Who’s Counting?

A long time ago, I bought one of those variety cat toy packs with fuzzy mice, tinkle balls, pompoms, and a few plastic springs. All eventually gobbled up by the couch, the loveseat, or some other piece of furniture with more than an inch of clearance underneath.

So I bought another pack.

Then another.

I’ve lost count of how many value packs of happiness have made it home from the grocery store.

But who’s counting? Because these rescue kitties have had a tough go of it, and they need their pretties. And they had not one pretty left anywhere in the house. Or so we thought.

Then we moved the couch to clean and found a hundred or so of the “lost forever, buy us new ones, please” toys.


Light-years away, Programmers void of emotion design our present-day experiences to preserve the human race. But resources are limited, and when a little girl creates a connection transcending the protocols, something must be done to protect the system and the dark skies threatening to take over the world.

First seen in Future Visions Volume 3 edited by Brian J. Walton, “The Removal of Blue Sky” was B. A. Paul’s first short story sale and also received L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future honorable mention.

On my Promotion Day, I was thrilled to find I had been assigned a seven-year-old little girl, but I dared not show it. When they handed me her file, I simply nodded and followed along in the line of other flat-faced Promotion Day participants. She lived in Connecticut with her father, mother and two-year-old brother. Her previous Programmer was retired, and I was chosen to spend my days designing hers. And why the humans enjoyed the four-legged things, I’ll never understand.

A slender technology specialist opened the steel door and nodded toward the room. “Here is where you’ll review Samantha’s years so far, sir. Buzz me when you’ve finished and I’ll show you to the Machine Room.” The emotionless lady left me to the child’s file and video report.

My heart soared. I took a seat at the table and the orange holographic frame buzzed to life in front of me. I watched Samantha’s conception, birth, first year celebration and on and on. I watched her scrape her knees and wake up with nightmares. I didn’t like those parts, but her Programmer did right to allow them. She wouldn’t learn and grow properly without some conflict and pain.

Thank you for hanging out for a bit. Check back on the first Monday of every

month for a free fictional short, and be sure to visit my Amazon page.

Copyright © 2019 by B.A. Paul
All work is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed herein are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. All work published on this site, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Beth's passion for writing started in grade school with an epic outer space adventure scribbled on 158 sheets of wide-ruled notebook paper with not-sharp-enough pencils. That manuscript was lost in a basement flood.

Thirty years, marriage, two kids and several dogs later, she's garnered enough story fodder to resurrect her passion—and this time she backs up her work!

She currently resides in Indiana with her family and a couple of meowing fur babies who enjoy walking across her keyboard.