“Tell me about yourself,” she said shortly after takeoff. “Where are you from? Where are you going?”
The question took me a little by surprise. I mean, I fly every week and I’m used to seatmates who want to talk, but don’t often run into one who was quite so direct. Or quite so beautiful. My hesitation gave her a moment to add, with just a hint of slyness: “And what will you do when you get there?”
Well now, I thought to myself, this could go any number of directions! She couldn’t know the first thing about me, so why not play this out a bit and see where we end up? After all, it’s a long flight across the ocean and we have nine more hours to go.
“I’m a scientist,” I said somewhat automatically, and immediately regretted how boring that sounded. “I live in Hollywood and advise movie studios on scientific special effects,” I made up quickly, hoping to fabricate a bit of cool-factor.
“A scientist in Hollywood? Well, that certainly sounds exciting. I’ll bet you know some very interesting people.” Was that a twinkle in her eye?
“A few,” I said. “Though I think I’m about to get to know one more!” Grooaaan – just shoot me now. OK, the scientist part is true, as if everyone can’t tell by how awkward it is for me to talk to a gorgeous, raven-haired stranger sitting in the window seat beside me. I’m so embarrassed that I want to disappear. She turns to look through the window at the clouds below. Shit, I blew it. Again.
But, wait, she turns back to me with…really? I could swear that’s a twinkle in her eye. The kind that means she’s smiling with me, not at me.
“So, tell me Mr. Scientist,” she says with what is definitely a no-doubt-about-it-now twinkle, not just in her eye but in the way she leans in a little as she looks at me. “Just what is it that you’d like to know? About me? Up here, on our way to…oh, you never did tell me where you’re going…”
“I’m on my way to meet with some investors,” I say, weaving some truth back into the tale to help me keep it straight. “I’ve got a big demo to present and if it all goes as planned then I think everyone will be very happy.”
She leans closer, her long, thick hair brushing my shoulder as her pursed lips approach my ear. “Everyone,” she whispers in a low, silky voice. “Even me? Eve…Eve…Eve…Click… Even me? Click. Even me…”
Damn it! What…ah, good lord, after all this testing I can’t believe there’s still a bug in the AI code. I push my almost-but-not-quite perfect prototype back into her seat, open my laptop, plug the cable into the port just behind her left ear, and start debugging. I’ve got eight more hours to get her working perfectly for the demo, and I’d better make the most of them.
The prompt that inspired this piece of flash fiction can be found here.