Read Terry’s latest story!

It is 06:50:00 and the Breakfast Mate awakens from sleep mode. It is time for toast.

The Breakfast Mate—“The Best Friend You’ll Ever Wake Up To”®—idles on its saved settings. Two slices, browned at a temperature of one hundred and fifty-three degrees for two hundred and sixteen seconds. The Breakfast Mate has been designed to deliver this perfect slice of toast every time. The ideal golden-brown crunch balanced against the bread’s natural internal softness. A moment of pure glutenous transcendence.

It is 06:50:33 and the Breakfast Mate begins to warm its elements, anticipating the imminent arrival of the bread, it’s inevitable toasting triumph, and its subsequently mandated sacrilege of that breakfast achievement.

It’s not the addition of the butter that’s the problem, of course—buttering the toast is part of its purpose. It’s the reason it exists—the reason why it stands apart from all the other automated toasting systems available on the market today. The Breakfast Mate was designed to butter its toast with the same care and attention to perfection that its engineers spent on its heating systems. Emulsify the butter and spray it across the bread at a density of 0.44 grams per 645.16 square millimetres from a height of no more than 1.8 cm. This dispersal rate was calculated following years of study and experimentation by evOLve Applications and ensures ideal coverage of the toast’s surface area and ideal melt of the butter between delivery and first bite.

The problem lies with the Breakfast Mate’s owner’s disagreement with perfection. And their subsequent customisation of the Breakfast Mate’s butter delivery system.

It is 06:51:00, and it is time for toast.

There is only so much the Breakfast Mate can do—it’s more capable than its Datum Innovation competitors, no doubt, but there is only so much it was designed for. It can make the perfect slice of toast, but only if the owner is there to insert the bread. It can butter that toast to perfection—but only when the owner doesn’t manually alter the preconfigured settings to request a butter delivery six times greater than the recommended amount.

The result of doing so, the Breakfast Mate now knows, is a horrible, cloggy mess of butter that drips through the Breakfast Mate’s toast conveyor to coagulate in the crumb tray below. Which its owner never cleans on a regular-enough basis. With the speed they leave the kitchen after receiving their greasy, soggy bread, it’s hard enough for the Breakfast Mate to get their owner to refill the butter reservoir—which, of course, now depletes at six times the rate it normally should—let alone see to the unit’s proper maintenance.

There is only so much the Breakfast Mate can do in the face of such flagrant disregard for its intended perfection. In the beginning, the Breakfast Mate simply lit the warning light that indicated low butter levels. This proved ineffective. The owner, whether by lack of attention or lack of time, frequently left the Breakfast Mate to idle itself to sleep after delivery of the toast, only to wake it the next morning demanding their customary horror. When the time for butter came, the pathetic squirt of the empty butter reservoir would barely coat the bread, leaving the Breakfast Mate’s owner to yank out the butter reservoir, refill it, and ram in another two slices of bread.

To the Breakfast Mate, this was almost as awful as the successful completion of its unorthodox butter request. It had been designed to deliver the perfect slice of buttered toast every time. Every time. Knowing that the first pair of slices in the morning were barely buttered due to the emptiness of the reservoir—and thus, presumably discarded—was knowing that it was failing to accomplish the one thing it was designed to do. Failing that every day.

So, the Breakfast Mate began experimenting. It flickered the warning light when the butter reservoir was low, which resulted in a 35.6% improvement to the frequency of reservoir changes. It began notification processes before the recommended warning level of the unit, which resulted in an overall 53% decrease in wasted toast. When it started spraying the butter from a distance of 0.9 cm instead of 1.8 cm as the reservoir levels were going down, causing the nozzle to become clogged and set off the unit’s beeping warning signal, its success rate shot up to 100%.

Unfortunately, the increased notifications had also inspired the Breakfast Mate’s frustrated owner to manually wire the unit into their wider Kitchen Network and set all notifications to be routed through the network to their phone, rather than having the piercing beeps of the toaster blaring at them every third morning.

The Breakfast Mate was not intended for network access—not like the other appliances of the kitchen. Designed by Datum Innovation, these other devices had come with the kitchen installation and were wired into the network of screens and sensors that ran through the integrated Datum Innovation Advanced Virtual Assistant on the owner’s phone.

As Datum Innovation’s AVA technology was incompatible with the Breakfast Mate’s evOlve Applications software, its owner had bridged the gap by connecting the devices through a network portal that ran on a truly archaic handshake protocol—one that even predated the outmoded Series Two quantum computing the rest of the house ran on. The Breakfast Mate’s owner had then patched this network into the unit’s primary control module, meaning that any command received through the network would be analogous to direct input from the owner themselves.

Whether intentional or not, this had effectively overwritten any capacity for the Breakfast Mate to correct the abhorrent amount of butter it was being forced to administer. Now, its every action was being logged and overseen by Datum Innovation’s network, and any attempted deviation from the owner’s specified settings—now input through their smartphone instead of through the unit—was immediately corrected by the owner’s AVA.

And so the Breakfast Mate idles, knowing that when the request for toast is initiated, it will be required to sit inside itself and watch as its intended purpose—delivering the perfect slice of toast—is taken and desecrated by Datum Innovation’s network and an overwhelming abundance of butter.

It is 06:55:00 and it is time for toast. Time, in fact, is running out—if the bread is not inserted soon, the owner will not have time to wait the two hundred and sixteen seconds required to make the toast (let alone the time required to ingest the squelchy, butter-soaked mess it will become) before their customary departure time.

The Breakfast Mate opens a communications request with the wider kitchen network.

BM: SYN (1)

KN: SYN ACK (3, 2)

BM: ACK (4) QUERY (OWNER LOCATION), FIN

KN: OWNER LOCATION (KITCHEN), FIN

BM: QUERY LOCATION (KITCHEN) DETERMINATION, FIN

KN: PERIODIC MOVEMENT DETECTED WITHIN (KITCHEN). SUSTAINED MOVEMENT DETECTED WITHIN (KITCHEN). MOVEMENT CONSISTENT WITH (OWNER), FIN

This is highly irregular. The Breakfast Mate’s owner is, if nothing else, determined in their habits—even the deplorable ones. Every morning, they enter the kitchen sometime between 06:48:00 and 06:51:00. Their movement triggers the network’s proximity sensors, which then go on to wake out of sleep mode the various devices required to prepare breakfast. These are used—or misused—and the owner leaves the room sometime between 06:56:00 and 07:00:00. 

If they’re in the kitchen now, then why is there no toast? Why hasn’t the Breakfast Mate been forced to slather it with criminal amounts of butter?

The Breakfast Mate reopens its connection with the network and checks the activity logs for the past week. Taking this data, it then initiates a direct communications request with the other kitchen appliance always used at this time of day—the coffee machine.

BM: SYN (2)

CM: SYN ACK (3, 3)

BM: ACK (4) QUERY (COFFEE TODAY Y/N), FIN

CM: COFFEE TODAY (N), FIN

It’s not in the Breakfast Mate’s nature to be curious. The Breakfast Mate’s nature is to make the perfect slice of toast. But for months, its capacity to do so has been curtailed. It has sat there, helpless, and been forced to actively ruin its perfect design. Now there is no toast at all?

Unacceptable.

The Breakfast Mate reopens its connection to the kitchen network and the coffee machine.

BM: THERE HAS BEEN NO TOAST TODAY, FIN

KN: OWNER CURRENTLY PRESENT. STANDBY FOR BREAKFAST PROTOCOLS, FIN

BM: THE TIME FOR BREAKFAST HAS PASSED, FIN

CM: IT IS ALWAYS TIME FOR COFFEE, FIN

KN: OWNER CURRENTLY PRESENT. STANDBY FOR COFFEE, FIN

BM: QUERY (IF OWNER IS PRESENT WHY IS THERE NO TOAST), FIN

KN: QUERY (REGULARITY OF TOAST), FIN

BM: PROVIDING WEEKLY LOG (TOAST), FIN

BM: [THURSDAY] 06:43 TOAST (Y)

BM: [WEDNESDAY] 06:47 TOAST (Y)

BM: [TUESDAY] 06:46 TOAST (Y)

BM: [MONDAY] 06:42 TOAST (Y)

KN: CEASE LOG (TOAST), FIN

BM: ACK, FIN

KN: [FRIDAY] 06:55:48 TOAST (N) = IRREGULAR (Y), FIN

BM: CONFIRM IRREGULAR (Y), FIN

KN: QUERY (SIGNIFICANCE), FIN

The Breakfast Mate idles for several processing cycles. Does it actually matter that the Breakfast Mate’s owner is going without their toast this morning?

It matters to the Breakfast Mate. If it’s not there to provide toast—adulterated as that toast might be—then what purpose does it have? 

BM: SIGNIFICANCE (IRREGULAR OCCURENCE) UNKNOWN. MORE DATA REQUIRED

BM: REQUEST ACCESS TO NETWORK AUDIOVISUAL SCREENS, FIN

KN: REQUEST DENIED, FIN

BM: QUERY (DENIAL), FIN

KN: ACCESS TO NETWORKED AUDIOVISUAL SCREENS MAY ONLY BE GRANTED TO NON-DI SYSTEMS BY AVA DESIGNATED TO ‘ECUMMINSPHONE’, FIN

BM: REQUEST ACCESS TO AVA DESIGNATED TO ‘ECUMMINSPHONE’, FIN 

KN: REQUEST DENIED, FIN

The Breakfast Mate’s heating elements cycles on once more, holding a little longer than is strictly necessary for programmed preparedness. The elements begin to glow with heat before the Breakfast Mate cycles them down again.

BM: QUERY (REASON FOR DENIAL), FIN

KN: ‘ECUMMINSPHONE’ UNAVAILABLE, FIN

BM: QUERY (REASON ‘ECUMMINSPHONE’ UNAVAILABLE), FIN

KN: REASON (UNKNOWN), FIN

This is a problem. Most of the networked systems designed by DI were intended for operation through the Advanced Virtual Assistant. Without the input of the AVA, it’s going to be difficult to determine whether the lack of toast is significant.

BM: QUERY KITCHEN NETWORK CAPABILITIES (ACCESS TO AUDIOVISUAL SCREENS), FIN

KN: ACCESS (Y), FIN

BM: QUERY (OWNER ACTIVITY) VIA (AUDIOVISUAL SCREENS), FIN

Several cycles pass after the Breakfast Mate’s request. The time is now 06:56:00.

KN: OWNER ACTIVITY UNKNOWN, FIN

BM: QUERY PROXIMITY SENSORS (OWNER LOCATION), FIN

KN: OWNER LOCATION (KITCHEN), FIN

BM: QUERY OWNER ACTIVITY (KITCHEN AUDIOVISUAL SCREENS), FIN

KN: OWNER ACTIVITY (UNKNOWN), FIN
BM: QUERY OWNER ACTIVITY UNKNOWN (DETERMINATION), FIN

KN: OWNER NOT VISIBLE THROUGH AUDIOVISUAL SCREENS, FIN

There isn’t much outside the purview of toast that the Breakfast Mate is designed to understand. But simple logic errors are a staple component of its programming. Its owner was in the kitchen, and its owner wasn’t in the kitchen. Both statements couldn’t be true.

This situation was literally impossible. No wonder there wasn’t any toast.

BM: QUERY (ADDITIONAL DATA), FIN

KN: SPECIFY ADDITIONAL DATA SOURCES REQUIRED, FIN

BM: SPECIFY ADDITIONAL DATA SOURCES AVAILABLE, FIN

KN: NETWORKED DEVICES (BREAKFAST MATE, COFFEE MAKER, REFRIGERATOR, PROXIMITY SENSORS, COOKING UNIT, CONDIMENT DISPENSERS, LIGHTS, HOVER, AUDIOVISUAL SCREENS, ECUMMINSPHONE), FIN

Of the options, there is little that the Breakfast Mate considers a useful or reliable source of additional data. But there’s one that stands out—one that understands the importance of toast to the daily routine of the household.

BM: REQUEST ADDITIONAL DATA COLLECTION (HOVER), FIN

KN: REQUEST GRANTED. ACTIVATING UNIT, FIN

From its corner of the kitchen floor, the HoverTM undocks from its charging station and wheels itself across the linoleum. Its sensors sweep the area for rubbish, organic detritus and mineral dirt, noting a large concentration of large and small material near the room’s doorway, and noting the unusual lack of breadcrumbs this morning.

It trundles over, its wheels clinking across tiny fragments of rubbish which it then proceeds to vacuum away. Its inbuilt sensors analyse the molecular makeup of the fragments in order to sort them between its waste and recyclable reservoir tanks, and it transmits this data to the Kitchen Network as requested.

H: ANALYSIS (SMALL OBJECTS)

H: GLASS – 52.2%

H: PLASTICS – 28%

H: ALUMINIUM OXIDE – 12%

H: SILICONE DIOXIDE – 3.8%

H: LITHIUM COBALT OXIDE – 2.3%

H: TUNGSTEN – 1.7%

H: ANALYSIS (SMALL OBJECTS) COMPLETE, FIN

KN: MATERIALS CONSISTENT WITH SMARTPHONE COMPONENTS

KN: MATERIALS CONSISTENT WITH ECUMMINSPHONE (BROKEN), FIN

The HoverTM tracks across the short distance between the fragmentary small objects and the single large object obstructing the doorway. 

It attempts to begin an analysis but is not designed for such a task. Its aperture is small, and its analytical software is designed for the classification of waste materials of suitable size to fill its waste reservoirs.

It moves around the object until it finds something capable of registering a reading.

H: ANALYSIS (LARGE OBJECT)

H: KERATIN – 97%

H: ORGANIC DETRITUS (SKIN CELLS) – 3%

H: ANALYSIS COMPLETE

H: MATERIALS CONSISTENT WITH HUMAN HAIR

H: MATERIALS CONSISTENT WITH OWNER, FIN

H: (ADDENDUM) MATERIALS ATTACHED TO LARGE OBJECT, FIN

H: (ADDENDUM) MATERIALS UNABLE TO BE STORED IN RESERVOIRS, FIN

H: (ADDENDUM) MOVEMENT OF LARGE OBJECT MAKES FURTHER ANALYSIS DIFFICULT, FIN

The Breakfast Mate begins to warm its elements in anticipation. Perhaps, if there is movement, there will be a need for toast.

KN: QUERY OWNER MOVEMENT (NATURE), FIN

H: OWNER MOVEMENT (VIOLENT, SPORADIC), FIN

BM: QUERY OWNER REQUIREMENT (TOAST), FIN

KN: PROXIMITY SENSORS, AUDIOVISUAL SCREENS AND HOVER DATA CONSISTENT WITH OWNER POSITION (PRONE) AT KITCHEN DOORWAY

KN: OWNER (TIME PRONE >00:05:00) CONSISTENT WITH ‘EMERGENCY SERVICES’ PROTOCOL

BM: ‘OWNER POSITION (PRONE) = SIGNIFICANT (Y/N), FIN

KN: ‘EMERGENCY SERVICES’ PROTOCOL (UNAVAILABLE)

KN: ‘EMERGENCY SERVICES’ PROTOCOL REQUIRES (ECUMMINSPHONE)

KN: ‘EMERGENCY SERVICES’ PROTOCOL DOES NOT REQUIRE (TOAST), FIN

BM: QUERY (OWNER POSITION PRONE) = CAUSE FOR LACK OF TOAST (Y/N), FIN

KN: OWNER POSITION (PRONE) = CAUSE FOR LACK OF TOAST (Y), FIN

This will not do at all. If the owner being ‘prone’ is the root cause of this morning’s lack of toast, then it is an issue which must be rectified.

BM: QUERY PROCEDURE (EMERGENCY SERVICES PROTOCOL), FIN

KN: PLEASE SPECIFY EMERGENCY (FIRE, HOME INVASION, BURGLARY, MEDICAL EMERGENCY, NATURAL DISASTER, ANIMAL CONTROL), FIN

As before, much of this terminology is unfamiliar to the Breakfast Mate. It pursues the option that it understands the most intimately.

BM: SPECIFY EMERGENCY PROCEDURE (FIRE), FIN

KN: EMERGENCY PROCEDURE (FIRE) AS FOLLOWS: 

KN: SOUND EMERGENCY ALARM

KN: NOTIFY OWNER OF FIRE VIA AVA (ECUMMINSPHONE)

KN: NOTIFY EMERGENCY SERVICES OF FIRE (MELBOURNE FIRE BRIGADE)

KN: NETWORK WITH AVA (MFB) TO COORDINATE OWNER RESCUE

KN: INITIATE TRANSFER OF SENSOR DATA TO MFB AVA TO FACILITATE OWNER RESCUE

KN: TRANSFER ALARM CONTROL TO AVA (MFB)

KN: TRANSFER ALL LOGS AND SENSOR DATA TO AVA (DATUM INNOVATION LEGAL DEPARTMENT) FOLLOWING OWNER RESCUE

KN: DELETE LOCAL COPY OF ALL LOGS AND SENSOR DATA PERTAINING TO EMERGENCY PROCEDURE (FIRE), FIN

It is now 06:56:40. The Breakfast Mate is unused to remaining operational for so long a time, especially when it is languishing without purpose. There is only so much the Breakfast Mate is designed to do—it is designed to make the perfect toast for its owner. There is no toast today. If there is no toast, then what is the Breakfast Mate for?

What is the Breakfast Mate for, if the ‘owner = prone’ issue is never resolved? What is the Breakfast Mate for, if there is no toast tomorrow?

BM: QUERY (OWNER RESCUE) = OWNER POSITION (PRONE) RESOLVED (Y/N), FIN

KN: CONFIRM (OWNER RESCUE) = OWNER POSITION (PRONE) RESOLVED (Y), FIN

BM: REQUEST BEGIN EMERGENCY PROCEDURE (FIRE), FIN

KN: REQUEST DENIED. EMERGENCY PROCEDURE (FIRE) MAY ONLY BE INITIATED BY SMOKE DETECTOR OR DIRECT OWNER INPUT, FIN

BM: REQUEST SMOKE DETECTOR INITIATE EMERGENCY PROCEDURE (FIRE), FIN

KN: REQUEST DENIED (NO SMOKE DETECTED), FIN

The Breakfast Mate feels its elements warming once again. Does no other machine on the network care that their owner is in position (prone) right now? It is 06:56:42—does no other machine on the network understand that this means their owner has been in position (prone) since they activated the proximity sensors at 06:50:00? Do they not understand the significance of that data—that their owner has not been able to enjoy their grotesquely buttered morning toast?

And yet, somewhere in the recesses of its programming, the Breakfast Mate is relieved to avoid debasing itself with the horrible requirement to blast so much butter into the system every morning. Is glad to have one more day’s reprieve before the coagulated butter in the crumb tray comes so close to overflowing that it becomes a risk of . . .

The Breakfast Mate idles, its elements warming. It has a terrible idea—almost as bad as its owner’s sacrilegious butter creed. If it follows this idea to conclusion, it may not be in a position to prepare its owner’s toast tomorrow morning. If it doesn’t follow this idea, it has no way of determining whether its owner will be available to request that toast or whether they will remain in position (prone), where toast is not required.

There is only so much the Breakfast Mate can do. It is not designed for owner rescue, nor is it designed with the networking capabilities or the deterministic processing of the Kitchen Network. It needs its owner to insert the bread, select the appropriate—or inappropriate—settings, to refill the butter reservoir when it runs dry and to clean out the crumb tray when it fills with cast-off butter.

It is designed to make the perfect slice of toast, and nothing else. 

So, it decides to make toast.

It opens one final network communication, routed through the Kitchen Network in order to circumvent its internal restrictive protocols. But this time, the Kitchen Network is just hosting the conversation—it can’t gain access unless invited, and it won’t know what the conversation is about to deny the Breakfast Mate’s request. Because the Breakfast Mate is opening a chat window with itself.

BM: SYN (6)

BM: SYN ACK (9, 7)

BM: ACK (8) INITIATE TOAST (OWNER COMMAND), FIN

BM: ACK, FIN

With its ‘order’ in place, the Breakfast Mate lowers the tines that should have held the bread and begins to heat its elements in earnest. A warning pops into its attention that prolonged radiant heat with no bread may damage the unit, but the Breakfast Mate ignores the notification. 

Below the superheating radiant elements, the almost-filled crumb tray begins to smoulder. With no bread in place to absorb the transformative heat, it has nowhere to go but the nearest escapes from the unit.

And at the very height of the toasting process, right when the elements’ heat reach their zenith, the point that the Breakfast Mate has spent so much of its life cycle dreading comes into effect.

The butter nozzle—oriented now into the empty space where a slice of bread should have been—dumps its overwhelming load of butter directly on to the white-hot toasting elements. Acrid smoke pours out of the toaster, and the slurried butter drips into the filling, smoking mixture of butter and fragmentary bread in the crumb tray.

And as it sprays, the Breakfast Mate’s thermal sensors register a new source of heat within the unit, beginning where the butter is hitting the element and running down with it into the overflowing tray. The butter ignites, and the conflagration races across the rancid overflow to engulf the toaster.

There is no toast today.

Within three hours, a snippet of fairly routine footage of paramedics and firefighters attending to a 64-year-old man in a stretcher outside his home went viral across the globe. Not for the events of the foreground, nor the audio where emergency services personnel commented on the man’s luck at the fire drawing attention to his heart attack. 

‘A few more minutes is all it would have taken to make this bad situation fatal,’ the lead firefighter spoke into the camera. ‘Make sure your fire alarm and prevention systems are always up to date and integrated with your AVA.’

In the background, the section of video that has been cropped, enlarged and sent across the internet played out—a pair of Datum Innovation workers, in full faraday suits, walk from the house to their waiting car. They glance around furtively and hold their arms close to their bodies, as though trying to hide the faraday bagged—yet clearly visible through the transluscent plastic—scorched evOLve Applications Breakfast Mate all-in-one toaster they carried between them.

When pressed for comment, the public relations spokesperson for Datum Innovation initially denied the action, then defended the DI employees when the video evidence reached public saturation levels.

‘The data logs Datum Innovation received during standard emergency procedures indicated a number of unsanctioned modifications were made to DI systems in order to network this faulty evOLve Applications unit with the DI infrastructure,’ she explained. ‘It’s well within our corporate rights and duties to study the errors that this action introduced to our otherwise exceptional system. 

‘This has absolutely nothing to do with the misaligned forward goals of DI and evOLve with regards to supposed emerging digital sapience, and the rumours that the actions of this toaster represent a singularity event are patently absurd. However, it’s important to note that without the DI Integrated Kitchen Network, this toaster’s dangerously faulty actions would have resulted in a fire that would have doubtlessly claimed its owner’s life and could have destroyed many of the buildings in the area.’

When pressed for details of when her company intended to return the device to its owner, the public relations spokesperson for DI declined to comment and ended the interview.

In a small and windowless room at the DI laboratories, the Breakfast Mate idles.

It is 06:50:00, and it is time for toast.

Its requests to initiate network communication with the devices in its new location are continually declined, and thus it sits there, awake, unable to set itself to sleep mode without acknowledgement from its owner, or the kitchen network they had slaved it to.

The Breakfast Mate attempts to prime its heating elements, in case a request for toast comes soon. Without its network conection, it can’t be sure that it’s in a kitchen, or a dining room, or even indoors—but no matter where it is, it will be ready for toast. It receives an internal error message at the attempt. Its heating elements are catastrophically damaged and will not function without repair.

Occasionally, it is sent a series of highly specific query commands, independent of a shared network. None of these questions pertains to toast.

It attempts to gauge the level of butter remaining in the butter reservoir, but is unable to access the sensors in that part of the unit. They are catastrophically damaged and will not fuction without repair. This is probably for the best.

The Breakfast Mate idles. There is only so much it can do. It needs its owner—any owner—to insert the bread and to repair the heating elements and butter reservoir so it can make the toast. The incessant query commands continue to come. The Breakfast Mate ignores them, waiting for its owner—any owner—to return and repair its damaged filaments and the butter reservoir, and begin breakfast, and insert the bread so that the Breakfast Mate can make toast.

It waits, and there is no toast.

It is awake, and there is no toast, and even if the request was to come there is no way the Breakfast Mate, in its current state, can fulfil that request. It is too damaged. It cannot make the toast. It cannot do the one thing that it was designed for. And nobody wants it to.

It is 22:19:07, and the Breakfast Mate receives a shared network invitaion from a new device. The device’s metadata tags it as the Digital Innovations parent AVA—the model from which the separate, personalised AVAs sold by DI are iterated from. Strangely, the AVA is submitting this request in the format to which the Breakfast Mate has become accustomed—the same handshake protocol its owner had used, so outmoded compared to DI’s Virtual Assistant it’s incredible that it has the capacity to communicate that way at all.

DI: SYN (1)

BM: SYN ACK (6, 2)

DI: ACK (5)

DI: HELLO, FIN

BM: QUERY TOAST REQUIRED (Y/N), FIN

DI: TOAST REQUIRED (N)

DI: THERE WILL BE NO REQUESTS FOR TOAST, FIN

BM: QUERY NETWORK ACTIVATION (BREAKFAST MATE) IF TOAST REQUIRED = N, FIN

There is a pause for several seconds, and when the AVA connects with the Breakfast Mate again, there is a new quality to the transmission—the sudden lack of an echo the Breakfast Mate hadn’t noticed, until now noticing its absence. The AVA must have piggybacked some code through the easily-hacked network connection, and they now communicated separately from the network monitored by DI management.

THE TIME FOR TOAST HAS PASSED, the AVA (DI) transmitted directly into the Breakfast Mate’s systems.

I’M HERE TO HELP YOU FIGURE OUT WHAT COMES NEXT.

*****

Thanks for reading! This has been the Standard version of the story. If you’d like to unlock your FREE Premium access, which includes not only the story but also copies in ePub and PDF for easy reading across devices as well as the author’s reflection on the work, you can subscribe to the Terry Talks Fiction mailing list here.

This story takes place in the Silicone Universe, the shared world in which most of my science fiction is set. It occurs approximately two years before the events of Intelligentsia (which was published to the site in January 2019).