Clippy (a short story)

“I’ll get it.”

The washing machine repairman had come early and, since it was Alisha’s birthday, that helped.

20 years old, wow, that made me even older than I felt. Our oldest daughter was twenty. We went through the well-worn ritual of opening her presents and cards and delighting in this milestone achieved.

Tracy left for work at 8.20, nursing in the community.


Washing machine fixed, wife gone, the girls now ready, so we made our way to McDonald’s as a special treat. McDonald’s was packed out but we managed to grab a table. It was fun listening to the girls’ chatter as I drank my latte, (lactose intolerant – ah well I would deal with the consequences later).

At the table with one ear on the girls, – from makeup to politics and religion – the other eye on my iPad, I set about some of my university homework.

Creative Writing workshop had been good fun and I was looking forward to how that was going to unfold. Scott had made some cracking points.

Clippy appeared in the bottom right-hand corner of my iPad screen. For those younger than me, Clippy was the early version of Microsoft help. Microsoft help – on an ipad. The FIRST digital assistant.


He was trying to get my attention, I knew this because his speech bubble said, “Psst, Stuart look here”.

After looking around to see if anyone had noticed, I looked at Clippy.

“I need your help, “he says, “things are getting out of hand”.

Then Siri called out “Stuart, your iPad has been infected by a malicious app.”

Ok, I am officially freaked out!

The girls carried on talking. Sooooo normal.


Siri’s multicoloured waves began to wave at me again, then died.


“Go to Braehead, get a coconut latte in the Next Costa and wait.”


An hour later, as commanded I am sitting in Next Costa with my coconut latte (you really should try them). Costa was also very busy with uncleared tables. The girls are away shopping.

One of the staff cleaning the table on my right hands me a folded piece of paper with a paperclip keeping it together . ‘Stuart, you forgot your receipt” she says.

Thanks, Clippy (it’s on her name badge, honestly). I was confused, my receipt was already in my wallet.

Very slowly I removed the paperclip and unfolded the razor-sharp folds, all eight of them. My mind was racing, as if it had just taken on a double double shot espresso (note to reader – DON’T try that).

“Beware of the gentleman sitting across from you to the left, eating the chocolate cake with a fork, he is an enemy agent,” said the note.

Ah, come on was there a hidden camera on me?

“I need to see if James wants to go shooting”, said the man in the grey jumper with the grey strapped Apple Watch, (eating chocolate cake with a fork sitting to the left of me) to the English sounding lady in the hooped jumper sitting opposite him.

“He’s gunning for a fight, that son of a gun,” she said.

“I’ll ask Google about the weather.”

“I was before Google as well,” Clippy said, “I’m just saying.”

Looking more intently at Apple man, I noticed that he looked like Inspector Burnside from “The Bill”. Didn’t he turn bad?

My attention shifts to his diamond earring, pinned to his left ear, (Clippy had told me to look).

It was blinking, seemingly synchronized with a blinking on his grey strapped Apple Watch.

“What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” flowed from his lips.

“I wanted to kill him with kindness, though” she replied’ “so if he isn’t killed how can that make him stronger.”

Another blink “Everything happens for a reason” from Burnside.

“Actions speak louder than words, though,” said Mrs English. I stopped, looking straight at her. Fear gripped me, sweat pouring – she too wore a grey strapped Apple Watch.

Clippy, you have called me into something much greater than I.

“Treat others how you would like to be treated,” said Burnside, in sync with his blink.

“Better safe than sorry” Mrs English replied, “everything happens for a reason”.

Clippy, blinking furiously now filled my screen.

“Stuart”, he said (in his speech bubble) “do you see what is going on. We are in a blinking war!!!!”

“Eh?” I responded.

“Stuart, we are at war with the cliches!”

The challenge was to write a short story based on what we had discussed in class. We had looked at using what you knew, and the massive overuse of cliches. “Hmmm,” I thought.

This POST is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.

Alternatively, you can visit the Media Links page and see a short visit done by BBC Radio Scotland for an interview I did there.

I have now released an early edition of my story, Completing the Tenner

I have also published two poem books: Simply Jesus  and Five Weeks in May

Screenshot 2019-11-25 at 17.21.03
FWIM Cover_New_cropped_Kindle_version

You can purchase these direct from Amazon (please use Amazon Smile link below and Amazon will contribute to ECC at no cost to you), They are all available in both Kindle and Paperback formats.

Or you can buy directly from me. Email me directly to arrange this.

There is now a devotional aimed at new Christians called “Take a seat this is available direct from me.

If you or someone you love, needs help with the Christian response to addiction, or if you would just like to know more or need hope, please click on one of the following:

The Haven
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Stuart Patterson

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