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Nine-Tenths

Alec examined the lease for his new apartment. He paid close attention to the section on the AI interface and other tech enhancements; the real selling points. The only detractor he noticed was the unit was on the ground floor.

"I would prefer not to have units above me."

"It is a matter of policy to put tenants with dogs on the ground floor; it provides easy access to the dog yard."

"Ground floor it is then," he said with a sigh.

Satisfied with the amenities and rent he signed the agreement and authorized the transfer of funds. He slid the data pad over to the rental agent.

"Welcome to Miracle Point, Dr. Kern." She held out her hand.

Alec shook it. "Thank you, Ms. Lyle. How soon can I move in?"

"I'll schedule the programmer for tomorrow. Make sure you bring your dog as well. We'll scan you both and enter you into the AI's data base."

Gracie trotted ahead of Alec, her tail wagging, as they approached their new home. She stopped on occasion to sniff about. He scooped the Pomeranian up when they reached the pedestrian gate. Ms. Lyle opened it and gestured for them to enter.

"Welcome," she said with a smile. "So, who's this?" She held out her hand for the little dog to sniff.

"Gracie."

"Hello, Gracie." She scratched the Pomeranian behind the ear.

The little dog barked; her tail wagging and ears perked.

"The programmer is in your unit." She turned and headed to the building.

"Thank you." Alec followed, taking in the manicured common grounds as he passed. Gracie was going to love running around out here.

Ms. Lyle stopped half down the hall. She keyed in the management code and the door slid open. "All doors are pocket style. There are manual overrides inside for emergencies." She tapped a close panel beside the doorframe as they entered. "Carlos? Tenant's here with his dog."

Carlos poked his head outside the AI housing room, or rather closet. "Just about ready."

"Well, as he finishes setting up for your scan, let's take a look at the unit's premier feature." She walked him into the kitchen. "You have all the standard appliances for traditional living, but this here," she tapped the edge of the 3D food printer, "is cutting edge. Your rental package includes cartridges of basic nutrients and compounds that make up just about any food. You tell it what you want and it prints it." She tapped the request button. "Dog biscuit, tiny breed."

The unit whirred to life and two minutes later, as Alec watched, a dog treat formed in the opening. The door slid open much like the ones on the old coffee vending machines. He shook his head in wonder as he picked up the treat. It felt right.

Gracie stared at it, her tongue lolling out and her tail wagging. Alec set her down and handed her the biscuit. She snuffled it a mere second before it disappeared, leaving behind crumbs and doggy drool.

He laughed. "I see it has the Gracie Seal of Approval. Does it print the dishes too?"

She shook her head. "That's coming in future models. You put the dish in and it scans for dimensions. Now, once we scan you and Gracie in, the unit will record your daily routines and climate and food preferences. It will take it about a month to learn."

Alec entered the building. Gracie's distinctive bark sounded in the hallway. He peered around the corner to see her standing at the far door to the yard as it closed and locked. She was alone, not that he expected his sister to be here at this hour. Gracie trotted back to the apartment. She stopped in front of the door and barked. It slid open for her. Alec saw her disappear through the door. He raised an eyebrow and shook his head.

He hoped Gracie had been good for his sister when she dropped by. The trip had been sudden. Then again, no one plans a disaster. He was tired from days of dealing with wounded and travel. "Open."

"I'm sorry, you are not authorized. You need tenant's permission."

"Excuse me! I am the tenant."

"Negative. Gracie is the tenant."

"Gracie is my dog!" He could hear her excited barking.

The door slid open. "Gracie has authorized you."

"I'm so sorry for the inconvenience, Dr. Kern. Somehow the system glitched when you were absent for the tree weeks during the AI's learning period. The programmer thinks the system deleted your scan due to lack of feedback." Ms. Lyle shrugged in apology.

"Just get it fixed." He threw his hands up in exasperation. "The apartment is catering to my dog!"

"Well, possession is nine-tenths." She laughed.

Alec groaned.

"Sorry." She wrinkled her nose. "Eau de garbage, I'm sure, is not the air freshener you prefer."

"I tried changing it," he grumbled, "Gracie changed it back."

About the Author
J'nae Rae Spano is originally from Portland, Oregon. She lives with her husband, Chris,and their cat, Narsil, in Lemon Grove, California. She has a passion for the arts in most of its forms, and is active in Science Fiction Fandom. She is currently the Programming Officer for ConDor, San Diego's longest running SF/F convention. You can find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JnaeRaeWriter.
Background image by ESO/IDA/Danish 1.5 m/R.Gendler, J-E. Ovaldsen, C. Thöne, and C. Feron.
http://www.eso.org/public/images/etamosaicnm2/, CC BY 4.0, Link