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61. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Helen De Cruz The Cave of Adventure
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Is it better to live in truth, or to live a happy lie? What if you could choose to forget past pain? In this work of choose your own adventure style philosophical short story of fiction, you are in the role of the main character, a female scientist studying the memory length of fish. While walking through the park you take an underground passage that has a new, and mysterious, offshoot passage to a cave full of fish tanks. There, you meet a child, the child you didn’t have, in the relationship that didn’t work out. The child takes you to another chamber with humans floating in water in stasis, living out their most blissful lives in their minds. You are given the choice, to join them in the tank to live out your remaining days as a successful scientist, with a loving husband, and a child or, to leave the cave, and enter the painful lonely life that lays ahead of you outside the cave.
62. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Remi Martin The Freedom Machine
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If you could have a tool always whispering in your ear the best choices, would you use it? Is being the best version of yourself the point of life? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Kiki has a problem, the computer program that continually whispers the best choices, the Infinity System, is broken. She has been using it for years and simply doing what it says. Following its advice has become second nature to her. She heads into the shop to get it looked at, and finds out it must be sent off for repairs. She will be making choices on her own for a few days. The friendly “Mastermind” service representative at the shop asks her out on a date. Without her Infinity System giving her advice, she decides to take a chance and say yes. She ends up getting drunk and sleeping with him. When she heads into the store to check to see if her Infinity System is repaired, she sees the same “Mastermind” using the same pickup lines on a new woman. She storms out. Finally, after several lost days, her repaired Infinity System is repaired and sent to her house. Now she is stuck with the final decision, will she start using it again?
63. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Matias Travieso-Diaz Christmas in Ushuaia
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When you get rid of the worst moments of your life, do you also get rid of yourself? Are horrible life experiences simply required? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Laz has gone to the ends of the earth, the southern tip of Argentina, to throw a diary containing all his life’s disappointments and misery into the ocean, so as to rid himself of these experiences. While dining he sits with an intriguing couple who hear the story of his life and put forth an alternative theory, that our negative experiences are necessary to form our personality. That without our negative experiences, we are left the shell of a person. Laz takes these words to heart, and decides to retain his negative life experiences.
64. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Jann Everard I Do So, Like Durian
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Where does racism come from? How do experiences with other cultures change our views of race? In this work of philosophical short fiction, Holly, a young teenage girl, heads into Chinatown against her mother’s wishes to visit Jon, a teenage boy, she is interested in dating. He is working at his parents’ Chinese restaurant. She has taken public transportation to Chinatown with her mother knowing, and against her mother’s wishes. Her mother has a strong bias against the area and the people. Holly gets off the bus at the wrong place and gets lost, but friendly locals direct her the right way. She is amazed by the differences in food and culture she sees all around her and ends up buying a durian. Eventually, she finds the restaurant (still carrying the durian), and finds Jon working. Jon is surprised and slightly embarrassed to see Holly and explains to her she will not like taste of the durian. Holly is warmly welcomed by one of Jon’s relatives in the restaurant who agrees to take her in the back and show her out to prepare her exotic fruit.
65. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Veronica Leigh In Love And War
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How much do you need to know about someone in order to help them? Is knowing that they need help enough? In this work of philosophical short fiction, Irene lives in Krakow, Poland in 1943 under Nazi occupation. Like everyone, she struggles to make enough money to survive. There is a frantic midnight knock at the door. Terrified, she opens the door to find a stranger that, she assumes, is part of the resistance. She lets him in and finds he is injured, and bleeding. She sews him up the best she can. She offers him sanctuary, knowing that if she is caught doing so, it is certain death. He explains he is not part of the resistance, but a Jew. She agrees to let him stay just one night. They fall asleep. When Irene wakes up, the man is gone, but has left her a heart-shaped locket in thanks. She runs out of her house, down the street, the finds him not far away. Irene coaxes the man back into her house to rest. After he is in the house, Irene weighs her options. The man is likely to die from infection of his wounds anyway. If she is found hiding him, she will be put to death. However, if she turns him into the Germans there will be a reward of much needed money. Irene puts the man to rest in the bed, leaves the house, and heads to the Gestapo Headquarters. God, she reasons, will understand.
66. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 8
Garrett Davis They Got Their Show
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What does it take to forgive? Why can’t we force ourselves to forgive sooner? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Nick’s high school daughter was murdered on her way to the Blockbuster Video store in 1995. Her friend and classmate, Benjie, was found guilty of her murder. Twenty years later a Netflix true crime series interviewed the witnesses and shined a light on the case, causing it to be reexamined. After 20 years, Benjie is released from prison as innocent. Nick is an alcoholic who, for 20 years, has failed to move on from his daughter’s death and dreamed of Benjie getting the electric chair. Now, he is called to be the taxi driver that picks Benjie up from the prison. They talk, and Nick begins to find forgiveness.
67. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 8
Fiona Ennis Claim
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Are there certain things you shouldn’t be able to insure against? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, the narrator has an eating disorder, and mental health issues. Regardless, she is a good employee at an insurance company. Just before closing, a call arrives from a good client, the local diocese who inquires about getting insurance to protect them against sexual abuse of children by priests. She takes the issue, and her concerns, to her boss who threatens to fire her if she fails to write the policy. It’s not their job to judge, he says, it’s their job to insure. A flashback shows why this point strikes so close home with the narrator. As a young child she was bullied on the school bus for being overweight. In an attempt to lose weight she started getting off the bus early to walk the last three miles home. Later, her bully accused the bus driver of touching her when they were on the bus alone together. Having come full circle, not much has changed. The narrator writes the contract, and sends it to the diocese to sign and return.
68. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 8
Alexis Dubon Home For The Holidays
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How do you find common ground with those that believe in a vast, intricate, media conspiracy to hide the truth? In this work of philosophical short story of fiction, the narrator drives out to his parent’s house to visit them for the holidays. Much to his surprise, when his parents open the door, they are only two feet tall! He is concerned that his parents, like many in the world, have shrunk to half their size. His parents, however, are equally concerned about their son because they believe he, and others in the world, have doubled in size. The son tries to explain to his parents that they have shrunk, that is why their house, and all their belongings, seem so large. However, his parents believe he, like many others, have an altered idea of what reality is, and that they have been lied to by the media and local officials. The son continues to come year after year to visit his tiny parents, who continue to refuse that they have changed, not the world around them.
69. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 8
Logan Thrasher Collins Mahabbah
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Would the world be better with more empathy? If so, why not simply engineer society to be more empathetic? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Jacqueline is a scientist who invents a virus that she says changes people for the better. By editing genes and changing hormone levels it makes people more empathetic and compassionate towards others. She calls it Mahabbah and she wants the help of her friend Aziz to continuing human trials and release it into the world. Aziz agrees to also test the virus and determines it does perform as advertised. After being infected, Aziz is more sympathetic, and more willing to help others. When Aziz goes to Jacqueline’s office, he finds that she is being detained and her office is being quarantined. Jacqueline gets a message to Aziz who goes to her house, gets the virus, and releases a transferable version in the airport. It works. Over the next few months wars end and world peace takes hold. Jacqueline is released from quarantine months later and meets up with Aziz, and their friendship is strengthened in a new world.
70. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 8
Sebastian Hoyle The Ascension Review of Xebob Zebble
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How do we judge behavior in the modern day that was considered acceptable at the time it was performed, but unacceptable by modern standards? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Xebob is waiting for his accession review. If he passes, he will be named, for life, an Interaction Guide. In that position he will hear and issue proclamations governing the appropriate behaviors of everyone on his planet. The problem is, he is a MalPar-A, and a MalPar-B has recently come forward with allegations that he Danyar’ed, and maybe even Disma’ed, a MalPar-B in his youth. Xebob knows the story is true, and he knows the story will ruin his chances in front of the accession board. While he now believes these are inappropriate actions, as a youth he had felt differently. In fact, most of society at the time felt differently. Now he is faced with the difficult question, should he allow himself to be held accountable for the actions of his youth, or lie and say the accusations are false?
71. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 8
Mina Ikemoto Ghosh The Dividual
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How do people come to terms with the different aspects of their personality? What happens if we “cut away” the parts of ourselves we don’t like? In this work of philosophical short fiction, the world has two related species, humans as we know them, and “dividuals.” Dividuals are related to humans, but, unlike humans, have a trunk with different people, representing the different aspects of their personalities. Seizo is a medical student who is selected for an exchange program to work with, and learn from Osqaris, a dividual he is to have ongoing interactions with. Over time, they become friends. In the end, Seizo learns that he is part dividual, with mixed parents, but was born primarily human. Osqaris was also born of mixed parents, but born primarily dividual. They both, it seems, have struggled to come to terms with how to show, and cut out, the parts of their personality they wish to hide.
72. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 8
Chris Burrow The Orphan’s Dilemma
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Is it okay to erase memories of your past to give yourself a better chance at a happy future? In this work of philosophical short fiction, Harold is an orphan up for adoption. He has been selected to be adopted, which means, in order to be accepted by the family, he will need to have his memory wiped clean and implanted with the preferred memories of his new family. This, they say, will give him a better chance of integrating with his new family and living out a successful life. He, and other orphans, are called one by one to decide if this is a procedure, they are willing to accept so they can be adopted. Harold wonders what it will be like to no longer remember his first kiss, or his love of science fiction. These are the things, he reasons, that have allowed him to cope and grow from his difficult life. His name is called, it is time for him to decide.
73. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
E. B. Ratcliffe Evening Star
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Which would you prefer, a gay son, or no relationship with your son at all? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Robert and Grace are high school friends. Both are bullied. Robert for his long hair and the rumor he is gay, and Grace, for her short hair, and the rumors she is too. Robert is gay, Grace is not. While preparing their midterm English performance, Robert decides he is going to use the performance as the way to finally come out to the school and tell them about the trauma he has been experiencing from his family the last several years. It does not go well as both are sent to the office, and their parents are called in. Robert escapes with his father’s gun. When Grace finds out she steals her mother’s car and goes looking for him. She finds him at a hotel. They briefly talk and the police show up. Before Grace realizes what has happened, Robert has killed himself.
74. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
Alexander B. Joy Conscience Cleaners
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Should a criminal suffering from the remorse of the crime he committed be permitted to be freed of that pain? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Mr. Henmore’s was convicted of a terrible crime many years ago. He served his time, and been paroled, and is genuinely remorseful for what he did. In fact, his pain is so great, even years later, he suffers severe, almost daily, mental anguish from the knowledge of what he did. His lawyer has gone before the Grand Rectification Council to ask permission to have Mr. Henmore’s memory wiped clean of the crime he committed so as to enter his suffering. After making his case on behalf of his client, it is now up to the Council, should Mr. Henmore forever remember the horrible thing he has done?
75. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
Deborah Serra Appreciating Hate
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Is acceptable to consume art that reflects the “depraved, the cruel, the violent, and the heartless” aspects humanity? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Felix doesn’t go for “moral relativism.” He believes there is good and evil, that art should not reflect the evil of the world, or enrich artists who are found wanting. Accordingly, Felix has gone about the lifelong process of removing all copies of the depraved art he can find, and afford to buy, in circulation. A police officer comes to his door because his sister in Arizona hasn’t heard from him in months and has asked for a wellness check. Felix explains his abundant video and book collection to the officer who is at first confused, but later begins to understand Felix’s reasoning.
76. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
Samuel Reifler How the Cockroach Lost its Voice (Children's Story)
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How do we learn from past decisions not taken and imagined futures while not holding on to the choices not taken and causing ourselves despair? In this work of philosophical short fiction, an Uncle Cockroach takes his nephew to the highest point in the land, the top of the refrigerator. From there, they overlook the larger, and beautiful home, and see the humans living in the home. The Uncle tells his nephew the humans can speak, like they do, but that they are unhappy because they have a hidden 3rd eye inside their head that allows them to see the future and the past that may happen. This causes them to dislike the present because they are always comparing it to what their 3rd eyes sees. Suddenly, an angel moth comes down and, on behalf of The Great Arachnid, is told me must forever render cockroaches speechless.
77. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
Laura J. Campbell The Showing
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What level of proof is required to believe in the spiritual and the afterlife? What level of proof is required for disclosure to others as material? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Mariette is a real estate agent that is informed by the seller that the house is haunted by a ghost. Mariette is prone to believing in ghosts, but feels this is information she is not required to tell a potential buyer. However, shortly thereafter, she starts getting strange static phone calls and seeing a woman from an earlier time walking the streets pushing an empty stroller. The situation comes to a head when she does some research that turns up a missing woman and child. Her phone rings again, again providing only static. By talking to the static Mariette is able to determine the sequence of events leading to the murder, and is able to set the wandering ghost free by giving it peace.
78. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
David Rose Prohibition
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How do you decide which laws are just, and which to break? How do you know when a democratic government has passed a law you are comfortable breaking? In this work of philosophical short fiction, the narrator admits he is an addict. He takes a taxi to a vacant part of town, and walks the rest of the way to his source. He knocks and enters the restaurant. Only one other patron, a woman. He orders the illegal dish to serve his addiction, a steak. With a glass of red wine he savors the illegal action of eating animal flesh. Just then the place is busted by the police. The narrator hides, but can see the police interrogating the woman and the doorman. In an effort to get information, the younger policeman begins beating the woman and accidentally kills her. The police decide to cover their tracks by throwing the woman in the back alley and making the doorman promise to never tell anyone what he saw. After the police leave, the terrified narrator slips out the back.
79. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
Joe Labriola The Room Above
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If society could clean the memories of a criminal, and allow them to start a new life, with new life experiences, would they have a new person? Are we more than our memories? In this work of philosophical short story of fiction, John wakes up with complete amnesia in a small white room. His roommate Jack is in the same situation, but has been in the room longer. They are gassed and when John wakes up a doctor explains to him that he was convicted of a crime and, rather than going to prison, he opted to have his memory erased, to have a new memory implanted, and to get an entirely new life. Unfortunately, in order to get a clean slate, the process from memory wipe to new life takes 18 months. John and Jack share a cell. John reads, and Jack draws. Eventually, Jack’s time is up and he disappears, ready to enter his new life. John gets a new cellmate and gets him up to speed. Eventually, John’s time is up and he is gassed a final time before starting his life as a "newborn."
80. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
Harman Burgess The Machine
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A review of "Newcomb’s paradox" and "Roko’s Basilisk," asks the question, it is better to help build a super AI when failure to do so might later get you punished by it? This work of philosophical short story of fiction is written as a letter to a friend. The letter writer was told about, and is now working on, a computer program that will infiltrate and merge with other computers, eventually created a singularity of a super intelligent, conscious AI. This AI, the author argues, will have mastered time travel and will naturally want to go back in time and punish anyone who failed to help it come to life. The author concludes the letter by requesting $3,000 and making clear that failure to send the money might be viewed by the future AI (if it is ever created) as a punishable response for failing to help it get built.