Reads: 101  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Increasingly we are becoming too much like our technology. Jon is one of these "iHuman"s, constantly plugged into his phone and devoid of human interaction, that is until he meets Daisy.

Submitted: February 05, 2014

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 05, 2014



I put on my itchy burlap-like slacks they mete out when you become an adult, adjusted my gig line so as to appear in order. Automaton. I combed my hair, brushed my teeth following my program with mechanical efficiency. Adjusted my blue tie and threw on my matching blue coat. I walked out my matching front door of my matching house in my matching neighborhood. All of us following a code for how our houses look so that when relatives and friends visit we can say, without saying of course, “We are successful.”

I flicked the radio on to enjoy a predetermined list of music we’ve all been trained to enjoy, and I lit a cigarette. It was my little rebellion, I didn’t even particularly enjoy the things but it was mostly looked down upon and in our sick, sick world of creams to make skin young and super-foods to help you be successful well into your 80-somethings, dying is the only rebellion I have left.

I parked my car and I walked briskly to the train station, obediently ignoring the lazy riff-raff begging for change. Your problems are not my problems, and thusly I don’t have the programs to deal with or change them. I may briefly nod to other people I deem acceptable as I pass, but we never make prolonged eye contact or attempt any verbal communication, it’s just not in the programming.

I buy my train ticket, again with as little eye contact and verbal exchange as possible and immediately pull out my phone as I look for the perfect seat, not too close to anyone but not far away either. Our appearances program is a touchy one.

I log onto my facebook to read passages from people I would not engage in real life, we bypass having to ask how someone’s weekend was and just get to spill. I may or may not press a button to show generic approval. We are called friends.

With the same medium, I check stocks and my business e-mail, I show generic approval. I ignore the window to my left, there may or may not be flowers or uncut grass, perhaps mountains or a lake. I am successful, and I am busy, always busy. Looking out a window is reserved for lazy riff-raff who couldn’t get with the program.

A child cries a few rows back, I do not look, but I feel that generic disapproval. Uncouth. I must delve more into my programming so as to not have to travel alongside them. Success. That child’s problems are not my problems and it agitates my programming.

I arrive in the city at the determined time and depart the train. There are tall buildings with flashy advertisements, there are many people hustling and bustling around but I do not pay them any mind, I need to know things elsewhere delivered by my phone. My phone is as essential as a jacket in winter, I could not go anywhere without it.

The building that houses my firm is a matching set to its successful neighbors, I go up to floor 47 and attend the initial meeting and am released for the night. It is currently 8:30 and my programming dictates sleep by 11 to be most efficient the next day. So, my free-time program allows me to go to my hotel room and turn on the television. More programming.

The alarm goes off the next morning precisely at 7. Brush teeth, comb hair, work out, shower, shave, comb hair again, and get dressed. Automaton. I go down to my continental breakfast and am served coffee by a girl with tattoos on her arms, she must have flawed programming. “How’re you doing this morning, sir?” She smiles at me. I simply nod and take out my phone. I don’t have any planned interactions until 9.

I often start to ponder how these unsuccessful people can go on smiling, they can’t be trusted because even that initial smile must be a lie, they cannot be happy, my programming says. 

Outside the front doors I disregard the guitar-playing man, unless he can sing me stock-quotes it doesn’t fit with my programming. I ignore the smells of hotdog vendors, unless its 12:30 it’s not my planned lunch, which of course couldn’t be a hotdog, but a blend of what the successful doctors on my phone tells me is healthy. I walk 4 blocks, 7 blocks, a million blocks for all I’m paying attention to it. My phone has a nifty little map that pings where I am and sends me a direct notification when I arrive at my predestined location.

I nod slightly to the faceless woman at the desk and continue up to floor 47. I attend our meeting; I am commended for following my programming so dutifully. My bosses programming, of course, tells me I might become more successful on my next review. I quell hope, there’s no room for that.

Neatly and precisely I repack my belongings to ensure I have everything. At the desk a woman tries to say some pre-packaged departing words, but CNN has an article on our brother-company so she is just white noise behind my phone.

I walk until my little blue circle arrives at the big grey square train station and am alerted. I hand them my return ticket and try to find a seat as far from children as possible. Four rows from the main door, no one sits on any side, I throw my bag on top and plug my phone into the outlet.

Halfway through an article on BBC’s website I’m disturbed by the commotion of someone stuffing their bag next to mine. It’s a girl, probably mid-twenties. I tried ignoring her piercing blue eyes, tried disregarding her smell of cigarettes and flowers.

“Hey there!” she said with a big smile. I nod, glancing down at my phone, trying very hard not to notice her flowered dress and how it folded so nicely to the contours of her body.

She plopped down across from me, fixed her strawberry blonde hair and unfolded a piece of gum. “Want one?” I disregard the smell of cinnamon thrust underneath my nose. I merely nod again.

“Humph, your loss.” She giggled, “I’m Daisy.” She tilted her head waiting on a response. I simply glance up and nod.

“Not much of a talker, are you?” She smiled again, my programming was actively searching for flaws, perhaps her teeth didn’t line up quite right, or maybe she was pigeon-toed.

“I’m, I’m Jon, nice to meet you.” I reply and force a smile, I immediately try to tune out the sweet piping of her voice. I’m reading an article on a CEO who was hired against my better judgment, and no surprise, he was a mess. Embezzlement, gluttony, sloth, nepotism, sexual harassment.

“Whatcha doing, Jon?” said Daisy, she tilted my phone down obscuring the article with a hot-pink nail. My programming designated this to be research time or possibly a nap, I didn’t have any scheduled interactions the rest of the day.

“I’m reading an article about my job.” I curtly answer then return to avoiding her gaze.

“Oh yeah, what’s your job, Jon?” She asked.

“You wouldn’t understand.” Too much interaction.

“Why’s that? I’m not as smart as you because I’m not wearing some big dumb suit?” She teased playfully. The truth was that yes, her outward appearance told my programming that odds are she wouldn’t understand.

“It’s a long train ride, we might as well chat, try me.” She clicked her gum with matching pink lips.

“I wrote an algorithm that, along with a test I developed, can determine the efficiency of someone stepping into a major role, such as CEO or COO, of a company.” I explain to a vacant look in her lively blue eyes. “Told you.”

“I get it, you wrote a personality test, big whoop.”

“It’s more than a personality test, it’s constantly being updated and developed to be more efficient with the changing workplace environment and technology, as well as factoring in background information on each individual subject.”

“Oh, so a fancy personality test.” Daisy laughed, it was a sweet and beautiful laugh and it annoyed me to no end. She did not understand, she had flawed programming. She most likely had inattentive weak-willed parents of some wealth that allowed a moderately comfortable lifestyle without having to actually strive for anything.

I looked back down at my phone.

“So what do you do for fun?” Daisy asked. I tell her that is fun. She purses her lips. It looks like chewed up pink bubble gum, I ignore it. I look back down to my phone, I check Forbes, I check CNN. Daisy is persistent.

“Do you have an app?” Daisy asked with a smile. “Let’s see if I can run a company!”

I wanted to tell her right off that, no she couldn’t, I didn’t need my test to know that. I also felt very uncomfortable, so I slowly looked up. “I never want to create an app for it; the algorithm exists only in my head, and is why I’m valuable and successful.” I say with some pride that escapes my programming.

“How bout you give me the test right here then?” Daisy says, and again smiles. I try to ignore her smile; she smiles with her whole face. Her electric blue eyes smile, I am disregarding it. Her smell still curls around my nose unwelcome; it’s the smell of a field after a rain, the smell of flowers before you see them.

“No.” I say and look back down to my phone. I have stocks to check and psychology blogs to catch up on. I need to be better. More efficient. More successful.

Daisy lays a hand on my leg. I ignore the pink nails, I ignore the warmth. “You should try unwinding Jon; look out the window with me.” I cannot understand her persistence, I have shown every sign that I would rather be left alone.

I briefly look out the window. I see brown grass, and green grass. I see the silhouettes of a mountain or two. Neither have stock numbers, or CEO biographies. They are a waste of time, which is a waste of potential, which leads to listlessness and being unsuccessful. I nod back to Daisy and I ignore it.

“It’s like that thing is attached by an umbilical cord.” Daisy says and glances at my phone. “There’s a whole beautiful world around you and you’re only interested in a tiny screen. If you’ll excuse me, I need to find the rest room.” Daisy winks and pulls out a cigarette and lighter.

This is definitely against the programming. She cannot do this. I am nervous, and yet excited. The cigarettes can temporarily override my programming, and I am craving one too. I ignore it. Daisy departs and I ignore the curve of her exposed thigh as she stands quickly causing her dress to flutter.

I set my phone down and look again out the window. There is an ugly old tree in the middle of a cleared field. It’s gnarled and who knows when it last saw any leaves. I think of my brother Darren. Listless, unsuccessful Darren. We used to play in a tree just like that.

///Temporary program flaw: Reminisce. It is summer, I am around 8. Darren is 6 and following me with his toy rifle. I’m older and have displayed high maturity levels. I have a BB gun. It’s smooth and black, I feel powerful. Darren follows me to this giant old tree in our backyard. I’m lining up pinecones to face their maker; I’ve enlisted Darren to gather them. He is ecstatic; he would make a good soldier if he weren’t 6 and exuberant. I tell him to stand clear of the firing line. I make a declaration to the pinecones and line up the first in my sights. The trigger is heavy to my thin finger, and click, POW; the pinecone has met its fate. It is not to my satisfaction, I pump several more times. Darren races to collect the fallen pinecone. I see him in my peripheral vision and yell out. He vacates quickly. The next shot pinged off and knocked the pinecone back several yards. I determine to pump even more times. I falsely assume Darren knows not to grab the pinecone this time. I line up my sights and fire. I hear Darren cry out. His muddy brown hair is red; the BB struck his forehead with tremendous force. I panic. Father is running towards us yelling. Darren is crying, Darren’s muddy brown eye is drenched in a crimson waterfall. Mother is yelling. Darren is crying. Father is yelling. I am crying. Mother takes Darren. Father bends me over his knee, still yelling “Foolish boy, you know to be better than this.” I am crying, I feel the quick swipe as a switch is lashed across my bare butt. Crying, yelling, crimson, brown, pain. I try to ignore it.///

I shake my head, even with my exceptional programming there is always a bug or two to work out. I must stay focused. Memories, windows, idle conversation; those are reserved for unsuccessful people without anything better to do.

Before any other sense picks it up, I can smell Daisy returning. Sweet, airy floral scent laced with cigarette smoke. She sits back down and pats my leg. Impulsive. She grabs my phone out of my hands. Egads! I need that. She is pushing buttons and says to me. “Here, it’s my number, maybe I’ll be more real to you if I’m in there.” She handed it back to me, and she kissed my cheek before walking away. I feel blood coursing to the surface of my skin. I ignore it. I feel blood coursing in my nethers, I ignore that too.

My train arrives precisely on time, and I am walking to the garage I left my car in. I am focusing on CNN, on blog posts, on stocks. My mind wanders to Darren, to Daisy. This is a major glitch in my program, Daisy must be a virus.

///Temporary program flaw: Wonder. Where is Daisy? Did she get off the train before my stop? What was she doing? Was I just brief entertainment for her boredom? Does she taste as sweet as she smells? Daisy. It’s just a flower. Flowers are for people without anything better to be looking at. I must ignore this.///

My car is precisely where I left it, my radio is at an adequate volume. I turn on NPR, loudly. I must drown out these flaws in my programming. I ignore the trees that line the streets and the passer-bys. They are white noise. I wait to hear the little announcement to turn left on to my street. This is habit now, I know the way, I’ve driven to this train station a million times. It’s just, without the phone guiding me, I feel like I forgot to turn the stove off, or left the iron on. My phone. My program resets. I am forgetting Daisy, then my phone vibrates.

© Copyright 2017 DonDuquette. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Literary Fiction Short Stories

Booksie 2017-2018 Short Story Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by DonDuquette


Short Story / Literary Fiction

Barren Fields

Poem / Poetry

Popular Tags