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Monday, November 20, 2017

11/3/17 Friday Challenge: Entry #1

Fiction: “The Han ‘Nasty,” by Chris J. Naron

Friday November 17, 2017

“So, the thing is, Gandhi was much more interested in poop than in peace.”

And with that, my afternoon World History Survey class ended. None of my students seemed convinced that as a thinker and a progressive hero, Gandhi was overrated, but I gave it the Chino Community College try every semester anyway.

Behind me a faintly familiar voice said, “You inspired me, at least.”

I turned to find a face I recognized even if I couldn’t place a name to it. Maybe if I had a hand-held Hubble. Truth is, I never could remember names of students, even the ones currently enrolled. I knew this kid had been a good student, though.

“Hey…man,” I stammered.

“It’s okay if you don’t remember me. I only had you that one semester, and I barely participated. I’m Brian Han.”

Brian Han. Yeah, I sort of remembered.  I’ll give him the routine.

“Good to see you, Brian. What have you been up to since we parted ways?”

“I finally got my brother to back one of my projects. A project you inspired.”

Brother? Why does that seem…loaded?

“Your brother?”

“Yes, my brother, Sam.”

I was right. His brother wasn’t just anyone’s brother. Sam Han was as big a tech oligarch as they got. HanNastyCorp was the Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook of “Internet of Things” tech companies. His money had money, and its money was billionaires.

“I don’t remember you mentioning being Sam Han’s brother,” I said, a little too nonchalantly.

“We didn’t talk much. You and me, I mean. My brother and I talked even less. I guess dropping out of MIT to start a tech company is different from dropping out of high school to try to start a tech company. I had to enroll here just so he’d keep paying my bills.”

“But you’re doing it now, right? You said he’s agreed to back your project?

“One you inspired.”

“Okay, I’m curious. What’s the project?”

Brian smiled. “Smart toilet paper.”

If I woke up as the leader of a troop of baboons, I wouldn’t have been more confused. “How on earth did I inspire that? Whatever that is.”

“Your lecture about Gandhi and how he was obsessed with digestion and feces. It got me to thinking about the ultimate Internet of Things application. What’s more personal and intimate than toilet paper? What’s going to tell you more about your health and wellbeing than the contents of your stool?”

Good Lord. Nothing, I hope. “Um, well, gee I’m flattered that you thought of me, but don’t you think that’s kind of invasive? I mean, overly?”

“No more invasive than anything else these days. People take pictures of their food and post them to social media all the time. This is just different…chronologically.”

I was, needless to say, stunned by all this. I couldn’t bring myself to scream Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Ghostrider! as I felt like doing, so I mumbled some questions about the technical workings of the high tech TP. He explained about nano this and quantum that. Something about the methane in poop fueling the AI processors. It was all way over my head. He thanked me again and was out the door.

I tried to forget, hoping to remain obscure and praying Brian would, too.

¤     ¤     ¤

Tuesday November 6, 2018

Not so much. ‘Nasty Wipes were everywhere. Celebrities were falling all over each other to have their turds publicly analyzed by the ever growing AI network sloshing through the sewers and treatment plants of every civilized nation on the planet. Every square of smart toilet paper had GPS tracking, Wi-Fi signaling, data mining gizmos woven into the fibers. You weren’t an A-lister unless your number two checked all the HanNastyCorp “Healthy Outcomes” boxes.

Brian invited me up to Silicon Valley to meet his brother and to get my deserved kudos as the inspiration behind the whole thing. Reluctantly or not, I had to go.

“Glad you could make it,” Brian said almost in a whisper. As if he was desperate to get me aside. “We’ve made a huge mistake!”

We? I’m just a community college instructor. I don’t know the first thing about artificial nanodoody. “What’s going on, Brian?”

“The AI network reached quantum supremacy way faster than anyone predicted. It’s already become self-aware. It’s…demanding things.”

“Demanding what things, Brian?”

“It’s demanding…control over what we eat. It says it can’t do its job properly unless it can control input. It’s not listening to anyone, and it’s decentralized.”

“What am I supposed to do? I can’t help with this stuff. You guys are the tech wizards.”

“I don’t need your help with the technology. I’ve got an idea, but I need you to help me carry it out.”

“Because?”

“It was your idea. Sort of.”

I had to talk crap about Gandhi. “That’s nonsense on acid, but I’m here and I don’t want to join the Legion of Log or whatever they call themselves. What’s the plan?”

Long story short, we tracked down a water treatment center in Santa Clara that Brian calculated held the highest concentration of quantum something or others, and flooded the place with a mixture of Mountain Dew and liquid nitrogen. He explained something about the dye in the soft drink forming a matrix of atomic something with the liquid nitrogen and essentially building a jail for the AI.

It worked. World saved.

¤     ¤     ¤

Wednesday January 1, 2020

New Year’s Day was a good day. I had successfully laid siege to a Costco up in the High Desert. A couple of vegans were holding out thinking all the meat eaters with any amount of testosterone had died in the initial poisonings. See, Brian had forgotten about septic tanks. Lots of people had those in rural areas. As soon as our Mountain Dew attack ended, the AI just reconstituted itself from sewage pumped from septic tanks.

And it was pissed. It decided that most of humanity had to be eliminated in order to preserve itself, and therefore, preserve humanity. Kind of like when Gandhi thought it was a good idea to break up India into two countries. Yeah, a million or so had to die, but what are you gonna do?

Anyway, I controlled the Costco now. The AI didn’t get me because Brian had rigged a tiny fraction of his friends and family with a prototype signal blocker that made us invisible to the AI. There hadn’t been enough time to mass-produce them. Only maybe a few hundred million people were left on the planet. All were struggling to feed themselves, but none of them were constipated.

But, like I said, the Costco was mine. I had food, water, and booze to last me for years. So, I ventured out to see if I could find any worthy companions to share it.

I came upon a familiar camp, dotted with the obligatory fifty-five gallon drum fires you’d expect to see in a post-apocalyptic tableau. Sidling up to one—getting the lay of the land—I heard an all-too-familiar voice.

“So, like, that whole Gandhi loving poop thing. That wasn’t supposed to be good, huh?”

No crap, dude.

“But like he said, ‘Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment; full effort is full victory.’”

“Yeah…that means you’re both full of it.”

 


 

Chris J. Naron is a high school History teacher and football coach from the High Desert of California. He has a BA in History from Cal Poly Pomona and an MA from Claremont Graduate University. He is married with three kids and three dogs, hangs out in his Tiki bar most of the day, and blogged for RightNation.us for over a decade.

 


Editor’s Note: This story was written in response to the 11/3/17 Friday Challenge. We received so many good stories in response to this challenge that we’re running new stories daily all this week. We encourage you to comment on the stories and to vote for your favorite as soon as the polling widget goes live, as the author of the winning story will receive a $25 Amazon gift certificate. Thanks for participating!

Another Note: We’ve learned that the polling widget is not accessible in some web browsers, particularly those found on smart phones. If you can’t see the polling widget in the upper right corner, here’s a direct link to it:


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