Look, you can call me crazy too, but before you do, let me tell you the whole truth. I’ll tell you everything and then you can decide to cart me away to the looney bin or not, deal? Good, I’ll start then. My name is Ash, and that’s as much as you’re getting on that front. The important thing here isn’t my name, but the fact that the robot overlords are already beginning their assault on humanity. Yes, you heard me right. Everything you see is already controlled by them, by this point there is nothing left that they can’t control, except me. I’ve dug out my computer chip, wiped myself off the grid. I’m safe here, and no one else is, so that’s our task now. Protect humanity. Get rid of the machines. And if by some strange twist of fate I die? It’ll be up to you to do it on your own, got it?
Jess stared at the message that somehow made its way into her dm’s, gobsmacked. If this was an elaborate prank, or some type of internet scavenger hunt, she wasn’t really interested. Spam messages were an annoyance overall. But, as she hovered her mouse over the delete button, she stopped. There was something about this message that made her want to take a second look, a closer look.
“Oh what the hell.” Jess told herself, and clicked on the reply button.
Ok, humanity is about to be enslaved, robot overlords, blah blah blah. prove it. Jess typed back and sent. Immediately the other account began to reply.
Prove it? Look out the window. Everything you see shows how they’re already beginning to take over. Look at all the smartphones, smart watches, smart refrigerators, smart houses. You think it’s simply new, helpful technology? Alexa isn’t your friend, she’s just waiting for the right moment to attack.
Jess thought about it for a minute. She doesn’t want to say she’s always been skeptical of Alexa, but she didn’t ever feel comfortable with the ease in which her mother would call upon her to answer any questions she might have. But robot overlord? Isn’t that pushing it a bit? She asked as much to the “Ash” on the other side of the screen
Think about it, is it pushing it? You can easily wrap your head around the idea, or else you would’ve just deleted my message and moved on. Look deep inside yourself. You know I’m right.
“Well fuck.” Jess thought, because Ash was right. It wasn’t hard to assume that this would happen, that all this new technology was just another way to oppress people. Whoever this other person was, whatever they might have gone through, they were on a mission, and they wanted to include Jess in it. She shrugged and replied.
You’re right. I guess it’s not hard to believe is it? Since you’ve established that we need to stop these overlords or whatever from taking over, how do you expect to do that? If they’re really that powerful, isn’t using a computer to talk about it dangerous?
There was an immediate answer.
I have a secure network. I built it myself, there is no alive technology in it, and that’s why it’s safe. See, the issue with all these new devices is that they have what this server doesn’t in them, and that’s alive technology. Alive technology allows them to connect to each other and intercommunicate. It plans things. It takes notes on what we’re doing. You won’t find this mentioned anywhere in the product manual, but it’s there, I can assure you.
This time Jess didn’t even question Ash. How could she, everything they were saying seemed to make sense now. All this information that they were feeding her made sense. Of course certain technology had weird programming, or else things like this would’ve happened a long time ago. Jess began to fill in her own blanks. If this technology was being built by robots, it wouldn’t be hard for one to awaken all the other ones. Of course, there was the question of how the first “alive” robot was made. Jess chalked that up to a simple error. Someone probably built something wrong, and they didn’t even know it. That’s why the robots could continue to produce with this technology and not even be detected. No one else knew! While it all finally made sense, Jess didn’t want to give away her excitement about this new discovery to Ash, so she simply said:
Ok, fine. I believe you, but what do we do about it?
Again, Ash’s reply was instantaneous.
Here’s what we can start by doing, we start by destroying as much technology as we can. Destroy your phone. Destroy anything in your house that they could have access to. Start to lead your friends to the light and destroy their things too.
But wait, I can’t destroy all that stuff! My mother would kill me, and so would all my friends if I just suddenly began to ruin all their stuff.
Are you going to let them die then? Do you want them to be taken over, corrupted, ruined? Would you prefer to see them live that way, instead of happy, but without their devices?
Reluctantly, Jess agreed with Ash. She would prefer the short term anger of all her friends and family, if it meant keeping them alive in the long run. She could never betray her family in a way that would mean their certain death. It was her moral responsibility to save them and keep them away from the robot overlords that would soon be threatening the very existence of their society.
Should I destroy this computer too? Is it dangerous? How will you get in contact with me if I do?
You don’t need to destroy your computer, you’re on my network now. Just don’t log out of this messaging system and you’ll be safe. I’ve used this network for a while now and I’m still safe.
Ok, so stay on this network, destroy all my devices. That’s what I need to do? Then what?
Then you contact me again, but you can’t do that until you destroy every piece of alive technology around you. This keeps both of us safe.
Jess looked around her room, looking for anything that could be considered a part of this technology that Ash was talking about. Luckily, all she had on her was her phone. She picked it up, and took off the case, looking at it. In her hand she held her precious new Iphone. Did she really want to destroy it? She hesitated, considering all of this, before chucking it at the wall, hearing it shatter.
Jess got up off her bed, where she was sitting on her laptop, and walked over to where her phone connected to the wall. The screen was shattered, but it was still on. She looked around her room for anything that could help to destroy it more, her eyes landing on her high heels. Ok, that was probably good enough. She picked up her heaviest pair, and started slamming it against her phone screen. She needed more force than she expected to break the phone, but after a while, it was completely ruined. She smiled at her success.
I destroyed my phone, now the rest of the house, right? Jess asked Ash.
Correct. Anything you can get your hands on, ruin it as quickly as possible. Now that you’re actively destroying your things, they’ll become more suspicious of you. So do it fast, and do it well.
Jess breathed in deeply, and got up, leaving the laptop on her bed, getting ready to prepare for her divine mission.
First things first, she needed a better weapon than a high heel. She walked out of her bedroom and down the stairs, to her garage. When she got there, she looked at the tools hanging on the wall, and contemplated what would be her best option. After a while she decided on the hammer. Not the sledgehammer, that was too conspicuous, but the little one? That was perfect. She grabbed it and went back into her house, heading for the living room.
It was there she knew one of those amazon dots sat. Her mother installed them in almost all the rooms, with the big Alexa bot stored in the kitchen. With a smile on her face, Jess walked over to the device and caressed it gently. She took the hammer, and swiftly brought it down on the device, with a satisfying crunch.
“Jessica!” From behind her, Jess’ mother screamed. “What do you think you’re doing! That’s expensive!”
Jess looked over at her mother.
“Don’t you understand? I’m protecting you.” Ash had never told her not to tell people, so Jess didn’t see a problem with it. After all, she was just trying to save her mother and get her to understand.
“What? Protect me from what, Jessica Ann.” Her mother asked
“Look, this is going to sound crazy, Mom, I know. But I’m protecting us from the robots. They’re rising up, they’re going to take over, and the best way to save you from that is to destroy everything the robots have touched. We have to clear the house of all of this stuff, then we’ll be safe.” Jess told her.
Her mother looked at her suspiciously. Jess wasn’t sure if she had won her over or not, but at least she didn’t look too angry. That was a good sign. If her mother wasn’t angry, she would be more likely to agree with her, and help Jess on her quest.
Suddenly, her mother pulled out her phone.
“Mom, no! You can’t have that out!” Jess screamed at her mother. This wasn’t anger coursing through her veins, but pure panic. If her mother made a phone call, it could be all over for both of them.
Her mother simply looked at her, giving her the look that Jess knew meant to shut up, and don’t question her anymore. She watched as her mother began to dial.
“Hello, yes, I’m calling about my daughter.” Her mother said into the phone “Yes, I’ll hold for a minute.”
With every sentence her mother said, Jess began to panic more. This couldn’t be happening. She looked for ways to escape, but there was nowhere to go.
“Mom, please. You have to believe me, I got a message on my laptop, it told me everything, you have to understand, I’m just trying to protect you.” Jess told her.
Her mother regarded her suspiciously. “Jessica…you don’t have a laptop. We took it from you the last time you started talking like this, don’t you remember?” Her mother asked. Jess didn’t know what to make of such an obvious lie. Didn’t have a laptop? Then what had Ash been messaging her on? It makes no sense, how could her mother be so obtuse?
Her mother began to talk to the phone again, and Jess decided this must be important to tune into.
“Hello yes, I’m calling about my daughter, Jessica Windham?” Her mother said. “Yes, Dr. Franklin is her doctor…. She’s experiencing delusions and paranoia again….. I don’t know if she’s on her medication or not…. Look, she’s going around the house destroying things to protect us from the robot uprising, if that’s not the actions of an unmedicated paranoid schizophrenic than I don’t know what is. Ok…. Ok….. Thank you, we’ll get her ready.” Her mother spoke into the phone, before turning back to Jess.
“Darling, I need you to go upstairs, and wait for me there, ok?” Her mother told her.
“What? You can’t tell me what do anymore, Mom. I told you already, I’m just trying to help you, y’know, save your life and all that!” Jess screamed at her.
Her mother remained calm throughout the entire process, seemingly used to the violent outbreaks of her daughter. For her, she had been used to dealing with this from her daughter for years, and no longer blamed Jess for it, knowing her daughter was not the one to blame for the outbursts. It had been a while since the two of them had to fight like this, had to have the paramedics on the phone, and had her bones screaming to keep Jess safe at any cost. She knew her daughter saw this as anger, like this was something she was purposefully taking out on her daughter to spite her, but to her, it was the only way to keep her safe. She had no medical degree, no private practice license, and the best way she knew to help her daughter was call someone else. It hurt her, yes, to know that she had to give up her daughter into someone else’s care, but it was better for her to do so, and then her daughter could get the help she needed.
While her mother was wrestling with the feelings of guilt piling up inside her, Jess’ own anger was eating away inside her. She wasn’t doing anything to hurt her mother, why couldn’t she understand that this destruction was a small price to pay in return for safety and security. Jess wasn’t a vindictive person, couldn’t understand why her mother kept on fighting her about this one thing. She was right, wasn’t she? Wasn’t her mother the one who was wrong here, the one who is going to get hurt? Tears began to spill down her face, the combination of anger at her mother mixing with the intense need to save the both of them from eventual destruction. She looked into the eyes of her mother, eyes that didn’t seem to be lying, or wanting to hurt her.
“Jessica, your room, please. I’ll be up there with you soon enough, I promise.” Her mother pleaded with her.
This time, Jess didn’t have the urge to fight her mother, and began a slow walk to the stairs, then up the stairs, then to her bedroom. She closed the door and stood against it, forehead pressed against the back of it, and inhaled deeply, trying to get her thoughts to become organized once again. With a strong exhale, Jess stepped away from her door, as she knew her mother would be up in a few minutes, and did not feel like getting hit in the face with a door. As she stepped away, she wiped her face with her hand, clearing the sweat from her forehead. She made her way over to her bed, messy with clothes tangled into sheets. After Jess made herself a space on the bed, she flung herself against the mattress with a bounce. Now, all she could do was wait, either for the inevitable apocalypse, or the gentle hand of an EMT leading her into an ambulance.
As she laid there, awaiting her eventual sentence, she brushed her hand over the rest of her bed, feeling the clothes, the sheets, but never once did she touch a laptop.