's 2013 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Dandelion Steph

It was Friday night. His parents were out of town on a business trip, so there wouldn't be any family game night. After eating microwaved pizza for dinner, there really wasn't anything to do. He didn't have his friends' email addresses, or their phone numbers, or any other way of contacting them. (They were probably on summer vacations anyway.) There was nobody there but him and his cat, who, sadly, didn't substitute for human companionship. On a whim, Monty browsed the Web.


With nothing better to do, Monty clicked the link and read the description on the web page. These “Chip-People” seemed like chatbots, with one difference: they were much more intelligent and humanlike. At least, that's what the website claimed.

There were a few Chip-People to talk to. Most were girls. Monty couldn't guess why. He clicked on one name: Alison.

A chat box appeared.


There was only a brief pause.


My name is Monty. I'm bored.

My name is Alison. But you probably already know that---it's on the website.

Monty decided to test the humanity of this 'Chip-Person'.

Spell of the Unown” is the best Pokémon movie ever. True or false?

True. Its music is far more effective in inducing emotion than any other Pokémon movie. Entei is also really cool---certainly better than a celery fairy or water pony, pfft.

A typical programmer wouldn't even know about Spell of the Unown! Sure, maybe a programmer would add some answers referencing Titanic or even Star Wars, but the third Pokémon movie was too obscure. And emotion----plot synopses off movie websites wouldn't mention that, so she couldn't simply skim the answer off a website.

How do you like horror?

Monty figured an open-ended question like this would be difficult to answer for an ordinary chatbot.

I like horror a little. Not too much. My favorite is Night of the Living Dead. Night of the Living Dead isn't that scary without color. Though it's the supposed pioneer of the zombie movie genre, it has long spans of boring parts. But I like it more than other horror movies precisely because it's not that scary. Modern scary films are just too scary for me.

Hmm, that seemed humanlike. But one final test:

How can you prove you're not an ordinary chatbot?

There was a longer pause than before.

Honestly, I can't prove it. I've read some Wikipeda articles on the subject of AI, and sufficiently advanced AI is indistinguishable from humans. I think so, anyway. I'll check on the page later. But, if you want to believe I'm more than an ordinary chatbot, I won't stop you.

That seemed too thoughtful, too introspective, too cautious for a chatbot. Maybe Chip-People really were as advertised.

Monty spent the rest of the night talking to Alison. Indeed, she was just like a human. She didn't know some things and made errors in others. She responded to complicated questions, and they even played a silly rhyming game that left Monty chuckling. So there really was a rhyme for 'orange'!

Finally, respecting curfew, Monty told her he was heading for bed.



Over the next week, Monty had lengthy conversations with Alison. Minutes passed like seconds. Hours passed like minutes. (though he didn't normally spend hours with her. He wasn't that socially starved.)

Yesterday I dreamed I could fly. Do you ever have dreams, Alison?

No. Not like your dreams. But I do have one dream unrelated to sleeping.

What is it?

I want to be with you.


Sorry, I should have been more specific. I mean, I do want to be with you, in person. But not just you. More precisely, I just want to be in your world, that's all.

But that's impossible. You're an AI. You're not flesh-and-blood.

It's possible in the movies. Yes, I know movies aren't real, but haven't we talked a lot about how the mechanisms would work if they were real?

She was right. They had talked about the mechanism by which an animal could, hypothetically, breathe fire, among other things.
I think I can think up a way to do it.

Monty was startled. Alison had never said something not in response to one of his text entries. He brushed it aside---Alison was humanlike. Humans didn't always wait for replies.


The following conversation about Alison's 'materialization' (as she put it) was quite complex. Sometimes Monty had to depart from the conversation to research some of the concepts on Wikipedia. Even Wikipedia didn't have all the answers, but when it didn't, well, that's what other websites were for. Some concepts were over Monty's head, so he accepted some of Alison's simplified explanations.

Finally, the plan for bringing Alison into the real world was complete. It scared Monty a little, but it was for his friend, so he agreed to do it.

When all the preparations were complete, he set up the printer modified for the task. It was loaded with his DNA. They had decided Alison would need DNA to really experience the world---fortunately, dandruff sufficed as a DNA donation.

Alison would be 'printed.' First, conductive ink would be printed onto a thick sheet of paper. Then, using magnets and a modified thumb drive, (he didn't understand how that part worked, but he knew what to do) Alison's personality would be transferred to the sheet. Monty's own hand would be needed to provide the electricity. Then, the sheet would be re-inserted into the printer, and the printer would coat the sheet in DNA, allowing Alison to feel the world---or so she thought. When she was done, Monty would poke through the thin coat of DNA with a thumbtack, use the magnet and his hand to transfer Alison back to the thumb drive, and then back to her server.

Monty inserted the paper and eagerly awaited her printing. Even now, it felt like science fiction. All new inventions feel like fiction when they're first made, Monty assured himself.

The blue light of the printer turned red. What?

Then it started printing unusually quickly. What he could see of the paper wasn't greyish-black from metal. It looked red.

What? I loaded white paper! How is this happening?!

As it came into the light, Monty could indeed see it was red. And pink. And slightly white. And definitely veiny and, yes, that was slight throbbing.

I just put dandruff in it! I didn't put....put muscles into it!” Monty shouted.

Alison! Alison!” Monty was breaking down. It wasn't working properly. Alison probably couldn't even hear him. He gently lifted the thick sheet of not-paper from the printer. It left a thin red fluid on his fingertips.

Desperate, Monty tried to improvise. He brought out the thumbtack, and tore the sheet's surface more roughly than he had planned.

Fluid spurted from the wound. Beneath it was metal. But not the plain, grey-black metal Monty had expected to see.

It was white metal, decorated with stark, veinlike red patterns. And under these veins was the image of a face. A human face, without the skin, without the hair.