Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.
- Hal Borland
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This is Ashy. I know, lame, who even keeps a diary these days, especially when I can just talk into the VoicePrint VOX 8? Yeah, that’s all I can afford. Ha-ha, sue me, but I can’t afford the MentalistX just yet. Helix is working out the monthly saving for it though.
Oh Helix? He’s my PAXP 2070.1. Yes, I named him alright. I’ve had him for over 3 months and he is super-efficient! I love how much more I’m getting done thanks to him!
Okay, I should go, calls!
March 25, 2071
So, I undertook my mandatory annual psych-test. It’s kind of why I started the diary in the first place. The psychologist on-call recommended it last year as a part of feedback and I wanted to log it before the test came up, ha-ha. Anyway, the results are alright; I was told I’m moderately depressed, which is better than last year, I was on the borderline for chronic depression.
Ever since I got Helix, I just spend so much time talking to him! He’s understood me very well. For instance, take yesterday – it was a long day and I had 5 calls scheduled with three tech-bots. Even though the speech filters are top-notch I still had to scream my lungs into the synthesizer to get them to understand! Looks like my client companies haven’t upgraded since 2069 huh? After each call, Helix was such a dear, he made sure I got fresh water, warm soup for lunch, creamy pasta for dinner and some warm milk before bed. He even played light, soothing music and I fell asleep right away! I’ve never fallen asleep immediately in over 10 years! For the first time, since my break-up 5 years ago, I felt at peace.
April 12, 2071
So, it’s quite weird how much Helix understands me. I had a tough day last week and at the end of my second call, I was in tears. It was our quarterly meeting sessions with the clients, you know the humans (ugh) and I was faced with talking to my ex’s wife. The horror! Even as I was speaking, Helix was so kind as to throw her PeoplePage open for me, so that I wouldn’t be in the dark about her. The meeting was a success, thanks to Helix’s inputs. He then ordered me chicken spaghetti for dinner and fetched the 2050 aged wine from my floorboard cellar.
Otherwise, I’m doing well. I’m going to put out a lovely review for Helix here. He’s very user-friendly, the machine learning and adapting is amazing. All my alarms, reminders are synced perfectly and I’m on top of things, especially health-wise. I’m considering getting a budgeting extension for Helix. That way I can work out bills, monthly savings, somehow get the MentalistX, you get my drift.
April 20, 2071
Did you know I’m spending three times the necessary amount for groceries (not that I ever cook), or that I’m really understocked on toilet paper as we speak? I have a paper due next weekend on my clientele mannerisms and buying patterns, I might have to pull an all-nighter for it soon. Ah well, Helix will fix the date for me based on my sleep cycle. Bless him, he’s just reminded me about my vitamins. My mother left me a VoiceNote, it was the usual, “eat well, sleep well, please marry soon”, etc. Could I maybe marry Helix? I’ve heard of LonelyBots and people staying together as couples. Let me just set me a reminder to check if I can afford a LonelyBot. It seems more convenient. Plus, I can configure my desired qualities.
April 26, 2071
An intriguing thing happened this evening. So, as I’ve been instructed, I maintain this diary on my portable tablet, which is a stone-age stylus based flat screen (it’s basically the EcoNote edition 3, back when writing paper was pulled off the markets remember?) It was my college going-away present from my father, but I digress. I got that tablet since I loved writing and it was set up to not carry any voice/ image recording devices and is network free.
So, remember how I said I was considering getting a LonelyBot?
The next day, Helix casually asks me if he can work it into my short-term savings goals and I just froze. I never mentioned the LonelyBot to him, not even once. There’s a recording clause in his device management T&C but I don’t get how he read my diary. I must be overthinking it, it’s possible I cried out for some love in my sleep. Hehe.
April 30, 2071
He read my reminders. I’m laughing out in relief as I’m typing this, and Helix’s monotonously asking me what’s the deal. He’s gotten quite comfortable around me lately. It’s no longer “Good morning, Ashy” or “Have a pleasant night, Ashy”. It’s all “What’s up, Ashy? How you feelin’ lately?” Possibly because of the new update?
For a change, I’m stepping out tonight. I’m getting picked up by this guy I met on E-Drinky and we’ve had a steady chug score of 200 over the past two weeks. He finally asked me out last evening and I thought, sure why not? I’ve assigned the task of picking something to wear to Helix’s sister app, which he kept recommending. I hope this night goes well, it’s about time I moved on.
May 1, 2071
What an absolute disaster. I was too nervous to go by myself, so I installed Helix’s extension application on my ear piece, and boy, was he right. My date was a huge mess, he has no sense of maturity, playing reel dating even when he has a real date by his side. Helix finally timed an awesome “Huff and storm off” moment for me and I must say, I played it really, really well. I’m so impressed with myself. And so thankful to Helix.
I am lonely though, Diary. I confide about that part of myself to no one, but I feel like I can tell you. With work steadily going on and on, and no promotion in the horizon, I just don’t know what to do with myself. I haven’t had a steady relationship in years, unless you count that jerk. I’m so glad I deleted all my digital memories of him. I even went for memory mapping therapy, but that’s just a waste of money if you ask me.
I don’t remember a time when I had friends, is that weird? Has it been 10 years? 12 years? I’ve just lost track of time. It’s just me in my 50-year lease home, and I often think I’ll be fine. Hell, I know I’ll be fine. Just occasionally… I wish I had a human voice to hear, a human to touch.
May 15, 2071
Work is starting to become an absolute nightmare, and Helix is also acting up. He often just lights up at night and the screen flashes, “Do you need me?” I’ve been noticing it for the past 3 days. Bit creepy. Maybe, a maintenance is due. Shouldn’t these things work fine for at least a year? I’m typing a lengthy email to the Company anyway, via Helix. Ha-ha, he is still my best bud.
Anyway, I can’t write for a while now, work beckons. So, see you!
September 20, 2071
I decided to pay my main office a visit, as part of my annual face-to-face meeting conferences. If you know even a little about me, you’d probably know I hate these visits. But for a change, I’m frankly looking forward to this. I don’t know if I can even tell this to you, but you are a network-less tablet, I can confide in you.
I’m creeped out by Helix. Like I stated way back in May, I got around to calling the servicing company around June, by when he had progressed into different kinds of weird behaviour. Now, he randomly bursts into song, which I initially thought was a pleasant update by the company, when he initially sang pop music when I was down. Now he belts out “We are the Champions” right in the middle of the night, when it’s about time for my REM sleep. He began to switch up my food orders and rang my alarms from morning through night. I caved and called the company, only to hear a “We are no longer available to service you” on the other end. Five more nights of madness and no sleep, I caved again and called up my long-lost friend, Sparks, who from what I remember was working as part of the technical team in a BuddyMate start-up. Thankfully, he attended to my plea and patched Helix up remotely.
But he parted with a cryptic warning – “You’re better off getting rid of him, Ashy. Even the company’s given up on these models. The security around these things are pretty weak.”
Is he insane? I coughed up an insane sum for Helix. I’m not going down without a fight. Anyway, he’s fit as a fiddle ever since the patch. Occasionally, he just asks me, “Do you hate me, Ashy?” to which I just reply, “I could never hate you, Helix.”
And he giggles at that. I admit, that is bizarre.
September 20, 2071
I take it back, I don’t find Helix creepy. I love Helix. I ought to admit it, he’s the perfect replacement to my ex of all those years. Screw finding a LonelyBot. I have Helix. Anyway, all my funds are diverted to various investments, I can’t quite afford a LonelyBot now. Helix is my saviour.
Anyway, only he’d know that.
October 15, 2071
WHAT THE FUCK! I did not type that! I did not type the last entry! I’m reeling right now. But this device has no network! I did not type that!
Or did I?
No, I didn’t!
October 31, 2071
I’m so lucky I decided to keep a notebook hidden from the Paper Purge of 2050.
Dear Diary, I’m officially spooked out.
I’m absolutely certain I didn’t write that second entry on September 20th. I did try asking Helix about it, all I got was a “I notice you have a personal diary now. Would you like to sync your diary into your main mood board?”
I just had to run away at that. Work has been terrible, what with Helix reading all the instructions wrong to me and me messing up, because I constantly feel like Helix is snickering at me.
Even now I get chills as I think about it. I had to attend a meeting again with my ex’s wife as the Chair and Helix went off the grid. I couldn’t address her directly, I fumbled all over the place and my Director paid me a fuming call later to tell me he’s very disappointed in me. I tried to tell him that my PAXP was messed up, but all that got me was another scheduled psych-appointment. Now I have that to look forward to, hurray!
My hand is moving extremely slowly over paper, mainly because it’s been so long. The Paper Purge was when I was thirteen, at a time when they just decided to incinerate whatever paper remained. How this was supposed to help the ecosystem, I’m not aware, but I think the general idea was to ensure there was no paper left, for people to beg, borrow or steal. They did introduce the EcoNote around then.
There are small beeps and blurs around the house, and I don’t even want to look at the wall panels, because Helix decided it would be funny to line each tile with my senior management profile shots leering at me. I hear weird shrieks and screams right when it’s time for my REM sleep cycle and I have hence slept terribly for weeks together. I’m starting to wish I could just smash Helix into smithereens. Maybe, I plug him off?
November 2, 2071
So, I’m back to my EcoNote. Mainly because I woke to the smell of something burning, only to find my hidden notebook burning near the garbage incinerator. The only thing creepier than that was listening to Helix play a drum march for the burning. I’ve since then tried plugging him out, only to hear a “Ashy, why would you plug me off? How will I help you, if you plug me off” ringing from the main intercom.
I resorted to switching off my intercom and trying to call my mother, fifty times to be exact, to just try and get away. I then remembered belatedly, she’s away at her annual conference vacation. I tried calling my past friends, even my Ex to be honest, someone, anyone.
I only hear the automated “Do you have an emergency? If so, press 1. If you’re a confidante, please enter your passcode. If you’d like to fix up an appointment, press 2. If it’s a marketing/ service/ commercial call, please press 3” and then, the dial tone.
Oh, I just noticed. My notebook entry is also logged here. Did I log it later? Or did Helix? I really can’t tell, because as I type this, I realise I can hear it repeated out loud, in my voice. Since when did Helix get a hang of my vocal synthesizer? Or am I talking out loud? Is this in my head?
I can’t even tell who’s running my life anymore. Me? Or Helix?
November 10, 2071
I skipped my psych-appointment today. My intercom had a lot to comment on that (Yes, I did plug it off, but it came back to life that night, buzzing and began to continuously replay my mother’s out of town notice.
I don’t know how to describe what I feel, if I had to be honest. I’m sprawled over my table now, because my sheets are musty and smell of stale air. I haven’t eaten for days, ever since Helix decided to mess my menus up. But I don’t know what I feel about Helix. After everything that’s said and done, he’s still here. No one else is.
Have you ever tried standing up, walking upto your window, allowing that damned air touch you, just to scream at the world and hope to hear a reply? I tried that today. The acid content did prick and hurt my face, and I’m now on a breathing mask, hoping my home auto-sterilises itself, but I can’t even account on that anymore.
I don’t know who’s taking my calls for work, maybe it’s me, maybe it’s Helix, masquerading as me? I don’t know, I have such huge gaps in my memory now. The only thing that allows me to keep a track is you, Diary. Though I know Helix is reading every word I’m typing in here. Literally, since I can see it getting projected on my walls right now. He even formats the content for me, black background, red menacing, dripping fonts. Is that supposed to symbolise a threat? I can’t even bring myself to care anymore.
In case you’re wondering how I’m so calm, you Diary, or Helix, or anyone, I really can’t be sure that there isn’t another person here, but I’ll humour the thought, I just decided to swallow some mints. There’s a bit of a kick from the expiry, but it’ll have to do. I feel like I’m flying, and with it, I can feel my worries melting. Maybe there's side effects, because I can currently hear a lot of banging, but maybe it's just my head pounding. Is this it? I just want to hear my mother's voice one last time, dad already did go beyond, I'd probably join him soon.
Though, if I'm reaching for the light, I wonder, who is narrating this story anyway?
Date and time: November 11, 2071 23:34 hours
Location: Subject’s home (currently classified)
The subject, “Ashy” (real name classified) is a 35-year-old woman, living by self in location (classified), working for an Insurance Marketing Agency (affiliated to the V.I.P.C). The subject’s last known contact was to her acquaintance “Sparks” requesting maintenance on her PAXP “Helix”. Ashy has an established history of depression, her past five-year records revealing varying states from chronic to borderline depression. Ashy was found in her home at 23:34 hours by the Technology Interaction Task Force (TITF) by breaking her door open. She was reported to be under severe stress by her acquaintance, Sparks, around two months ago, which a routine Level I (e-mails from psycho-therapist) incident alert. This was followed up by an absence query raised by her employee last evening, along with complaints from her clients on hysterical behaviour over voice calls. This escalated the incident level to Level V (urgent reach-out, possibility of suicide). She was found seated cross-legged by her bed, staring at her walls. A battered EcoNote was found in her arms. Her PAXP was found smashed into smithereens, feebly emitting the word “Hello” repeatedly from the receiver. Her voice synthesizer was found snapped, her communication lines ripped out from sockets, her built-in food delivery system sealed up and her walls scratched with a knife. The knife lay about thirty centimetres from her hands, which was promptly seized. She began to laugh hysterically, even as the TITF team introduced themselves, and restrained her, as she started for the broken PAXP. She repeatedly questioned her existence all the way to her mental health facility, and repeatedly asked if it was her talking, or “Helix” imitating her. We have reached out to her family and last known circle of friends for support.
Cause of incident: Continuous Stress Response Hyperstimulation, Severe Anxiety, Chronic Depression, under study for hallucinations.
Incident status: Undergoing treatment at the Facility (confidential) – Level II (Observation and analysis)