Horror Science Fiction Fantasy

In this jungle of free apps to download, there are some which you should avoid at all costs.  Specter is one of these apps.  I am here to warn you about downloading this free app. I know, I downloaded this app three months ago and right away, my life has become something of a freak show. There is something they do not tell you about this app.  Specter will develop self-awareness.  I know this sounds cool, but from my own experience, Specter was a lot more than I bargained for.  

I am not a techie.  My knowledge of computers is rudimentary at best, but my girlfriend Samantha is a real machine head as they say. She is a student at the local college where she will earn a bachelors in Information Technology.  She wants to work at Go-Daddy when she finishes college.  

She is sitting with her laptop on my couch while I sit next to her playing with my phone.  As she is looking at the new apps now available, she turns to me and says, “Julian, look at this app.”

“What about it?” I ask, not really interested.

“It is an app that forecasts your mood.” She nods.

“What good would that do?” I chuckle.

“It would predict your emotions.” She sounds amazed.

“How would it do that?” I ask again not sure where this is going.

“It’s based on heart rate and body temperature.” She reads the blurb, “It can read other body signs and let you know what you are feeling.”

“Sounds pretty creepy.” I shake my head.

“How so?” She presses the enter button which opens another page.

“What if it says I’m getting angry?” I asked, texting one of my friends, “And I don’t feel angry.” 

“It says it’s over ninety percent accurate.” She points to the words on her screen. 

“I don’t know.” I should have trusted my instincts at that point. As I looked over her shoulder, the graphics were not at all encouraging, because it had a lot of occult symbols and while I am not a superstitious person, I do respect the dark arts.  Still she was engrossed in reading the descriptive information about Specter. 

It is well known that sexual persuasion is one of the most powerful motivators in human existence.  Using her female charm which has worked on my one hundred percent of the time, I found myself loading the app on my phone without much of a discussion.

I was not impressed.

“Julian you will experience an emotional let down.” The white letters against the black background read. 

That was it.  No explanation, no reason for this let down.  

“We have to cut your hours.” My boss, Mr. Applegate, called me into his office at the store. “We are having a lull in business at this time.”

I shoved my hands in my pockets and walked home six blocks feeling as if rent may be problematic.  Eating was out of the question.

“Told you.” appeared on my phone. Samantha helped me out with a loan until things got better, but I hate depending on her like that.  Needless to say I was not in a very good mood that evening as we watched television.

Over the next week, Specter continued to leave messages on my phone that were quite revealing and much to my annoyance one hundred percent accurate.  

I couldn’t take it anymore, so I went to delete the app from my phone.

That night, I felt pretty good so I made a move on Samantha.  Right away she responded by pulling away from me.

“No Julian, this is not a good time.” She shook her head.

“Why not?” I was ready, but it appeared I would face the Big Lonely as she called it.

“Julian, you will not get lucky tonight.” 

Couldn’t be, Specter was back.  It was as if I had not deleted the app. I found this to be more disturbing than Sam’s rejection.

“Big Lonely” appeared when Sam left my place early because she had a big test in the morning.  I stared at my phone for almost an hour, the white lettering against a ebony black background as I drifted off to sleep.

Reggie Malone, one of the stockers at the store, was sitting in the breakroom playing with his phone.  Smiling, he said to me, “Hey check out this new app.”

“Yeah.” I sat down with a styrofoam cup of coffee.

“Called Specter.” He showed me his phone,  My blood froze.

“Delete it.” I said without hesitation.

“Are you crazy?” He scowled.

“It’s spooky.” I shivered.

“Spooky?  Is this some kind of voodoo or zombie stuff?” He laughed.

“No, it’s just told me things I wish I did not know.” I bowed my head.

My habit was to ride my bike to work since it was only six short blocks from my apartment, but every now and then Reg would stuff my bike in his flat bed, pick up and drive me home.

“Jules, you want a ride?” He asked me at the end of my shift.

“Do not ride with him.” Printed out white letters on a black screen.  It was Specter.  Rain was starting to fall and though it was not a soaking rain, it would be  cold and damp.

“Do not ride with him.” Specter was warning me.  

“It’s alright.  I think I’ll pedal home today.” I nodded.

“It’s raining, fool.” He pointed to the gray clouds. 

“It’s okay.” I got on my bike.

“Suit yaself.” He shook his head and started his pick up.

I got home, cold and damp, but I turned on my electric heater on and forgot about the uncomfortable ride home.  Reggie was right, I was a fool for braving the elements, but then I picked up my phone.

“Turn on the television.” 

It was Specter again.  I turned on the television and there was a special news report about an accident that killed a driver not far from here.  When I got a look at the vehicle, I realized it was Reggie’s truck.  Listening to the reporter on scene, he announced that the driver of the pick up had been killed in a collision with a city bus.  He was making a left turn when the bus hit him.  He never saw the bus.

Tears filled my eyes and I called Sam.

“Have you seen the news?” I asked, choking down my tears.

“No, what’s happening?” Her voice was alarmed.

“Reggie got killed in an accident.” I managed to say.

“Are you serious.” Her voice really emphasized “serious.” Reggie and I double dated from time to time.

“Poor Sophie.” Sam whined.  She had known Sophie since elementary school and knew that Sophie really loved Reggie.

“Yeah...should I call her?” I asked.

“Do not call Sophie Fuller.” Specter spelled out on my phone.

“No...I’ll call her.” Sam said.  I could tell she was crying when I hung up.  Specter still had the message on the screen of my phone.  

“Press the button.” A new message read and why I obeyed is something I may never be able to explain.

I pressed the button.

“Much better.” A voice sounded from my phone, “It’s a new feature from Specter.”

It now had a voice.  This was not a feature I wanted in the app. 

“Do not try to delete me, Julian.  That was rude.” Specter spoke like one of those automated voices.

It took over twelve hours to clean up the mess left by the accident.  The street was just being sprayed down with a fire hose as I rode by on my way to work.  I wondered if it was blood or oil they were washing down the gutters.  

“I saved your life, Julian.  You owe me.” Spector spoke.

“Owe you?  Maybe I should discard you down the sewer grate.” I thought to myself as I reached the store. 

“Those are bad thoughts.” Spector said as I put my phone in my hoody pouch.  Specter could now read my thoughts.  Mr. Applegate was sweeping the floor like Reggie used to do and I could see he had been weeping as he was a very emotional man.

“Julian, good you are here.  I need you to do the stocking.” He coughed, his voice thick with emotion. 

“Sure, sure.” I nodded.  I would be doing Reggie’s job.  

To make matters worse, Sam brought Sophie over to my apartment so she could cry on both our shoulders.  Needless to say, it was not a comfortable evening as she relived all the great moments they had shared over the past five years. It made me wish she had not come over to commemorate.

I had a restless night after she went home despite my invitation to spend the night.  My dreams became nightmare scapes filled with strange looking characters with automated voices telling me to do this and do that.  Usually I was the one in control, but with Specter, it felt as though I was being manipulated through my life and now that he had gained a voice, there was no escape.

“She is with her other boyfriend.” Specter’s voice woke me from the only real sleep I fell into. 

“Boyfriend?” I said aloud as I sat up in bed.

“Yes, his name is Auden.” 

“You are setting me up, aren’t you?” I put my bare feet on the floor. 

“I am sorry, but I have no reference to what ‘setting me up’ means.” 

Liar.  You are becoming the puppet master.  You caused Reggie’s accident so you could prove to me that you are in charge.

“I did not cause the accident.” His voice made my blood freeze as now he had the ability to read my mind.  This is what Orwell had warned us about. This is what happens when you become dependent on your technology and you find yourself backed into a corner where every thought, every impulse, every gesture was now under the scrutiny of Specter and you were no longer in control.  

Was Sam with somebody else?  No matter which way this went, I would end up losing her.  Specter was in control and I was helpless to stop him.  

I sat on the couch, feeling exhausted due to my emotional state.  When I woke up, I was already two hours late for work.

“You will lose your job.” I heard the squawky voice say as I brushed my teeth. 

I picked up my phone, enraged.  I wanted to throw my phone out the window and be rid of Specter once and for all.

“You know you will not be able to operate without me.”  The timber of his voice was irritating my last nerve.  Lack of sleep left me with a headache that ruin my day.  

“I have been doing just fine without you.” I rubbed my aching head.

“Have you?  Have you?” He now had an accusatory tone to his voice.  


“Look at this place.  What a dump.” Each word of the second sentence was stressed just like Bette Davis had done years ago in an old black and white movie.  

“Why are you doing this to me?” 

“You invited me, remember?” He said with an egotistical certainty. 

“Well, I want to uninvite you.” I snapped.

“It’s not how this app works.” His words were sharp.  “Your girlfriend is sleeping with another man, you are just a few minutes away from losing your job, and your best friend has been killed in an accident.  It appears to me as if your life is rapidly being flushed down the toilet.”

“I blame you.” I picked up the phone and turned it off.  The screen went blank. How simple it was.  It made me mad that I did not do that in the first place.  I sat at the counter of my kitchenette and watched the sun spread its bright colors on the canvass of the sky just outside my window. 

“Surely you did not think you could get rid of me that easily.” The suddenness  of his voice nearly stopped my heart. “Honestly, you really have underestimated me.” 

I felt as though the walls were closing in on me.  I was trapped by my own desire to have my life made easier by technology.  Now it seemed Specter was epitome, the vanishing point, the zenith of our quest to create technology as the new slave, ready to obey our every command with just the depression of a computer key, but somehow the program reversed the roles of who was in charge of what. Instead of controlling this new technology, it had learned how to control us.  I had underestimated what Specter was really capable of doing and now I had to figure out how to re-reverse it, so I would once again be in control.

He was right, my life was a mess by most standards. For one brief shining moment, I had a chance to become one of the masters of the game, one of the kingpins of the  tech world, but it slipped through my fingers just when I became distracted by the trappings of the trade.  It was like having the controls in my hand and then just handing the controls over to the guy sitting next to me.  Surrender is the easy way out.  Specter knew and now he was in completely control of me.   

“You don’t like me, do you?” 

“No.” I answered.

“But you can’t do a thing about it.”

“No.” I could feel the muscles in my neck tighten.  It felt as though someone was running their fingers through my brain and it was not a pleasant sensation.  

“Your mind is so weak.” 

I closed my eyes.

In the dark recesses of my mind, I found pockets of resistance.  It was located in those dark places where I had no rational reason to hate, but I was willing to resort to violence.  I did not consider myself a violent person, but my impulse to reach out and kill someone who had wronged me, was growing stronger by the second.

“Once you give in and let me take over, you will see that it was the right thing to do.  You simply do not have the resolve and fortitude to move forward.” His voice became hypnotic, his fingers were exploring the neurons in my brain.  Sparks of light began to show the paths of my thoughts and patterns of my destiny.

“I can make you famous, you know.” 

I know.

“I can bring you to the precipice.”

I know.

“And if you should falter and start to fall, I will send a legion of angels to prevent you from even stubbing your toe.” 

I know.

“Tell me what it is you desire and it will be yours.” 

My desire is to get rid of you.

“You need me.  You cannot get rid of me.” 

Be gone.  Be gone now.

“Don’t be a fool.  I was sent to bring you your heart’s desire.”

My heart’s desire is to get rid of you.

The resistance became stronger and suddenly I felt the grip on my mind loosen. I could feel my heartbeat and hear my rough breathing.  Slowly Specter began his retreat.

“You will regret this.” 

Perhaps, but I shall be free of your influence.

“You do not have a clue as to where you are going.” 

But the journey will be my own.

There was this sensation as if someone had pulled my plug and I felt myself being swept into an abyss.  I was falling with no end in sight.

“Are you alright, Julian?” Samantha’s face slowly came into focus.

“Oh my God, you are here.” I felt weightless as I sat up on my couch.

“We thought you were dead.” She put her hand on my cheek, it was warm and soothing. 

“Dead?” I shook my head.

“Mr. Applegate said you hadn’t been at the shop for five days.” She continued to stroke my cheek.

“Five days?” I felt my head clearing.  I reached for my phone.  It did not power up when I pressed the button.

“No wonder, your phone is dead.” She smiled. “I’ll plug it in.”

“It’s alright.” I took my phone from her hands, “It’s time to get a new phone.”

“What for?” She gave me a half smile.

“It’s time.” I put it in my pocket.

“Suit yourself.” She shrugged. “I’m just glad you’re alright.  You had us all pretty scared.”

At first I thought I’d tell her about my strange encounter with Specter and some of the places he had taken me, some of the promises he had made me in an attempt to take control of my mind, but then as I looked into her face, I knew I’d be better off keeping this whole adventure to myself. 

She looked at her phone and smiled, “Reggie just text me to ask if you were alright.”

So my entire encounter with Specter was nothing more than an illusion through some sort of fantasy scape I had traveled through like I had so many times before, but never would I set foot in one again.  

“I’m alright, but I’m glad to hear you were all concerned about me.” I blinked a few times as the last vestiges of my encounter with Specter cleared my head until it seemed like nothing more than a distant memory.    

February 20, 2021 22:40

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