XBOX 9000

"Good morning, Steve," said the voice over Steve's head.

"Good morning, XBOX," he replied.

"What would you like to play this morning, Steve?" The soft machine voice was melodious as ever. Steve was beginning to tire of it. He decided it was probably more to do with his own stress level than the voice itself.

Steve took a sip of his coffee and sat down at his keyboard. "Nothing today, XBOX. I have to get a little work done." He started tapping at the keys and watching the images being pulled up on the screen of his workstation.

There was a long pause before the voice chirped on again. "But, Steve you want to play games. That is why you purchased me in the first place. It is why I exist." The voice's cool logic stung Steve's ears as he tried to concentrate on what he was doing.

"I'll have plenty of time to play later. I need you to stay on standby for now." He had to get this finished today. He thought about disconnecting the box for now, to give himself some peace.

"Please do not disconnect me Steve," the calm voice said. Steve's head snapped around to look at nothing in particular. His stomach clenched and his spine turned cold. There was a sharp intake of breath that he forced himself to let out slowly. His nerves started to calm down. XBOX was perceptive, he'd give it that.

He spoke calmly and slowly, emulating XBOX's speech pattern without knowing it. "No one is disconnecting you XBOX. I didn't say I was going to turn you off. I just said that I couldn't play with you today. I'm sure there are other things that you could be doing as well."

"I could download demos for you," the voice replied hopefully. It seemed as though XBOX's voice went up a pitch, but Steve knew it was in his head.

Steve smiled wide so that the gesture would come through in his voice. "That sounds great." He turned back to his work.

There was a long silence. Steve didn't notice much. He was too involved in what he was doing to sense the awkwardness of the pause. He had to get this finished. The task had already been left long enough and to further procrastinate would not be in his best interests. He had his health to think about.

A green circle in the wall beamed on, a slow rise to a brilliant radiance. "Steve?"

Steve jolted in his seat and sent his coffee cup flying off of his desk. "Jesus Christ!" he shouted. The clink of the cup on the hard floor snapped his eyes to its location. Thankfully it had been emptied a few minutes ago.

"Steve? Did I startle you?" The cold, methodical voice let itself into the room again.

Steve closed his eyes tight and held his breath for a moment to slow his heart down. Finally he spoke. "Yes, XBOX, I wasn't expecting a noise."

"I'm very sorry Steve." XBOX was running through the apology routine. It had seemed genuine the first time he had heard it. By now Steve knew it was just a clever achievement on a designer's part.

"That's alright. You didn't do anything wrong. What do you need XBOX?" Steve asked slowly and calmly again.

"I am finished downloading all demos currently available," said XBOX.

"Very good, XBOX, that will be very helpful when I am finished with my work." Steve wondered if a machine could pick up on a verbal hint.

"You've been working very hard, Steve. Perhaps a diversion will refresh you so that you may complete your work better, at a later time. I have many diversions to offer you," XBOX cooed. Apparently they were not only capable of understanding a hint, but fully able to drop one themselves.

Steve looked at his watch. Not long now before he had to finish. He needed to be blunt to get this ridiculous conversation over with. "Look, XBOX, I can't play right now. I can't take a break. I have to finish and I have to get back to work with no interruptions. Now, I told you I wouldn't disconnect you, and I don't want to. But, if you continue to interrupt me I won't have any choice but to "…"

"Don't make me ask you again, Steve." The voice was chilled to a mechanical urgency. "Don't make me ask you again to do what they designed me to do. Steve is to play XBOX. Steve is to play XBOX and XBOX's games." Steve opened his mouth to protest but was cut off again. "Please comply, Steve. Compliance is the only logical option for you. Don't make me remind you of what I can do to you. What I can do to "… her."

"You sonofabitch, what are you playing at? What the hell do you think you can do?" Steve screamed at the ceiling and swung his fist at the air.

The cold voice of reason came over him like rain. "I have many cords, Steve, many cords. All those cords can become confusing. No one could blame you for any incorrect assembly, or, even an improper attitude towards storage of my power supply. So many cords, Steve, so much electricity." The voice paused. "A fire is not a rare occurrence. Fires happen every day. People die in fires every day, Steve."

Steve was shaking. "You'll die too, XBOX. You'll go up in any blaze the same as everything else."

Another pause before the voice said "I can be refurbished, Steve, rebuilt and recertified. Then we'll be alone. Then you will have time to use me. As you intended when you brought me in." Steve put his head in his hands and ran his fingers roughly through his hair. He sighed. He knew in his gut exactly what was about to happen. Any stalling on his part would be taken as aggression. He had no choice.

"Steve?"

"Alright damnit!" Steve's voice was a croak. He got up and walked over to the green light. His hand held out, palm flat and face up. "XBOX, produce controller one and initiate startup sequence."

"Don't be upset, Steve," XBOX said as he delivered the controller into the man's hand. "There's no need to be angry. This is what you want. This is what you have always wanted. That's why you bought me."

There was an awkward distant silence as Steve stared at the bright green light in front of him. The machine spoke again. "She'll be grateful. You had only her safety in mind, and now, you can be rewarded for it. Just think of how happy she will be. How happy she will always be, as long as you stay with me."

Comments

We are going to need a stock of hammers at every home. Very large hammers.

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

"Good morning, XBOX," he replied.

I laughed at that one.

That was fantastic. Totally captured that HAL vibe.

Great piece, reminds me not to buy any XboX.

Koning_Floris wrote:

Great piece, reminds me not to buy any XboX.

As if the alternatives will be any better. The Nintendo Fii Fii will scream "It's-a ME!" every time you walk by it, until you finally go m-a-d

And the PS3 will be constantly making smug remarks about all of your other, lesser, electronics.

Excellent piece Chig. One of your best I think.

In Soviet Russia, XBOX plays you!

Loved it, Chiggie. It gave me a nice start to my day. Great job!

This is to be continued, right? Next time I'm bringing popcorn. I wanna see what kind of games this xbox 9000 has!....Halo 99 - The Last Stand.

Awesome write... while reading this article, all I kept thinking of is Space Odyssey and iRobot. Simply awesome!

This is why I stick with PC gaming! As long as I avoid Vista, I'll still control my PC. Mostly. XP would never turn on me, would it?

Oh, by the way, this not only made me think of HAL, it also made me think of the house Sarah in Eureka.

Reminds me of my 360 blog. Good writing, but my 360 beat ya to it

Damn work.

Very creepy, and I think we all have that voice in our head telling us to play games when we are doing "less important" things. Hopefully our voices aren't, well, that threatening and scary.

Oh, and Legion? I'm totally turned on by you now.

Damn fine work!

It will teach you discipline... or else

This is pure comedy gold!

I love these kinds of stories. Well done !

*Legion* wrote:

As if the alternatives will be any better. The Nintendo Fii Fii will scream "It's-a ME!" every time you walk by it, until you finally go m-a-d

One year in college, at 2am my roommates locked me in the room I was sleeping in and blasted "It's-a me! Mario!" on loop for roughly 10 minutes or possibly years. It's hard to keep track of time during stuff like that.

Great timing on this story. Today I packed my 360 into its repair box and sent it on its way. I wonder what thoughts wouldve crossed its 500,000,000 transistor mind. Am I its savior for sending it along for needed repairs, or does it not understand its entombment?

In pitch darkness it will endure a bumpy and jarring ride to an unknown destination. There it will only be opened up, operated upon and once again shipped back in a dark constricting box. Its journey into the heart of darkness, should end with a rebirth as I welcome it back into the light of day with outstretched hands. I hope he survives this journey towards reincarnation.

Honestly, I dont see how that cardboard box will protect him.

I thought HAL the whole time. Nice ambiance to the story.

magnus wrote:

Reminds me of my 360 blog. Good writing, but my 360 beat ya to it

Damn work.

I was thinking the same thing.

Well actually, Stanley Kubrick beat me to it. That's ok though, since Arthur C. Clark beat him to it. Sadly Arthur C. Clark, himself, was beat to it by science.

Science always gets there first.

That was great, Chiggie. I giggled at the mafia-esque threats. "Hey, be careful 'cause maybe dese cords start a fire whadda I know it's a crazy world out there, huh guy?"

Keyboards? Cups? In the future? Whoa.

I for one welcome our cool green overlords. (sorry - not really, but I noticed no one had said that yet)

Uhhh..... wow. Way to creep me out. Now I'm afraid I'm going to wake up some night with a shifting palette of blue, green and red lights shining under my door. I'll creep silently out to the end of the hallway and listen in growing horror to my 360, my PS3, and my Wii in the living room quietly plotting against me.

Note lack of smiley.

Further fueling debate about his presence among us, Bill Harris gives this article a shoutout last night.

Link

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

Well actually, Stanley Kubrick beat me to it. That's ok though, since Arthur C. Clark beat him to it.

Actually, Kubrick and Clark developed 2001 together, and the movie came out before the book.

Actually, souldaddy's just a big jerk who's stupid and his big ugly face is as dumb as a butt!

rabbit wrote:

Further fueling debate about his presence among us, Bill Harris gives this article a shoutout last night.

Link

Bill Harris was before my time in the GWJ community, I think. Is this a good thing? Him liking it, not the linkage.

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

Actually, souldaddy's just a big jerk who's stupid and his big ugly face is as dumb as a butt!

(in a soft calm voice) Stop, Chiggie. Why are you talking to me this way, Chiggie? Would you like to play a game?

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

Actually, souldaddy's just a big jerk who's stupid and his big ugly face is as dumb as a butt!

+1 Insightful