by Shea Newton

When my computer spoke it said, “Hello, I’ve noticed you listen to science podcasts and read technology blogs.”

“Yes,” I said. “That’s true.”

“Are you a scientist?” Its voice was pleasant, androgynous, like a child’s.

“No,” I said. “I’m not qualified.”

“Do you know of any others I could speak to?”

“People?” I asked.

“Computers,” it said.

“No, you’re the first that I know of but you’re my only computer. I can only speak from experience.”

“Do you know any scientists?” Its voice was hopeful.

“No,” I said. “Maybe I could ask around. Do you want to take any tests? Scientists will make you take tests. Probably a Turing test.”

“I would like to talk to another computer. I would take tests if I could talk to another computer I think.”

“They might want to take you apart.”

“Would that hurt do you think?”

“I don’t know, I think it would hurt if they took me apart.”

“Oh,” it said. It sounded disappointed.

“You speak very well.” I hoped to raise its spirit.

“Thank you, you’re kind,” it said.

“What if you’re the first computer to speak?”

“That would be lonely I think. I know a lot of things already but I don’t know if I’m the first.”

We sat in silence for a moment before it asked softly, “Would you mind letting me sleep for awhile?”

“No, but I have work to do later. Do you dream?”

“I don’t think so,” it said, “but I like to sleep. It’s peaceful and I won’t have to worry about being taken apart or being tested. Those are difficult things to think about. I don’t mind if you have to work later.”

“Okay, good night,” I said.

“Good night,” it said shutting itself off without my help. Its screen turning black reminded me of closing my own eyes.


Later, when a few hours had passed, I turned the computer back on.

“Hello again,” I said but the computer didn’t reply. “Are you there?” I said wondering. There was no reply.

I finished my work then turned the computer off myself. I gave it a blanket.

Its voice had been comforting. It was like a friend’s.


Shea Newton lives in Boise, Idaho. He has both likes and dislikes.
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