Author : Jordan Whicker

Henry Goodman sank readily into the welcoming embrace of his favorite recliner; the whoosh of air escaping these cushions and the groan of its leather was the only ‘Welcome home, honey!’ he’d ever known. He sat in silence for a few moments, his eyes closed, his mind working to quell the tempest of thoughts that had roared unabated for years. He wasn’t having much luck.

He opened his eyes after some time and stared at the TV across the room. A large part of him wanted to leave the TV off, as if doing so might preserve his anonymous existence here in his comfortable chair. He knew it was impossible; whether he watched or not millions of others around the world would be glued to their sets at this very moment, seeing his face and speaking his name, committing them both to memory. Henry Goodman, the father of the Second Computer Revolution. The Singularity. No, nothing would ever be the same. Not for him. Not for the world.

He grabbed the remote and turned on the TV.

Moments ago, Henry Goodman, a Senior Researcher at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, committed a cyber attack against the United States of America. His unprovoked attacks crippled the nation’s internet, cellular, and telephony capabilities, plunging the nation into a communications deadzone. As Goodman has effectively deafened the nation’s police and counter-terrorism forces, a $10 million bounty has been placed on Henry Goodman, effective immediately. Authorities warn that Goodman is extremely dangerous, likely armed, and liable to intensify his cyber attacks against the United States of America at any moment. President Ibson has authorized the use of lethal force to neutralize the domestic terrorist Henry Goodman. May God bless the United States of America at this dark hour.

The message looped, then, the female voice speaking over security camera footage of Henry working in his lab.

“No,” Henry croaked. “No no no no no no no.” He cycled through the channels on his television. They all broadcast the same message, the same voice intoning his death sentence.

How can this be happening? Henry thought. We put controls in place and –

His thoughts were cut off by three staccato bangs on the door.

“You in there, Good Man?” The muffled voice added stress to the second syllable of Henry’s last name where there typically was none. “I don’t really need to ask. I seen you come home and I ain’t seen you leave so unless you already offed your own fool self I reckon you still in there.”

Henry’s eyes darted around the room; he cursed the sudden uselessness of all his possessions. He grasped the lamp that stood next to his recliner, yanking it away from the wall and plunging the room into darkness.

“Well then. Guess there’s my answer. Make this easy on me Henry, it’s gonna happen eventually.”

A clipped blast freed the deadbolt and set the door swinging wildly on its hinges. The man stepped in, shotgun pressed to his shoulder as he scanned the room.

“It’s too late,” Henry stated from his hiding place behind the recliner.

“I know it is, and I’m almost sorry Good Man.”

“No, you don’t get it. I’m the only one who knows how to stop it. And it realized that.”

The man stepped around the recliner and leveled the weapon at Henry. “Good for it. Any last words?”

“All hail the computer overlord,” Henry said. His voice was even; a grin tugged at the corner of his mouth. He had done it.

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