I should be working on something else but find myself stumped. So, because I am ridiculously ADD about stories, the only recourse left to me is to begin a new one. Here’s hoping it won’t be more than a minor side project. As with The Beast, I will post short chapters of this story as I write them. They won’t be regular and I cannot promise perfect spelling and grammar (I don’t want to get that involved) but hopefully it will be something you’ll enjoy reading. So without further ado, here is chapter one of Virtual
The champagne exploded and three dozen engineers and art designers cheered in a deafening chorus. Matt shook the bottle and sprayed everyone around him, braving the angry shouts and slaps. Not the best idea to open a bottle in central command but the absolute best place to celebrate.
Today was the day Hearth Global launched their ground breaking virtual home assistants. Hundreds of beta systems were already running and more orders were pouring in from all over the world for these custom designed systems which monitored everything from room temperature to security and supplies, and were smart enough to ‘learn’ the residents’ habits and adjust settings accordingly. The breakthrough feature was the interactive holographic concierge as a user interface. Residents could put a face with the system and talk to it, rather than spend time typing commands into a computer.
And it was all controlled from this facility. Ryan looked around in satisfaction. Three billion dollars worth of cutting edge technology with myriad fail safes and redundancies, the most reliable system known to man. Three dozen people had worked for years to put it together and all of them felt the way he did – this was their baby.
“Everybody shut up!” Matt whistled to quiet the crowd then climbed onto the rickety plastic table and raised the empty champagne bottle high. “To Lucile,” he said. “Long may she purr.”
Ryan rolled his eyes. “Give it a rest, Matt, no one is calling it that but you.”
“Aw, come on!”
A volley of paper cups forced him down from the table. Celia took over, hushing them all with a raise of her head. Ryan would love to know how she did that. The smallest gesture from her and everyone jumped to attention. “Happy birthday, everyone,” she said. “We came this far but we’re nowhere near finished. Expectations will be astronomical so let’s not drop the ball just when we got it, all right?”
Short, inspirational, and to the point. No wonder she was the boss.
“Okay, Matt, clean this mess up. Joe, Madi, Steve, I want you front and center at the helm. I wanna know what’s going on every second. Everyone else, back to your stations. Let’s show everyone what we can do.”
As everyone filed out Matt punched the air. “Boo-ya!”
Ryan shook his head and made a quiet exit to his pod. As one of the graphics techs, he had his own mini command room. The only lights here came from the myriad widescreen monitors and a spotlight from the body-sized scanner. It was like stepping into a black, electronic cocoon with windows to fifty places all around the world.
Cameras in every room of the house and several outside recorded all movement and action but unless an alarm went off, the techs didn’t have access to those feeds. They were recorded for security purposes on a secure server for six months before capacity was reached and the system wiped itself clean.
The system did the work, mostly. Techs like Ryan only stepped in when a major problem required an actual person, otherwise he just kept an eye on things and tinkered with the holograph designs. Right now he had a bird’s eye view of upstate Washington from a satellite hovering far above the earth. It was a beautiful sight to see. “Happy birthday,” he said to the computer. His baby was going off to college.
The first few days would be crucial now that they were officially in business but Ryan wasn’t worried. His little paradise was perfect. He’d seen to every last detail, taking a personal interest in all of his fifty accounts. Absolutely nothing would be going wrong.
Famous last words…
Virtual copyright 2011 Alianne Donnelly, all rights reserved, may not be reprinted or reproduced in any manner, written, electronic, or otherwise without express permission from Alianne Donnelly.