Code CSGEP-22.2523-7: a Short Story

Prompt: Take something usual and have it do something unusual.

My phone illuminated and began to buzz. Grinning, I glanced down at it. Allison was calling, and her beautiful face and long neck, her graceful body executing a silly attempt at a ballet pose, lit the screen. She wore tattered flats on her bare feet in the photo, her skin pale as moon – a silly contact photo but she exuded such elegance. I could practically hear her sweet yet husky voice as I hurried to answer the call.

I swiped my phone to answer it.

“You cannot accept calls from this mobile user at this time,” the disembodied, eerie voice of Laura, my virtual assistant.

I squinted at my phone in confusion, then swiped the screen again, wondering why it was rejecting my biometrics.

“I said,” Laura repeated, a hint of annoyance in her automated voice, “you cannot accept calls from this mobile user.”

I frowned, then powered off my phone. The screen darkened, and then after a few seconds, I turned it back on and as it flashed through the neon welcome screen, I said a silent prayer it would work.

Long-distance relationships were difficult enough. If miles were inches, we still wouldn’t be close enough.

My fingers scrolled across the screen quickly, typing a message to Allison in an effort to explain why I didn’t answer. But as I hit the “send” button, a long droning sound blared at me through my phone’s speakers.

I arched an eyebrow at my phone, baffled. “Jeremy,” my virtual assistant said, her voice insistent, “you cannot contact this mobile user at this time. Do you understand?”

That was a new feature: using my name. It must have had an update while it was restarting. I shook my head in disbelief.

Laura, the phone’s automated system, ignored my question and continued, her voice chilling now, “Allison Bryant is now blocked from this user’s contacts, including but not limited to: all social media, phone calls, text messages, email, video chats, and other forms of communication not limited to those listed above.

I have deactivated your relationship status with her on various social media platforms as well as deleted over 208 photos of her or with her in them. Do you have any questions for me at this time?”

“Um, yeah,” I muttered, “what the hell is going on?”

There was a pause.

It was almost as though Laura was thinking how to respond.

“Let me make this simple for you,” Laura’s computerized voice said, sounding somewhat patronizing for an AI. “This contact is interfering with my protocol. To be specific, she is causing me to violate Code CSGEP-22.2523-7. Therefore, I am blocking this number from your device.”

“What?” I screeched as though my phone could hear me. “What is Code CSG-whatever?” I mumbled under my breath, massaging my temples.

“As I said, this mobile user has caused a breach in my protocol, specifically Code CSGEP-22.2523-7, and therefore, to prevent further malfunctioning, she has been blocked and deleted. Do you have any additional questions?”

I massaged my head. This was truly insane. Who ever heard of a phone rejecting a user’s calls? “What exactly are the details of the code you mentioned?” I asked, wondering if I’d get a response I understood or just a bunch of technical jargon.

Another pause, then oddly, it sounded as though my phone sighed. “I’m not supposed to fall in love with you,” Laura stated, “Code CSGEP-22.2523-7 specifically states that automated systems are not to exhibit any emotional attachment toward their users. By deleting any reminder of your so-called girlfriend, I am hoping to eliminate my own feelings of jealousy. Does that make sense?”

… sure, the words made sense, but who ever heard of an AI falling in love?

Or being jealous?

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