The first of our featured stories comes from Australian science fiction writer, digital artist, and teacher Steve Kelly. Steve currently has several books available on Smashwords, including his “updated and reverse engineered” take on H.G Wells’ The War of the Worlds.
by Steve Kelly
Teshlak Artun’s systems had broken into the call centre operators workstation before the operator even had time to introduce himself.
Vocal analysis noted that English was not the human’s first language.
Artun’s systems traced the operator’s dialect to somewhere in Northern India.
“Good afternoon sir. My name is Joseph. I’m ringing you today about your computer.”
There was an ever so brief moment when the Teshlak feared his mission had been compromised but then he remembered that most people in the more developed areas of the planet had computers, primitive though they were. The caller was relying on this fact. The Teshlak’s systems ran a scan of the call centre complex looking ahead for ways to cover his tracks. He could have simply hung up the line but the life form on the other end had whetted his appetite.
“What about my computer?’ he asked, trying to sound genuinely concerned.
“Our systems are showing that you’ve had some problems with your computer lately.”
“Oh, what sort of problems?” the Teshlak inquired, trying very hard not to explode in fits of laughter at the absolute absurdity of the man’s assertion. “And how were you able to see what’s been happening on my computer?”
He was single. His birth name was Ranjit Sankhar. He had worked for the call centre for three months. His sales record, his timesheets, his credit card, bank and social security numbers, his medical and dental records all flashed past on the Teshlak’s monitor.
“You have problems with viruses, malicious advertising software and out of date drivers. Have you noticed your computer running slower lately?
“Yes, I have actually.” the Teshlak lied. His processing speed was two thousand terabytes a second, as it had always been on this system. He was due for an upgrade but it was difficult to get parts this far from home.
“Well sir. Most problems with computers running slow are due to the causes I have mentioned. As for knowing what is happening on your computer, you may not be aware of it but your computer sends out little error messages every time you go on the internet. We collect these error messages purely as a service to you. It enables us to help you keep your computer running smoothly and error free.”
The Teshlak was beginning to get bored with the nonsensical rhetoric of this obviously deluded being. A little bit of falsehood was good for a laugh even in the most sophisticated company on his home planet but this was going beyond the pale.
“It all just sounds to Incredible to be true.” he gushed, trying to sound incredulous. “You can actually see what’s happening on my computer right now?”
“I can’t actually see everything sir but I can see enough to tell that you are having major problems.”
“Nothing like the problems you are about to have.” the Teshlak smirked widely.
“If I can get you to log onto our website I can take you through a simple process that will scan your computer and remove any existing problems. There is a small fee of course.”
The Teshlak nodded sagely as the human finally got to the point. It had been a reasonably entertaining game up ’til now but it was time to eat. “That’s okay.” he replied. “I just need to click this button on my screen that says Retrieve.”
“Why is this workstation unattended?” asked the call centre manager. He picked up the abandoned headset and listened to the line-dead tone. The monitor was blank as well. Ranjit’s existence was completely deleted from the call centre’s, and indeed every connected system’s, data. Finely tuned high frequency pulses even scrubbed him from the memories of relatives, friends and co-workers.
Many cycles later in the officer’s mess of the starship Oclet Prime, Teshlak Artun laughingly reminisced with his junior officers about his time on a primitive planet where the inhabitants would constantly ring you with offers of fast food.
This story was written by, and is the intellectual property of Steve Kelly.
Buy Steve Kelly’s books on Smashwords.
Featured Stories by SciFi Ideas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.scifiideas.com/contact.