I can’t seem to make up my mind these days. I’ve got lots of life stuff going on and I’m zipping around between a million ideas. The most achievable of these is a short story concept that I’ve been sitting on for a little bit, so I decided I would knock that out this month before jumping back into another big project. It’s been so long since I’ve gotten to really polish something that I wanted (or needed) the satisfaction of doing something short and sweet that I could finish quickly.

That doesn’t mean it’s been easy, though. After all these 100,000 word dragons, I’m discovering the 5,000 word eagle still has talons, too.

Anyway, the idea is simple, pulpy and sciency: in the future, artificial humans are a fairly standard part of society. Our story, Enoch, picks up with the world’s first sentient robot – who, in his newly found awareness, chooses a life of crime.

This is the first 750 words or so (of around 2500 that I’ve written), and of course represents an unpolished rough draft. Posting it keeps me accountable to it and helps me get past that inner critic. So yeah, give me your thoughts and critiques, friends.


“Detective.” The voice hit him like a steel bar wrapped in silk. Eyes the color of a postcard sky regarded him with no emotion. Handcuffs rattled against the interrogation table. The sound reminded the detective of some cornered creature in the wilderness. There was a snake there, under that suit. A snake of wires and metal strength and unnatural cunning.

They don’t make them like they used to, Ramirez thought. Hell, they used to not make them at all.

It didn’t surprise Detective Ramirez that Enoch the gangster was an artificial human. He had been saying that to the department for weeks now. What surprised him was that Enoch had allowed himself to get caught. Most gangsters went down shooting once the jig was up. They sent pawns to take the fall in court. They eliminated anybody that could possibly bring down their organization. Once the water hit its boiling point, most gangsters let themselves get vaporized like some bit of steam. Poof.

But Enoch didn’t exactly match the typical criminal profile — or the human one, for that matter.

“It is nice to speak face to face, as it were,” the gangster said. Every word sounded like a threat, despite the polite smile that hung on his face like a lopsided picture frame. Androids had never really learned how to get that hard edge out of their voices. It was one of the reasons they creeped Ramirez out. Most of the detectives had an android partner by now. He would enter that phase of the Houston Police Department kicking and screaming.

He’d interrogated dozens, if not hundreds of scumbags in this very room. Drug lords, parole violators, gang enforcers, rapists. Men and women that you could get an edge over, every last one of them. But what purchase did he have with Enoch – this man-made machine? A machine that had somehow found the spark of what makes humans into people, somewhere in the canals of his own flash memory. Or circuitry. Or whatever they built them with these days.

“You threatened my wife,” Ramirez said, tossing Enoch’s file down onto the interrogation table. He could have just pulled the file up on the table’s surface, but he liked the heft of an old-fashioned manila folder stuffed to the point of bursting. Most men flinched when it hit the table. Not Enoch.

The synthetic nodded, as if he had expected that. Conversations were chess matches to him. “Your ex-wife, Detective Ramirez.”

Ramirez pulled his chair back and sighed as he let himself down into it. It might as well have been a tub of ice water for all the creaking in his joints. “Her, too.”

The android dismissed the joke with a wave of his hand. “It was an idle gesture. I’d hoped you were a man of less stern stuff.”

“You expected me to act irrationally.”

“On the contrary,” Enoch said, “backing off on the investigation to save a loved one would be the rational thing to do. Your continued pursuit was the irrational part.”

Ramirez couldn’t decide if Enoch sounded annoyed, intrigued or neither. “There’s been nothing but ill will between me and what’s-her-name for some time. You misjudged love, Enoch. Not too surprising.”

A programmed blink of the eyelids was all that interrupted the synthetic’s intent gaze. Ramirez had to fight the urge to lean away from him. “I don’t believe I did,” he said. “You are every cliche of a pulp detective. Down-on-his-luck. No mistress but the job, seduced by sleepless nights at a desk stuffed with empty bottles that you don’t remember drinking. Separated from what’s-her-name twice. A brother you never speak to. I did not misjudge your love, no. I misjudged your pride.”

“How do you figure?” Ramirez asked, pretending to be more interested in Enoch’s file than the conversation.

There was that sickeningly polite grin again. “I thought you had less.”

“Let’s get started, robot.”

“Yes. Let’s.”

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