“This will be the most important day of my life,” Ivan said to his wife earlier that afternoon.
As she crossed her arms and shot him an all too familiar look, he attempted to amend himself. “Outside of our wedding day of course.”
“Mmhm,” she moaned while defiantly tilting her head to avoid a peck on the lips. “Take your pills.”
Ivan was the chief engineer of a secretive department at Advantex Toy Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska. A relatively new company, they’ve received a massive amount of funding from the titans out in Silicon Valley, and even snapped up the long-vacant lot on 14th and Dodge where they built a sleek glass tower that rivaled those in the Big Apple.
“Good evening Mr. Pushkin,” a security guard said to Ivan as he stepped off the elevator on the 46th floor.
Ivan smiled and exchanged pleasantries before crossing the hall to a massive steel door that led to his department’s laboratory and command center. Adjusting the bag that rested on his shoulder, he reached for the control panel and went through the repetitive motion of the hand and retina scanner until entering a final pass code. The door swiftly split in half, disappearing into the wall as a light gust of air caressed his body.
Overseeing thirty-five engineers, Ivan was thrilled to discover that everyone had arrived early for their upcoming release of Gogol, the Dynamo Dog. An AI-powered toy that had the playful personality of a Golden Retriever, yet the ultra-refined data collection capabilities of the best algorithms … on steroids.
Having cost more than $9 billion to develop this realistic looking pouch, they planned to release many different breeds but currently only had one model–a white Pomeranian. Their focus groups informed them that it would be a hit because it not only cost a fraction of the price of the actual breed, but could do astonishing tricks like a triple back flip, prepare cocktails and required no maintenance so long as customer’s installed the wireless charger.
Once inside the home, it entertained its owners and offered superior security against intruders with built-in tazors, mace and other non-lethal munitions. All while collecting massive amounts of data that Advantex Toy Corp. would sell to advertisers to recoup their losses. They sold each Gogol for $250, an incredible deal considering it costs nearly $22k to manufacture. Data collection and special upgrades was where they’d make all that money back.
“Musk is tweeting at us again,” said Mark, Ivan’s top AI engineer.
Ivan took a seat next to him at a large desk in front of a wall that featured dozens of screens, depicting everything from store shelves, crowded streets and analytical data. “What sort of doom and gloom is he warning of now?”
“He’s advocating for the Philippine government to block our release, stating quote, ‘Gogol is an evil AI that will try to conquer the Philippines. Remember, the cake is a lie,’ end quote.”
“Well that’s a bunch of bullshit,” Ivan said as he sized Mark up, giving him an intense stare that made him uncomfortable.
“It’s abut,” Mark stuttered, “It’s about 5:30. With the thirteen hour time difference, we got thirty minutes till we launch at 7:00 a.m., Manila time.”
Because of strict government regulations in the U.S. and other countries across the globe, Advantex Toy Corp. thought they’d never be able to release Gogol; that was, until a well-connected lobbyist introduced them to some powerful government officials. A few bribes later, and they were now about to oversee a nationwide release.
“Did we already ship our complimentary Gogols to our friends in government?”
Mark shot a document over to Ivan’s screen. “Of course. As you can see, we sent a few to the President, members of Parliament, Senators, Army Generals … as well as all the major media outlets for reviews.”
“Perfect,” Ivan said real slow. “Looks like we’re all set for a blockbuster release.”
“Speaking of, where’s the CEO and Board? I though they were coming.”
“They won’t make it,” Ivan said as he stared at his screen, looking through the video feed of one of the Gogols holding this group of executives hostage. Unbeknownst to the other engineers, Ivan had added special features to the Gogol AI that had allowed them to evolve; everything from being able to speak 100 languages and self-replicate, to forming chainsaw-like teeth, flamethrower breaths and retractable fingers to better interact with the world. They were exceedingly cute, yet uniquely dangerous. “You know how these people are. Only caring about earnings and profitability. They said they just want a report.”
“Oh,” said Mark, “I guess they’re going to miss all the fun.”
“You got that right,” Ivan chuckled. “Now, let’s pull up the feeds of our Gogols that are with the President’s family.”
“Got it,” Mark said as he searched the Gogol database for the three specific serial numbers. “Here we are,” he said as the three feeds began to be displayed on the wall of screens.
“Come with us,” a Gogol was saying while standing on his hind legs, the other two shining a mouth full of razor sharp teeth behind him, moving in a chainsaw-like motion.
“What the fuck,” Mark panicked. “This can’t be right,” he began working madly at his station, “I need to shut it down.”
Ivan pulled a Glock out from his briefcase. “Freeze! Stop what you’re doing and back away from the computer.”
“Ivan. What’re you doing. Do you have any idea how bad this can get. The AI needs to remain within safe limits,” he paused. “Just let me shut it down before there is any serious damage … fuck, they’re trying to kidnap the president.”
“I said back away,” Ivan shouted, the Glock quivering within his right hand. “I’m going to take over the fucking world, Mark. All these tech plutocrats think their running shit. Nah, not any more. C’mon Gogols. Secure the lab.”
Out from a crate in the far corner of the room came more than a dozen Gogols, many of whom were walking on their hind legs–at no more than two-and-a-half-feet–and all armed with AR-15 pistols.
Dispersing themselves across the lab, three blocked the exit while the others rounded up all the engineers.
“Mark, get up,” said a Gogol in an oddly British accent. “Make your way to the storage room with the others.”
As Mark walked away acrimoniously, Ivan turned his attention to the Gogol. “Tell the others to secure everyone’s cell phone. After that, we’ll need to–“
Shut up and follow them to the storage room,” the Gogol harshly interrupted. “We don’t need you anymore.”
Ivan looked down at the dog and couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “But I CREATED you,” he shouted in the animal’s face.
He raised the banana in his right hand up to the panting dog’s temple. “Huh, you too good to even reply to my Gogol. Don’t forget that this was OUR plan to take over the Philippines. You NEED me,” he paused just as the Pomeranian took a bite out of the banana. “The disrespect–“
“Mr. Pushkin,” the nurse cut in, “enough with the antics honey. Take your pills.”
If you liked this story and want to stay up-to-date with #FFSunday (Flash Fiction Sunday), please feel free to subscribe and get emails whenever there is a new post, as well as follow Brett Booker on Facebook for updates, giveaways and exclusive content