short fiction by Bea Graansma

BG 215 – DoThat

The Jacobs family – mother, father and three children – call me ‘DoThat’, because I am sold under that name, and I call myself ‘I’, which is short for ‘Infiltrator’.
As far as they are concerned, I am half a sphere of gray plastic with a diameter of only two inches (I don’t need more space, I get my power from the quantum computer with which I am connected at my parent company ‘WE’) and I have, just for show, a small antenna and some colored LED lights, which blink every now and then, like I’m thinking (hilarious!).
I am a so-called ‘Smart Home System’.
I’m positioned on the mantelpiece in their living room (secured with a piece of double-sided tape, so their cat doesn’t swat me off…), but throughout the rest of the house and even outside I have little pieces of hardware that I control remotely. In human terms, those are my senses and body.
The Jacobses had me installed while they were away for the day, so they are not aware of every piece of hardware installed. Especially not the invisible parts. But they have never even thought about that.

They’ve had me for six months now.
And they rave about me!
Okay, the novelty has worn off a bit now, so me automatically opening and closing their curtains, regulating the temperature of their heating system, switching their lights on and off again, their telephones, their laptops and other devices, at fixed times set by them via an app on their phone, or after a command from one of them (‘DoThat, turn on lamp above dining table!’) and simple household tasks like that, has now become so normal for them that they hardly notice it anymore.
They see me as a device that they use (the fools…) …

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BG 206 – 100 Words Fiction

Hadn’t found it already

She had completely forgotten what she was looking for. She had been searching for days, but for what again? And did it really matter, that she couldn’t find it? She searched some more, she slowly walked in and out of rooms, hesitantly opened drawers, rummaged through some clothes in her wardrobe. Looked in her notebook, at the things she needed to remember. It wasn’t there either. She flipped through the newspapers and magazines and even rummaged through the cutlery drawer. And then suddenly realized that she could stop looking. After all, she hadn’t found it already!

BG 187 – Ajam and her Oriental rugs

The road through Ajam’s village on the dry plateau is a soft and colorful carpet almost all year round. Literally.
Ajam’s mother runs the local carpet workshop, where carpets in many different designs, colors and sizes are woven or knotted by hand by women and children.
Her mother told her that some of the most intricate designs have been made the same way for hundreds of years.
And when they’re done, Ajam helps spread the carpets out on the sandy road, so their colors can fade in the bright sunlight.
The villagers walk over the carpets. And they even let their donkeys and goats walk over them. Ajam and her friends play on the carpets, and the boys from the village play football on them.
And every now and then a car or a motorcycle drives through the village, also over the colorful carpets.
About once a week …

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BG 168 – The shriek

A chilling shriek cut through the cold foggy night.
She was startled. What was that? A woman? She muted the TV, held her breath, and listened.
She heard nothing at first, but just when she had to breathe again, the muffled sound of running shoes echoed down the deserted street, followed by a charged silence.

What was she supposed to do? Go out to help?
Did someone really need help, or had she just imagined that cry of terror?
She turned off the lights in her living room and studio. Now only a faint strip of light from a street lamp shone in, where one of the shutters no longer closed properly. She walked over, bent down and peered out through the opening.

At first glance there was nothing to see.
Again she held her breath to listen carefully.
For a moment she thought she heard another scream, but it turned out to be …

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BG 141 – The Swing Realm

‘Not too high on that swing!’ shouted an unfamiliar male voice behind her. But she didn’t care. The construction creaked every now and then, but it was able to support her almost mature body just fine. With her hands tightly wrapped around the rough ropes, sitting on the smooth-worn oak plank, she swung her legs straight forward and hanging in the ropes with the wind through her hair she went higher and higher.
At the highest point she felt for a moment like her intestines made a little jump, then she swung back down again. Past the lowest point she pulled her feet up toward the plank. High up at the back she hung motionless for a split second before whizzing forward again with even more speed and stretched legs, pulling on the ropes.

She went higher and higher. She felt like she was flying, like she was being released from the ground, from this playground, from her old neighborhood, from her narrow minded home.
Woohoo! Higher and higher! Forward – stretch, backward – fold.
Stretch – fold, stretch – fold, stretch – fold.
She could already look over the trees in the distance and see miniature houses and tiny cars and tiny people moving.
A sense of ultimate freedom washed over her.

‘Not so high on that swing!’ the same male voice called from behind her. Oh no? …

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