Automatic Self-Walking Shoes

The day had finally come. Roger gleefully opened the box and pulled out his new pair of automatic self-walking shoes. They looked amazing. They had led lights and high quality Velcro, and they were lined in fake sheepskin. So classy. He’d even paid a little extra for the ones painted silver.

He used his phone to set a pre-determined route. How fast? Well, it’s not like he was really doing the walking. He set a pretty fast pace. Time to dress in his new running gear and join the neighborhood runners.   This was awesome.

Unfortunately, if you don’t want to fall flat on your face, keeping up with the shoes meant constant movement to adjust to the change in position. It was a little like being stuck on a treadmill or something. By the end of his driveway, Roger was done running.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to breathe and run fast and use your phone.   Roger made a valiant effort, but ended up swiping and poking at his phone without really looking at the screen in his panic. He nearly dropped his phone.

Fortunately, he did not drop his phone. Fortunately, he did not set the speed any higher. Unfortunately, he managed to engage the AI function and it was set to explore. At least the pace was slower.

Roger went past the local park, the bakery, the pet store, the car wash, and the library. He walked thirteen blocks and completely missed dinner. He had somehow locked himself out of the walking program after engaging the AI and he’d left the preset password at home.

He’d tried calling the customer service department, but they were in another country and already closed for the day. He tried hugging a tree, but ended up falling down and being dragged by his shoes for a few feet. He’d been able to get up again when they paused so he could admire a Laundromat.

His phone died. His blisters had blisters. It was getting chilly and he was dressed in thin slippery running clothes. This had been the worst idea ever. He was tempted to just pull off the shoes and wait for them to finish their tour and come home. But then someone might steal them, and he was really looking forward to returning them with a very angry note. And getting his money back so that he could buy a box of doughnuts. Or maybe a doughnut store.

He was daydreaming of setting up his bed right next to the doughnut-making machine, when suddenly he stopped. “Error…Error…Error,” the display screen on his left toe said.   Roger looked around. He had no idea where he was.

It was dark out now, and the street was lit with streetlights. He was next to an unfamiliar park. Teenagers huddled around a bench and looked up as he walked by. They watched him silently, their eyes following him. He looked over his shoulder. Were they getting up to follow him?

He tried to limp away more quickly on his sore, blistered feet. Maybe he should throw the expensive shoes at them and they’d leave him alone? Or his phone. He looked over his shoulder again. He didn’t see them. Were they in the bushes? Could he hear footsteps behind him?

An elderly man appeared, illuminated in the streetlight just ahead.   He was walking one of those little noisy dogs. His white hair glowed in the light and his shoulders were a little hunched over. He looked like an angel. “Please help me!” Roger said.   “I am so lost! Can I use your phone to call for help?”

“I don’t have a cell phone,” the man said. “But there is a gas station two blocks that way that’ll still be open.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Roger said.

“Well, go on then,” the man said. “You need to get in out of the cold. Next time bring a coat.”

Roger just nodded and smiled. It wasn’t worth trying to explain. If the man didn’t even have a cell phone, he wouldn’t understand the wonder of automatic self-walking shoes. Roger wasn’t even sure he himself understood the wonder of automatic self-walking shoes anymore.

He arrived at the gas station and found someone willing to lend him a phone.   His sister laughed and laughed, but she came to pick him up. He just knew this would come up again at Thanksgiving dinner.

Roger was so happy to get home. After a bath and a big dinner and lots of band-aids, he pulled out the paperwork that came with the shoes. Unfortunately, because he’d worn them outside, and they hadn’t malfunctioned, he couldn’t return them for a full refund.

He could, however, receive store credit. Tethered to the wall, he checked his still-recharging phone.   According to the website, he had lots of choices like glow in the dark socks or electric mittens. Well, with how much store credit he’d be getting, Christmas presents would be easy, and this way he’d be able to find everybody if the lights went out while he was visiting. All’s well that ends well, right? Right.