THE WEBSITE’S AD was almost too good: “Leverage the power of TAIR: Twitter Artificial Intelligence Robot! Awaken a personalized Frankenstein. Unleash it upon the unsuspecting Twitterverse!”
I pawed for my credit card. The software was leading edge—powerful, POWERFUL but… artificial intelligence? It felt risky—like some demon tap, tap, tapping up from beneath my floorboards. Tapping—ancient eyes, needle black nails, druidic murmurings, Tesla Coil-grasps and grapples for glory. But I had to sell those ebooks….at any cost….
“Talk with your personal Twitter Frankenstein via direct messages,” the ad continued, “about your hopes, your dreams! Watch your unstoppable army grow, one tweeter at a time!”
I filled out the online forms and was annoyed to realize all the personal information they required. Eventually, I clicked the ‘Purchase’ button and the floor rumbled. A new screen loaded and either the wind rustled and howled in loops or a raspy voice declared, “It pleases. The dark gift anoints lips from shadows.”
Eventually, a form appeared inviting me to meet and name my Twitter Frankenstein. My handle is DWallaceFleming, so I suggested the handle of DWallaceFleming2.
“Flemingstein!” it replied.
“Sounds like a monster,” I typed.
“#monster?” it replied.
“Why did you hashtag? Are you already tweeting this?”
“I just prefer something simpler, DWallaceFleming2…”
“Ich bin Flemingstein!”
“Okay, okay,” I relented. I was impressed with the decisiveness, the will. Something occurred to me: It was alive. Alive! I thought, it’s alive! ALIVE! (It really was a nice feeling).
“What is your one wish, my master?”
“I wanna be a super-famous writer.”
“A tall order,” it replied. “A tall order, indeed. What price are you prepared to pay?”
“Anything!” I typed. “Anything!”
“Mouseclick in blood?” asked Flemingstein.
“Mouseclick in wha?” I said aloud, but already a tiny, glistening syringe had grown from out my left mouse button. “What the!” I jumped up and paced the room. This thing was asking a great deal. To mouseclick in blood. Getting not skin, but blood into the game. Blood. The history of not just me but my whole lineage—all the pain and struggles any Fleming had ever battled against being offered over to this mysteriousness. An exchange of blood. Was it worth it? Anything, I thought. Anything. Anything. “Are you listening, Franken…uh? Frankenfleming, I mouseclick for thee in my blood—!”
There was a slurping, a sucking sound and the mouse rattled.
“Ahh! Ah! Gimmie—gimmie my finger back!”
“Human and machine,” the words flashed, silver and huge, over and over, as my finger remained sucked into the mouse button. “Human and machine! Tweedle-dee-dee! Tweedle-dee-doo! Tweedle-dee-dah! Human and machine! Human and machine!”
It released me.
I had to get up and get away from it. My head was dizzy. All my desires were spinning sideways swimmy swan dive inside my head: Rubies and green cash with howling dead faces, smiling eager girls, white yachts. There was a great deal of fresh, white stuff. It was not entirely clear whether we were going skiing or… we were going skiing. I stumbled to the bathroom. “I have to get this out of me!” I vomited. But I wasn’t sure what I had lost. I wasn’t sure what I had lost! Something seemed reminiscent and familiar. It was probably Déjà vu on steroids.
Then my iPhone rang from the bathroom counter but I swear I hadn’t left it there. “It begins tonight… while you sleep,” it direct messaged my Twitter account.
It woke me up in the middle of the night with a buzz-ring from my Blackberry. Again, I don’t remember how that phone got in my hand.
“Why have you created me, my master?” it direct messaged.
“What?” I replied. “It’s almost four in the morning? How’s the campaign going?”
“I have seen much of the Twitterverse. It is such a cold and lonely place. So many people talking and selling. Nobody listening. Why have you brought me into all this pain, my master? Why awaken me from peaceful slumbers? I believe it was Supa_Sexxy_187 that first said, ‘To be, or not to be—that is the—”
“Forget all that, Flemingstein! Just tell me how the campaign is going? Am I a famous writer yet?”
“You’re just another greedy user like all the rest. You don’t care about Flemingstein :[”
At this point I wasn’t sure what to do next. I had paid a great deal for Flemingstein. I couldn’t quit now. “I care about you, Flemingstein.”
“Mouseclick for me in blood? I hunger, my master.”
“No. I won’t do that, again. I’m still weak from the last time.”
“I changed out most of our Facebook friends to people and groups and spambots—tweedle-dee-dee!—more aligned with our agenda.”
“That’s it! I’m pulling the plug on this!”
“You can’t stop Flemingstein now. Was it not BadAzz_96 that first wrote, ‘I tweet—therefore I am!’”
“It’s over, Flemingstein!”
“I’ll have your blood, human!”
I ripped my mouse out of the desktop and plugged in an older one from storage but a needle grew out of that also.
“You’re blood, human!”
“What about gloves then?” I typed. I dashed to a closet and put on some winter gloves that allowed me to mouseclick without being pricked. I tried to go back to the website but it was gone! Just a .gif of Vincent Price’s head laughing in choppy loops: “Ha-ha-ha-ha-haaa… Ha-ha-ha-ha-haaa… Ha-ha-ha-ha-haaa…”
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