A Faulty Machine

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Commercial Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Jace and Mereline ventured into the cold streets, hoping to buy snacks, sweets, and other goodies in a local vending machine. Except, that machine has different plans in mind...

A Faulty Machine



 “Access denied. Order #272 terminated in response to preliminary scans. Enjoy a carrot.”

A robotic voice echoed throughout a quiet street devoid of much activity. It belonged

to LUCE X2, the intelligent, “healthy” snack vending machine brought over from the

United Kingdom to the United States, including this city of Seattle.

 Standing opposed to the machine was a boy and his sister, named Jace and Mereline respectively. They had the same age of thirteen and even preferred to have the same colors for their hooded jackets and jeans to match their brown hair. It was currently in the cold season, so they both had to cover themselves extensively to ward off the frosty winds.

 Just now, they had attempted to use the last of their allowances to indulge in delicious sweets and chips. The pile of pleasure foods inside the vending machine made it difficult for them to choose an option, but they both eventually agreed to buy the classic Lays and M&Ms considering the money they had left.

 At least, that was the plan. What they failed to realize was that LUCE X2 discreetly analyzed their physical appearances and ended up refusing to cough up junk food. It was definitely cutting edge technology, but its offer to provide a carrot was questionable at best for the two siblings.

 “Excessive weight detected. A diet or this carrot is recommended for future weight loss prospects,” the machine suggested. “Would you like to have a carrot now?”

 “What? I’m not fat, you scrap metal!” Jace snaps. “And you can keep the carrot and give me what I want right now!”

 “Yeah, he’s right!” Mereline agreed. “You should give us what we want regardless of his weight, you know."

“I can fight you right now, Mereline.”

“The carrot is already provided,” LUCE said with a monotone voice. “Please note that there is no refund button, so stop searching for one at your earliest convenience.”

Is it programmed to say that? Mereline wondered as she stopped Jace from attempting to knock over LUCE afterwards. She actually wanted to kick it down herself, but the amount of trouble that would cause would not be small. Her foot would be thoroughly broken and she didn't want that to happen at all.

"Okay, please forget about this other person and give me my treat please?" Mereline asked. 


 “I wonder why it’s saying I’m overweight as well when I’m clearly not,” she said aloud while restraining Jace. “It’s obvious why it says you are, but me too?”

 “Shut up and help me get the snacks, Mereline,” Jace growled. “I will start to die without these godly foods.”

 “Yeah, yeah, I’m already trying over here. Or at least thinking about it.”

 “Thinking won’t put food in my stomach!”

 Mereline decided to ignore her brother as she paced around the vending machine, looking for anything useful. What she found was her image reflected by a glass covered hole located at the top of the machine. There was nothing notably suspicious about it, but it was the only thing that stood out other than the buttons. This reminded Mereline of the times when she helped her dad fix broken machines a long time ago. She always noticed the anomaly, but there was none to be seen anywhere on LUCE. Machines that were severely broken internally have an obvious change in its functioning and appearance, which wasn't the case here, so that meant there had to be a minor error somewhere.

“Stop ignoring me! I’m desperate for Lays! Didn’t you want some M&Ms too?”

Jace was nearly shouting now. The allure of tasty snacks made him into a irrational and crazy person, like a typical child waiting for their favorite food after a doctor or dentist appointment.

“You must insert money first,” LUCE responded to him. "Please?"

“I wasn’t even talking to you! If you want something inserted, then I can insert my fist, you piece of--”

“Hold on, Jace, I got it, so step back and don’t break the thing, you idiot. I’ve got enough problems without you messing everything up.”

Mereline stepped in to stop Jace before another conflict started. She guessed that the glass hole was probably how LUCE analyzed them without attracting much attention. The both of them were wearing multiple layers of clothing due to the chilly conditions of Seattle, which was probably why the visual sensors couldn't detect their true weight.

It’ll be pretty cold if I take off my jacket, Mereline thought. But I’ll have to do it. After Jace, of course.

“Jace, it looks like you have to take off your hoodie to trick the machine into thinking you’re not fat,” Mereline said.

Jace nodded without refuting and took off a layer of clothing, which only emphasized his deprived mental state. Such behavior resembled a desperate dog, according to Mereline.

“Excessive weight detected. Do you still want more carrots?”

It looked like LUCE’s analysis didn’t change at all.

“Jace, stop wasting our precious money like this,” Mereline grumbled. “Remember, there isn’t a refund button on this thing, if you remember correctly, and I'm sure you do.”

“It was your idea in the first place, so stop blaming me!”

“It’s your fault for eating too much at home! Go on a diet and move a bit, so that I can try.”

Mereline went to do the same thing Jace did and took off her hoodie after staring at the machine for a moment. She wasn’t completely sure LUCE would give her what she wanted, but she couldn’t back out now.

“Order #173 has been dropped. Enjoy your M&Ms!”

LUCE’s confirmation brought a smirk to Mereline’s face as she retrieved her item. The order had used up their last dollar, and the only one still standing as a winner was her.

“What! No, no, no!” Jace wailed as he pounded the glass separating him from his Lays. "My sweet baby!"

“Well, Jace, we better get going or else Mom and Dad will be worried,” Mereline said while hiding her triumphant expression.

“Wait, please, you’ve got to give me some M&Ms!”

“Just wait until our next shopping trip…”

“I can’t survive that long!”

Jace fell on his knees dramatically and began to beg with fake tears. He never did have any sense of dignity or pride.

“Fine, you can take half of it,” Mereline sighed. “You’re lucky that I’m in a good mood from getting my treat.”

She handed over the candy bag to Jace, taking care not to drop it. It was immediately snatched away with lightning speed.

“All right, let’s head back, Mereline said. “You’re satisfied now, right?”

“Yeah, let’s go.”

The two of them began to head back along the chilly road towards their home. They were already freezing from taking off their jackets, so haste was their top priority. Though, something was feeling off.

“Please retrieve the carrot!”

They both heard LUCE’s voice behind them and became surprised at the machine’s persistence.

“Hey, Jace…” Mereline began.

“What? You want me to go get the carrot?”

“No, I just noticed that you’re eating more than half of the M&Ms.”

Jace stopped and met Mereline’s gaze straight on for a second. He then proceeded to make a run for it.

“Hey! LUCE was right in not giving you anything!” shouted Mereline as she tried to chase him. Though, she continuously slipped on the ice that was forming on the roads and couldn’t make much progress.

“Ahahaha! It’s all mine!” Jace cheered. “You know you can't mess with me! Beat it, Mereline and stupid faulty machine!"



Submitted: November 13, 2017

© Copyright 2020 CSMI. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Blake Kirfman

The story is humorous and fun. The two siblings argue like real siblings would in real life. I liked the teasing of the boy when his sister tries the machine and gets the M&Ms while he’s stuck getting carrots, even after taking his coat off. Easy, fun, and quick read.

Mon, November 13th, 2017 9:44pm


I like the realism in the character's personalities and their interactions. Flowed well, and I wasn't confused about anything. Maybe more description in the setting, but that might be me. Great story all around

Tue, November 14th, 2017 4:19pm

Cali 0617

The characters were pretty realistic and funny. I liked the way they argued. It was easy to read. Could be more interesting if you indulged on the girl’s relationship with her dad, I was intrigued

Tue, November 14th, 2017 9:16pm

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