Thursday, May 30, 2024

2. The Wabbit and the Creature of Gloom

The Wabbit floated semiconscious, just above the grid of the platform. He could smell engine oil from the big power generators - and something else. It was the palpable smell of evil. He blinked and tried to come round. Then he saw it. It was a monstrous sight, a creature with slavering jaws. Electric prods nestled between the creature's feet. It came closer. Its jaws clashed as they opened and closed. Teeth rattled; a tongue rasped. Eyes glared red, as bloodshot as three nights on the tiles. Fangs moved all around the Wabbit's head. But the Wabbit realised one thing. The fangs came close but never really touched him. He asked himself if it were a fantasy, but he could feel the rush of its fetid breath, hear the crackling of electrodes. He twisted. There was movement there. Whatever electrical anaesthetic had plunged him into a trance was wearing off. He tried to touch a lever on the big generator but it was just out of reach. His voice was a mere croak, but it was something. The creature came ever closer and sniffed him. It stank. The Wabbit tried not to flinch. He didn't move - except for his grasping paw. It was a hairsbreadth away from the lever. The creature turned and tried to stop him but the Wabbit gripped the lever and pressed down. Everything went dark. The Wabbit hit the floor and picked himself up. His eyes grew accustomed to the gloom. He looked all around. The creature had gone for now, but its rancid smell hung in the air like dead flesh. The Wabbit slapped a paw on his forehead. "Haven't seen the last of him!"

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

1. The Wabbit in the Electric Museum

The Wabbit hopped around Centrale Montemartini Museum. He was a familiar figure there. Most people he met, nodded and said hello. He paused by a ladder that led to the top of a power unit. The area had been roped off but the Wabbit paid no attention. "I wonder if anything's changed?" he mused. Things were certainly cleaner than usual. "I wonder if they're expecting anyone?" He leaned on a step and looked from side to side. There was no-one around. He mounted the first step. A voice rang out. "Visitors to the museum who are residents of Rome are reminded to renew their pass." The Wabbit smiled. "Nothing to do with me." He'd had his pass for some time. It allowed him entrance to most museums and as for the rest, he could usually blag his way past the desk with some story or other. He looked up to the top but when he saw a strange creature, he hid away to the side. "I don't think that's supposed to be there." There was always a chance it was part of an installation. The Wabbit disliked installations. He took another look, but it had disappeared. "A figment of my fertile imagination," he chortled, and he continued up the ladder. No sooner was he on the first platform, when he saw the creature behind him. It advanced on him with two sharp metal prods. The Wabbit tried to avoid them but it was hopeless. He felt a surge of electricity and fell helpless onto a metal grid ... 

Friday, May 24, 2024

The Wabbit and his Adventure Caffè

The Wabbit was delighted to be back in Fregene, even though it was blowing a gale. He felt quite at ease. His ears bent back and his fur frizzled in the salty wind. Lapinette looked spick and span, exactly as normal. They spied Wabsworth looming into sight with Skratch in tow. Being an android, Wabsworth adapted himself to the weather. Skratch's feet sank into the sand. "This used to be a Caffè until the wind got it!" The wind caught Lapinette's laughter and threw it along the beach. "I'm sure they'll build a new one." Wabsworth enjoyed the sand and kicked it a bit. Skratch found sand heavy going. "What was that for a sort of adventure?" asked the Wabbit. Skratch started muttering about sociotopes. "Robots are synthesized signifiers referring to multi extra-textual domains," he meaowed. "OK," said the Wabbit, "But where does that get us?" Lapinette smiled sweetly. "It's a version of the monster, like Frankenstein's creature." Wabsworth chipped in quickly. "Which is a version of the Other. A dialogue with self-identity." Lapinette waved a paw. "And invariably they're associated with the scientist behind them - a more evil maniac. In this case you, Wabbit." The Wabbit shrugged. "No-one's perfect." Skratch sniffed the air. "I can smell food and aperitivos from further along the beach." Lapinette pirouetted - but not without difficulty in the sand. "In this case, Skratch is perfect." 

Saturday, May 18, 2024

5. The Wabbit and the Binary Window

The Wabbit and Lapinette were somewhat pleased with the way the adventure had worked out. Wabsworth had taken over responsibility for anything remotely concerned with AI and Robotics, much to the relief of Lapinette. The were hopping along Via Roma when they heard a voice. "Hello Commander!" The Wabbit turned to see a ferocious robot rabbit in a shop window. Then the voice repeated. "Hello Commander." Another voice chipped in. "What are you up to today?" The Wabbit was about to answer but Lapinette shushed him and shook her head. The messages repeated, albeit a little differently. "What are you up to Commander and Lapinette?" Lapinette giggled. "They're toys." The Wabbit looked askance. "You could have fooled me." Lapinette grinned and pirouetted. "Wabsworth must be pulling in a tidy profit for our Dinosaur Fund. The Wabbit brightened. "Pleased to hear it!" All the same he put a paw in his fur and felt for a remote control. The first Robot rabbit growled and broke a window. It placed a paw on the street and said, "0100100101100100011010010110111101110100." The Wabbit scowled. "I don't like its attitude. Shall we go for a drink?" Then paw in paw they strolled off to Via Gramsci.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

4. The Wabbit in the Shopping Centre

Acting on information received, the team hurried to a shopping centre where a giant robot rabbit was at large and menacing shoppers. They headed to the second floor and there it was, talking to a woman who didn't seem dismayed at all. "You're one of these artificial rabbits," she said. "I'm scary," the rabbit replied. Its eyes flashed red. The woman shook her head. "You've been told to be scary, and that cuts no ice with me." Wabsworth arrived with his paws aloft. "Stop," he shouted. Lapinette grabbed the rabbit from behind and pulled. The Wabbit advanced waving both paws and a hastily printed instruction manual. The woman glanced at Wabsworth. "You're a real android version of the Wabbit," she said. "Anyone can see that." The Wabbit threw his manual and Wabsworth caught it. He flicked the pages quickly, then switched a button under the robot's head. "Glad to oblige, Madam," It was a firm and authoritative voice he'd adapted from television. "This robot will trouble you no longer." Shoppers passed to right and left, but they thought it was a stunt and laughed. The rabbit groaned to a standstill. "I'm destined to be nought but a children's toy." His mechanical voice faded. The Wabbit saluted the woman and gave his most diplomatic smile. "Please say nothing of this," requested Lapinette. "It never happened," smiled the woman, "I'll roll it round to the toy store." Wabsworth passed her the manual, nudged her and grinned. "They'll need this!"

Thursday, May 09, 2024

3. The Wabbit and a Technical Matter

The day had turned an electric yellow when the Wabbit caught up with Wabsworth. He spotted him from behind a van and ran to catch up. Lapinette went the other way. "Wabsworth," they shouted in unison. Wabsworth turned looking bemused. "I was just accepting an order from that van driver." He tapped his clipboard. "He was supposed to arrive at 3 pm." The Wabbit knew it was only five past and shrugged. "You look stressed," said Wabsworth. "It's a matter of artificial intelligence," said Lapinette. "It's not what it's cracked up to be," grinned Wabsworth. For an android, he had a dry sense of humour. "A project got out of paw." The Wabbit looked crestfallen, "and robots are running amuck in the city." "These would be the ones I saw on the bus," commented Wabsworth. He looked at the bus stop. "They were telling stories and entertaining passengers." Lapinette waved her paws. "They're dangerous." Wabsworth looked at his clipboard again. The Wabbit knew his android double didn't need a clipboard. Wabsworth smiled. "They're not configured properly. Artificial Intelligence is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting public. You have to tell robots exactly what to do - then they do it." The Wabbit gave Wabsworth a look. "What about you?" Wabsworth shrugged just like the Wabbit. "I tell myself what to do. I'm the thinking man's android." Lapinette groaned and slapped her forehead with her paw. "Just tell us what to do about these robots." Wabsworth paused. "Did you write instructions....?"  The Wabbit nodded. "I did start but it was too much manual labour."

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

2. The Wabbit and the Bus Incident

Things quietened. The Wabbit shut down his program and they made their way home. But halfway along Via Gregorio VII, they met with a chaotic scene. A bus had come to a sudden standstill in the middle of the road, and it looked like the driver had long since fled. Two robots battled, stamping and scuttling. A robot rabbit, much the same as the Wabbit designed, chased a giant spider. The Wabbit jumped on the bus and tried to control the robots. But despite much jabbing of controls, it wouldn't respond. Lapinette climbed to a nearby balcony and took aim with an automatic. Bullets zipped across the street but had no effect. Lapinette shouted to the Wabbit. "What's going on?" Ambulance sirens wailed their way down the central reservation. The Wabbit shrugged. "It must have spawned." He jumped from the bus. The robot took no notice. The spider turned and shot streams of metallic venom at the robot. The robot flicked them off as if they were nothing more than insects. "I'm not sure what to do," said the Wabbit, "They're not under my control." Lapinette gave up firing bullets. With a sudden movement the robots stopped, turned and jumped on another bus to the centre. The Wabbit shrugged again. "Let the carabinieri sort it out. In the meantime, I'll talk to Wabsworth." Lapinette jumped down. "He ought to know." The Wabbit grinned. "It was his idea."

Thursday, May 02, 2024

1. The Wabbit and the Robot Rabbit

Lapinette rounded a corner in Rome and spotted the Wabbit running from a ferocious Rabbit. "Need a helping paw?" Lapinette hung from the lamp post, because the Wabbit had been working in his shed and he was grinning. "Stop Robot!" The giant rabbit froze. The Wabbit laughed and laughed. "What do you think, Lapinette? I've been experimenting with Artificial Intelligence." Lapinette spluttered with mirth. "It looks like something I've seen before." The Wabbit shrugged. "AI is in its infancy. I don't expect much." Lapinette looked the rabbit up and down. "It needs a bit of work in the ferocity department, if that's what you want." The Wabbit surveyed the rabbit too. "Every time I asked for a rabbit, the computer produced chubby faced creatures that would be at home on a baby's play pen." Lapinette dropped from the lamp post. "Maybe a vampire rabbit like the ones in Wallace and Gromit?" The Wabbit considered it. "I think they were werewolf type rabbits." Lapinette danced around the robot. "Maybe he does look ferocious. But the eyes should be red." The Wabbit played with his remote. The robot's eyes glowed red. "That's better," smiled Lapinette, "Does it speak?" "I most certainly do," said the robot. "Very convincing!" murmured Lapinette. "I didn't programme that," grimaced the Wabbit. The robot's head slowly turned. "I programed that myself," it growled.

[The featured robot is created using artificial intelligence]