I wake up in a bed I do not recognize. My left temple is throbbing unnaturally and the shining white ceiling only makes it more difficult to see.

I bring the duvet up to my nose, contemplate going back to sleep. But when I close my eyes my head begins spinning wildly, and I have to choke back the nausea.

Awake it is, then. I turn my head to the side. There is another pillow next to mine, the centre still indented from the weight of another’s head.

The memories return: a flash of black hair, green eyes. I’d met him at the bar when I’d gone up to order a round. All of a sudden I can remember kissing him in the streetlight, but for the life of me I cannot remember his name.

I glance under the blankets. Still wearing yesterday’s clothes, although that could mean anything.

So where is he, then? I turn my head to either side, searching for clues. It’s a luxurious room, but impersonal; the duvet I’m clutching is goose down, but the painting above the bed is a mass-produced print. I’m definitely in an upper scale hotel. That’s right, wasn’t he a tourist?

That’s when I spot the small black box installed on the ceiling, and realize just how upper class this hotel is. If I’m not mistake, that box is an AI. This room had its own AI! Despite the clenching of my stomach and the vile taste in my mouth, I cannot contain the sudden surge of excitement. I have a vague recollection of talking to the AI last night; let’s see if I can remember how it works.

“Computer?” I say tentatively.

As soon as I speak, the AI powers out of snooze and comes to full attention, brightening the lamps in the room up to daylight levels.

I cringe, shield my head. “Dim lights!”

When it’s safe to look, I poke my head back out from under the blankets and push myself up to a sitting position, leaning back against the wall to catch my breath. In the corner of the room is a kitchenette, separated from the bedroom by a breakfast bar.

I sit up properly, now, eyeing the distance. It’s about twenty steps: far too far in my condition.

“Computer,” I say smugly, “make tea.”

A smooth, cultured female voice replies, the source of the sound impossible to pinpoint: “What did you say?”

Ah, yes. One has to enunciate things carefully for computers. I clear my throat. “Make. Tea.”

“What did you say?”

“Tea. Make tea. T. E. A.”

“What did you say?”

Okay. I rub my forehead. This requires some lateral thinking. “Boil water,” I then say.

No response.

“Kettle, on!”

“Command not found.”

I scream in frustration and flop back down onto the bed. That black box is laughing at me, I know it. I glare up at the ceiling, crawl over to the foot of the bed to better scowl at it. “What’s a girl got to do to get breakfast around here, huh?”

Finally, the AI seems to pick up on my words. “You would like breakfast, is that right? Just say yes or no.”


“What did you say?”

“Yesssssssssssssss.” I probably look like a complete idiot, crouched on hands and knees on the bed, hissing at the ceiling. Oh well.

The light in the kitchenette brightens. Success! Something is happening! I wait for the AI magic to begin, ready to be impressed. Everyone talks about these miracles of science, these must-have gadgets that simplify even the hardest of tasks.

“Kitchen is fully stocked,” the AI says. “Please proceed to the kitchen to prepare your breakfast.”

To prepare my—?

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” I tell the black box, shaking my fist at it. “You can’t even make tea? What’s the use of an AI if it can’t make tea?!”

A door behind me opens. I look over my shoulder, watch my mystery man walk into the room with a towel around his waist, fresh out of the shower.

He takes in the scene: me crouched on the bed, hand in middair, as the AI says for the umpteenth time: “What did you say?”

“Not this again,” he says.

14 thoughts on “SPEECH RECOGNITION

  1. Someone once Googled “bloody literal-minded computer” and got millions of results. You can get a computer to respond to voice commands, you might get one to make tea, but you likely won’t get what you want!

    Fortunately, I just made a gallon of tea so I’m set…

    I really enjoyed this one.

    • This was inspired by me trying out my speech recognition software on my laptop actually. I thought it’d be fun to try to dictate a story, but just got very frustrated with the computer’s inability to understand me!

  2. I loved the dialogue between the girl and the A.I. Obviously technology hasn’t improved that much back to the teasmaid I think! Great story.

  3. Hey ! (Was going to call you A.M. lol, but I don’t know you’re real name :))

    So, Hey “A” :)

    Just wanted to say I really like the way you list your books on your website. I’m a fellow wordpress user, (currently trying to transfer over to .org so I can implement a theme I purchased). I see your WordPress is .com? Again, looks great!

    Question, how did you copyright your website?

    Have a great day and Happy May 1st-official Chick-lit month! :)

    • I just put a copyright notice in the footer using a widget — pretty simple stuff!

      Glad you like my website and thanks for dropping by! :-)

  4. Fun! It makes me wonder why some people find the AIs helpful when they do such a poor job here. I like the frame of her waking up somewhere she doesn’t recognize and then her interactions/frustrations with the AI.

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