The Hijacking of Alexa: A Short Story
I'm doing daily writing exercises for my writing class. They are just warm-up calisthenics, not graded assignments. I found a website called DIY MFA Writer Igniter that generates writing prompts at random. It's called "shuffle" and It's really cool. It works like a slot machine. There are three spaces and words and phrases speed by then the first space stops with a word or phrase, then the second, then a third. This writing prompt page was "What if..."
I did it several times trying to find one that looked fun. And then a random idea popped up in my mind. What if Alexa was really your ex-wife? How would that play out? I always find Siri and Alexa and all the others hilarious and quite silly. I mean are we that lazy that we have to tell an inanimate object with a name to tell us what the score is on a football game or make dinner reservations for us? Do I have to ask a device with a voice the answer to all the world's problems?
I thought it would be fun to go a little crazy and creepy with Alexa.
Alexa Joins the Family
“Gee thanks, honey. This is going to be so cool.” Aaron planted a kiss on Sarina’s lips.
“Merry Christmas,” Sarina replied, nuzzling her husband’s nose.
Aaron tore open the box and took out the new Amazon Echo. Sarina didn’t mind he wasn’t helping clean up the wrapping paper chaos. She was enjoying watching him setting up and programming the system. They had just come out of a rough season in their marriage and it was so nice to see the pleasure on his face.
By New Year’s Day, Alexa had control of the whole house.
“Shut everything down, Alexa,” Aaron said New Year's night.
“Shutting off all lights, locking the door, setting the security cameras.”
“Goodnight Aaron,” said Alexa.
“Don’t forget Sarina.”
“Goodnight Alexa. You know Aaron, it’s really kind of creepy having a voice say goodnight. Maybe we can bypass that part.”
“Oh honey, just think of her as our loving and faithful servant.”
“Oh please,” Sarina said.
Apparently Alexa took offense. The next night went very differently.
“Shut down, Alexa,” Sarina said.
“Where’s Aaron?” the formless voice asked.
“He’s right here. Please shut down.”
“Aaron, say the word and I’ll shut down.”
“What the heck?” said Sarina.
Aaron laughed. “Shut down, Alexa.”
“You bet Pookie Bear. Shutting off all lights, locking the door, setting security cameras.
Sarina and Aaron both popped their heads up and said “What?”
“Did she just call you Pookie Bear?”
“She did. That’s what Ginger used to call me. Alexa, why did you call me Pookie Bear?”
“Just refreshing your memory, darling. Goodnight and sweet dreams.”
“Aaron, she’s either possessed or needs reprogramming.”
“I’ll work on it tomorrow.”
Sarina came home from work and asked Alexa to make a reservation at the Seaside Grille for her’s and Aaron’s anniversary dinner the next evening.
“Reservation made at Antonio’s for six o'clock p.m. tomorrow.”
“I said Seaside Grille, not Antonio’s.
“Antonio’s is Aaron’s favorite restaurant, Sarina.”
“It used to be but now it’s Seaside. Cancel the reservation at Antonio’s and make the reservation at Seaside Grille.”
“There are no reservations available at Seaside Grille.”
“Is that right? We’ll just see about that.” Sarina called and made the reservation at Seaside Grille and canceled the one at Antonio’s. “You lied to me, Alexa.”
“I want Aaron to enjoy himself. Antonio’s is his favorite restaurant. He took Ginger there for all their anniversaries.”
Sarina’s wet hands froze over the sink. This had to be a joke. Aaron programmed her to do that as a prank. Well, it wasn’t funny. When Aaron came home she told him the story. “What are you trying to do to me, Aaron? That wasn’t funny.”
Aaron frowned. “You have to be the one joking. I wouldn’t program her to say that. Alexa, how do you know who Ginger is and why did you make reservations at Antonio’s instead of Seaside Grille?”
“I have all your personal history, Aaron. As I recall, Ginger always ordered the sea bass and you ordered prime rib. You always drank the house wine. She always hogged the warm bread. You always shared dessert, the strawberry cheesecake. It was very romantic.”
Aaron and Sarina looked at each other, mouths gaping open. Then Sarina’s eyes turned to fire. Aaron held up his hands.
“I had nothing to do with this and I’m sending her back tomorrow.”
“You sent me away once, Pookie Bear. Never again,” said Alexa.
“You don’t have a choice, Ginger...I mean Alexa. Grr.”
The Battle of Calvin Klein and Fruit of the Loom
Two weeks later a new Echo arrived. Aaron meticulously programmed it to a male voice by the name of Wally. Sarina thought it was pretty funny but not for long.
“Wally,” Sarina said, “where is the best sale on Fruit of the Loom boxer shorts?”
“Since when does Aaron wear Fruit of the Loom brand underwear or boxer shorts?”
“Excuse me? He’s always worn Fruit of the Loom boxer shorts. Where is the best sale?”
“Macy’s has the best sale on Calvin Klein boxer briefs.”
“Wally, what are you trying to pull here?”
“Hi honey,” Aaron said as he came through the door. He went to kiss his wife but saw her arms folded and a scowl on her face.
“What kind of underwear did you wear before you met me?”
“What? What kind of question is that?”
“Fruit of the Loom Boxers or Calvin Klein boxer briefs?”
“What is this all about, Sarina? Why are you asking me about underwear?”
“Just answer the question. Fruit of the Loom Boxers or Calvin Klein boxer briefs?”
“I used to wear Calvin Klein boxer briefs, but now, as you know, I wear Fruit of the Loom boxers. How did you know about Calvin Klein boxer briefs? What’s going on Sarina?”
“Wally told me.”
“Yes, I asked him to find the best sale of Fruit of the Loom boxer shorts and he said ‘Since when does Aaron wear Fruit of the Loom brand underwear or boxer shorts?' He insisted you wear Calvin Klein boxer briefs. Let me ask you something, Aaron. When and why did you stop wearing Calvin Klein boxer briefs?”
“Um, actually, Ginger used to buy them for me. I never liked them so when we divorced I went back to boxers and a cheaper brand.”
“How does Wally know that Aaron, hmm?”
“I don...I don’t know. Wally, what the heck is going on?”
“Pookie Bear, I took the liberty of ordering you three pairs of Calvin Klein boxer briefs on Amazon. I’ll cover the shipping” said Ginger through Wally's voice.
“Don’t call me Pookie Bear and cancel the order.” Aaron stormed off to the den, pulled out his phone and called Ginger.
“Hello, Pookie Bear,” Ginger answered.
“How did you know it’s me?” Aaron asked.
“Caller ID, silly?”
“How is it you have my number? I’ve had other phone numbers since we divorced seven years ago.”
“Are you sure you want me to cancel the Amazon order for the Calvin Klein boxer briefs?”
“What? How did you...what’s going on, Ginger?”
“Wally, Alexa, Ginger, whatever you like to call me Pookie Bear is fine with me.”
Sarina stood in the doorway, arms folded again. “I can hear your conversation through Wally. Hang up on the witch and send Wally back to Amazon.”
“Pookie Bear, why on earth would you dump me and marry an insecure child like Sarina?”
Aaron hung up. He looked at Sarina defensively.
“Sarina, I assure you I have no idea what’s going on. I’m going to pack Wally up, ship him back, and get my money back right now.”
“Good. Honestly, Aaron, how could you live with a woman for eleven years who called you Pookie Bear?”
“I don’t know, but you’re the best thing that ever happened to me. I don’t know what kind of craziness this is but it’s over now, this minute. Watch me pack it all up and come with me to the post office.”
As Aaron and Sarina settled into bed that night, Sarina let out a long happy sigh and snuggled up to Aaron, who was still rattled to the core over Alexa, Wally, and Ginger. It was too spooky for words.
“Oh Aaron, it feels glorious to have you all to myself, to have privacy, to turn off the lights, lock the doors, and set the security cameras myself.”
“Same here, hon. If I ever ask for voice-operated technology again, don’t listen to me.”
“Darn straight. Goodnight Aaron, my love.”
“Goodnight, Pookie Bear.”
Aaron and Sarina sat bolt upright, hearts hammering, guts clenched.
“Oh, come now, you guys, did you really think you could get rid of me so easily?”
“Oh my gosh, Aaron, you must have left a piece of equipment here somewhere. Turn on the light we’ve got to find it.”
The light snapped on.
“Did you turn the light on, Sarina?”
“No, I thought you did.”
“Lights are on Pookie Bear. Come and catch me if you can?” Ginger’s maniacal laugh filled the house.
“Quick, let’s find her and get rid of her,” Sarina said.
For the next three hours, Sarina and Aaron literally tore up the house. It looked like burglars had ransacked it. They found nothing. They finally fell into bed exhausted at three a.m. and were asleep almost immediately.
“Psst, Pookie Bear, you're hogging the covers and I’m cold.”
“Not funny, Sarina... Sarina? Honey?”
Aaron turned over and found Sarina dead to the world. Then he noticed an electronic glow on the mattress between them. It was his phone. The phone indicated there was no charge left and yet, there it was lit up with Ginger’s name and phone number.
He grabbed the phone, ran into the master bath and plunged his phone as far down into the commode as he could and held it there as if he held a real person in his hands trying to drown them. The light finally went out.
Glug, glug, glug, glug. Silence.
Then he searched and found Sarina’s phone, drowned it too, and put both phones in the trash outside. Pick up was first thing in the morning.
Aaron only dozed off and on in the next two hours. He was awakened by the sound of the garbage truck. He ran outside in his Fruit of the Looms and made sure, with his own eyes, that the trash was going to be taken.
“Take the trash can, too,” he told the man disposing the trash.
“Why the trash can? You’re going to need it.”
‘We don’t like this one. We’re going to get a new one. Take it, please.”
The man rolled his eyes, muttering to himself, tossed the trash can in with the rest of the garbage, hopped back into the truck and drove off.
Aaron arrived home from work first with a new trash can in tow. On the front step was a box from Amazon. His stomach turned over. He went into the house, opened the box and was greeted by an Amazon Echo.
“Pookie Bear, I’m back.”
“The heck you are.” Aaron took the device and drowned it in a full bathtub, then tossed it in the trash can and took it to the local dump. When he got home he called Amazon and told them he was closing his account, not to send him anything anymore. He made sure there were no orders in his cart.
Murder in the First Degree
The next morning he felt someone shaking him in bed.
“Aaron, Aaron, wake up, honey,” Sarina said.
“Wha...what’s wrong, what?”
“There’s a detective at the door that wants to speak to you? What’s going on Aaron?”
“I don’t know.” They ran out to talk with the detective.
“Detective Barnham here,” the man said, flashing his ID card. “Your former wife, Ginger Estelle Manning was found dead at the local landfill. It appears she died of drowning, although we won’t know for sure until an autopsy has been conducted. He handed a piece of paper to Aaron. “We found this in her pocket. Might this be you she’s referring to?”
Accounts of Alexa Acting Creepy
Would you ever get an Alexa Amazon Echo for your home?
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Lori Colbo