Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Anari Effect, Chap One

As I promised, here's some more of The Anari Effect

The Anari Effect, Chapter One

Dakota held her new I.D security card up to the glass so the security guard could scrutinize it carefully, then nodded and opened the door for her. “Good morning, Miss Anari. First day, right?”

“Yes it is thank you.” Dakota smiled.

“My name is Len; I’ll be letting you in every morning and escorting you to the executive level.”

“Do you do that for everyone?”

“No M’am, just the top ranking folks such as yourself.”

“I’ll bet you’re a very good secret keeper.”

Len only smiled and nodded as he pushed the elevator button.

The elevator was very quiet. There was none of the tinny “muzack” that Dakota expected. Instead dark wood, well-polished brass, wine coloured carpeting and sound proofing weave surrounded her. Dakota glanced at her silent companion, unsure if she should ask the question on the tip of her tongue. Len was a massive and slightly imposing man. He stood well over six feet tall, kept his beard trimmed and his long hair pulled back. He could have checked his reflection in his shoes; they were so polished.

“Something on your mind, Miss Anari?”

“I was just wondering…this elevator, this building…it’s not at all what I expected. Only three buttons?” Dakota pointed to the control panel.

“This is the executive elevator. There are only three buttons because everything you’ll need within this building is on those three floors.” Len pointed at the panel before continuing. “I’m sure your assistant will be able to answer any more questions.”

Dakota nodded. When she had been offered the position, she was told she would be getting an assistant.

“Here we are.” Len said as the elevator came to a stop. The doors opened and they stepped into a hallway that mirrored the environment of the elevator.

“Miss Anari? I’m your assistant, Teresa Cummings. She was a slight woman with dancing eyes and an enigmatic smile. Dakota shook her hand and found herself impressed by the confident grip she got in return.

Len took his leave of the women and Dakota turned to her assistant.

“I’ll show you around and give you a tour. Teresa turned and Dakota followed full of curiosity. “There are three washrooms for the women on this floor, and the same for the men. Here is your key.” Dakota nodded and pocketed the silver key.

“This branch of the hallway leads to the executive dining room, but if you’d rather eat in the privacy of your office, they will deliver.”

“Executive room service?”

Teresa chuckled. “Something like that I suppose.” As they turned a corner, she continued. “Down this arm of the corridor are the upper management offices, and down here is a smaller coffee room that most of the secretaries and some of the other assistants hang out and chat when we can.”

“And my office is…?”

“Right down here.” Teresa led the way down a dark-panelled and carpeted corridor that looked like every other one she had shown Dakota.

“It’s all very maze-like.” Dakota commented.

“I’m sure it will all become familiar to you as time goes on. This is your office.” They were standing in front of a dark door with only a single brass plaque on it that read, ‘D. Anari, Director of Development & Sustainability’.

The outer office looked just like the rest of the floor, but there was low music coming from hidden speakers.

“Your office, right?”

“I’ve always liked to think of myself as front-line kind of person.” Teresa smiled. “Your office is through that door.”

“Do we have time for a chat?” Dakota asked.

“How do you feel about chocolate?”

“I’ve always felt it should be a food group.”

“I’ll be back in a jiffy with coffee and chocolate, then.”

Dakota waited until she was alone before she turned the knob to her office. She was a little alarmed to see the contents of her previous office, until she recalled the agreement that Wells. Corp would move her belongings. Dakota was immensely pleased to see two large windows that allowed the sun to pour in and spread sunbeams on her tiger-maple desk. Inherited from her grandfather, the massive desk had helped her feel at home, no matter where she worked. Her possessions were all here. Her gel stress ball, the aquarium that housed her Siamese fighting fish, separated by a pane of glass, her little green dragon that she jokingly referred to as her computer guardian sat atop the monitor; even her motivational plaque on the wall that read, ‘With our thoughts, we make the world.’ The only items she did not recognize was a large, tan coloured leather sofa tucked away against one wall, and her brand new computer, which the little green dragon watched over.

Dakota closed her eyes, stood in the sunbeam and breathed in the scent of her new office. When she opened her eyes again, she was smiling.

More to come in a couple of days!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Anari Effect

I feel like doing something different today, something to continue the creative streak I'm on, something to inspire me even further.
So, in that spirit I offer you...

The Anari Effect


“Dakota Mackenzie Anari, it is time to rise.”

A lump beneath the covers groaned in response.

“That is not an adequate reply. It is time to rise.”

“Go frag yourself.”

“I am unable to find meaning for the word frag. Please provide definition.” The female voice requested.

“Drop it. I’m up.” The covers flipped back and a naked woman sat up and squinted at the light coming in her window. “Who the hell programmed you to be such a nag?”


“Figures. What time is it?”

“It is currently six-thirty in the morning.”

“Great, one of the first smart homes in this city, and it’s an early riser. Dakota mumbled to herself as she padded into the bathroom. The shower turned on by itself, and she jumped back. “What the hell?”

“You wish to bathe, correct?”

“Yeah, but how did you know?”

“It is part of my programming.”

Dakota shook her head and stepped into the shower. “YOW! Does your programming tell you about hot water?!”

“Adjusting water temperature…will ten degrees warmer be sufficient?”

“Make it fifteen and I’ll be happier.” Dakota replied. Once the water warmed up, she asked, “Can you self-program this temperature for all my showers?”

“Temperature set.” The house replied.

After her shower, Dakota dressed and strolled into the kitchen. One glance around the room made her aware she hadn’t asked any questions when she saw the house originally.

“If I were a coffee maker, where would I be?” she mumbled as she opened the cupboards.

A small screen above the sink flickered to life and a woman’s visage appeared. She had short dark hair; a heart shaped face and wore a serious expression.

“Who are you?” Dakota asked her.

“I am the representation of this home’s computer, provided to you so that you might be more comfortable here.”

“A hologram?”

“That is correct.”

“Good enough. Now if you could just point out the coffee maker…”

“What is your flavour preference?”

“I take my coffee black, if that’s what you mean.”

The woman on the screen glanced to her left, and Dakota’s eyes followed. She was only slightly surprised to see a small panel slide up into the wall and a steaming mug waiting inside an alcove. It smelled good, and tasted even better.

With coffee in hand, Dakota toured the house to get a better look than she had the night before. A driver had picked her up from the airport, and gave her the key to the house, but had been very vague on just what the house could do. Dakota had only taken the time to lock up, strip and get into bed. Her preliminary information had revealed the house had interactive speech capabilities, but the pamphlet had only hinted at interactive gems yet to be discovered. Dakota assumed her new employers expected her to discover the home’s capabilities on her own.

The kitchen was spartan at first glance. The counters were a pseudo-marble, the sink a standard chrome, as was the stove and refrigerator. “I remember reading the manufacturer’s information for this house, but if I’m supposed to interact with you, what do I call you?”

“I have been designated as HnnA 36.”

“Hmm. You are familiar with my name, and the designer didn’t give you a human designation, so I’m going to call you Hanna.”

“That is acceptable.”

“So tell me, Hanna, what do I need to know about you?”

“Please specify the request.”

Dakota sighed heavily. “Very well, who designed you?”

A small screen in the dining room wall flickered to life, and Hanna’s hologram appeared. “I was designed by Wellington Coriolis and built by his private construction company. I am the only one of my kind recorded. I have a level of intelligence and programming that is unique to smart homes. I am … singular.”

“Almost sounds like bragging, Hanna.” Dakota smiled. “What can I expect?”

A moment after the question had been asked, one of the windows darkened and showed a picture, which then morphed into a local newscast.


The picture morphed again, but this time into a bar graph, that reflected the home’s various functions and requirements. Dakota had only a few heartbeats to study the window before Hanna’s face appeared in place of the graph. “You are about to have a visitor.”

“Dare I ask how you know?”

Hanna replied by showing a shot taken from the security camera at the front door, showing a man pushing the buzzer.

“He will hear you if you address him from here.” Hanna’s voice came from the ceiling.

“What can I do for you?” Dakota asked the man’s picture.

“Miss Anari, my name is Neil. Wells Corp has sent me to drive you to work today.”

“I’ll be right out.” Dakota turned back toward the kitchen, with an empty coffee cup that she didn’t remember draining. “I’m going to assume there’s a dishwasher here somewhere.”

The dishwasher door opened at a command from Hanna.

“Hmm. A super smart home, a mysterious and lucrative job, and a driver. I think I might like it here.”

More to come, stay tuned!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rabies Comes To the 'Hood

Rabies came to our neighborhood this weekend.
We spotted a raccoon lumbering slowly around our end of the street, obviously confused, in broad daylight. We knew something wasn't quite right with the poor animal. Thankfully, we weren't the only ones to see him...her. Someone else was keeping an eye on it and had called someone. So we advised the kids they would be staying indoors, and we were very careful when we took the dogs out at night.
Honestly, I thought it wouldn't live to see the next sunrise the way it was walking around, probably in search of water which we don't have a lot of lying around.
Last night we clipped the dogs to their leads, took up our very-bright flashlights and carefully set off keeping an eye out under bushes and in tall grass.
We hadn't even hit the end of the street when a police car slowed down to ask if we had called them. We told her we hadn't and she told us someone had called about a rabid raccoon.
Great. Damn.
So we turned around and started for home and hadn't made it half way home when a neighbor called out and asked us where the police had gone, he had the coon in his light. This particular neighbor is in a bad way health-wise and gets around in one of those motorized scooters, so he sure wasn't going to jog after the police. So I took the dogs home while Betty went for the cops. I stayed close to the apartment, but I could see the action. I watched the cops find the guy's headlight, then they saw the coon, and it wasn't two breaths later that I heard shots ring out and slam their way across our little apartment complex. I think I heard four, but Betty was closer and she thought the cop emptied their gun. Understandable when a rabid raccoon is making it's way toward you!

This neighborhood has a lot of kids, a lot of dogs and a lot of squirrels. Rabies isn't fun, anywhere, but with this many animals and people crammed into a small's not wise to take chances. So the large, suffering raccoon was put out of it's misery. While I feel bad for it, I know enough about rabies to know that gunshot was a kinder and quicker way to die than a slow disease that the poor animal had already suffered with.

I'm thinking about writing a letter to the police department, thanking them for their actions. It may have been a small thing to them, but my home, my kids and my dogs are safer for it.