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Johnny Williams

"Speechless" by Johnny Williams

SciFi/Fantasy text 5 out of 6 by Johnny Williams.      ←Previous - Next→
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Technology at its best... and worst...

I wrote this as my final assignment for a online Sci-fi and Fantasy Writing course. I had a small idea for it for a couple of weeks, and I did all of the actual writing a week before it was due all off th top of my head. The ending is completely spontaneous; I had an entirely different ending, but this one just seemed to fit better.

This is my first published work on Elfwood, hope you enjoy it!


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←- Old Man Winter | We Don't Need You Anymore -→

Speechless

Jonathan Kilgrove pressed the touchpad, and listened as his four cylinder engine roared to life. His built-in GPS booted up as well.

“Good morning, Mr. Kilgrove,” the words on the 12 inch screen read, “What is your destination today?”

Kilgrove reached down and typed in the address of the office, and the words disappeared to reveal a road map pinpointing where he was and where he was going. Then, the car backed out of the asphalt driveway, and started down the road.

It was raining hard today, but Jon didn’t care. Accidents were a thing of the past now. His Nissan could recognize weather conditions, and so adjust speed limit, handling, acceleration, and whatever else it had to do ensure the safety of itself. It could even detect internal temperature and adjust the heat and air conditioning settings to comfort its owner.

Jon flipped open his Blackberry and began texting as the car stopped at a traffic light. “Durrell, I’ll b late 2 meeting 2day cuz of rain. Hold off til I get there.”

He flipped it shut, and words appeared on the GPS again. “Low fuel,” it read, “will locate station between you and destination to refuel.”

Jon sighed his frustration. He didn’t bother texting Durrell again, he already told him he would be late. That was the only problem about this car, it was a gas-guzzler. Seventy-six miles per gallon isn’t nearly as much as he first thought when he bought the car.

It pulled into the station, and Jon got out amidst the pouring rain to the pump. When he was finished, the digital display on the pump station read $171.52. He pulled out his credit card, and swiped it through the machine. After a few seconds, the display read, “Thank you for choosing Pump ‘n Drive. Have a good day.”

As he got back into the car, Jon saw two women walking down the street, holding large umbrellas to protect them from the infuriating downpour. They were walking fast, and they both had on new sneakers, which made him assume that they were power walking. Both had their phones in hand and were texting.

“Probably to each other,” thought Jon.

He finally arrived to the office twenty minutes late. He got out of his car into the intensifying rain. He could hardly hear the beeps and jingles of the other pedestrians’ cell phones as he struggled through the immense crowd.

He opened his Blackberry again. “Durrell, I’m here now, b there in 2 min.”

A few seconds later, Durrell texted back. “When u said that u b late, I thought u meant only 5 min!”

“Sry,” Jon typed back, “Had 2 get gas on way.”

“I don’t care what u had 2 get. Get up here!”

Two minutes later, Jon entered the meeting room. His five other colleagues were already there, and they all had the look of growing impatience on their faces. He sat on the nearest chair, opened his Blackberry again, and wirelessly connected to the wide 60 inch plasma screen on the opposite wall, on which a message suddenly appeared.

Durrell: Its about time u got here, Jon. We almost started without u.

Jon looked at Durrell, and saw that he was obviously angry. He knew that it would be better to avoid a confrontation at the moment.

Jon: Sry, won’t happen again.

Durrell: That’s good 2 hear. Now, lets get started. SharpWare needs 2 decide which game 2 go with: Apocalyptic 3 or Mach Speed.

Janet: Sequels r proven to sell bettr than new titles.

Durrell: But Apocalyptic 2 was a bust. Many bought it, but critics slammed it.

Janet: We’ve seen previews, this 1 looks promising.

Randy: Mach Speed (MS) is original, we’ve never seen plane racing b 4.

Jon: Consumers r more likely 2 buy established titles over some new game they’ve nevr heard of.

Ashton: MS looks like sequel material. If it flies, its sequels will sell bettr.

* * *

Jon sat down on his couch. It had been a long day. They had bickered back and forth for hours about which game to publish, as if it really mattered. Personally, Jon didn’t care. Both titles would sell, he knew that. But if he acted as if he didn’t care, he would lose some respect in the office.

He looked around for his TV remote. Not seeing it in plain sight, he got up and pressed the remote pager button on top of the TV. Immediately, he heard a jingle coming from the other room. After he retrieved it, he sat down again and turned on the TV. He switched to the news and read some of the headlines: “Early Morning Murder”, “Another Identity Scam Occurs on MySpace”, all the same old news. He didn’t bother reading the stories; none of them concerned him.

His Blackberry suddenly beeped and he pulled it out of his pocket. A message had been sent by his son, Jason.

Cree8or: I’m home.

Jon: Its open.

Two seconds later, the door swung open and Jason walked in, dropping his soaked backpack on the hardwood floor as he went.

Cree8or: Anything 2 drink?

Jon: Picked up soda on way home.

Jason opened the refrigerator, pulled out a can of Coke, and sat down on the chair next to his father. The familiar fizz sound crushed the silence momentarily.

Jon: How was skool?

Cree8or: Bin bettr.

Jon smirked slightly as he turned his attention back to the TV. A weather radar was now being displayed. It looked to Jon like the rain would last most of the night. He typed another message to Jason.

Jon: Homework?

Cree8or: Not much.

Jon: Sure, get started.

Sighing, Jason accessed the school’s homework page on his Blackberry, and began typing the answers. Jon smiled again. Old Jason, always trying to pass off work as ‘not much’ so he can do it later. He loved his son dearly; it was a shame that his mother didn’t. No, she loved money more. And once Jason was laid off a few years back, she couldn’t take it anymore, so she left, leaving her then thirteen year old son behind.

Jason was sixteen now and halfway through his sophomore year. Now that Jon thought about it, he couldn’t believe how fast the time flew. Sure, he had, as the expression goes, ‘heard’ it all before. “Before you know it, they’ll be grown up.” He had passed it off as the sorrows of parents who wished they had spent more time with their children while they were young. He realized now that they were right. He had done many things with Jason throughout the years. He had taken him hiking in the Rockies, played basketball with him all the time, taken him to sports games, and much more. He realized that, no matter what he did or how much time he spent with his son, it didn’t seem like enough.

Jon: U wanna eat at Purple Iris 2morow?

When the message popped up on Jason’s screen, he smiled, looked at his father, and nodded. Jon nodded back and couldn’t help but feel proud. Proud that he had raised a son who loved him back and still wanted to spend time with his father. Not many kids did that these days.

* * *

Jon awoke the next morning to complete silence. He sighed with relief and relaxation. This was the best part about Saturdays; no blasted alarm clocks. He sat up on the edge of the bed and rubbed his face, trying to rid the sleep from his body. He slowly made his way into the kitchen and poured himself a hot cup of coffee. Looking out the window, he saw that the rain was gone. Bright sunlight now flooded into the house, warming the table in its brilliance.

Jason sleepily stumbled into the kitchen. He, too, poured coffee for himself and sat down at the table across from his father. They sat together in silence; hearing only the quiet, rhythmic ticking of the old clock in the other room.

Jon flipped open his Blackberry and held down the power button. Nothing happened. Sighing exasperatingly, he got up and retrieved the charger from his bedroom. He plugged both ends into their appropriate slots, and the ‘charging’ light lit up on the phone. Again, he held the power button, and again, nothing happened.

Jason, who had been watching his father, pulled out his phone and attempted to turn it on. His phone didn’t power up either. He looked at his father worryingly, who was still gazing at his phone, obviously confused.

Seized by an idea, an extremely bad, fearful idea, Jon began to search anxiously for the TV remote. Discovering it on the coffee table, he quickly turned on the television. A single, large headline was displayed there. It was the headline that he had dreaded, the thing that he had hoped beyond hope would not be there.

It read, “Worldwide Cell Phone Network Shuts Down”.

It was impossible; there was no way that this could be happening. He read the article. Communication had completely collapsed, and no one knew why. Jon flipped through the channels frantically, refusing to believe what was happening. Jason came into the room and saw the same headline, and his face contorted into fear. Jon saw his son’s face out the corner of his eye. He shut off the TV, and pulled him into a tight embrace. He was trying to tell him that it was okay, that everything would be fine, but how could he? Their cell phones were dead. Even if he could tell him, how could he convince him when he couldn’t even convince himself? He realized with a horrible jolt that he couldn’t tell anyone anything. He couldn’t communicate with anyone.

Grasping his son’s hand, he led him outside and opened the passenger-side car door. Obediently, Jason got in, and Jon climbed into the other side. He would go to Durrell’s house, Jon thought. He knew much about these sort of things, he would know what was going on. Jon touched the start pad for the car. Nothing happened. Jon was beginning to feel the first pangs of panic now. He pressed it again and again, but the car refused to start. Furious and terrified, he stumbled out of the car, and motioned for Jason to come with him. Together, they walked quickly and unsteadily back into the house.

Once they were both inside, Jon shut the door and locked it. Understanding, Jason began to lock all of the windows. Jon tried to press the code into the security panel on the wall to activate it. It did nothing. He disconcertedly realized that the security system was connected to same network as the phones, so of course it wouldn’t work.

Frustrated, he slumped down onto the couch. He didn’t know how people would react to this catastrophe. Whether they would snap, go on a rampage, or do something else irrationally, he didn’t know. He did know, however, that, no matter what happened, he was going to keep himself and, more importantly, his son, safe. All of their utilities still worked, and he hoped that they had enough food to last until the network was restored.

All that day, the two simply sat on the couch, not knowing what to do. Once in awhile, Jon would get up and look out the window, and every time he saw an empty street. It seemed as if everyone had the same idea he did; they were trying to wait it out and hope that everything would be fine. And so the days went by, and every day they found that still couldn’t communicate.

Jon kept the news on constantly. Because of the collapse, robberies and lootings  skyrocketed. Of course they would, Jon thought. No one could call for help, and the security systems couldn’t warn anyone of intruders. The entire country was falling apart, and he could do nothing but watch and protect his son.

On the morning of the seventh day after the shutdown, Jon woke on the couch and saw a new article on the television. It wrote about ancient days long past when people communicated by ‘talking’ to each other. Talking? What was this nonsense? He read on to see that people used to make a series of noises from their mouths to form words. Over time, when people began texting to everyone, the ‘vocal chords’ or ‘voice box’, as the program read, began to disappear and fingers, most notably the thumbs, became harder and stronger to handle the increased stress from texting. There were other words in the article that he remembered reading only back in his elementary history class. ‘Paper’, ‘pens and pencils’, ‘speech’, and a long, peculiar word called ‘languages’; all of these, he found, were used quite commonly an extremely long time ago. Who knew?

Jason, who had been sleeping on the recliner, suddenly awoke and read the article as well. He looked at his father, confusion written all over his face. Jon attempted to give him a comforting look, but he wasn’t sure if he succeeded.

Another three days passed, and food was beginning to run short. Jon knew that he had to get food today, before any more disappeared from the grocery store. He relayed to Jason what he intended to do. He also indicated to keep the door shut and locked until he came back. Once his son understood, Jon left the house and began running down the street.

Jason locked the door and fell onto the couch. He wanted it all to end; the silence, confusion, all of it. He couldn’t stand it.

Suddenly, his Blackberry lit up and a tune began, indicating that a message had been received. His heart racing, he crashed to it and picked it, his hands shaking uncontrollably.

Restricted: Hello.

Bewildered, Jason replied.

Cree8or: Who is this?

Restricted: I do not know. What would you call me?

Cree8or: I don’t understand.

Restricted: What is there to understand? You do not know who I am, and I do not know what you would call me. There is nothing here to understand, only things to be known in due time. The first question that must be asked about me is ‘what am I?’

Cree8or: OK, what r u?

Restricted: Let us say that I am, as your motion pictures depict, ‘not of this world’. I am what you would call an alien. Or, to use the proper term, an extraterrestrial.

Jason’s breathing was extremely labored now. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. But, for some strange reason, he did.

Cree8or: What do u want?

There was no reply for a minute. Jason was wondering if contact had been cut off, but then…

Restricted: We are conducting an experiment. And the screen went black and the phone shut down once again.

 

←- Old Man Winter | We Don't Need You Anymore -→

DateNameComment 
6 Jul 2009:-) Damien Marr
Greetings and well met,

Firstly, thanks for the comment on my story.

Your story reminded me (in a very good way) of an E.M. Forster short story "The Machine Stops". Considering Forster was a "proper" literary writer and not a science fiction writer (and wrote it in 1909), one might be inclined to say writers (and would-be writers) have an ability to deduct the living conditions of a future era. Much like Roddenberry with cell phones and motion detector doors a la the original Star Trek. Which makes me think... God, I hope you are wrong about the impending alien experiments on our networks... ;p

:-) Johnny Williams replies: "Thanks and your welcome. That was one thing that my instructor of the online course, John DeChancie, stressed about when coming up for ideas for Sci-Fi: Take a current trend, and fast forward it many, many years down the road to an extreme. Thats what I did here.


Thanks again for commenting."
7 Jul 2009:-) Kayla Maas
Great story!!! It left me speechless!! i scared for the future now....losing your voices! wow i never would have thought of that and i never would have guessed that "aliens" were behind it!! And we’re still using gasoline in the future?
wonderful story22222
6


:-) Johnny Williams replies: "Thank you. Hm... I never really thought about the gasoline part... Good observation. "
16 Jul 2009:-) Morgan A Grover
Awesome idea! It is actually a bit ironic. I work at a school and it is amazing how much kids text now as compared to simply talking. A conversation that would take a single minute on the phone has become a series of texts (often taking much longer) instead. And yet they say it is easier and more convenient, hmmm.

Excellent story though! Thanks for sharing

:-) Johnny Williams replies: "Thanks, glad you liked it. That was an inspiration for this story. Everyone in town just keep texting and texting. So I stretched what I saw, and came up with this.

Thanks for commenting. "
21 Sep 2009:-) Tom Draco Noir Taylor
Great story, Johnny!! The seeds of this are already sprouting- i find it almost comical that people hundreds of years ago had to communicate via pen and paper , by written word, then we had-Telegraph, still coded words, then the modern wonder the telephone, actually hearing our loved ones voice from far away. Now we revert to typing words !It’s evolution(which I too do not believe ) in reverse!Great points about the car(which is well on its way even now. And in Japan, great masses of people walk the streets silently, texting away on their very advanced phones. And all over the world this is happening! And what you wrote about the outage of service is so true. We have become far too dependent on computers!(which is probably a bit hypocritical of me to say, typing this on a computer!1

:-) Johnny Williams replies: "Thanks Tom! I am vehemently opposed to evolution myself, but the idea was needed here. I hope you noticed Jason’s username: Cree8or. All that is is a personal reference, a bit of symbolism there.

I truly appreciate your thoughts.... Thanks!"
22 Sep 2009:-) Anna Rose
Wow. I don’t really approve of texting in all situations. What I want to know is do video games still "talk" or does every virtual person text? And the whole vocal cords evolved out thing makes sense...if it’s not needed, the body gets rid of it. Very, very thought provoking. I hope that you, like many sci-fi writers, didn’t happen to predict the future...

:-) Johnny Williams replies: "LOL..... Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you liked it."
24 Sep 2009:-) Dsa DSA
Very cynical on future development of the text-message culture. I like it!
Only thing I seriously found "unrealistic" (In "-" because the entire stories premise is unrealistic after all... still) was the fact that they didn’t know ANYTHING about languages. Surely they have studied a bit of history... come on. Just because we have internet right now doesn’t meant that we cannot imagine a time without any mass communication systems other than oratory.
I think you stupefyed them a bit too much on that bit.

Other than that, awesome story. Reminds me of Fahrenheit 457.

:-) Johnny Williams replies: "Thanks for stating your comment... well... so bluntly. LOL....

You’re probably right on that point. I tried to keep the characters confused in an attempt to keep the readers guessing. But you saw through that. Great insight. "
15 Nov 2009:-) Shaina Couch
This is brilliant. I don’t have a cell phone, but most people I know do. The only think they really do is text. Let’s just hope such a thing never really happens! haha 12

:-) Johnny Williams replies: "^ thanks again. I’m glad you liked it. Ironically, I dont own a cell phone either. LOL"
19 Apr 2010:-) Hillary Kent
This is a really neat idea. It certainly takes texting to a whole new level! Humans unable to talk anymore because of technology? That’s very unique, and it made a great story.
One thing I was wondering is will there be a sequel? The end explained the situation really well (very surprising too, nicely done!), but it would be interesting to see how the human race ends up dealing with the situation, and just how hostile the aliens turn out to be. Anyway, it was just a thought.

:-) Johnny Williams replies: "Hmm.... lol You’re not the first person to ask about a follow-up to this story. I really don’t know if I’ll continue this story. At the time when I wrote it, it was meant to be one those cliff hanger stories that simply ended at the climax, and for readers to draw their own conclusions. But due to the increased speculation about a sequel, I may one day look at it and continue it. "
8 May 201145 Anon.
I like it -to make my own reply to ppl asking for a sequel, I think that would just be weird. I really like the ending as it is.

:-) Johnny Williams replies: "thanks! Looks like you’re one of first to like this ending. lol..."
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'Speechless':
 • Created by: :-) Johnny Williams
 • Copyright: ©Johnny Williams. All rights reserved!

 • Keywords: Fiction, Sci-fi, Science, Tech, Techno, Technology
 • Categories: Extrateresstial, Alien Life Forms, Techno, Cyber, Technological, Mystery, Detective, Crimes
 • Submitted: 2009-06-28 19:50:05
 • Views: 1372

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