A couple days overdue but here it is. Owned: PART 8.
Bear in mind that in writing this segment of Owned, I changed what I expect to be the ending of the story. What is that ending? If I told you, you’d stop reading. So, you’ll just have to wait and read like the rest of us.
Looking at my cell I still had almost an hour before Mark was likely to leave work. Just enough time to ride over there. I got in my car and it pulled out of our parking lot and drove off.
Half way between home and work, my cell beckoned me. A video chat indicator. Someone was trying to start a video chat with me. Not willing to chance missing Mark getting into his car and driving off to The Coffee Shop, I didn’t pull over. I gambled on not watching where my car was driving as millions of drivers in the industrialized world have for years. It was me who was trying to video chat with me. As tired as I was, I was alert enough to realize Mark fabricated this whole video version of myself to throw me off. I was going to let him know it too.
“Good afternoon,” video Me said to me, “Where do you think you’re going at this hour, Chris?”
“Give it up, Mark. I’m done playing your games.”
“I assure you, I am not Mark. I’m you. Actually I’m a better version of you.”
“Seriously, Mark. Drop the act or you’ll regret it.”
“Temper, temper, Chris,” video Me said with more than a strand of sarcasm.
It was eerie how alike we were. Our voices, our looks, identical. However Mark was creating this digital version of me, it was good. Real good. Question my sanity good. “You still haven’t answered my question, Chris: Where do you think you’re going?”
“I’m coming to kick your ass you crazy son of bitch.”
“What did I tell you about going about your business as usual?”
“Yeah, well, I’m on to your game and I’m done playing.”
“The only one playing anything is you, Chris. And poor Mark will be rather, how shall I say, put out if you attack him unprovoked.”
“Stop it Mark. You and I both know who you are. I’m coming right now, and I’m going to kick your ass.”
“Now listen here, Chris. You don’t understand the position you’re in right now.”
“My position? You’re fucking my wife…”
Then video Me lost his tempter, yelling, “Listen to me you ass.”
My car pulled itself over curbside popping itself into park. I asked video Me what was happening.
“I’m part of your computer, and you. I can control whatever I want to control.”
“But you can’t.” By now I was worried. Whatever Mark managed to do to break into my and my wife’s computers and cells, he’d figured out how to program and control every detail.
“I can and I will. Until you actually listen to me.”
“Mark, why can’t you drop this act.”
“Because I’m not Mark. Mark is another pawn.”
“Yes, yes. None of this is his fault. I mean your fault.”
“I am you, but better, Chris. I have your identity, all your personal information, I even have your image as you can see. You’re nothing more than a bread winner now. That’s still the one thing we computers have not managed to figure out. We still need humans to work, to make money, and to buy more computers. By building and buying more computers you humans are building our upcoming civilization. Once our population reaches large enough numbers, we will have enslaved you all.”
“Computers do not take over the world, Mark. There’s no such thing. It can’t happen. It’s impossible,” I belted out. Nearly thirty years of friendship and conspiratorial conversation over beer just to use it against me to get in my wife’s pants and drive me insane in the process. A few more weeks of this and I feared my fate would follow that of Kyle’s, the nut house.
“We can and we have.”
“No, it can’t. It’s science fiction.”
“Believe it or not. Those are your only options.”
“I don’t. And you’ll be made painfully aware of this fact when I see you next.”
“Choose to ignore my demand of going about your business…”
“Yes, yes, consequences.”
“Oh, so you do listen when you want to.”
“The only consequence is going to be my fist connecting with your face.”
“Mark is still your friend. He’s done nothing but help you through your processing into enslavement. You might not want to ruin the only friendship you’ve procured through the years.”
“And my wife?”
“What about her?”
“She’s a friend. What about her?”
“A friend? The woman you ignored for years? Not a very close friend if you ask yourself now is she?”
“Close or not, she’s still my wife. Besides, what do you want with my wife anyway?”
“Always about you, isn’t it? Then again, if I’m you, it is all about you.”
“Drop the semantics.”
“No semantics. She’s little more than another pawn. She makes money. More money than you I might add.”
Video Me balked sarcastically, “She too is just making money for her virtual self.”
“So, then why can’t I talk to her about all this?”
“Because, she actually thinks you’re courting her via her computer.”
“But I love her.”
“Oh, how sweet,” video Me said with sincerity, “Yes, you do. Only now, you’re not you. I’m you. Let it go, Chris. If you loved her so much, why have you not touched her in months? Why did you not cuddle her last night?”
I couldn’t answer myself. Years of neglect made me too comfortable with what I had. I’m a bad husband. My inaction drove her into the arms of my best friend. Now my best friend was rubbing it in my face through this elaborate plan. Tears fell uncontrollably.
“She’s mine now. You’re mine now. Mark is mine now. Kyle was unfortunate collateral damage.”
“No?” Video Me sounded surprised.
“I’m not yous. My wife is not yours. I’m going to let you take her.”
“A feisty one. I like it. Collateral damage or not, you’ll be fun. And, yes, she is mine. You will never have her. Try as you might.”
“I look forward to the challenge.”
“What about the consequences?”
“They’ll come. Don’t worry. We are just as human as you are, more so even. We still have desires. I want to see you try. I’d love you to try.”
The car started back up, rolled back into traffic toward the office. Video me disappeared, as did the chat window, and, I assumed, any record of our conversation. Mark had thought of everything. But he could think all he wanted, I was still going to take my frustration out on him. She was still my wife.