KOGGIE AND THE AUTONOMOUS HOUSE • by Mark Wolf

Koggie, the 10,034th descendant of the original bio-engineered cat-dog prototype, sat on an ornate garden bench in the upstairs arboretum of the autonomous house and yawned as she watched the robs scurrying about like a plague of mice on their appointed tasks.

Several of the robs climbed trees, sprayed insects, removed fungus-covered leaves, and pruned. Others fertilized the low-growing flowers and removed the dried seedpods for replanting. Some of them vacuumed up the fallen leaves for transport to the bio-converter. A few of the robs attended to her person.

She flinched as two robs clipped her sharp toenails. She’d learned by unhappy experience and conditioning that if she ran away from their ministrations that they would taser her and perform their duties anyway, so even in her most vile moods, all she did now was growl and show her teeth.

Koggie huffed when one of the robs clipped a nail a little close to the quick and blood appeared. The rob drew back, also conditioned by E-A-P (Experience-Acquired-Programming) to expect a swift swat, but when none happened, tiny laser beams lanced forth from its cyclops eye to measure the damage it had done. It cautiously moved forward and applied a antibiotic styptic to the wound, then continued clipping the other toenails.

A short time later, the robs finished the manicure and tried to groom Koggie. She growled at this, knowing and preferring to do it herself. They backed away. There were a few things Koggie knew. She knew she liked to eat at certain times of the day. Use her litter box shortly after, then find her way back to the bench to nap in the warmth of the sun that occasionally peeped through the almost never ending sandstorms that occurred outside of the autonomous house.

There were so many things that Koggie didn’t know, however, nor would she concern herself about if she did.

Things like the builder of the nuclear powered autonomous house, the woman who bio-engineered the original Koggie, killed by the radiation from the bombs she’d built her shelter against.

Or of the solar flare, nearly a thousand years before, that had caused glitches in the computer programs for a time, causing the house to decant hundreds of Koggies from their grow-out chambers. For a time, the autonomous house was filled with Koggies before the glitch was discovered and little stealth robs waited for them to sleep, euthanized the excess, injecting them with drugs, then carted their bodies carted off to the bio-converter to make more Koggie food.

Lastly, Koggie didn’t know about the programming that dictated that Koggies were euthanized when they reached 10 years and another Koggie was awoken from her sleep to take her place.

Koggie stretched and jumped off the bench. She wandered over to her food dish, ate some Koggie kibbles, lapped up some water, then made her way to the litter box. She made her deposit, buried it, then swatted at the overeager robs that climbed into the box to cart her dung back to the bio-converter. The house wasted nothing. Koggie returned to the bench and settled down for her nap. In a few seconds she was asleep.

A rob monitored her sleep rhythms, satisfied itself that Koggie had entered into a deep sleep, then moved forward.

***

Koggie, the 10,035th descendant of the original bio-engineered cat-dog prototype, sat on an ornate garden bench in the upstairs arboretum of the autonomous house and yawned as she watched the robs scurrying about like a plague of mice on their appointed tasks.


Mark Wolf lives in a tiny shack on the slopes of Mauna Loa, on the Big Island of Hawaii, and writes stories inspired by the fires of creation bubbling beneath him. In his other incarnations he has snared pigs, built houses, worked overseas as a missionary, fought forest fires, planted trees, and built wilderness trails. His published work has appeared at: Static Movement, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, Aurora Wolf, and a First Place finish in Liquid Imagination’s Beginner Writers Contest (Issue #5). He is on Facebook as Mark Keigley.


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 average 5 stars • 2 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Scary! Definitely not one for the cat / dog lover on EDF. Gives us a bleak yet oddly entertaining view of the future and human futility.

    I’d watch out for weasel words like ‘then’ – it’s a bit overused in this piece.

    Excellent read on the whole, though.

  • P.K.D. fan

    I enjoyed it.

  • CI

    I like the idea of a house running forever…has a Ray Bradbury feel – and seems to pull ideas from the movie Moon.

    I enjoyed the brief glimpses of what the cat didn’t know and the part about the glitch…but I’m still curious as to why the house kills the cats at age 10.

  • Cool. I like stories like this. As CI said, has a Ray Bradbury feel. What’s his one about the automatic house–There Will Come Soft Rains?

  • ajcap

    Certainly makes you think. Good read. Find out enough about Koggie (I would have used Ditty…no, maybe too cute), to like her so felt some sadness when I realized it must have been her 10th birthday. Then when I met 10,035 Koggie felt the same strange touch I get whenever I read any good sci fi. Cold. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but there it is.

  • Mark, Love this story. Congrats on introducing me to this strange new world.

  • vondrakker

    A nice little tale from the future.
    Something about it just doesn’t feel 100%
    Not sure if there’s a missing element….or..
    If it’s just me !!!!

    4 stars

  • Why would they be killed at 10 years? also i felt like i read he word “Koggie” so much i was glad it got killed. Other than that it was a good story and in interesting and original setting. I also thought the robot things were well done.

  • I normally don’t care for anything that smacks of sci-fi, but I enjoyed this piece. The only problem I had was with the first paragraph: “A ornate”, obviously just a small typo. Also, too many prepositional phrases all at once; I almost stopped reading at the first paragraph because of them.

    But I’m glad I didn’t stop because this truly is a little gem of a story.

  • I love sci-fi when it gives us an alternate view into the human condition. This one uses a pet to make the point that going along in life, even a luxurious one, has consequences if you don’t at least try to explore outside your box. I wonder what would have happened to 10,034 if it had taken off one day instead of resolutely accepting the way things were? Know anyone like that? Good story. I gave it a four.

  • Mary J

    I really enjoyed this one. It reminded me a little of the movie “Moon” starring Sam Rockwell.

  • Typo fixed; thanks, Debi!

  • John Im

    I enjoyed this story. In a world destroyed by
    machines imitating life, still one living being
    tries to maintain individual spontaneity. It
    conveyed to me a great empathy for even the
    lifelike robs. Thank you for writing this story
    Mark.

  • What about Koggie #10,036? Makes you wonder…
    Write1Sub1

  • Thanks for your comments, everyone. It was fun to consider a future where man’s creations have outlived him.

  • Jen

    This was a really fascinating story. It took me awhile to figure tha the “robs” who attended to Kogi’s needs where robots, but I loved that idea when I figured it out.
    I noticed you lef out the word “was” when talking about Kogi’s creator’s murder. The sentence doesn’t make sense otherwise.

  • Jen wrote:-

    I noticed you lef out the word “was” when talking about Kogi’s creator’s murder. The sentence doesn’t make sense otherwise.

    I had another look; it seems to make perfect sense, as a continuation of the last sentence of the previous paragraph. But there’s nothing there about murder, any more than in death in general in any war, even intended death – and this one sounds more like unintended death, from a failure or inadequacy of defensive systems.

  • ajcap

    Jen, ‘was’ is not needed because of the commas. Read it aloud and pause at each comma…reads fine.

    But, on second reading, I did notice the word ‘carted’ used twice in error in the paragraph following that one…’then carted their bodies carted off to the bio-converter to make more Koggie food’.

  • Jen

    Okay, one of my snyapses must’ve short circuted. 🙂