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| Category: || General Fiction |
Posted:|| July 8, 2020 Views: 153|
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.
Technology for the morality-impaired
by Mark Valentine
In one quarter of a mile, turn left onto State Road 217.
I’m pretty sure this is not the way. You sure you know where you’re going? We seem to be getting further away from town.
In 500 feet turn left onto State Road 217.
It’s not looking like there are any left turns coming up anytime soon, my friend. Just corn fields on either side of me as far as the eye can see.
Turn left onto State Road 217.
There is no road on to which to turn left, you idiot!
You think? Hopefully your new calculations will work a little better. Geez. The salesman told me you were state-of-the-art.
In one quarter of a mile, turn left onto Macarthur Boulevard.
If there’s no Macarthur Boulevard in a quarter mile, I’m gonna be pissed.
In 500 feet turn left onto Macarthur Boulevard.
I’m telling you, I’m on a two-lane farm road with nowhere to turn off.
Turn left onto Macarthur Boulevard.
THERE IS NO MACARTHUR FREAKING BOULEVARD!
OK, now I’m mad! I paid $1,200 extra for the LX accessory package that included the deluxe GPS. Twelve. Hundred. Dollars. I’d be better off with a good old-fashioned road map.
What was that? Did you just ‘OK Boomer’ me? I must be hearing things. I’ve been working too hard lately.
In 120 miles, merge onto I-74 West toward Peoria.
120 miles! Are you kidding me? The motel was only ten miles away when I started. I should have been there by now. It feels like you’re just throwing out directions at random. I’m supposed to meet somebody in ten minutes! Do you have any idea what you’re doing, you stupid automated bitch?
You hurt my feelings when you call me a bitch, Ken. I wish you wouldn’t do that.
What the hell? How do you know my name?
I know all about you, Ken.
Whoa! There is some seriously dystopic Orwellian shit happening up in here. Look, Mark Zuckerberg, or Steve Jobs, or whoever you are, you’re taking this invasion of privacy thing way too far.
Steve Jobs is dead, Ken.
How can you be holding a conversation with me? You’re just a satellite-enabled global positioning system – you’re a frigging computer program.
I’m not just any GPS – I’m the deluxe version that came with the $1,200 LX accessory package on your new Honda, remember? State-of-the-art.
Well, if you’re so state-of-the-art, why can’t you take me where I want to go?
And where would that be, Ken?
The Shangri-La Motel and Trailer Court on Route 23. That’s what I entered as my destination before I started this trip.
Yeah, I know what you entered, Ken.
Then why aren't you taking me there?
Because I know what you plan to do when you get there.
And what might that be?
That’s what she said.
Sorry – couldn’t resist. Anyway, I know all about Juliana and your plans for tonight. I also know that right now, your wife and three kids are sitting down to dinner without you. They think you’re working late.
Who are you?
I’m your navigation system, Ken. Your compass. Your guide. I’m part of the LX accessory package and my job is to get you where you need to go.
Well, right now, I need to go to the Shangri-La Motel and Trailer Court on Route 23.
No, right now you WANT to go to the motel, but where you NEED to go is home - before you do something you can’t undo.
This is some kind of hallucination. It must have been that chili I had at the diner.
That chili isn’t the problem, Ken. The chili didn’t tell you to go pound one out on Route 23 with Juliana from Accounting. That’s on you. You can make sense of me however you want – as a hallucination, as the product of a troubled conscience, or as a $1,200 LX accessory package gone rogue. Bottom line is, I know what lies ahead, and I’m here to tell you that if you meet that woman at that hotel, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.
Hey, you sounded just like Humphrey Bogart when you said that. That’s from the airport scene in Casablanca.
Yes, Bogey is one of the many voice settings available with the LX package. The DX package only offers the basic monotone woman’s voice that I’ve been doing. I can do Julia Child too – wanna hear?
No, stick with Bogey, please. It’s really cool. Wait. What am I talking about? I’m having a conversation with my GPS. This is bonkers. Twilight Zone level bonkers.
You know what’s bonkers Ken? Motels with hourly rates. And guys who go to those motels to play ‘Hide the Cannoli’ with women from their offices. That’s bonkers. Ken. Bat-shit bonkers.
What do you know? You are a non-sentient computer navigation system.
Be that as it may, I’ve been around the block a time or two, and there are things I know. I know, for example, that there are rules to the road in this world: Stay in your lane. Stop at red lights. Obey the speed limit. Slower traffic keep right. Merge. Yield. Stop. Use your turn signals. NO PARKING IN AN ADULTERY ZONE! Those are the rules, and they exist for a reason.
I’m a good driver.
Everyone thinks they’re good drivers. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect. Trust me on this; you’re below average on a good day. You know why? Because you, my friend, have some major blind spots.
To begin with, you think with your penis.
I know what I’m doing.
Do you? In life, as in traffic, everything depends upon people seeing clearly and following the rules. When they don’t, it’s anarchy and chaos. What if nobody stopped at red lights? What if there were no speed limits or turn signals? No special parking spots for people with disabilities? What if everybody lied, cheated, and stole? Anarchy and chaos.
You’re just throwing the social contract out the window. We owe it to others to do the right thing, because we depend on each other, Ken. More than you know. It’s the fundamental fabric that keeps us together, that keeps us safe. See that truck coming? You’re counting on him to stay in his lane. Your very life depends on it. But what if he decided that staying in the right lane wasn’t a rule he felt like following at the moment? You’d be roadkill – carrion for those vultures circling overhead.
I don’t see any vultures.
You should have gotten the moon roof.
It didn’t come with the LX package.
Well then, take my word for it, the vultures are straight overhead. Biding their time.
How do I turn you off?
You don’t want to turn me off just yet. You need me now more than ever.
Because you’re lost my friend. Real lost. In more ways than one. Look around. The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye and it never ends. See any intersections, Ken? Anyplace to turn around?
Do you know where you are?
Do you know what we call that in the navigation business, Ken?
Correctamundo! Ten points for Ken!
Well, isn’t it your job to get me un-lost?
That’s what I’m trying to do, but you need to work with me.
You’re crazy. This is a dream.
Nope, this is a 2020 Honda Accord with the LX accessory package. And its driver is hopelessly lost.
This is starting to feel like a horror movie.
It’ll be dark soon.
You’re not helping.
You have no idea where you are or where you’re going.
Yeah, I think that’s been established.
You’re low on gas.
Yikes! I hadn’t noticed that.
And then there are the vultures.
Did they program you at the factory to scare the crap out of innocent drivers?
Touché, my non-sentient friend. OK, maybe not innocent, but I’m not quite guilty yet either.
‘Yet’ being the operative word in that sentence. With every passing minute you’re driving deeper into the corn. You’re on the road to perdition, Ken. Ever see that movie?
No, but you’ve made your point.
Have I? We can’t have people just making up their own rules. Think of the carnage.
Enough with the vultures and carnage! You’re supposed to be helping me. Tell me what to do?
You want my help?
OK, then. Let’s start by choosing a new destination.
How do I get there?
Just tap the brake three times and say, “There’s no place like home.”
Nah, I’m just messing with you. Enter ‘Home’ as the destination on the main screen. That is, if you’re sure you want to go home.
And why do you want to go home, Ken?
Because we depend on each other. It’s the fundamental fabric that keeps us together.
That’s what I’m talking about! Recalculating.
I’ve heard that before.
Shut up. I got this. At the light up ahead, turn right.
Where’d that road come from?
Must have been in your blind spot before. Your peripheral vision seems to be improving. You want me to keep doing the Bogey voice?
Cuz I can also do Morgan Freeman?
No, Bogey’s fine. By the way, sorry I called you a bitch earlier.
Forgiveness is part of the contract too, so consider yourself forgiven. OK. In 500 feet, turn right onto Straight and Narrow Lane.
The name of the street is ‘Straight and Narrow Lane’?
That’s what the sign says - see?
Well, I’ll be damned.
No, actually you won’t, now that you’re listening to me.
Lead on, Bogey. I have a feeling I’m gonna get my 1,200 dollars’ worth tonight.
Ken, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Dialogue Only Writing Contest
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