“Artificial intelligence will soon take over the world—you do realize that don’t you?”
Sasha popped a red M & M into her mouth and crunched. Her gaze swept across the campus with a practiced eye. “I think it already has.”
Barb shook her head as she appraised the harassed throng heading to various classes. “I’m not talking about people glued to their iPhones. I mean that my grandmother just texted me that a storm’s coming, and she wants me to email the grocer about delivering extra supplies this afternoon.”
Sasha shrugged as she pounded across the grassy courtyard to the library. “What’s so bad about that? Technology makes our lives easier.”
“Exactly my point!” Barb checked her phone, scrolled through three messages, and muttered. “Professor Gilmore is sick—she said to study chapter nine, and we’d meet next week.”
“Lucky you. My professors are health freaks. They know whether it’s coffee or tea that’ll kill us this week—or is it cheese?”
“You’re making my point. We know too much. We have too much power. We can’t handle so much information—”
The electronic door swung open, and Sasha set off the entry alarm. “Dang it!”
The deputy security officer strolled over, a wide grin lighting up his blue eyes. “Carrying concealed weapons again—are we?”
Sasha dug into her pocket. “My grandpa gives my little brother all his old camping knives. Which the little idiot promptly uses to carve his initials into everything—so naturally—”
“You take it away and carry it into the library.” His grin widened. “An option.”
Sasha and Barb exchanged eye rolls.
Sasha pulled the offending pocketknife from her pocket and dropped it into the man’s hand. “Keep it, Jared. Carve your initials into something and feel smug.”
Jared stepped aside, flicked open the knife, and peered at a miniature toolkit with a sharp blade, a screwdriver, bottle opener, and file. “Cool—must be worth a fortune.”
Sasha frowned. “Hardly. My grandpa has dozens of these. All the rage when he was a kid.”
Barb nudged Sasha, glancing at Jared. “He’s a virtual-reality kind of guy—hardly ever sees anything real these days.” She wiggled her eyebrows. “An honest blade must come as a bit of a shock.” Waving her arm in a mock karate move, she went in for a slice to the arm.
Instinct kicked in and Jared lashed out, jabbing with the open knife.
Barb reeled back gripping her stomach, blood seeping between her fingers. “Oh, God. I didn’t mean it.” She stared at Sasha as she crumpled. “He didn’t mean it.”
Sasha watched Jared’s mother, Ms. Franklin, pacing in front of him in the hospital waiting room, her eyes glued to an iPhone.
Jared sat with his hands clasped, his head bowed, staring at the grey-tiled floor.
Sasha perched on the edge of a chair. “She’ll be fine. The doctor said it wasn’t deep and won’t even need a lot of stitches. It was an accident. Accidents happen.”
Jared lifted his head a fraction. “When’s her dad coming?”
“He’s on the east coast. Said that since she’s going to be okay, he’ll get the doctor’s official report and talk to her in the morning.”
“Doesn’t he even care?”
“He talked with her on the phone. She told him not to come.” Sasha shrugged. “I think she’s embarrassed. If he had to fly out here, across all those time zones and everything, he’d be sure to make it into a bigger deal than it is.”
“And her mom?”
“Who knows? One of those absentee moms.” Jerking to her feet, Sasha bypassed Jared’s mother and headed for the candy machine. “You want something?”
Jared shook his head. With a long, exhaled breath, he strolled over to his mom. “You don’t have to stay. It’ll be okay.”
Ms. Franklin peered into her son’s eyes, brushed a stray lock of hair from his face, and nodded. With a professional twitch, she straightened her skirt and flung her purse strap over her shoulder. She glanced from Sasha to Jared. “You need anything—just text me—all right?”
They nodded in unison.
Standing before the machine, Sasha tapped the key code and a bag of peanuts dropped with a thud. She snatched, ripped it open, and passed the bag to Jared. “Have a few; the protein will do you good.”
With a strangled cry, Jared staggered back to his chair. “God, do you hear yourself?”
Sasha swallowed and followed him. She peered at his bowed head. “What?”
“Protein. Text. Flights. Time zones. Absentee moms.” He covered his head with his hands. “I’ve played so many games where I slice up the bad guys—I can beat every opponent out there—long as he’s two inches high and made of pixels.” Jared sucked in a shuddering breath. “I don’t think I’m made for this world.”
Sasha slumped down on the chair. “Listen, you’ve had a bad day.”
Jared glared at her.
“Okay, a really bad day. But that hardly means that you’re doomed.”
“If I am, there’re a lot of guys just like me. Girls too.”
“Funny, but Barb and I were talking about this earlier. She said that artificial intelligence will take over the world.”
Jared shook his head.
A nurse stepped forward leading a wobbly Barb. “You the family?”
Jared glanced aside at Sasha.
Barb offered a weak wave. “Yeah, kinda like. Sasha’s my roommate.”
Sasha stepped forward. “Jared will drive us back to the dorm. Professor Kim said he’d have a pizza waiting when we got there.”
The nurse looked Barb in the eye. “You’ll follow the directions? The script has been sent in already.”
Barb nodded. “I’ll be good. Promise.”
The nurse smiled and retreated.
Jared stepped forward and took Barb’s arm. “I’m really am sorry about this.”
“You said that a million times on the way over. I get it. Nothing to forgive. It was my fault for starting it in the first place.”
Once they stepped into the cool evening air, Barb looked up at the millions of twinkling stars. “Guess I was kind of hard on Artificial Intelligence today. I’m paid back royally for my prejudice.”
Sasha shook her head. “How’s that?”
“It was modern medicine that fixed me up and modern miracle drugs that’ll keep me from dying from a stupid infection. Numbed my pain too.”
Jared patted her hand. “No, you had a good point—just got it a backward.”
Barb and Sasha stared at him.
“It isn’t artificial intelligence that’ll take over the world—it’s a lack of common sense that’ll lose it.”
A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page
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