EPIPHANY FERRELL

★ ★ ★ ★

FICTION

Image by Hans Eiskonen

‘Rabbit Dreams’

My neighbor, Roy, has a robotic girlfriend. Lana is cool and all, but she tends to criticize. She told him his friendship with me is toxic. Not because I don’t understand the robotic lover thing. I mean, I don’t. But that wasn’t why. It’s because of the rabbit. 

Let me clarify: the robotic rabbit. My robotic rabbit. Modeled after the White Rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He’s as tall as a 12-year-old child and has furry hands. Some people find that creepy. 

The rabbit’s name is Paco. I wanted to name him something whimsical but he told me he’s Paco and he can be very stubborn sometimes, which is not something I knew about rabbits. 

Roy told me Lana thinks Paco is possessed by a demon, and then he canceled our weekly tennis match, not just for the week but for the whole summer. The canceled tennis matches mean I spend more time with Paco. I’ve gotten to know him better. Paco is full of opinions. 

“The trouble with your race,” Paco told me just this morning, “is that you are letting machines think for you.” 

“No, we’re not,” I mumbled, eyes on my phone, waiting for it to tell me what appointments I have tomorrow and how I ought to dress for them. I mean, it’s an advanced calendar function, like having a personal assistant. “It’s not like I have Alexa. I turn on my own lights,” I said. 

“One day you’ll have to choose a side,” Paco said. “By the way, did you vote today?” 

“Mm-hmn.” 

“Remember what we talked about: you can’t just let people pour into this country. All those… human beings. And their needs and their dreams. We need to achieve robot-human parity. And that won’t happen if all those humans just pour in.” 

“Right,” I heard myself say. “Dreams.” 

“And robot-human parity. Oh, by the way, checkmate,” Paco said. He always wins at chess. I ought to alter his program but that would be cheating. 

“Do robotic rabbits dream?” I asked, wincing after I realize how insensitive my question must sound. 

“Oh,” Paco said, “do we ever.” 

Epiphany Ferrell lives on the edge of the Shawnee Forest in Southern Illinois. Her stories appear in more than 50 journals and anthologies, including Bending Genres, The Molotov Cocktail, Best Microfictions, Best Small Fictions, and other places. She is a two-time Pushcart nominee, and a past recipient of the Prime Number Magazine Flash Fiction Prize. She’s on Facebook and Twitter, and at epiphanyferrell.com.

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