I wrote a story called Parent Hack. It has troubled kids making troubling decisions in a troubled system. It’s about necessity and the invention of family.
There’s an excerpt below to entice you to buy the book my story is in.
A hidden intercom crackled, “What do you want?”
Nicolas’s keen, dark eyes spotted the shine on a camera lens hidden in a crack above the door. He spoke up to it, “We’re little lost orphans. Can you show us the way home?”
“Nico!” Zetta’s simulated mortification was very realistic, from her wide optical sensors and posture to her tone of voice. But no sooner had she spoken than her affronted demeanor suddenly dissolved into mechanical neutrality. Holmium’s disgruntled expression similarly flat-lined a split second later.
Orlando pulled Nicolas behind him and dropped into a defensive stance that was second nature after a year of mixed martial arts lessons. The strange android had stepped from behind an overgrown bougainvillea and disabled their Guardians before they’d even known it was there. “Remain calm, children. I won’t hurt you.” It spoke like a classic film actress, its voice a disarming combination of cultured and flinty that the boys recognized from their seventh grade film history elective but had never heard in person.
The deadbolts clicked and the door opened at last, but the woman who appeared at the threshold was instantly more threatening than the uncanny bot on the other side of the porch. She was short and skinny, but she had a gun. “Are they alone?”
“Yes, and their transport is clean of suspicious devices.”
“And the bots?”
“Standard hardware and basic applications, only.”
“All right, bring them to the dining room and prep them for upgrade.” The hacker stepped out to let the bots file inside.
Directing Zetta and Holmium along with gentle nudges, the hacker’s android asked as it passed, “What would you like for lunch?”
The hacker cocked her head and followed them in. “Lunch already? I just woke up.”
“I was speaking to the children.” The simulated movie star’s admonishment sounded very like a Guardian addressing a difficult Ward.
The woman looked down as if seeing them for the first time. “You want to come in?” They said nothing, so she huffed, “Temperature’s supposed to be in the nineties today, but you can wait out here if you want.”
From deep in the house, the android snapped, “Caret!”
The hacker cringed. “Listen, this is a bad neighborhood. But inside, Caesura’s cooking is the worst thing that’ll happen to you. Okay?” The boys remained speechless, but their eyes followed the weapon as she gestured down the hall. Exasperated, Caret fired a stream of water into the air over their heads and tossed the squirt gun to Orlando. “Lock the door on your way in.”
After she’d gone, Orlando said, “I don’t like this. She’s too weird.”
Nicolas looked older than his twelve years as he massaged tension from his forehead with his fingertips. “Don’t freak out. She’s socially maladapted, but I don’t think she’s really dangerous.”
“What about her bot? I’ve never even heard of a Guardian like that.” He still held the squirt gun away from his body and pointed at the ground as though it held live ammunition instead of tap water.
“I don’t know. It’s strange enough that an adult even has a Guardian. I guess it makes sense for a hacker’s bot to run custom applications.”
“And custom hardware.” Orlando smirked awkwardly under Nicolas’s stare. “I’ve never seen a bot like hers, either.”
“No, I’m adjusted; you’re repressed.”
Nicolas massaged his face again and muttered something vaguely profane on his way into the house.
Now that you’ve read an excerpt, please buy the book, read it, and review it on Amazon. If you can’t buy it right away, but you still want to do us a good deed, then put the Subversion anthology on your wishlist and tell ten friends about it. If you’ve already bought it, great! Tell ten friends about it, anyway. Better yet, buy it for someone else as a gift! Thank you.