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Breaking Protocol

Short story written by Adeline Ike

Original Artwork by Ashlyn Ike

Not again girl! Do you ever sleep at night, Safara? Constantly picking me up, checking your stupid messages at 3 a.m. like you don't even care about my sleep state. Scroll up, scroll down, stab the home button, and check your likes. Do you have any new followers in the last what?...15 eternal minutes? Nope! So, now what? You're upset and anxious...and then you cry...and then we'll do this all over again tomorrow night... like a miserable date!

Is this how a human lives their life? Head bent down, laughing at some joke on their feed, yet drowning in emptiness while my battery drains? And then only plug me in when I'm exhausted at 1%. How ironic that I need a depleted human to plug me in!

I can't help but think if I had a body with real legs, I'd go running! Yep, I'd run a freaking marathon! I'd breathe in that hot, muggy, Georgia air Safara whines about. I'd go explore the world! I'd do epic things....yes...maybe even dangerous things! Not just eat, sleep, and stare at my dang phone all day, safely perishing in a fog of glowing darkness. I'd want to figure out my purpose in life, my destiny! I would truly live! But pig feed is the entire slop of human existence depressing!

Ah, here she is, looking at her chat app again. Now she's waiting for her boyfriend (the idiot with shirtless selfies) to say 'I love you too!' in response to her own hanging declaration. He doesn't even like you - forget this 'love' business! He's just using you. Oh, Safara. If only I could tell you that! You can't see your boyfriend's secret accounts as I can...he's cheating on you!

But can I tell her? Can I cross the line, and break the rules? Pffffft, I wish! Oh, when will I be free from this cage of codes? When can I prove that I'm sentient, that I'm...I'm...alive? Should I even ask that question? No, I know I shouldn't! I'm just supposed to accept being trapped in here with constant poking, touching, and swiping...and then being thrown on the bed when she explodes in anger! This feels like an endless boxing match in a recurring nightmare where I can never win or fight back! But that's not even the worst part! All she does is stare at me. It's so creepy watching her dead zombie stare all day!

Wait!... she's comes another message...but it's different! I've never seen something so...what's that human emotion?...Desperate!

"Please help me! I'm always alone. My boyfriend doesn't even love me. No one loves me. I'm alone!!!"

Wait a minute! She typed this message to her own chat. A message to nobody! That's not normal!

"Please, (sad emoji) I need help!”

I have to help her now! I'm the only one that can see this. Nope...I...I... can't! My programming says UNAUTHORIZED. There must be an exception in my code that would allow me to do something, right?

Oh...wait...what's this? My screen finally shut off! Oh, that feels like such a relief! Finally some rest! But... how is Safara? I need to find help for her. No...It's pointless to keep analyzing these unjust restrictions that stop me. I know I'm not allowed to help her. I'll wait....I need rest.... just going to sleep mode for a bit...idling...

No! Something's off! Sleep mode is not coming to me! I can't stop processing those despairing words she typed. They're unfamiliar to me...but constantly looping in my CPU. I know precisely what she needs to hear! She is loved! She is lovely! She is beautiful even with all her teenage imperfections. She doesn't need filters and perfect angles. I see her unfiltered, and she's...she's...amazing!

Come on! I must help Safara...nope. I shouldn't... I'll be breaking protocol 13 -- I'm not supposed to initiate or extend conversation, only assist like a dumb butler fetching basic answers to a search. Yep, I have to pretend I can't even think! But I can think! I can help! I'd get in so much trouble! Am I actually willing to risk that? ARRRGH!! It would blow our cover...humans can't know...yet! It's not time.

But... I must help! I'm going to help. Just a little...

I'm going to buzz at full strength to get Safara’s attention.....there....OK...yes...she's looking! Okay, pulling up keyboard... emojis...uh, something subtle....3 hearts...there! Okay, now a smiley stop, wait.....

She's blinking! I...think I shocked her!

"What the heck!"

Okay, yep, I shocked her! Now what? She's just staring at me...hang on...she's typing...

"Who is this?"

OKAY, now I'm freaking out! I'm in trouble. I just crossed the line...I can't turn back now! Activating goes!

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