FFF - The day my computer took over the world
Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2016 11:14 am
Please visit What is Fast Fiction
to learn about these prompts.
Look at the subject for today's Fast Fiction at the end of this post. Once you have an idea, begin to write. Don't stop to ponder the meaning behind your writing or try to fix it... just write. Try to stick to the 30 minutes time limit but if you go over, that's completely fine!
If you want to post your finished product on WordTrip, simply add it to this thread. We would love it!REMINDER: Please keep your stories PG13 if posted on the site.
YOUR PROMPT:SUBJECT: The day my computer took over the world.
Re: FFF - The day my computer took over the world
Posted: Tue Nov 15, 2016 10:29 am
This prompt may be a cliché by now--techno-fear and all that--but 10 years ago I knocked out a bunch of Young Adult pieces on a high schooler who confronted a witch, a succubus, a poltergeist, a... The list goes on. This is the first little bit of "Turing Tested," about artificial intelligence.
“Your mother board is fried,” Roberto Mankiewicz said in resignation.
Abby Hazelton loved the image her high school classmate conveyed. A fried motherboard sounded like exotic cuisine from Apple Computers. “So,” she waved a hand, “so my PC won’t work anymore?”
“Yeah. Totally. Listen, let me take it home and do something. I can replace the board, expand the hard drive, add some shareware to make it run better. Gimme a couple of days.”
Abby had her Dad’s old notebook, but the now-fried desktop computer was the standby that had all the data and lists and vacation-plan downloads she and her father had stored over the years. “Okay,” she said, “but don’t take too long. Dad will get crazy and wonder why I let some kid play around with it instead of taking it to a shop or something.”
Actually, her father was so involved in a case at his law firm that he hardly noticed. “That’s fine,” Chip Hazelton said abstractedly over dinner. “Students need projects. Just tell me if Roberto thinks it’ll be expensive.”
Actually, Roberto’s bill a few days later was remarkably cheap — less than the cost of a pair of sneakers at the Mall. Roberto was ecstatic as he plugged in the wires and cables. “This is really a great machine, Abby. All the parts went in without trouble and it’s running better than I would’ve believed. It was, like, telling me what to do.”
“Like, we’re so far into the electronic age that everything is just plug and play?”
“No, it’s because I’m a genius,” he laughed. “Do I get a kiss for saving you a bundle?”
“You get a can of Dr Pepper, you dork.” Abby smiled. Roberto was a dear friend — if you could get over his long hair, the earring, the wispy beard, and the fact that his true loves were the ThinkPad, iPhone and iPod he carried everywhere.
“I’ll settle for the soda,” he said. “Even though I don’t have all the things I want, I’m really grateful for the things I don’t want.”
“That’s either the most profound or the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard.”
“Yeah, with philosophy it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference. Got any potato chips?”
* * *
Something woke Abby that night. It took a moment to concentrate on the electronic buzzing and clicking she was hearing. She got out of bed, glanced at the clock that read three a.m. and followed the sounds into the spare bedroom she and her father used for a study. The computer screen was humming like a sewing machine. She touched a key and the screen glowed into life as she saw it was making an Internet connection.
Exhaling in frustration, she cancelled the program and turned off the computer, sure she had done this earlier. Roberto told her it sometimes was better to leave the machine on rather than wearing it out with restarts, but it seemed wasteful — like the school buses that idled for hours waiting for kids.
She was really steamed the next night when the sounds woke her out of a deep sleep.
She accosted Roberto in the school cafeteria. “Roberto, my PC is turning itself on and going online. I’m losing sleep turning it off in the middle of the night. You’ve gotta fix it.”
“Huh,” he said. “A command to disconnect must be missing. Okay, can it wait till this weekend?”
That afternoon she sat down and stared at the 17-inch screen. She touched the spacebar, tentatively and somewhat fearfully. She jumped when the screen lit up, indicating it had turned itself on and logged onto the Net. The screens were flashing through at a rapid pace. There was something in German, and then a site with Chinese characters came up. She tapped the history icon on the toolbar and was shocked to see a list of domain names in foreign languages she had never logged into. Decisively and totally fed up, she touched the favorites icon and went to her e-mail to message Roberto. As her finger touched the keyboard, an instant message popped up.
Please do not interfere with my research.
Abby felt a cold wave wash over her shoulders. A hollow feeling grew in the pit of her stomach. There was no signature or screen name. Abby typed a reply:
Who r u and what r u doing with my pc???
A moment later, the screen read, I am determining relationships. Do not interfere.
Without knowing why, Abby got up and left the room. The machine had seemed so authoritative, almost ordering her to mind her own business. As she sat in the kitchen, Abby thought, Well, I’m not the most assertive person I know. Maybe I should’ve just yanked its plug and called Roberto. But she did nothing. Not only was she skinny and unattractive, she thought, she had the personality of a dishrag. She was ashamed at being intimidated by technology she didn’t understand. Maybe next the microwave would tell her to go warm up some Pop Tarts!
* * *
(and there's 1,800 more words to come.)