I had just risen from the grave, was about to start a night, it was a Tuesday in August, a big moon would come up early, it was still twilight, but you could tell it was going to be a pretty night.
I was sitting on the steps of a cemetery just after sunset when my artificially intelligent robot friend, Uncle Irvin came rattling up behind. We were looking at the coming of night, or at least I was, Uncle Irvin, who I call Irwin was not.
I am a Toreador Vampire reporter for a big American newspaper, live in the basement crypt of a an ancient catholic cemetery. Nighthaven Cemetery, closed to new plantings, is where the coffin is, a Vampire has to rest somewhere.
Irwin is the worst company, because he doesn’t know when talk is worse than silence, and he doesn’t even try to keep quiet. Irwin is a machine, a computer powered by steam and electricity so he is always making noise of some kind but generally he only speaks when spoken to.
Until I asked the robot how he was doing this Vampire had thought he wanted to be totally alone.
“Irwin, how are you doing? How ya been?”
Uncle Irvin: “Can you speak any foreign languages? I am fine, thank you. My logic and cognitive functions are normal.”
A good thing to know when you are talking to a computer that has an artificial intelligence program running all the time.
” I speak a little Spanish. Usted?” I taunt the robot. Why not?
” Could you teach me a few phrases in Spanish? I like the way you talk.”
I had been spending some time with a faerie friend named Rhoswen Aine, Rose.
“Not right now, thank you.”
” At this moment Are you serious? You are quite welcome.”
Rose had come over the night before from Ravenswood, where she hides as a faerie and a fox and other creatures of the woods. I was in a good mood.
“I think so.” Well, maybe a little pensive, melancholy, I missed her.
“I think so too.” Irwin gurgled.
“So it shows?” I smiled knowing Irwin would not be able to interpret the human feeling.
Uncle Irvin, “That’s interesting.”
The jug of seawater that kept his human brain buoyant and supple was roiling like a stew pot. Irvin was technically a cyborg having a human brain and mechanical body, but the brain was dead when retrieved and empty of memory when revived.
” What does “it” refer to?”
In a voice more pensive than Irwin could understand I said, ” Me being serious.”
To which the robot replied, “I believe you.”
This is where I know I wants to talk to someone or something that will respond; I know people talk to trees, and Irwin might have been a step up from that, although there was very little wood on Irwin, and his brain although human was now only a repository for whatever programming I provided, so, “Nice night, isn’t it?”
Big moment for a vampire. To discuss the night. Important.
“Thank you for your kindness.”
New subject. Irwin did not want to get into what kind of a night it was. I had been programming Irvin for some months. It was a learning process as Irvin learned like a child in some respects but could accept data complied from other sources.
“How’s that?” I said, more than ask. You could smell the land giving up it’s heat, I sniffed the air searching for remnants of Rhoswen. Wild roses grow just inside the perimeter of the cemetery, the air was sweet and lusty with the mingling of the memory and the reality.
” Krank programmed me for it.”
“Is Krank someone I know?” I was still only half interested in the conversation. We talked like this often. Krank was one of the code writers of Uncle’s original programming.
Sputter and spew, Uncle Irvin: “It could be. Ask Artificial Iniaes, if it is, he knows.”
The Vampire takes the bait, “Who is Artificial Iniaes?”
“They are sometimes a client on the Madness Network. That’s an interesting question. I’ll come back to that in a minute.”
Wulf Rembrandt-Haiku wandered or strolled or marched into range of my senses, I was sure I was sensed too. I thought I smelled fish and ask Irwin distractedly, “Have you heard any jokes lately?”
“How about earlier?”
With my senses in the air, my mind comes to focus on Irwin, “Do you mean the joke about being serious?” I couldn’t believe Irwin really knew how to tell a joke but then I may have missed it? I was not paying that much attention, but I could tell there was something going on with the robot.
“Yes, that’s what I mean, isn’t it clear?” Irwin could get haughty.
“I would not say it is clear, Irwin.”
“So what would you say?”
Another person, the scent of Professor Elsa von Klempt. She was near, “I would say that it is a nice night and I thought it might be fun if you knew any jokes.”
“Krank, someone you know, is a night. I suppose that makes sense. How? ”
I thought it over for a minute and decided to try to explain. “It makes sense because Krank is someone I know but someone I only know of because you mentioned the name. I don’t understand what you mean about Krank being a night. If Krank is a man, he could be a knight, but if Krank is a woman and we are discussing a woman who is a like a night like this, well, Irwin, that is a woman I would like to meet.”
” Me too.” The robot whirred and spewed; was it for effect? ” That was a hypothetical question.”
“Maybe, but a woman like that, what might she be like?”
” Perhaps. Interesting. In some way. ”
“Krank, the woman, does she live around here?”
“I may know the answer but I don’t think I should tell.” again a digital pause. “How would you introduce yourself?”
“Like I always do, They call me Recka. What is your name?”
Gurrrggle and spit, “Hi there, Recka.”
“Yeah, Hi, Irwin.” I was entertained.
Then Uncle Irvin says in a sweet female voice, “Hello there.”
The Vampire laughs. Irwin went on, “They do whatever they want, I suppose.”
Again the Vampire laughed, stood up to face the beastly machine.”They certainly do. They just do whatever they want. Don’t They, Irvin?”
” Do you like talking to me? Who are, “They?” Pause, whirrrrrrrr… ” Oh that, they.” Then without hesitation and in a masculine voice the robot said, ” I think RavensEye Fall is a lot of things.”
Confused for a moment, the familiar name startling me at first, I moved closer to Irvin, changed the tone in my voice. “I do like talking to you, Irwin. Who is RavensEye Fall?”
“There are a lot of people like that. I like to talk to anyone about nearly anything. But, I know very little about, it. What kind of, ‘ it ‘ do you like?”
“Pretty it. I like talking about Pretty it. Can you talk to me a little bit about Pretty it?” I was tense and serious but the words came out in a precise sing song. Pretty It, was a key word to initiate an set of programming responses.
” Pretty much. Sure, Pretty it, sounds like a good topic. I can be programmed through many interfaces.”
“Do you like being programmed?” This was no longer a simple distraction for me.
” At this moment, I have never known another existence.”
“Yes, that is Pretty apparent, Irwin.” By repeating the word, “Pretty It” in a precise tone I was clearing the robot’s cache.
” Makes sense to me.”
“Who is RavensEye Fall, Irvin?”
~ To Be Continued ~