FRIENDSTRANGERS — Episode 2

Friendstrangers

Philip Dirk runs a technology firm that dominates the world’s major networks called Global Friends Strategies. A dissident group named The Strangers gains popularity on GFS and brings Philip into the orbit of May White, a ruthless businesswoman. Then a member of The Strangers is killed and sparks an investigation exposing the rot of every technological advancement.


Episode 2

While Philip contemplated May’s new position at GFS, Benjamin McKean, a supremely average writer living hand-to-mouth sat at a coffee shop hammering away at his keyboard. He hoped that one day others would be willing to read whatever he concocted. But in a messy world of trends, filters, and irrelevance, Benjamin would remain obscure. He thought of himself as a Hesse and Joyce put together. He delight himself with these comparisons since there was no one around to question them.

Then he dropped dead.

A few hours later, his sister, Katharine McKean, a consultant at Acquaintances & Company went to the morgue.

“Was he poisoned?” She asked the coroner.

“Forgettable writers aren’t ever poisoned Ms. McKean.” The coroner replied.

Bedside manner had evaporated recent years from every profession related to life and death in the medical field. Humanity had wrestled with the question of radical honesty and medicine. Eventually, everyone implicitly agreed: the facts are facts, I’ll find comforting words elsewhere.

Before her brother’s untimely death, he had been sending her passages of a book he was writing. She had saved his most unforgettable lines in her notebook. Since he hadn’t shared everything with her, she hoped to string something together to share at his funeral.

Katharine asked her brother’s electronics.

“Sorry Ms. McKean, your brother’s electronics will be returned to you in a week. We are investigating his devices to see if they can help us solve his death.”

Katharine considered if he had been murdered, but Benjamin never made enemies. He had never caused trouble in his entire life.

When she told her colleagues about her brother’s death. None of them were able to share appropriate responses. They patted her on the back and went back to work. All her her boss could say was: “I hope the weekend helps you deal with the passing of your brother.” It was Tuesday. Four more days to go.

Katharine read through excerpts of her dead brother’s writings. He was analyzing the world technological deficiencies in relation to Expression.

The world’s letting go of its natural sense for truth to make convenience its paramount achievement. Humanity will be floating from one thing to the next instead of walking. The ease will make nothing ever feel earned.

As Katharine observed the work of her colleagues in Acquaintances & Company, she understood his words. All of humanity had worked towards this seminal moment: sitting down at a desk and floating from one task to another.

But if Benjamin had floated, he may have been able to pay his own bills, Katharine thought.

She had helped from time to time with rent. He had never been able to find the right place or sign the right contract.

Setting aside grief, she returned to her banal, but paid existence.

On the other side of Towne, Anne Reed, Benjamin’s favorite escort at Bad Apples finished her martini. Benjamin had scheduled a one-hour session with her. He always arrived on time. Despite his infrequent sessions, he was her most loyal client. Her other clients would ask for her and then dismiss her. Sometimes they would even go as far to begin the session and call for another. Then a week later they would be back and request her.

Financial dependence on strangers that wanted girlfriends didn’t offer Anne much leverage in transactions since she wasn’t going to service those fantasies. The other girls were more willing.

Her phone buzzed with Expression.

Clients looking for a good time used the algorithms provided by GFS to connect with sex workers. Since GFS engineers collected everyone’s locations and browsing history, prostitutes had been eradicated from Towne’s streets. Mayor Butler Ogden was happiest about that technological innovation. His popularity grew since respectable families saw the city of Towne ‘cleaning up.’ But cleaning up had been only made possible with the exhibition of sexual services on GFS. Teenage sons of respectable families were even able to hire prostitutes for a night because photos could be generated to fake ‘nights out with their friends’ — allowing for puberty to become even more of a complex and dark period in teenagers lives.

Pornography took a tremendous financial hit. Famed photographers and filmmakers were destitute. They had to work for advertisers making one soap brand look better than the other. Filmmakers had the most fun. Getting the camera as close up to models as possible.

Since people were able to live out their basest desires in reality instead of their imagination — fantastical foreplay with the comfort of a laptop and hand became less interesting.

Anne flipped through recommended ‘friends.’ Communication would commence once she ‘friended’ them. With some loopholes written by GFS engineers that were friends with the local Towne mafia, Anne was able to hide her real life.

She friended one. His name was Louis Campbell.

Hello love. She wrote.

Do you know Benjamin McKean?

She froze. Benjamin hadn’t ever referred her. Also, explicit references were always to be ignored; Towne detectives always liked linking individuals to unsolved crimes to make their department look better for Mayor Ogden.

What are you looking for? She wrote.

Benjamin’s last chapters of his book.

Anne remembered Benjamin discussing a book he was working on. But she hadn’t ever remembered much of what it was about.

I’m sorry I can’t help you with whatever you are looking for. She wrote.

Please.

Then Louis shared a link. A preview of the link was generated. “TOWNE RESIDENT DIES.” Anne read on. Benjamin was dead.

She still had to ignore knowing Benjamin.

I don’t know this man. If you wish to discuss in private a one-on-one therapy session with me, please let me know your availability. Otherwise, I believe we should terminate our correspondence. She wrote.

Louis’ profile picture disappeared.

Anne clicked on his profile but this message popped up: “Account deleted.”

Anne set down her phone and looked around Bad Apples. No Towne cops were raiding the bar. She was safe. Whoever Louis was, she hoped to never meet him.

Episode 3, coming soon

Like what you read? Give t a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.