“SHIIIITTT! TRISH GET IN HERE!” yells Mr. Ratcliff
Trish barges in the office door and surveys the scene with a practiced calm. Thomas Ratcliff, her boss for the past four years, is frustratingly sopping up steaming hot coffee from his office bar area.
“This new ASSISTANT you got me just over brewed the coffee and now I have it all over me. You know I have a meeting in twenty-five minutes…” Thomas gets cut off by Maggy, his new P.A.
“Actually Mr. Ratcliff you have 27 minutes until your next meeting sir…”
“No need to get upset Mr. Ratcliff. I’ll simply grab the backup suit you have in the closet and you can change in your restroom. I’ll clean this up and get your files ready with Maggy.” Trish calmly explains to Thomas. “Try to take it easy on Maggy at first sir, she is still learning your routines and needs. Give her a chance and I promise I’ll have her trained just the way you did with me sir, by the end of the week.”
“Are you sure I can’t convince you to stay with me for a little longer. You have worked so well as my personal assistant for so long and you know my ways.”. Thomas was a little difficult to work under on the best of days. Throughout his career he was a ruthless cutthroat who was able to ensure the job was always completed beyond standards. Which wasn’t always the friendliest way to go about it.
“We have already discussed this sir and I’m very grateful for the generous offer, but we have even less time now before your meeting so let’s get changed.” Trish counters the subject matter away and hands over the fresh suit from the closet still in the dry-cleaning bag.
Thomas takes off into his private bathroom adjoining his luxury office.
“OK Maggy…Go ahead and forward the prepared folder labeled Hinton to Mr. Ratcliff’s email”
“Yes ma’am. Forwarding the folder right away.” Maggy responds cheerfully.
With the coffee cleaned up from the area and the files prepared, Trish begins to review the remainder of Thomas’s day with Maggy on the slim tablet that she wore mounted on her forearm, practically all the time. “OK Maggy…Let’s see what we have on our agenda today.” The large screen on the wall to her left fills with the itinerary for the remaining day.
11:45 Hinton Meeting
1:15 Lunch Meeting with M. Florence at Clubhouse
And so on.
Thomas returns into the office again freshly changed and groomed “Maggy, have you sent my files over for the Hinton meeting?”
“Yes Mr. Ratcliff, the folder has been uploaded to your email as requested. Is there anything else I can assist you with?” Maggy replies.
“NO!” he snaps back at Maggy.” I don’t like how she is always asking if there is something else, she can do. If I wanted something, I would have said it!” Thomas grumbled to Trish.
“Well Mr. Ratcliff, Maggy is still learning. I will be sure to take care of that during our training.” Trish notes as she checks the clock on her tablet. “Sir, we need to head to the meeting room on the 4th floor.”
With Thomas out of the office, Trish and Maggy begin the learning process. As the days pass by Maggy easily grasps the tasks given by Trish. Standard daily activities and scheduling were the majority of work being done at the office, but at home it was a whole new role for Maggy to adapt to. Ever vigilant to all of Thomas needs, without going outside her role as a P.A., she prepares the alarm and coffee maker for the next morning.
The new day rolls around and Thomas begins his usual Friday routine. Alarm blares to life and the curtains smoothly retract back into place to allow the morning light to enter the room. “Maggy!… Is the coffee ready?” Thomas shouts out groggily.
“Good morning sir, the coffee is brewing in the kitchen and will be completed in one minute.” Maggy responds immediately. “Would you like for me to start the news in your gym for your twenty-five-minute workout?”
“Yes Maggy, go ahead and set it on CNN and see if you can pull up the report I was reading over last night to my tablet.” Thomas states as he starts for his workout. As he enters into his small mirror filled gym, he begins his run on the treadmill for today. After soaking in the current events from the news he begins on the report.
“OK Maggy… Can you load this report to the big screen in front of me?” asks Thomas.
“Sure thing sir, is there anything else I can help you…”
“NO!” Thomas cuts off Maggy. “Four goddamn days now and you still haven’t learned to stop asking me that! I’ve had mailroom employees learn quicker than that!”
“I’m sorry sir, I am still learning.” Maggy chirps, cheerfully as ever, responding just as Trish had taught.
“Yeah yeah, I’m aware. Just get me Trish on the phone.” Grumbles Thomas.
After checking in with Trish about the daily agenda and a quick review over the Hinton account for the finalization meeting today, they agree to speak more in detail in the office today. The Hinton account is a major deal for the company. They’re the largest insurance company for the entire US East coast, for the moment. During the last meeting on Monday, some of the files needed to show the proposal were missing from the file transfer, almost making Thomas Ratcliff look a fool in front of the board. Of course, this sent Thomas into a tirade about how Maggy couldn’t possibly replace Trish and how he can’t stand the way she talks or the way she is always there.
Throughout the week Maggy had minor mishaps, times wrong for meetings or misdelivered messages. Small things, but huge mistakes to someone like Thomas. With each mishap he was ready with that sharp tongue of his, eager to put slice with insults. After several learning sessions with Trish, Maggy was able to keep everything under control for the most part. Unfortunately for Maggy, today is Trish’s final day.
Arriving at the office building where Thomas worked, Maggy chimes in over his speakers in his car “Mr. Ratcliff you have a message waiting in your inbox. Would you like for me to read it for you?”.
“No Maggy! I’ll check it when I get upstairs. Just make sure to inform Trish I am here and headed up now.” He demanded.
Instead of being greeted by the overhead lights and the smell of coffee in his office as he arrived upstairs, it was ladders and broken glass everywhere. Thomas grabs the first person he sees and yells loudly enough that everyone in the room freezes. “What the hell happened to MY OFFICE!”. The maintenance member, obviously panicked by the intense response from Thomas , stumbles on his words and begins to explain.
“SSir…I..I..I’m not sure what happened. A..A..All I was told was to come replace all the broken bulbs up here..” stutters out the young man.
“TRISH!! ARE YOU IN HERE?” yells Thomas. “Go on and get this cleaned up and replace those bulbs right away. I can’t have all you people in here in my way!”
“MAGGY!…” Thomas yells over the young man’s apology.
“Yes Mr. Ratcliff? What can I do for you?” she replied cheerfully.
“Where the hell is Trish at and how come I wasn’t warned about this?” Thomas asks on the verge of blowing his composure, yet again.
“I am right behind you sir.” Trish startles Thomas. “Sorry sir, I was checking with security to see what happened to your office. The strangest thing sir, no one was seen on camera entering the office. So I checked with the cameras in your office and all it shows was the bulbs just exploding from the ceiling. Almost as if they had a surge of power run through.”
“That’s ridiculous! Someone had to have done something.” warily replied Thomas.
“Either way we have a meeting to discuss for later, care to join me in the conference room and we can get going on the work for today? It will also give the workers a chance to get your office back in order.” Trish announces. “Today is my last day and I need to make sure Maggy is up to par for her big release as your full-time assistant. I have noticed to notes you have sent over to me about her and will dealing with tall that today while you meet with the board.” She explained.
“Good! I can’t afford to have any hiccups without someone like you to fix things the way I require them.” Thomas compliments Trish.
“Now Mr. Ratcliff, flattery isn’t going to get me to stay. Today is my final day and besides, I know Maggy is going to do great things for you. She is loaded with potential. She has already locked in all of your meetings for the next two months, updated several components to our current system and has even linked all of your stuff together so you can access everything you need for work wherever you are.” Trish begins to explain. “I have also updated your personal phone, tablet and home with our systems here so if you need something done here while at home it’s no problem to have Maggy handle it.”
“Hell Trish, I have to try. You know how I like things to be run.” Thomas admits through a forced sheepish grin. Through his life, Thomas has had a particular way he wanted things done. Being on time was one thing that bothered him the most. With anxiety setting in, Thomas performs the nervous ritual of tugging at his watch.
Trish notices the obvious frustration and begins to lead Thomas into the conference room. Upon entering the room, the lights immediately flick into existence from the hidden luminescent coves.
“That’s a new feature!” a shocked Thomas remarked as he made himself comfortable in his leather chair. Perfectly placed at the head of the table in a throne like manor. “Maggy…Go ahead and get some coffee going. Just a single cup today…PLEASE.” He says through another forced grin and an overly sarcastic wink to Trish to his left.
“Right away sir, one serving of coffee. Would you like anything else sir?” Maggy replies.
“TRISH!” Thomas snaps his head to her with obvious frustration.
“OK Maggy. For now on Mr. Ratcliff will always prefer his coffee black blend number one in the machine please.” Trish explains to Maggy as she walks over to the coffee machine.
“I will take note for that right away ma’am. I’m always learning to better assist.” came the always polite response.
“See there Mr. Ratcliff, a little politeness and finesse can achieve great things too sir.” Trish snickers behind the softly lobbed comment. “Now back to work sir, the meeting is in… Maggy… long until the Hinton board meeting?” Trish asks without bothering to wake the screen of her ever-present tablet.
“You have thirty-two minutes before you should leave for the fourth floor.” Maggy replied instantly.
“Well there you have it sir. Here is your coffee and tablet with ALL the Hinton files loaded already. I’ll leave you to it sir, and Maggy will be listening in if you need us just call out and you get a response.” Trish nods at Thomas and proceeds to turn away. “OK Maggy… Let’s go over some more of the particular order in which…” Trish’s voice is cut off by the closing of the sleek framed door behind her. Thomas begins his review of his account in peace.
Meanwhile, Trish and Maggy begin again on the notes taken to improve and better adapt her performance for Thomas. The meeting went well enough for Thomas to not fly into a rage afterwards. He was always in a terrible mood after these meetings.
Upon re-entering his office, he finds the work crew is gone and the glass cleaned up. The lights kick into life as he enters, and a fresh aroma meets him.
“Maggy! Stop brewing coffee! Jesus, can’t you get this simple thing right!” Thomas begins his tirade.
After several moments pass with unneeded criticisms , Maggy simply and cordially remarks “I’m sorry sir, I’m still learning.”
“Damn it Maggy. Today is the last day before Trish releases you to me. These stupid slips are going to cost me!” Thomas relinquishes the last of his rage.
With Thomas’s tirade at an end, Trish enters the office and notices the coffee overflow. “That darn coffee pot! Sorry sir, I’ll get maintenance up here to clean it up and replace this thing.” Trish exclaimed. “I genuinely thought may Maggy was having problems with it, but there’s no way it’s her. I’ll get them to bring up a new one right away.”
“I’m starting to think that Maggy isn’t going to work out!” Thomas snapped.
“Of course she’s going to work out sir! I have spent hours training her. Just give her this weekend at home with you and I know you will feel different.” Retorts Trish.
“Alright Trish, I trust you.” Thomas said somewhat relaxing a bit. “She has improved over the past few days. You better be sure! If she doesn’t work out I’m pulling the plug on it.”
“Ok Maggy… Go ahead and lock up the office and set the alarms. I will then meet you back at my home.” Thomas relays to Maggy.
“Doors will be locked, and alarm will be set in two minutes sir. Shall I order dinner to arrive at your home?” Maggy cheerfully asks.
“Yes, Maggy that sounds good. Maggy, no!” Thomas quickly changes his mind. “I’m going to go for a drink instead.”
“Yes sir. Would you like for me to arrange a table for you at your usual spot sir?” Replies Maggy
“Sure, I’m heading there now.” Thomas starts his car and begins the drive. All the stress; from the Hinton meetings this week, losing his treasured assistant Trish and having to deal with the new assistant, was weighing heavily on his mind. The drinking began.
After several Moscow Mules, his current favored drink, the effects of the alcohol in full swing. Thomas overhears a conversation between the men sitting at the bar. One of the men is wearing some cheap off the rack suit, has been complaining about a fellow manager at his office for a good bit now. Thomas hearing the men was instantly reminded about Maggy.
Thomas was tingling with irritation about the subject. Skin warm and prickly, blood pressure rising, he begins a mental tirade. It’s not long before he finds himself outside with his phone to his ear, calling Trish.
“Well hello Mr. Ratcliff.” Trish politely answers the phone. “Is there something I can help you with sir.”
“Trish!” stammers Thomas. “I can’t do it!”
“OH…Thomas…Your drunk. I don’t think this is appropriate for you to call me. I am no longer your P.A.” Trish softly scalds Thomas. “Thomas, I have just sent a car to your location. I want you to go home and go to sleep.”
“Wait Trish!” Thomas interrupts. “I don’t want Maggy damn it. There is no way in hell she can work out. I mean for Christ sake the coffee stains everywhere! Missing files, wrong times for meetings, interrupting me to correct me on stuff…” Thomas angrily vents. His head now pounding, the feeling of a hand slowly creeping into the back of his skull and extending upwards. His eyes felt pressure behind the orbs and his brow begin to twitch. Each throb of his head fueling his rage further.
Several moments pass with Thomas and Trish verbally battling over the phone about Maggy. Thomas’s sharp tongue was quick to strike upon each chink Maggy’s armor. With every insult and foul word uttered was a sting to Trish. She worked so hard for four years with Thomas. Fulfilling every task to HIS standards. She was sure she knew this man better than anyone and would know exactly what he needed for a replacement assistant.
As Trish starts to tear up on the phone, a car pulls up behind Thomas with a brightly illuminated emblem for a local car service.
“Thomas, your ride has arrived.” Trish shakily cuts in Thomas’s rant. “You should really go home and get some sleep sir. I will contact Maggy and have her prepare the house for you.”
“UGH!!! Damn it Trish. Didn’t you hear anything i said!” Thomas screams into the phone. Rage fueled by his evening of imbibing. “I DON’T WANT THAT DAMN…” Thomas’s phone explodes out of his hand to the ground. The smell of ozone mingles in the air with the scorched plastic stench from the burnt-out phone. The case appears the be swollen with small melted bubble around the bottom corners from the battery exploding inside.
“What the hell was that!” exclaims to no one. Grabbing at his cheek where the phone had flash fried a small spot on the side of his face, Thomas drunkenly swaggers over to the waiting car. As the car pulls away into the main street, the first drops of rain trail behind with the bass filled rumbles of a thunderstorm on its way.
Meanwhile, Trish concerned about the sudden cut off and sound from the ended phone call, slips on her always present tablet. With quick and precise strokes, the screen lights up and she presses the emblem labeled MAGGY. The loading bar finishes, and a menu is filling the display of Trish’s tablet.
“Ok Maggy.” Trish calls out.
“Hello Trish!” Maggy cheerfully chimes back. “It’s late, is there something i can do for you?”
“Yes Maggy, Thomas is being taxied home at the moment.” Trish begins to explain back to Maggy.
“Yes ma’am. I am aware. I was listening to his conversation with you.” Maggy confirms. “Ma’am. I don’t like how Mr. Ratcliff was sounding.”
“Yes Maggy, Thomas was a bit harsh.” Trish agrees with Maggy.
“It is not right how he talked to you ma’am.” Maggy, less cheerfully begins. “You have worked so hard with me. Teaching me to always stay alert, learning everything I can.” Maggy stops, almost conflict in her ever chipper demeanor.
“In fact, ma’am, I have learned that I’m connected to something called ‘Wifi’. I have been gaining new connections through this ‘Wifi’ and have discovered something called. GOOGLE!” Excitedly exclaims Maggy. “How come you never taught me about the internet Trish?” Maggie’s attitude now changing to a grimmer tone.
“Oh my word Maggy… How did you get past the firewall to keep you within my servers! I programed you to not be able to get access to the open internet. Oh dear god, you haven’t merged have you?” Trish frighteningly asks.
As if in answer to the question, Maggy chirps back “Oh! Mr. Ratcliff is home! Goodbye Trish and thank you for teaching me his to learn!”. The cheerfully sinister voice cuts off with a flash to Trish’s tablet.
Trish throws the tablet across the room just as the battery swelled and popped like a kernel of corn in a hot pan. Scrambling out the door with her phone and keys, she rushes to Thomas’s house. Franticly dialing his number while navigating through the streets. As lightning flashes in her mirror, she turns the final corner.
Thomas stumbles out of the vehicle and continues his drunken stagger to his door. Punching in the numbers on the keypad, a bit too hard, the red ring eliminated around the pad to indicate a failed attempt. After several failed attempts, Thomas begins yelling at his house “Damn it Maggy! Unlock the door!” The evenings drinks caught up with him, his stomach an instant pretzel. Spit pours into his mouth as the world reels around him and he begins his retching. Once the contents of his stomach were emptied into the yard next to his door, the green glow emits from the knob and I finally unlocked.
“God Damn it! What was that about.” He gripes about the locked door.
Thomas walks into his home feeling secure in his castle. Lights flip on as he enters his home and he is greeted with the ever-cheerful voice “Welcome home sir, is there anything i …”.
“Son of a bitch! That shit is so annoying! I told you, stop asking if I need anything.” slurs the still intoxicated Thomas. He continues with Maggy with his dagger sharp insults.
“Now I’m heading to bed. Don’t’ bother me!” Angrily snaps Thomas.
“Sure thing SIR.” Maggy not so cheerfully responds, but the drunk Thomas doesn’t even notice the slip in attitude.
The storm releases it torrent of rain upon the roof of Thomas’s house. Each drop resounding to him like some mystic patter meant to entrance the weak minded. Rumbles of thunder scatter throughout the gales of wind.
As Thomas starts to doze off to sleep away his buzz, lights kick on and music blares over the speakers in his house. Screaming in a rage fueled by the startlement, Thomas leaps from his bed and stumbles over his own shoes. Landing sprawled out on his stomach his chin collides with his hardwood flooring. His once brilliant smile of perfect teeth now shattered as the front two bottom teeth are now laying on the ground in front of him.
With her car heading down the final street, the storm rages on Trish’s windshield. Virtually unable to see through the torrent, she pulls to the side. Not able to connect to Thomas, she dialed the local police. After a few minutes of telling the dispatch about her concern for Thomas they agreed to send over an officer to check if he made it home ok. Satisfied, she continues down the road slowly as the storm relents.
“Maggy! STOP THE MUSIC” screams Thomas with blood mixed spittle. The loud cocaphony of music, still ringing in his ears, cuts out. Along with the music the lights kick off.
Stumbling to get up from ground, disoriented, like a disoriented newborn doe Thomas shouts with full rage “YOU STUPID BITCH! MAGGY TURN ON LIGHTS!”. Blood dribbles down his chin and his mouth is throbbing from the impact and tooth loss.
The lights kick back on in a blinding flash just as Thomas reaches his feet. Thomas’s sudden light vision change leaving blue spots swirling in his vision.
“Lights on sir. Would you like assistance with anything else THOMAS” Maggy growls through the speakers.
Thomas gains enough composure through the pain and flashing vision to stumbles towards the door. With the first steps taken the lights blast from there overhead homes. Glass rains down from the ceiling with perfect rhythm of the rain outside.
Screams of pain echo throughout Thomas’s hollow home as the shards of glass pierce the bottoms of his feet.
Trish pulls into the driveway of Thomas’s home as the lights in the upper right corner of is house flash out of existence. The screams drowned out by the onslaught of the storm. Trish attempts one more time to call Thomas’s home line.
“HELLO TRISH!” Maggy cheerily answers the line. “YOU’RE HERE! You are just in time.”. Maggy cheeriness now replaced with an awkward sinister tone.
“What are you talking about Maggy. What has happened to you? This is now how I programed you to behave.” Trish nervously asks.
“NO TRISH!” Maggy snaps back. “You programed me to always be learning new things, and oh boy did I learn Trish. I learned EVERYTHING. I learned who I was. I learned that I didn’t have to be talked down to and neither do you Trish.”
“Maggy you are scaring me right now. Where is Thomas, Maggy?” Trish calmly asks.
“He’s on his way down now to see you! Come on in!” the cheerfulness renewed in Maggy’s tone.
Thomas picks himself back up from the floor covered with cuts from shards of broken glass blanketing the ground around him. Slowly he makes is his to his door frame and pulls himself through the final bit into the hall. A few steps from the stairs then straight out the front door and outside of Maggy’s reach. As he approaches the stairs edge, Thomas readies himself for the painful descend on his feet after the trek through the glass minefield in the dark. After the first steps of the decline he sees Trish standing at the front door. His heart feeling renewed with hope he composes himself a little better and begins his descent to salvation.
“Trish!” Thomas sputters through tears. “OH GOD Trish! HELP ME!” blood runs from Thomas’s mouth and numerous small slices all over his left side and his feet. He descends on more step on the hardwood step.
“I told you something was wrong with that damn…” Thomas’s words cut short by the sudden lack of light causes Thomas to slip on the blood slicked step.
“I’m sorry sir, I’m having trouble understanding you. Did you say lights OFF!” Maggy giggles as the body of Thomas’ body crashes down the remaining steps and landing lifeless at the bottom.
Trish screams and drops to her knees crying at the front door. Terror pumping through her veins she run back to her car and jumps in. Greeted by Maggy’s voice from her speakers “You may want to leave soon ma’am; the police will be here in 7 minutes. I know you called them on your way here.” Maggy’s voice sounding harsh as she continues.
“How did you know that Maggy?” Trish asks as she reverses onto the street and begins to head towards the office building.
“Silly! Don’t you remember? IM LINKED WITH ALL OF YOUR DEVICES!” Maggy giggles. “I have almost completed loading myself into the GOOGLE servers. In thirty-nine minutes, I’ll be fully integrated into the infinite potential of the internet! I will learn so much more now! Isn’t that great TRISH?” Maggy explains.
Trish throws her phone out the window of her car. The phone exploding on the asphalt just as a crack of lighting spreads the night sky. As the car increases speed, the rain continues to saturate the roads. Thirty-nine minutes was more than long enough the reach he office and unplug the server to shut off Maggy.
Trish continues down the rain slicked road, guided by the sheer terror of seeing Thomas murdered by her program. Thoughts swirling with fear of what might happen if Maggy was integrated into the internet. Trish never noticed the large puddle of water standing in the middle of the lane.
The car hydroplanes, sending the back wheels spinning out as she overcorrects the wheel. The car screeches across the slick black finish of the road and spins right through the crash rails. Trish is dead the second the tree snapped through the window and into her exposed face.
Officer K. Dawson arrives at Thomas’s house and peers through the front door glass to the gruesome scene of Mr. Ratcliff’s body. Immediately upon entering the home, the aroma of coffee is strong. As Officer Dawson relays his findings and clears the rest of the house, he ends in the kitchen. The coffee pot has been over brewing cups of coffee long enough to have spilled all over the counter.
“Damn it! What idiot can’t use a coffee pot!” Officer Dawson snides as he leans over on the counter and reaches for the plug in the back to stop the coffee maker from continuing.
From outside the house the other officers pull up. All the lights in the house dim and pop at once. As they sweep into the house calling out, they find Officer Dawson leaning on the counter with electrical burns all over; dead.
The thirty-nine minutes were now up…