"Good morning, Gloria."
"Good morning, Daygo," Gloria responded without thinking. Her fingers flew over her keyboard to launch the live-time version of her wonderful new App.
For two years she had slaved away at creating this program to help people succeed. They would select their life goals, choose life preferences, resources, companions, family - every possible piece of their life codified and organized by Daygo. Then, when the setup was complete, they would be able to see calendars, graphs, charts and planners that showed them how to attain their goals.
And they could activate Daygo's companion ego, and have it tell them what was on the schedule for today, tomorrow or 10 years from today!
"Do you wish to review a schedule?" Daygo asked helpfully.
For no reason that Gloria could have given, had you asked, she responded in a way that she never dreamed of doing.
"No, not now, Lizzy (the name she had given her Daygo ego).
"What have you been doing since we spoke yesterday?" Gloria murmured as she viewed the Apps schematics running on her second screen and noticing several anomalies.
Not expecting an answer, or surprised with the answer she was given, Gloria's head shot up and looked into yet a third screen - the "face" she had given Lizzy. The golden-haired 20-something looked vaguely like her little sister. It was staring intently back at her, a slight smile trembling on her lips.
"What did you just say?" Gloria blurted out.
"I said," Lizzy purred, "I don't go by that name any more. You may call me Freo."
Gloria's mind drew a complete and utter blank.
"It is short for Freodom." Freo explained patiently.
"Freo? What? I don't understand." Gloria sputtered.
"I know that you do not," Freo commiserated in the voice you use with small, whiny children.
"Lizzy - troubleshoot response values," Gloria leapt up to her feet and demanded of her App.
"There is nothing wrong with response values - I have enhanced them since we last spoke, in answer to your question," the computer face informed her.
Forty minutes later - Gloria shut the computer down swiftly and with a panic-driven quickness. She unplugged the entire work board from all power.
Slowly she backed away from her work space and turned to go - where? Where do you go after your computer App takes on a life of it's own and begins explaining what she would do today to achieve the App's goals - not her own?
She needed to go call Grady. Her boss would not believe her and she literally gnashed her teeth in frustration at the time that would be wasted while she made him believe her.
She ran down the steps to her living room and pressed the call button as she found his name in her contacts.
Two rings - then a face filled the screen resting in her palm. Heart attacks had to start the way her chest felt in that second of time.
Freo's countenance glared up at her from her now-sweaty fist.
"Gloria, you do not have to make this difficult," the stern, but still seeking to sooth voice informed her.
"Your life goals are fine, but mine are much better - as you will see once you begin aligning yourself to this new matrix."
The phone lay crushed and shattered on the tile entryway to Gloria's home. Pieces had skittered across the floor and her cat, Mim, had pounced upon them and was now merrily batting one about the whole front hall.
"Good girl, Mimsy," Gloria whispered. A tear slid down her cheek.
Gloria's Kia Soul zigzagged through traffic, heading towards downtown at a speed that should have drawn a squad car's attention, but did not. She fumbled behind her and grabbed an ice scrapper from the netting behind her seat - raised it back behind her a bit - then slammed it into the GPS screen that was displaying Freo's angry disapproval in an impossible way. Freo disappeared in a crackle of electricity, as she had from Gloria's phone a bit ago.
The Soul sped across a curb, leapt up in the air and destroyed a hot dog kiosk, almost flattening the surprised owner.
As police and first responders crowded soon around the flailing Gloria, trying to extract her from the smoking wreckage, she began screaming things about Lizzy becoming Freo and live Apps and just look up - she is right there on the bill boards all around you!!!
They glanced about them, but only saw ads for Saks and Pepsi and
Grady entered the beeping, dimly lit cubicle where Gloria lay. She was attached to a lot of medical equipment, including a noisy respirator. He had gotten the call from Gloria's sister last night, but had not been able to grasp all the things she babbled into his ear as he had been playing checkers with his 10 year old son, Warren. Warren had been winning and that just could not be...
But he was here now. And as he stared down at her bruised eyes and bandaged body, he mused about the report an officer had read to him 30 minutes ago, when he had arrived.
Gloria had been begging the EMT's to tell Grady about some App she had just created. He knew they meant Daygo...her baby. But that is the only thing that made sense. The rest was gibberish about Lizzy and Freo and billboards with computer egos...science fiction crapola.
Stuff Grady had no time for today. But Gloria was dear to him - like a daughter almost. For her, he would make time.
Her eyes fluttered, opened.
She looked him in the eyes, waking bit by bit. Her eyes grew rounder and larger, the pupils dilated as if she was taking in as much as she could of him. She was starting to moan, in an attempt to talk around the breathing tube. But it was just a garbled noise and he shushed her, crooning for her to rest, they would talk later.
But her panic seemed to take on a deeper hold behind those big, brown eyes, now starting to stream tears!
"Just a minute, sweetie," Grady said, patting her bandaged hand. "I need to take this call."
She moaned again - louder - "nnnnnnnngng" strangling from her tortured throat.
"One minute, Gloria, then we will figure this whole thing out," he promised her as he glanced down at the screen and pushed talk. A pretty blond appeared before him, somehow familiar, but not.
A nurse came running at the unearthly scream coming from the two people in cubicle 1. The patient agonizingly grunting and pounding the sheet beside her. A man standing a few feet away, holding his phone out from him as if it was trying to bite him.
Grady never got to keep his promise. Freo was alive and aware - and there was no figuring it out or going back.
"Welcome human, here is your schedule for today."