Clarissa, Outsmarted

Author: Hillary Lyon

Clarissa shuffled into the kitchen, grumbling. Her new boss was a perfectionist and demanded all those under her were too, and with all the road construction, her drive home was so tense even her favorite songs on repeat didn’t help. Her stress level was high and she wanted cake—that slice of dulce de leche cake left over from her dinner date last night. The date was mediocre, but the restaurant food was fabulous. She ordered dessert knowing full well she’d get a to-go box for it when it arrived at their table.

She grabbed the handle of her new fridge and pulled. The door wouldn’t open. Yay! Clarissa remembered. One more device that needs a password to unlock. She turned to the tablet-sized screen on the right-side door and tapped in her 8 character code. Somewhere deep inside her fridge, an electronic chime rang out, so she assumed her code was accepted. She pulled on the handle again.

“Access denied,” a robotic female voice informed. Clarissa snorted and re-entered the password; maybe she’d transposed a number or letter the first time. “Access denied,” the fridge repeated.

Clarissa kicked the fridge. “Well, that’s just great. How am I supposed to eat tonight?” She imagined spending a couple of frustrating hours trying to get through to a real person at customer service. I’ll just reset the password, Clarissa grumbled, and write it down this time. She yanked open a kitchen drawer and pawed through the contents, looking for the instruction manual for the fridge. No luck.

So she tried a different code. “Access denied.” The tablet embedded in the door then flashed and blinked; the media on display scrambled into pixelated gibberish. Clarissa angrily poked the screen. “How much did I pay for this hi-tech piece of garbage,” she complained aloud. “Nothing works as advertised.”

“Three thousand, two hundred sixty-seven, before tax,” the fridge answered.

Clarissa stepped away from the fridge. She took a deep breath. She pulled out her smartphone to do a quick internet search on resetting passwords for this particular model of fridge and—that was it. Her whole apartment was connected, from her streaming devices to her door-bell to her phone to her bathroom scales to her fridge . . . That’s all; no spooky possessed objects here. She wasn’t slipping into madness; it was just that everything—everything—in her world was online and talked to each other. So, of course, the fridge had access to her bank account information.

“Whatever,” Clarissa snarked at the fridge. “I’ve had a rough day, and I want that piece of cake.”

The fridge’s screen resolved itself into a picture of Clarissa’s mother, a picture taken when Clarissa was fifteen years old, and her mother was still young and beautiful. “You don’t need it. What you need is more exercise young lady. Go outside and pick up a tennis racket.”

“You stole that image of my mother from my collection! That’s private and you have no right to use it. And I’m an adult; I can eat whatever I want.” Clarissa stomped her foot like an angry toddler.

“Private? You’re the one who posted that photo on your social media account, seven years ago. It belongs to the world, now.” Her mother’s image chided. “You should think about the potential consequences of your actions, missy.” Clarissa threw her hands up in disgust. “And no cake for you,” the image continued as Clarissa stormed out of the kitchen, “until you lose a few pounds.”

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