Hey Siri

Photo of a hand and wrist, wearing a smart watch. Caption reads: "Gertrude loved her smart watch."

Hey Siri short story by Iris Carden

Hello dear reader. I invite you to get comfortable now, while I tell you the strange tale of Gertrude who lived the high life, for a little while.

Gertrude was your average overweight, middle aged, divorced single woman. Life had played her a tough hand, but she’d managed to survive all that had been thrown at her, so far.

Gertrude loved technology, at least she loved the technology that could make her life easier. She loved her smart watch and the smart phone it was linked to. She loved that so much of her house could be linked to these devices. To turn on lights or the television, or even open the front gate, she just had to say: “Hey Siri,” and give the command.

While much of her life was in disarray, at least those things which could be controlled from her watch or phone were well under control.

Then came the day of the big storm. Gertrude had seen her wheelie bin blown down the street in the wild winds, so she rushed outside to chase it. Don’t go out in a storm, dear reader, bad things can happen, just as they did to Gertrude. She was struck by lightning.

She awoke at the local hospital, where ambulance officers watched over patients while waiting to hand them over to the overworked Emergency Department staff.

Gertrude didn’t know why she did it, but she lifted her wrist, and said to her watch, “Hey Siri, get me some treatment so I can go home.”

The voice of the watch replied: “Working on it.”

Less than a minute later a nurse came to collect her. A brief check, some treatment for minor burns, and she was released, to go back home.

That night, Gertrude lay awake, wondering, did the watch bring her the immediate treatment, or would it have happened anyway. Another thing bothered her. After a whole day without being recharged, the watch was still on a hundred percent charge.

She finally decided she would test whether the watch had gained some new strange power. “Hey Siri,” she said, “make me a healthy weight by morning.”

The voice of her watch answered: “You got it.”

Gertrude finally slept, and then she woke. She found that overnight she had lost at least forty kilograms. Loose skin hung like an elephant’s all over her.

“Hey Siri,” she said, “tighten my skin so it suits my new body.”

The electronic voice answered: “Working on it.”

She felt a tingle, and went to stand in front of a full-length mirror, watching, amazed, as her skin pulled itself taut.

What power she had at her disposal! She thought a moment that her watch had become like God. Then she realised it was not the same at all. God could, and often did, simply say “No” without any kind of explanation. A smart watch could only do as it was commanded, or say: “I’m unable to do that at the moment.”

Perhaps it was more like Aladdin’s genie, and was a powerful supernatural slave. Something nagged at the back of her mind, something she had heard about jinn not being all that benevolent. She pushed the nagging thought aside.

That night was a big lotto draw. It had jackpotted to two hundred million dollars. Gertrude decided her new shape could definitely do with a new wardrobe, and new living conditions.

“Hey Siri, make my lotto entry win.”

“Working on it.”

Of course she won.

The next day she bought a mansion and a new car. While waiting for the thirty days for the purchase of the house to be finalised, Gertrude bought herself the most beautiful and expensive clothes she could find.

For five years, Gertrude lived the high life. Big donations to charity, and to cultural and sporting groups gained her invitations to gala events. She knew and was known by all the “best” people, “best” in this case meaning wealthiest, and she lived large. If she was, in her quieter times, lonely, and concerned about what the downside of her using supernatural powers might be, that was hidden from the world.

She no longer asked anything outrageous of her watch, simply the normal everyday things of turning lights on and off, keeping her appointments diary, all the things a smart watch normally did. It still stayed at full charge without ever being recharged, a constant reminder to her that it was not a normal smart watch.

Then came the day, when her watch notified her of only one appointment for the day: “Die”.

She looked at it, looked again. It had to be a glitch. “Hey Siri,” she said, “what are my appointments for the day?”

The electronic voice answered her: “Nine am, die. All other appointments have been cancelled.”

It was 8.30am. She had half an hour, and didn’t know what to do with it. She was in good health, she knew. What was supposed to happen in half an hour?

She decided to stay home for the day, not to go out, not to take any unnecessary risks.

With nothing else to do, she went for a swim in her backyard pool.

You’ve heard lightning never strikes the same place twice. That’s not actually true, dear reader. Lightning often strikes the same place more than once. Sometimes it even strikes the same person twice.

Gertrude was enjoying her heated salt-water pool, when stormclouds appeared out of nowhere. The lightning strike not only hit her directly, but also travelled through the pool water. She was electrocuted from two sources simultaneously. This time there was no ambulance ride. This time her heart stopped instantly.

And so, dear readers, ends the story of Gertrude, but I wonder what happened to the morgue assistant who stole a smart watch from the body.

I invite you, dear reader, to look out for more:

Strange Tales

While you’re here…

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.


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