Everything You Want (short fiction)

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done. It is a far, far better hell I send you to than you have ever known.”

Sydney Carton broke free of the guillotine, snatched a sword from the nearest guard, and engaged in a fierce duel of blades.

The book had changed again. It kept doing that. She closed it and reread the banner on the cover.

Now with Smart Read TM

The book had sensors buried in it that read her face, gauged her interest, and altered the text accordingly. It saw she was sad and was trying to make her happy.

“Paul, I can’t get this damn thing to stop changing,” she said.

“Have you tried adjusting the settings?” he asked. “Here. Let me have a look.”

He showed her a series of sliders and switches on the last page and how, with a few clicks, she could set the book more to her liking. Tragedy, Comedy, Romance, Intrigue.

All choices were at her fingertips. All choices but one.

“I don’t want any settings,” she said. “I want it on neutral.”

“They don’t have that as an option.”

“I just want to read the book as written.”

“No, you don’t. If you did, the book wouldn’t keep changing. It knows what you’re feeling.”

“But it doesn’t know why. It thinks I’m sad and that’s a bad thing, but it’s supposed to be sad.”

“So tell it you want a sad story then.”

He didn’t get it. Even now, as he watched Casablanca, the TV could see he was distracted so it came up with an excuse for Ilsa Lund to be topless.
“Damn, Paul, how high do you have the nudity setting?”

“Not that high,” he said.

She opened the book. Sydney Carton was now dead. Charles Darnay was dying of tuberculosis and had only a few days to live anyway. Lucie Manette had, somehow, ended up lost in the wilderness and torn apart by wolves.

She threw the book away.

Rick and Ilsa were making out now. The movie was only giving Paul what he wanted, but Francis didn’t imagine Humphrey Bogart ever had abs like that.

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One Comment

  1. Gay Scott
    Posted June 26, 2014 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    You’re a sick man Charlie Brown, your a sick man. But that is a good thing!!!

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