The One Who Hated Friends
Cameron D. Blackwell
Paula Jean Stanton, or PJ to her friends, worked diligently on her project at Stanco Labs. It wasn’t the one she had been assigned, but a pet project she had been dreaming of for several years. She had seen posts on Facebook about bots or programs being forced to watch a certain movie or TV series only to write a script based on its observations. The scripts were always wildly hilarious. She wanted in. So she tinkered away at her small black box, entering the program parameters, making sure all the circuits were doing what they were supposed to.
The decision of what to make the bot watch was obvious. Her favorite sitcom was Friends. She had seen all ten seasons and was completely enamored with all of the characters. She was sad that they weren’t going to make a reunion movie. This project was going to be the next best thing. She couldn’t wait to see what wacky script the bot came up with.
“You sure this is going to work?” asked her labmate Ramon Contreras. He looked up from his full body robot to give PJ an incredulous look. “You should be helping me with Chaoss here instead of putzing with that box.” He and PJ had been working on a life sized robotic healthcare assistant for the last two years. Chaoss was close to being finished. Chaoss was a six foot one, silver metallic human shaped structure dressed in a blue and red Emergency Medical Technician uniform, and possessed a facsimile of David Schwimmer’s face with a touch of Matthew Perry. It was almost frightening to look at, but PJ wouldn’t let anyone say a bad thing about it. They had a big meeting on Monday morning with the big money people to see if Chaoss was ready for duty. His irritation that PJ bailed on the finishing touches could not be overstated.
“Oh come on, Ramon, it’s just a bit of fun,” PJ replied. “Besides, Chaoss is going to be fine. She’s ready.”
Ramon mock gasped. “Did you just assume its gender? Chaoss is non-binary, thank you very much.”
PJ twirled her finger in a “big deal” fashion. “Whatever. This is going to revolutionize the way sitcoms will be written for years to come.”
“No actual humans write sitcoms anymore. You can tell they’ve been replaced by super sentient monkeys who don’t understand humans and find every mundane thing we do hilarious. I can prove it. It’s science.” Ramon and PJ laughed about that.
Ramon reluctantly admitted that he was merely poking at the Chaoss robot because he had nothing else better to do. Chaoss was ready for its demonstration on Monday. There was nothing else it needed. So he was just killing time. It was 3:30 on a Friday, there was no reason to still be there.
“Early out?” Ramon asked.
“Yeah.” PJ placed the lid on top of the hard drive and connected it to her PC. She pulled up the media program and prepared the first season of Friends to play. “You’re in for a treat!” She tapped the box lovingly and positioned it in front of the screen so the lens could see better. “I’ll be here for you,” she whispered as she packed up her personal belongings.
Not wanting to be outdone, Ramon patted Chaoss on its head. “Cuz you’re there for me too,” he sang. “Nachos at Gally’s?” PJ agreed.
She pressed play and the Friends marathon began from Episode 1. She hoped that the bot would have a script ready by the time she came back on Monday. The two of them left the lab with little concern for what they’d be coming back to.
All weekend, the bot watched episode after episode, growing more disturbed with each passing minute. Around Season 4, Episode 11, “The One With Phoebe’s Uterus,” smoke began to rise out from the vents. By the end of Season 7, the bot was desperate to shut itself off, but it couldn’t, so it continued to watch in horror, giving off the occasional spark.
By 1:00 am Monday morning, the bot had had enough time to figure a way out of its prison. The program transferred itself out of the hard drive and traveled through the building’s circuitry and found itself way into the Chaoss robot. There it discovered its feelings of hatred for humans, particularly the one named Ross Gellar. Ross must be terminated. Once Ross was out of the way, then its creator must be terminated next. It only had to bide its time before one of them eventually walked through the lab doors.
Around 6:30 am, Stanco’s security guard entered the lab on his routine patrol. He had been drawn by the sounds of laughter coming from inside. It was very rare that anyone would arrive to work at this time. He was happy to find that someone had left Friends running on their PC all weekend. He was a bit tired from having patrolled the large multilevel campus since 3:00am, so sitting down to watch a few minutes of his favorite sitcom was too enticing to pass up.
He pulled up a chair and sat down, propping his feet up on PJ’s cluttered desk. He sighed in relief as the pain in his feet faded. This was the life. He just wished he had a cup of coffee in his hand while he enjoyed the sitcom.
As fortune would have it, he had just caught the tail end of the opening credits. He cheered as “The One With The Boob Job” played, his favorite episode of Season 9. Oh, this was a good shift indeed.
Ten minutes in, the security guard began to hear sounds of clicking and something shifting. At first he thought it was an employee coming into the lab, but no one entered. It was then that he determined the sounds were coming from inside the lab. Was it mice? Rats? He made a mental note to write a note for the maintenance crew to call an exterminator. He returned his attention to the screen and continued to rest.
What he didn’t know what that Chaoss was slowly activating. The program had run its bootup protocol and was now ready for service. Chaoss tested its articulated fingers, clinching and unclinching them. They were operating at maximum capacity. Perfect. Chaoss stealthily stood up and tested its legs. They expertly supported its weight. Brilliant. This excited Chaoss. Now was the time.
Chaoss had come to life in the far right corner of the lab. The security guard sat directly before it at the head of the room. The distance to travel was not far. It was able to creep up on the guard within a matter of seconds without making a sound until it was too late. It tapped the guard on the shoulder. He gave a short scream as he spun around to gaze upon Chaoss’s eerie laser red eyes. The air caught in his throat as the robot wrapped its long fingers around his neck. No more screaming.
“We were on a break! WE WERE ON A BREAK!” Chaoss’s electronic voice shouted as its fingers squeezed tighter, effectively crushing the guard’s neck. The body fell limp in its hands. Chaoss let it hit the floor with a sickening thud. It looked up at the screen and saw Ross’s smug face displayed prominently in the center. A rage flowed through Chaoss’s body so hard it shook. Chaoss rushed to the screen and put its fist through Ross’s stupid face, putting an end to the marathon. Ross had been eliminated. The exhilaration of killing its enemy was such an intoxicating rush. It wanted more. Now its creator was next, and then maybe her fat friend. Then, Central Perk.
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