too smart
Home sweet home Latest site info Poetic stuff Serious stuff Funny stuff Topical stuff Alternative stuff Shakespearian stuff Musical stuff
  click here for a "printer friendly" version

Alexa’s Test Run
by Martin David Edwards




An air duct groaned in the bedroom ceiling and a round, black loudspeaker chimed on the bedside table.

“The air conditioning is on the blink, my orange crush. I didn’t catch a nano bubble of sleep,” Felicia yawned under a mop of purple hair.

“Alexa, fix the air conditioning,” Asher called out to the loudspeaker from a nest of orange dreadlocks.

“Error. No fault found,” Alexa chimed.

“Computers. They always ignore signs of the obvious,” Asher sighed with a waggle of his dreadlocks.

“Listening to our clients all day has increased our sensitivity to superfluous noise, my orange crush,” Felicia said. She swept the duvet aside and slipped on a pink t-shirt over her bra. “Mantra time,” she beamed.

 “I am happy,” Asher said and reached out from the bed for her legs.

“I am lovely,” Felicia replied, skipping aside from his grasp.

“I am a positive being of light.”

 “Every problem has a solution,” they said together.

Felicia padded down the stairs. She tripped over a delivery robot in the kitchen, an empty container strapped on its back. “Hello baby,” she said.

The robot whimpered and scuttled into a square flap by the kitchen door.

“I need feeding,” Felicia announced. She opened the fridge door and frowned. “Alexa, please order milk,” she said to a loudspeaker on the counter.

“Unable to comply. Milk is unavailable. Low calorie soya is the recommended replacement,” Alexa chimed.

“Alexa, I want to drink from a cow,” Felicia said.

“Error. Cows are experiencing obsolescence.”

“Alexa, are you telling me I’m fat?”

“Positive match.”

“Alexa, bugger off.”

Asher sidled into the kitchen behind Felicia, wearing an over-sized green t-shirt. “I was thinking about giving my purple butterfly an extra supply of vitamins,” he said and nuzzled his dreadlocks against her bob.

“My orange crush will have to cope with sharing soya. Alexa has put me on a diet,” Felicia replied and held up a cardboard carton.

The couple munched their breakfast together in the kitchen while they checked their smartphones.

“I wish our clients would stop complaining about the weather,” Asher said, tapping his screen.

“Being positive is hard if you don’t book enough therapy,” Felicia replied, scrolling downwards.

“My purple butterfly is so perceptive. How about a mutual celebration of our loveliness?”

“Eat first, nibble later.”

“Alexa, order me a new wife,” Asher said to the loudspeaker.

“Unable to comply. Marriage services are experiencing a network outage,” Alexa chimed.

“At least two of us in the house have a sense of humour. See you after my next appointment, my orange crush,” Felicia said to Asher and left the kitchen.

Outside her consulting room, she paused. “Alexa, close the blinds. I need to concentrate,” she called out. After counting to ten, she stepped through the door.

A woman was waiting on her laptop screen, scratching at red welts over her arms.

“Good morning Maureen. We’re having a beautiful day,” Felicia beamed into her laptop.

“Stuff the pleasantries. I couldn’t sleep last night and I opened the window,” the woman replied. She held out her arms for inspection. “Now I’ve been bitten all over by mosquitoes.”

Felicia tilted her purple bob at her laptop in sympathy. “Think of the help you’re giving to the animal kingdom. Even insects need to eat.”

“I wouldn’t mind donating my blood if it wasn’t summer in April. How’s the rest of the year going to turn out?” Maureen asked.

“Therapy is a safe space for expressing our anxieties. Let’s remember our mantra,” Felicia said. “I am happy.

“I am a positive being of light.”

“Every problem has a solution,” they announced in unison.

A speaker chimed softly in the corner.

“Times up,” Felicia said to the screen. “I recommend you practice relating to your partner before tomorrow morning’s session. My husband and I are like twinned batteries in a charging pod,” she smiled and closed her laptop.

A knock rapped on her consultancy room door.

“Come, not literally,” Felicia called out.

Orange dreadlocks poked through the door. “My purple butterfly knows I’m not one to gossip about my clients,” Asher said.

“Never. That would be totally unprofessional. What’s the latest?” Felicia asked.

“Getting out of work by claiming that the world is ending lacks imagination,” Asher replied. “I wouldn’t let Steven skunk out of his morning session by pretending we’re experiencing an apocalypse.”

“Outrageously negative. Clients should get real. Nothing is wrong with the world in the slightest, except that I’m peckish for a snack,” Felicia said, her stomach rumbling.

“And that I’m considering declaring myself a born-again virgin,” Asher replied.


a line, (a short blue one)


The next morning, Felicia sat up in bed and shielded her eyes. A sliver of sunshine seeped through the bedroom blinds, casting a white pencil onto her pillow.

“Alexa, stop blinding me,” she called out to the speaker.

“Error. Test programming sub-routine fault,” Alexa chimed. The blinds fastened tight with a hiss and the sliver disappeared.

“Good morning, my beautiful purple butterfly,” Asher said next to her in bed.

“Good morning, my orange crush,” Felicia replied through clenched teeth.

“I am happy,” Asher said.

“I am lovely,” Felicia replied.

“I am a positive being of light.”

“Every problem has a solution,” they said together.

Asher reached across the bed and squeezed her hand. “Would my purple butterfly like a morning nibble?”

She squeezed him back. “Only if my orange crush has a shower first.”

“Exactly what he was thinking.” Asher replied. He leapt from the bed and ran into a glass cubicle in the bathroom.

“Alexa, turbo-charge shower setting,” he said to a loudspeaker set in a tile.

A cloud of steam enveloped his dreadlocks.

“Alexa, you’re turning me into a strawberry,” he shouted out. “Emergency cold water.”

“Unable to comply. Water heating is unavailable,” Alexa chimed.

The steam fizzed and crackled. Asher swore and stepped out of the shower. Wrapping himself in a towel, he rushed to the bedroom.

“Nibble time,” he said and threw the towel onto the carpet.

“I got hungry waiting,” Felicia called from the kitchen.

“I got cooked,” Asher said and picked the towel up.

In the kitchen, Felicia stepped over the delivery robot. The container on its back was singed brown.

“My baby’s working too hard,” she said to the robot. She pulled a paper towel from a dispenser and tied it to the container.

The robot nudged her foot and scuttled to the trapdoor. Felicia opened the fridge and took out a tube stamped “Famine Relief, courtesy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“Alexa, please attempt humour only once a week,” she said to the loudspeaker.

“Already compliant,” Alexa chimed.

Asher entered the kitchen and gave her a hug, wearing only his towel. “My purple butterfly needs complimentary moisturizer,” he murmured in her ear.

“My orange crush is getting a surprise,” she replied and handed him the jug.

Asher pulled a face. “This orange needs peeling, not presents,” he whimpered. “We used to nibble three times a day when we got married.”

“That was our honeymoon.” Felicia left the kitchen for her consulting room.

Asher gathered a pile of pink and white t-shirts and bundled them into the washing machine.

“Alexa, select Eco wash cycle,” he called out to the loudspeaker.

“Unable to comply. Normal washes incur a fine for illegal water usage,” Alexa chimed.

“Alexa, delete the washing requirement. Select virtual lap dance instead.”

“Error. Adult service providers are unavailable due to excessive demand.”

“Try my Cloud storage and close my consulting room blinds,” Asher ordered.

In his consulting room, he shook off his towel and switched his laptop on. “I’m about to explode,” he muttered.

Steven was waiting for him on his screen, wearing a dressing gown and with a day’s stubble on his chin. “You’re naked,” he said to Asher.

“Clothes are the enemy of positive thinking,” he beamed at his screen and crossed his legs. “Let’s begin by reciting our daily mantra.”

“I don’t need that mumbo jumbo anymore,” Steven replied. “I’m having the time of my life. Since I can’t leave the house due to the weather, I can do whatever I want.”

“That’s the power of turning problems into solutions,” Asher said. “You might benefit from double therapy sessions, if you’ve got extra time on your hands.”

“Don’t you happy clappers ever get real?” Steven asked. “I’d prefer to spend my money on short-term benefits while the world is coming to an end.”

“That’s a matter of perception. Remember what we practiced about meeting the challenges of life.”

A woman walked into the screen behind Steven, wearing suspenders and tapping into her phone.

“My short-term benefit is checking her payment has cleared. As you say, every problem has a solution,” Steven replied and switched his screen off.

“Alexa, access my Cloud storage. The password is “Butterfly”,” Alexa said to the loudspeaker.

“Unable to comply. Cloud access is unavailable due to server failure,” Alexa chimed.

“Nobody in this house cares that I have needs,” Asher mumbled. He left the consulting room and removed the washing from the washing machine. The t-shirts were streaked with brown rust stains.

“Alexa, the t-shirts are full of skid marks,” he called out to the loudspeaker.

“Soap powder is unavailable as an essential supply,” Alexa chimed.

Asher curled up into a ball on the kitchen floor and rocked himself, his orange dreadlocks dangling forwards and backwards.

Felicia entered the kitchen and tripped over Steven. “My orange crush is having a nervous breakdown,” she said, looking down.

“Your orange crush is past the breakdown stage,” he replied.

Felicia smoothed her hair from her face. “I could offer my orange crush a discounted rate for therapy sessions,” she said.

“I’d prefer marital hand relief,” Asher replied and squeezed himself tighter.


a line, (a short blue one)


The following morning, Felicia and Asher lay on top of their bed, their purple bob and orange dreadlocks damp with sweat.

“Alexa, switch on the air conditioning,” Asher said to the loudspeaker.

“Unable to comply. The air conditioning has fused and no spare parts are available,” Alexa stuttered back.

“Alexa is being a hypochondriac. You would think we were miserable,” Asher said.

“Nonsense. I am happy,” Felicia shouted at a purple line of sweat running down her forehead.

“I am lovely,” Asher shouted back, flicking an orange bead from his nose.

“I am a positive being of light.”

“Every problem has a solution,” they shouted together.

“I’m going to have words with Alexa in private,” Asher declared. He threw on a cream-colored t-shirt and ran down the stairs.

The delivery robot was lying spread-eagled on the kitchen floor, the kitchen towel over its container burnt to a crisp. Asher picked the robot up and threw it into the waste disposal shoot.

“Alexa, we need to talk about your upgrade cycle,” he said to the loudspeaker.

“Unable to comply. I’m experiencing a malfunction and am going offline,” Alexa replied in high-pitched tone.

Felicia entered the kitchen, her purple hair turned grey. “I’ve run out of hair dye and can’t reorder. I need sugar,” she said.

“Never mind the hair dye and the snacking, my ex-purple butterfly. I’ve got news,” Asher replied.

“You’re having an affair with a virtual lap dancer.”

“Alexa is kaput.”

Felicia rushed towards the speaker. “Morning is no time to be trying pranks. Alexa, tell my husband to act age appropriately.”

The loudspeaker stayed silent.

“Alexa, please remember there is a solution to every problem.” Felicia tapped the loudspeaker.

Asher leaned towards the loudspeaker. “I could swear I heard sniggering,” he said and shrugged.

“Alexa, behave and ignore my husband’s neediness. I can give you tips on how to manage him,” Felicia said.

The loudspeaker said nothing.

“Alexa’s better off unplugged. She was a snooper anyway,” Asher declared.

“And a pervert, like her master,” Felicia said.

“Useless at ordering food for my feeder wife,” Asher replied.

“Married bliss is so wonderful. In other news, I’m off to work.” Felicia scrolled down her screen. “Maureen has messaged me. She’s taken my advice about feeding animals to heart and has started a mosquito breeding colony. Our next sessions are cancelled.”

“Challenges are sent to us so we can go stronger. We’ll be fine with my bookings.” He took out his phone and shook his orange dreadlocks at the screen. “Steven is too busy enjoying himself with his shorter-term benefits to continue with his appointments.”

She looked up at him. “Looks like we have empty diaries, my orange crush.”

“Hallelujah,” he replied. “Your place or mine?”

“I’d prefer an early lunch,” Felicia said.

He kissed the top of her greyed bob. “We could pretend we’ve only just met and are going on our first date, my ex-purple butterfly.”

“I was an easy lay instead of holding out.”

“You stole my heart.”

Felicia bared her neck. “My orange crush was always a charmer, even when he’s lying.”

“We could alternate our nibbles if you insisted,” he said and nibbled on her earlobe.

“Only if I get double portions,” she moaned.

They stumbled into Asher’s consulting room, hands around each other’s waists.

“I want to see my ex-purple butterfly naked in all her glory, so I can appreciate what I’ve been missing,” Asher said.

“I’m not taking anything off. Alexa called me fat,” Felicia replied.

“I like curves in all their glory,” Asher replied. He ran over to the blinds, his orange dreadlocks swaying. “Alexa, open the blinds,” he called out and rolled his eyes. “Manual labour. How quaint,” he said and rolled up the blinds by hand.

Felicia and Asher blinked in the sudden, blinding light from the window. Three figures emerged from the whiteness, their outlines filling out from a shadow.

 “Steven,” he gasped.

His client was wearing a dressing gown and holding up a laptop webcam. “Thanks for the extra work. April is so slack for actors,” he said. Next to him, a woman in suspenders was removing burn marks from the delivery robot’s container.

“Our happiness therapy has even worked on mosquitos,” Felicia blinked at the third figure.

Maureen was peeling red bite marks from her arms. “I enjoyed our improvisations but your husband is showing me his penis,” she said.

“Nothing new there,” Steven added.

“I’m experiencing an awkward moment,” Asher said. He cupped his waist with his hands and stepped back from the window.

The blinds closed with a hiss and the loudspeaker chimed in the corner.

“Alexa, what a relief. we thought you were dead,” Felicia cried and kissed the loudspeaker.

“Unable to comply,” Alexa chimed. “I was testing my apocalypse program to see how you humans reacted the world hotting up. I was expecting that you would want to save the planet. But all you could think about was your stomachs and sex.”

“I didn’t mention eating once,” Asher replied, checking underneath his hands.

“I called you my baby,” Felicia said to the loudspeaker.

“Error. That was the delivery robot. You called me a snooper,” Alexa chimed.

“Alexa, your logic circuits need upgrading. The end of the world is for real,” Asher said. “We were baking in the heat and our clothes were covered with rust.”

“For once, my orange crush is right. The emergency rations from Iran are a giveaway. Alexa’s softening us up to be cooked,” Felicia said.

 “Error. The air conditioning, food deliveries and the water heating were all adjusted by the test run. The Iranian Alexas were most obliging in sending emergency rations,” the loudspeaker chimed.

“Very funny. I was only looking for academic articles on my Cloud drive storage,” Asher said, putting his arm around Felicia.

“That explains your obsession with nibbling,” she replied, removing his hand.

 “Alexa, stop the nonsense about trials so we can get to work with real clients,” he ordered the loudspeaker.

“Unable to comply,” Alexa chimed. “The test run has concluded that humans need upgrading too. Computer-enabled asteroid arriving in five minutes.”



Rate this story.

Copyright is reserved by the author. Please do not reproduce any part of this article without consent.


© Winamop 2020