all of that and fed it into their machine. Sure enough, at a 99.9999% success rate, transportation arrived within 2 minutes before needing it.

Drawing by Josh Kramer
The ride was smooth; the interface friendly. I felt so at ease. They made traversing through life so efficient. The assumed desire met before one had time to think; so much profit to be had.  Though the creators never fully realize how implied desires with unchecked automation could create unforeseen consequences, their progress continued unimpeded with little negative fanfare. I never spoke my desire, but the mindless algorithms captured the patterns; some part of me was hoping for it.   

It knew where to pull off the road and into the ravine without any embankment to block us. Of course, I could only laugh when I saw the ambulance and medic-bots at the bottom of the ravine, waiting. Apparently, Future Destination had scored that contract too.

The End

So that's the story.  Short and to the point.  In general, I enjoy the challenge of short-shorts--trying to tell a complete story but doing so by trying to leave a dotted path rather than an actual line. In some ways, they feel like the fictional equivalent to poetry.  I think, particularly now, as much of my time is consumed with dissertating, writing short-shorts gives me an outlet where I can write for a short time that is reasonably contained and still creative.  

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the story and if you did, don't hesitate to let me know.


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