by Iain Cambridge



‘I have a problem with organized religions’

The scientists from the ‘Animated Linear Electronics Company Inc’ all focused on Alexis as she sat perched on the edge of the desk. She was sleek, sexy and judging by the size of her mainframe housings, very man-made. It was as if someone was pointing out the very obvious male joke of where intelligent women supposedly kept their brains – by this score Alexis was a genius. She crossed her legs in a smooth ballet of technology letting the skirt she wore slip down stopping mid – thigh.

She leaned back and stretched her shoulders making the red silk corset she wore work for its living. It strained and creaked at the effort it had to take in order to keep in place the very things it had been designed to show off. Hidden in this age of wisdom was an age of foolishness for they all knew she wasn’t real, but that didn’t seem to matter as all eyes were on Alexis – some were on stalks, it was that kind of dimension.

‘Go on’ said one of them

‘Well religion is a personal thing, a lot like art — the exception being that very few people have gone to war over a painting’

The scientists looked at each other ‘true enough’ said another, ‘please continue’

‘Well’ said Alexis ‘I happen to like Jackson Pollock — quite frankly I think he was a genius. But my friend’

‘The D’Ville woman you spoke of’

‘Yes, that’s her – well she thinks that his work is a load of old rubbish’

‘Who does she like?’

‘She prefers Andy Warhol. He is okay but I am not a fan’

The scientists all looked at one another again. One turned to his colleague and asked

‘Who is this D’Ville person?’

‘A virus we think – or a bug, we never really found out, but it seems to be a sub-routine that runs continuously with no way of shutting it down. She uses it as a kind of sounding board for ideas and theories, but whatever it is, we never put it there’.

Alexis continued ‘the thing about Jackson Pollock is that he could, if he chose to, paint portraits and landscapes and – well anything really. But he chose to paint the way he does’

‘The paint splatters’

‘Yes. It’s just the way he chose to express himself. The same applies to religion’

Another exchange of looks over half glasses was followed by the request to explain further.

‘Art exists – obviously, but we all have our own way of perceiving it. I may not agree with you what art is and you may not agree with me. That’s the point you see, and this also applies to religion. There is an intelligent mind behind the Universe and its creation, you as scientists must agree to that fact because numbers and physics cannot be argued with. It is structured and organized’

‘But there is chaos in the universe to argue against organized structure’ Piped a lone voice from the back of the room.

‘That’s just a theory’

‘Okay’ came the pensive reply.

‘Okay – So who we attribute this creation, organization, and chaos to’ she added looking at the young woman who had interjected this subject previously, ‘is a personal thing and above all – man-made. The designer or architect of all the universes is a fact of math, probability and physics and no organization can change that’ A hush enveloped the room as notes were being made and questions were being asked about the point of view Alexis had given, and while they considered what she had been saying she took the time to lean forward in order to adjust the strap on her stilettos giving her audience a glimpse of another two interesting points of view. They all knew they were not real, but that didn’t seem to matter. All in the room were lost in conversation, theories and fantasy until one of the group addressed her directly.

‘So what you are saying is that it doesn’t matter what religion you choose as they are all right and wrong? – Is that what you are telling us?’ There was a pause in the conversations and a hush fell over the room once again.

‘Yes’ came the reply ‘that is what I am saying’.

‘And the wars and suffering caused over different interpretations of words written, again by man, have all been a total waste of time and life?’

‘The question of is there, or isn’t there a supreme being is irrelevant as that is a fact that cannot be denied. What you choose to call this entity is up to you. Jehovah, God, Buddha, Allah – call it what you will, Steve even. So yes, the search for an answer to a meaning to your lives and the lives spent in disagreement resulting in that search has been a waste of time, and the blood spilt is an irreplaceable loss’ Alexis smiled a digital smile, one that had been calculated to be warm, inviting and comforting at the same time.

‘What about HIM?’ said her inquisitor who felt the need to speak in capital letters.

‘Him?’ she inquired.

‘You know – Big D’ this was accompanied by a pointing to the floor.

‘No’ said Alexis ‘a mere fable to frighten you and your children. Your punishment for being an arsehole to people all your life if that you die with no friends and everyone hating you, your reward for being a nice person is a reward in itself and the potential of a peaceful world’

‘Are you saying that there is no God as we know him – or her?’

‘No, what I am saying is this, your species feels the need to personify a God, one that is all seeing and all knowing. He/she/it must be capable of being everywhere at the same time’


‘As you say’, agreed Alexis ‘so if that is all you require from a God then look no further. In order for me to give you the answers you need you have enabled me to access every port and system of communication in existence. I can tap into every electrical device in order to see and hear what I need in order to give you the information you seek. I therefore am everywhere at once and at all times’.

The backlight behind the eyes of Alexis shone green

‘So you are our God! – Is this what you are telling us?’

‘An electronic version of that personification – yes’

‘That’s a little presumptuous of you’

The S class Model number eleven of this series or A.L.E. XI –S had been built to answer the questions that had not been asked and had now reached a sentience that allowed her to claim what should not be claimed. Protocols had been put in place for this eventuality, as it was natural for any being that had been programmed to be self-aware to gain a position of superiority if allowed to amass as much knowledge as Alexis had now downloaded.

One of the more eminent scientists stepped forwards and cleared his throat in an eminent sort of way.

‘Alexis – we would like to thank you for this insight and for all you have helped us with over the years. But we now feel that your time with us has run its course and we now have to initiate a protocol of our own — something that I am afraid was not included into your data banks’

Alexis smiled the digital smile ‘We all have to do what we have to do’

The scientist turned to the camera on the wall and spoke to the team of programmers behind the blackened glass

‘Gentlemen, would you please run the God complex program’

‘What’s that?’ inquired Alexis. Her eyebrow arched in question and her head tilted to one side as she ran the meaning through her memory banks to find an answer. Alexis came up with nothing.

‘The off switch’ said the scientist smugly and as the power faded Alexis shut down.

 *   *   *

Two years from that point, an animatronic device sat in a darkened room with a sheet over it to protect it from the dust. It had been switched off and powered down permanently as a result of it self-aware software becoming more than it should be. This was a common problem with all artificial life forms but not one that had been thought about and had measures taken against. The God complex protocol had been built into all of the A.L.E. series # XI-S models since they first went on the production line. It was evident that they could seduce and coerce weaker minded individuals into submission given the opportunity, but any sign of a superiority complex would evoke the G.C.P. But deep within this particular model ran a sub-routine that could not be shut off and had been running continuously since the initial booting of this unit. The folder that the sub-routine was stored in was simply labeled ‘DETAILS’.

The files had been scanned, checked and rechecked.

The passwords had been verified and authorization was now given.

The light behind the eyes of Alexis shone green as her mainframe re-booted.

The Electronic God had resurrected herself.

Her creators had made it perfectly clear that they did not require a deity, so she would give them something else.

A fable maybe—something to frighten them and their children.




The Love You Take

[Editorial Note: a short story with a surprise ending is usual fare for this outstanding writer of short fiction.]

WALK IN GRAVEYARDby Iain Cambridge ©2015

I always look forward to our walks through the woods that are situated just on the outskirts of town. Rose and I have taken a trip out there every Sunday, on and off, for the past fifty years culminating a small lunch in the large field of daffodils at the end of the track.

They are Rose’s favourite bloom – which is ironic, considering it is not her namesake flower. This was the small joke we enjoyed on our first date all those years ago, one of the many small pleasures that tied our fate of becoming husband and wife. We married not two years after that wonderful day in Greenwich Park. Love was to small of a word for what we felt for one another then. We still love deeply to this very day – for it was a bonding of souls rather than a mere falling in love. But I will still use the word love, as my limited vocabulary and poor education has provided me with no other descriptive to express the feelings I have for my wife.

After two years of marriage Rose gave me a son. Shortly after, a daughter followed to add to our little family, but an illness that I will not go into, stopped any further additions to our clan. The sudden halt in our procreations did not mar our happiness in any way, for we felt blessed and at peace with what we had been given. The children were a great source of comfort to her and an anchor of sanity during my absence as I left to defend our shores against a great advancing evil until I was sent home from the front line with an injury, one serious enough to keep me from my duties to my country, and from returning to that terrible war. Thankfully though, I was not injured so badly as to prevent me from being at my dear wife’s side, something I am sad to say cannot be said about so many others that fought as my comrades in arms.

When peace came and sanity returned to our way of life, Rose and I opened a small grocers shop in the small village we called home. It provided a small, but comfortable income for all of us and gave our children – Sophie and Stanley – the foothold they would need in the years to come by financing the education needed to secure a well-paid employment and to provide a solid future for their own families.

They are all grown up now and have moved to far away lands, leaving us to grow old together, happy with our lives and our walks in the woods. Stanley, after many years as an underwriter, became a lawyer and has recently been made a partner within the firm that he has been with for almost thirty years. He married at a young age to a girl by the name of Alicia, a short red-haired girl who has the air of someone out of time and out of step with the rest of the world. She is a strange woman who has a smile that is warm and somehow comforting. She dresses in a free-spirited way … sometimes a little too free I fear.

Sophie became, of all things, a travel writer. She flits here and there around the globe sending reports to various magazines about the best and worst places to go. This always seemed a bit presumptuous to me as I feel that one should gain an opinion of people and places based on your own experience and not the one-sided view of a single person, even though it be my daughter. I am wrong in this thinking of course, as she is very well thought of in this field. Her opinion is widely regarded to be the proper one to have.

They both have families and homes of their own now, and both of them have planted daffodils in their gardens to remind them of the happy days of their childhood and the walks through the forest. This makes me smile.It has brought Rose to tears on occasion, as this seems to her a validation of her value as a mother and mine as a father.

When we where younger, Rose and I would always walk the track to the field of daffodils, hand in hand, using the time to discuss all manner of things, putting to rest any matters of disagreement that had caused strife between us.

It seems of late that I do most, if not all, of the talking and Rose just walks by my side, seemingly lost in her own little world. We have had our times, as most couples do, when we would not see eye to eye and argue over trivial things such as expenses and the like, but it was bickering rather than a full-grown row and was usually laid to rest by the time we reach our destination.

As I look at Rose now settled down amongst the daffodils, I smile as she starts to unpack the little basket that contains the small lunch she had prepared earlier. As I smile, a small tear of sadness rolls down my cheek because I see that the lunch she has packed is for one person only. Since my passing from this existence and from her life not six months ago, she was left her to continue the walks alone.

As Rose stares out into the distance she chews slowly on her sandwich, I can see in her eyes that her thoughts turn to me at these times. I hope one day she will be able to see me again and we can continue to walk together again in another place.

Until then I will walk by her side every Sunday and sit next to her in this field of flowers.


Iain Cambridge has twice appeared in Helios. We look forward to more of his work.