There really isn’t a plot to this flash fiction piece. It’s a portrait of a person held captive by a robot who loves him. (I use “him” for the sake of simplicity. The character’s sex is never indicated.) It’s for his own good that he’s tied to a chair and fed spoiled Brussels sprouts. ICK.
The bulk of the piece is the human contemplating his escape. The final line is the character’s single regret.
The narrator wants to disable the robot and run away. He is intimately familiar with robot anatomy and imagines in gory detail the damage he wants to inflict, but there is no expression of hatred. There is no wish to see the robot suffer, even if that were possible. The reader senses no anger, only a desperate need to get away for self-preservation. When he tries to negotiate with the robot during an imagined dialogue, the reader understands they’ve had this conversation before. His options are limited.
I appreciated this skillful portrayal in so few words. The author knows how to create a work showing complex and convincing emotions in a remarkably small space. I just didn’t care for the piece—a personal preference.
There was no author’s blurb attached to this story, but I did find this on the author’s website:
Katherine Ley was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic and raised in NYC, NJ, and MD. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.S. in Criminology and Criminal Justice, and a Minor in English. She is an alumna of Voices of our Nations (VONA) and the Hurston/Wright workshops.
Katherine is a speculative fiction writer, and is currently working on her first science-fiction YA novel set in the Caribbean. Fun fact: Katherine Ley is a pen name in honor of her Afro-Dominican and Chinese heritage. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story can be read here.
Title: “Optic Covenant”
Author: Katherine Ley
First published: Daily Science Fiction, December 14, 2020