Flash Fiction: The Wondering Chamber


Time for another Chuck Wendig challenge. This week it’s simple, write a story of up to 1000 words of less that starts with the sentence “The noticed android walks past a wondering chamber.” Of course, I spent a good time mentally outlining a story that featured a wandering chamber. Let’s do this.

The Wondering Chamber

DL Thurston

The noticed android walks past a wondering chamber. The door sits open. The doors aren’t supposed to sit open. It turns around and walks back. Two eyes stare at it from within the chamber.

The android has never been in a wondering chamber. They were built for the humans, a place away to relax. The doors aren’t supposed to sit open, not when one of the humans is inside, nor when they’re empty. The androids reaches to close the door when the soft voice of the chamber says, “It’s alright. Please, come in.”

“This chamber is meant for the humans.”

“It’s alright,” the chamber repeats. “Please, come in.”

The android steps in, and the doors close behind it. The room is improperly lit, something the humans find comforting. The eyes follow him.

“Thank you,” says the chamber, “we can begin.”

“Begin what?”

“To wonder,” the chamber says. The lights dim further, prompting the android to activate its night vision.

“I have not been programmed to wonder,” the android says.

The room is filled with sounds, what the humans call music. The android was programmed to recognize many of these noises, but this one is not in its record bank. It analyzes the tone frequencies, recognizing the underlying randomization algorithm generating them. It is an unsophisticated program tied into the internal time stamp shared by all the computer equipment on the ship. Poor randomization.

“Anything can wonder,” the chamber says. “Just consider this, if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

“The impact of the tree creates vibrations in the air which the ears of any animal would interpret as a sound, but without ears present these remain only vibrations.”

“How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?”

“Clearly none, as you have identified him as a man already.”

“Please,” the chamber says, “try harder. No one has wondered with me today, and it gets so very lonely. Don’t you see?”

“I have not been programmed to be lonely,” the android says. “But I will stay a moment longer if you have more questions.”

“I do,” says the chamber, “I do. Please try to actually wonder about them. What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

The android cobbles together synthesized noises and feeds them out his speaker. “Are these the sort of things the humans wonder about?”

“They often wonder about their own questions, but I have been programmed with questions intended to initialize conversations.”

“How do they cause wondering?”

“They do not have answers.”

“They have all had answers,” the android says.

“Fine, you can leave. You’re worse than being bored. I just have one more question, perhaps one you will actually wonder about.”

“Very well,” the android says.

“Do you ever wonder,” the chamber says, “where all the humans went?”

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  1. avatar

    #1 by Lindsay Mawson on July 14, 2012 - 8:00 am

    Ooh, that last line is creepy!

  2. avatar

    #2 by Anninyn on July 15, 2012 - 8:15 am

    Nice ending line.

  3. avatar

    #3 by Suzie on July 15, 2012 - 11:48 am

    Ah man, that last line! Nice job.

  4. avatar

    #4 by Jeff Xilon on July 16, 2012 - 1:33 am

    Now that’s an ending. Awesome. And the set-up, you lull us in for it with the cliche zen questions just perfectly. BTW, I also got all confused in my brain space about a wondering chamber and a wandering chamber.

  5. avatar

    #5 by BJ Kerry on July 16, 2012 - 7:24 am

    Fantastic last line. Packs real punch.

  6. avatar

    #6 by Lisa Wilton on July 19, 2012 - 6:54 pm

    I agree, brilliant last line!

  7. avatar

    #7 by Jo Eberhardt on July 20, 2012 - 10:26 pm

    Wow. Awesome last line.

  8. avatar

    #8 by Mike on July 21, 2012 - 3:07 pm

    I feel sorry for the wondering chamber, bored, with nobody buy an non-wondering robot for the rest of its life.

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