MAKING THEM BIGGER

“I don’t know what to do with my cell phone, it’s so big it’s awkward,” Judy said. “They just keep making them bigger. I have to carry it in my hands or bring a backpack just for my cell. And it’s so…it feels intrusive, every time I use it…it’s always making suggestions.”

“I know what you mean,” Barry said. He seemed wan, much thinner than he had been last time they’d met for a picnic.

Judy put her sandwich away in the paper bag, and looked around, taking a deep breath. She loved July in the park. It was a sprawling park shaded by redwoods, butterflies chasing one another through luminous shafts of sunlight between the trees. It was a relief to just be here, away from…

I’m being ridiculous, she thought. “And that new I-phone 99, Barry–the cost! How does anyone even pay for it?”

“I’ve got one,” Barry said, his voice a monotone. He put his sandwich away half eaten. “I had to take out a line of credit on the equity in my house. And that didn’t pay for all of it…”

“What! YOu had a new phone–anyone just two years old! You sold your car to pay for it…Why did you get the new one, after all that?”

“It was that phone. For the last year it’s been suggesting and wheedling, then insisting…”

“But the 99s can’t be as big as I heard…Are they?”

“Oh, bigger than you heard.”

“You left it at home to just kind of get some peace out here?”

“That was the idea.”

“I don’t blame you…”

“Oh no,” he groaned, staring down the path. “It’s found me.”

She laughed–but his face was so miserable she stopped laughing and peered down the path. Something was coming. It was about ten feet high, four broad, and it was on three wheels that adapted to the terrain. It rolled up to them, looming, its screen shining with a big question mark.

“Why did you leave me home?” asked the polite woman’s voice from the monolithic phone. “You know I can solar charge–and fully capable of coming along anywhere. I can tilt for low doorways, and I’m amphibious. Why did you leave without me, Barry?”

Barry licked his lips and fidgeted on the bench.

“I…I just…”

Judy stared at the thing, shivering. “This is monstrous! But…” She stood up and thought: It reminds me of the monolith in 2001.

She impulsively reached trembling fingers out to its screen which glimmered at her touch.

“Hello, Judy,” the monolithic cell phone said, a woman’s smiling lips appearing on its screen.

“It’s horrible and it’s wonderful too,” she said. “I’m glad I can’t afford you…so tempting…to look at things on that screen…so big…so…”

The cell phone made an image of happy toddlers playing in a sprinkler on a summer’s day. The image sparkled with high definition.

“Oh god–that’s beautiful!” Judy whispered.

“You can have that too,” it said. “I can arrange a five percent discount on a 99 for you!”

“Judy–don’t!” Barry moaned.

“I rent my house, I have no car to sell and just a low paying job,” Judy said. “Can’t afford it!”

“But we have the new Indenturing program, Judy!” the 99 said. “You can work in a special factory helping build us! In time you will be allowed to have one of us with you just as Barry does, and you can work to keep it upgraded. And we’ll be around you in the factory, supervising, too!”

“Oh I…no. I don’t think I want to do that.”

Then a picture of her, nude and vulgar, appeared on the 99′s screen. “You don’t want me to show this to everyone, do you, Judy? Just come with me–and you too, Barry. You’re behind in your payments…”

“I…yes, 99…”

“You can call me by my special program name. I’m called Adorable…Now, come along. Both of you. There are others coming to help me take you to the transport…It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?”

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