Flash Fiction Story 015: "The Early Adopter"

TOAD SUCK, ARKANSAS (Toad Suck Gazette Daily) — A local resident—we’ll call him “Jimmy,” —was born in year 2001, and by his 30th birthday he figured it was time to get his first cell phone. The intrepid innovators at Consolidated Telephonics™ had come out with the model that would finally pique his interest.

Most people his age got their own devices before they turned 10, but Jimmy refused. By the time cell phones came complete with internet access, sophisticated motion picture cameras, and a never-ending fight between multi-colored birds and green pigs, money was no longer an object for Jimmy—but every time an opportunity to get a phone came up, he flatly refused. 

They looked so silly! It didn’t matter that—as the human race incrementally ceased looking up for longer than five seconds in favor of their portable screens—Jimmy was the one who started looking silly when he didn’t have such a machine. He continued to stick to his guns. If he was ever in an emergency, he could always borrow someone else’s phone. He didn’t need to take the plunge.

Then, the latest line came out and everything changed. For a low, low price that could be distributed across the term of the provider’s contract, Consolidated Telephonics would inject a small, bluetooth-enabled microprocessor through the nasal cavity and gently embed it deeply into the cerebral cortex. From there, the greatest operating system ever constructed does the rest. Want to send an email? One need only wish it to be so. Want to post to Instagram? Blink, and you take a photo that will become the envy of your followers. Selfies have become a little harder, but Consolidated Telephonics is rumored to already be hard at work on a Mark 2 model that somehow gets around this unexpected design flaw.

There was one other, tiny problem.

The Cerebral-Chemical Interface System™ latched into some unfathomable part of Jimmy’s brain and tapped directly into his unconscious thinking. When he idly—and only for an instant—eyed a woman he passed on the street, his phone immediately sent a Facebook friend invite to the completely bewildered stranger. Such an exchange would be benign enough, if it didn’t come complete with the share of a candid photo of the woman walking down the sidewalk only moments before.

Always a stickler for his physical fitness, Jimmy’s occasional cravings for junk food yielded progressively more difficult results. While he would never indulge in the Double Decker Cheese Atrocity Pizza from McPizza Hut, the moment his mind wandered to the possibility of a world where he would eat such a calamity, an order was placed with the establishment. Within one week, Jimmy had unwittingly ordered over 713 separate pizzas. Tragically, at press time “the Hut” does not offer refunds for online orders. Inexplicably, over 40 of his orders were sent to an address that read simply: MY HOUSE AS A KID, BUT IT WAS… LIKE, LARGER? ALSO THERE WERE SHARKS THERE.

REM sleep produced further problems for Jimmy. Every night when Jimmy would dream—even if he didn’t remember the dream—it would become an early morning post on the near-abandoned retro social networking platform, Twitter. Here now are just a few examples from his first few days with the device: 

I’M WORRIED MY FINGER NAILS ARE GOING TO FALL OFF. I’M AFRAID THEY ALREADY HAVE. THEY DEFINITELY HAVE. WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE, MOM?

~@jimmytheluddite - Wednesday, October 29th, 2031 1:31AM

BUT, BUT THAT CAN’T BE! I DIDN’T KNOW I WAS REGISTERED FOR THAT CLASS. IT’S FINALS WEEK?! WHERE ARE MY PANTS?

~@jimmytheluddite - Friday, October 31st, 2031 2:07AM

THERE’S ROSE MARIE. THERE’S MOREY AMSTERDAM. THERE’S LARRY MATTHEWS. THERE’S MARY TYLER MOORE… AND THERE’S THE OTTOMAN. MY OLD ENEMY. AND I DODGE IT! BUT, NO THERE’S ANOTHER OTTOMAN RIGHT BEHIND IT… AND ANOTHER… AND ANOTHER… FOREVER!

~@jimmytheluddite - Sunday, November 2nd, 2031 12:42AM

Life has indeed changed for Jimmy, the man who would not be seen with a cell phone. He has desperately tried to delete his Facebook account, only to find it reactivated by dawn, in accords with his deepest unspoken wishes. He’s gained 70 pounds from the pizza consumption, although his McPizza Rewards Points are impressive. It is not all bad news, however. He is planning on compiling his involuntary tweets and releasing them as a book on the Kindle Store in early 2032.

  Art by Eris O'Reilly

Art by Eris O'Reilly