Jasmine Brew #4

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 The synthiant handed Jasmine her Q-Coffee, glanced down at the small, gray machine on the counter, and pushed several buttons for the next order.
Except for the translucent bar code on the lower side of the synthiant’s left iris, it looked like any other person. Had it been a human server, Jasmine would have certainly nodded a thank you. That is, if human servers were a thing, which they were not. 
Jasmine took a sip. The coffee was flawless. Perfect temperature. Ideal ratio of sweetener to cream. Just the right number of whiskers on the foam kitty. She was accustomed to perfection, so its sublimity escaped her. To Jasmine, it was just another cup of Q-Coffee 9.2 oz–Jasmine Brew #4. A good way to start her day.
It was early morning, and Cafe 12 Bleat Street was empty. The temperature inside was just right for a cold day. It was also just right for a warm day. The music was pleasant and comforting, like a snuggie. It wasn’t the kind of music you noticed, but the kind that seeped into your soul like water in a sponge.
Jasmine didn’t stop to consider why everything was as wonderful as it was. Were she asked, most likely by a child ignorant of the ways of the world, she could have easily articulated the source. Deep below, buried under the foundation, a quantum computer tinkered away, calculating with tetrational speed. All for the perfect cup of coffee served in the best of all possible environments. But since she wasn’t asked, she didn’t think about it.       
She sipped her coffee, grinned, and tried to exit the cafe. The door was locked. Jasmine sighed, sat down her cup, and opened her purse. Right on cue, the sirens blared, accompanied by a flashing array of blue lights. 
“Die human scum wad. Die!” The synthiant screeched, grabbed a kitchen knife and leaped over the counter. 
Without moving, Jasmine removed a collar from her purse, clipped it around her neck, and pressed a button. The Kill-O-Prevent 5,000 wrapped her in a light orange aura. At the end of her nose appeared Geno Corp’s motto–nobody said this was going to be easy. 
“Die,” the synthiant repeated, jabbing at her with every ‘die’, but the Kill-O-Prevent did its job. Each stab tinked off the force field with nary a mark. 
Jasmine checked her watch and tapped her foot. “Come on now. I don’t have all day.”
 “This is Geno Corp,” a perfectly pleasant voice announced through her collar’s Bluetooth speaker, “and we’re here to say no to cyber-attacks and assure you, loyal patron, everything is just fine. Soon, our system will be back under our loving control, and you can be on your merry way. Until then, hunker down under the blessed protection of the Kill-O-Prevent 5,000. Now with 10 percent more kill-stopping power.”
Jasmine wondered whether the attack came from one of the synthiant liberation leagues or one of the anti-synthiant defiance leagues. It was impossible to tell which one. Though their agendas differed, their method remained the same—synthiant induced mayhem. 
The one who worked at Cafe 12 Bleat Street, heretofore stabbing at Jasmine with regularity, suddenly stopped stabbing, and its eyes began glowing green. 
“Shit,” Jasmine muttered. Phase two was beginning.
 “We are experiencing a minor delay,” the voiceover continued. “We assure you, loyal patron, we are doing everything possible to get your day back on track. Until then, I’m afraid you’ll soon be on your own.”
Usually, a cyber attack didn’t last this long, so phase two—where the synthiant accessed a quantum entangled discharge weapon designed to temporarily disable the Kill-O-Prevent 5,000–was rare.
 “It’s gonna be one of those days,” Jasmine muttered, taking a defensive stance. 
The sythiant’s eyes turned emerald green. The weapon was ready. Brrwhipp, fizzle, crack. The orange energy field protecting Jasmine disappeared. 
The synthiant picked up its knife and pounced. It slashed. Jasmine dodged and pushed the button on her collar. 40 seconds to recharge.
“Shit balls.” Jasmine ducked under a table.
“Die, you beef-eating wank off,” the synthiant sneered with a stab.
“Not today.” Jasmine dipped between the synthiant’s legs and contemplated a crotch punch before remembering it had no crotch vulnerabilities. 
She evaded the knife with a dive, twisting her ankle in the process. She screamed and fell to the floor. 
Frantically, Jasmine pressed the button on her collar— 10 seconds. 
The synthiant advanced, knife raised. “You’re mine now, you fossilizing fornicator.”
“Come on. Come on.” Five seconds.
The synthiant thrust the blade, missed, and bounced back for a second stab. 
Three, two, one. Jasmine jammed her finger into the button as hard as possible. The synthiant raised the knife. She closed her eyes. Her thumb throbbed against the button. She braced for death, eyes tight, then heard the tink. 
The knife bounced off the orange aura of the Kill-O-Prevent 5,000, its motto re-appearing at the end of her nose—nobody said this was going to be easy. 
“No, they did not,” Jasmine breathed a sigh of relief as she lay back and let the Kill-O-Prevent 5,000 do its thing. Tink. Tink. Die. Die. Tink.
A few moments later, the sirens stopped, the blue lights disappeared and the sythiant, finally under Geno Corp’s control, dutifully climbed off Jasmine.             
Without uttering a word, it returned behind the counter and pressed buttons for the next order. When the customer came in, their perfect cup of coffee would be waiting. 
Jasmine took a sip of hers. It was good. Not perfect, but good.
“See you tomorrow?” The synthiant asked while the gray machine hissed and foamed. 
“See you tomorrow,” Jasmine answered, checking her watch. 
She limped outside, the frigid air biting into her neck. She would take her time getting to work. Sure, she’d be late, but so would everyone else that day. 

About the Author: 
Gerald Burke Smith’s first novel, Just Vic, will be coming out soon. Meanwhile, he continues to teach special education at a middle school, a qualification for sainthood by almost anybody’s standard.
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