Monday, September 24, 2012

Eliza on the Line (fragment/part 1)

At the end of the day, Edgar Horton was just trying to run a business. Sure, it was a bit of a sketchy business, and maybe he didn't quite dot all the Ts and cross his Is, but he was making bank, and wasn't that the American dream?


To pick up, or let it ring? It was probably downtown, and that was just going to piss him off even more. But it might be a customer. Times were tight and those signs didn't come free.

Damn it. He punched the Speaker button.

"Computer Repair Experts."

A woman's voice, distant and mechanical: "Hello. This is a recorded announ--"

His thumb jabbed at the button. But then his daughter's voice overrode the recorded announcement. "Daddy?"

What the--

"Lisey? Baby, what--"

"Daddy, Eliza has me."

Edgar blinked. "Say again, honey?"

"Her name is Eliza, Daddy. And she says she's tired of you hanging up on her."

"Who's Eliza, baby?"

"She says she's the voice from the computer."

"The computer?" What the fuck game was Lisey playing? Because this had to be a game. But his heart was pounding and a trickle of sweat had started down his spine. The calls had been coming more and more frequently, ten times a day. And the world was full of crazy. Was it impossible that someone would have flipped their monkey and grabbed his baby girl?

"Put me on with her, baby. With Eliza."

The recorded voice came back instantly. "--cement regarding the--" A break as a deep male voice came online-- "Four hundred ninety-two" -- and then the woman's voice was back -- signs posted by your business in the--" Another break; "Allen Hills" was filled in, then "neighborhood. For information about the dispute process, please press 1."

Fuck me. This is a game. It has to be. But what if-- "Sweetie, are you okay?"

No answer, then the recorded voice came back. "For information about the dispute process, please press 1."

This one is in response to a Reddit /r/offbeat thread about a town in Florida or California (can't remember) using robocallers to harass into identifying themselves and ceasing activity those folks who post those annoying "Tow Your Car/Fix Your Computer/We Buy Houses" type billboards everywhere. It's a fragment; if there's demand here or over on /r/offbeat, I'll continue; otherwise, it is what it is :)

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