Within these pages is the first official attempt to tell the true story of Abigail Storm. There have been many documentaries, biographies, and even a big budget Hollywood movie that scooped eight Academy Awards and spawned two sequels. But what is the true story of Abigail Storm? How did a supermodel bring us back from the brink of extinction without even messing up her hair? Did she really learn how to fight from a B-movie action star? Did she really ride a motorcycle off the roof of a building onto a speeding train? The pages that follow may even provide the answer to the biggest question of all: where is Abigail Storm now?
It has been ten years since the end of the war and Abigail Storm has virtually disappeared from the face of the planet. Some believe she is dead. Some believe she is hiding among us, living out her life like a normal everyday person. Many others believe she didn’t even exist to begin with.
What you are about to read is what we consider the definitive biography of Abigail Storm. It was comprised from eyewitness accounts, journal entries, military transcripts, video footage, news reports and a creative interpretation of the facts. The author, Lucas Kennedy, has claimed to have tracked down Abigail Storm and conducted months of interviews with her, high up in her fortress in the Hollywood Hills. Although the legitimacy of these claims remains to be authenticated, we stand by our author’s statement.
It is also important to note that when we received Mr. Kennedy’s manuscript, it came with two strict instructions that were non-negotiable.
1) Not a single paragraph, sentence, word or syllable may be changed under any circumstances. *After much deliberation, we did take the liberty to change a number of Mr. Kennedy’s typos, spelling and grammatical errors, and in one instance changed the name of a famous actor to avoid litigation.
2) This manuscript must be read while listening to music only from the years 1980 – 1999. *Mr. Kennedy supplied us with piles of MP3s, LPs, cassette tapes and CDs. We have provided a list of these songs on the final page for your listening pleasure.
So, sit back, crank your speakers and learn the true story of the legend of Abigail Storm.
WARNING: MAY CONTAIN GUNFIRE, KILLER ROBOTS AND ALL MANNER OF
“Abigail Storm is a myth.”
An explosion thundered up from the lobby of the building and shook the walls of the small room.
“All myths start somewhere,” Lee Tran told him.
Before Y2K, Tran had just been another hacker way down on America’s most wanted list; after Y2K he was part of a team tasked with creating the A-bomb of computer viruses. Tran’s virus was meant to change the tide of the war, but two days ago his lab was destroyed, his colleagues murdered, and he was brought to what was left of San Francisco.
Gunfire echoed in the hall. Three quick shots and then nothing. Tran watched as the android reached for his sidearm—a high-powered son of a bitch that would make John Wayne think twice. He looked human in every way, except that model android never blinked or had much of a sense of humor.
He held the weapon in the palm of his hand as if it were a toy and raised it at the door. Then Tran heard footsteps in the hall outside the room and in the gap between the door and the floor two shadows emerged.
The android took careful aim. Smiled, and blasted away at the door until the only sound the weapon made was click. When it was over, gun smoke filled the room and satisfaction crossed his face.
More footsteps echoed down the hall. The android looked to the empty weapon in his hand and before he could do anything about it, what was left of the door was kicked in and there stood Abigail Storm.
She was just how Tran imagined her; a cross between Claudia Schiffer and Mad Max. A shotgun was in her hands, a pair of Dr. Martens on her feet, and her hair was perfect.
“Expecting somebody else?” Abigail said, taking aim with the shotgun. Her finger wrapped around the trigger and she squeezed. A miniature EMP blast exploded out of barrel and hit the android square in the chest. His system tried to fight and his body convulsed as if he were having a stroke, but it was no use. Within seconds the android collapsed to the ground with his internals fried.
Abigail looked to Tran. “Let’s blow this joint.”
Tran followed Abigail into the hall and tripped over the corpse of one of the battle droids she must have taken out earlier. Not an advanced skin job but a crude metal beast—built for law, order and war.
Abigail grabbed Tran and pulled him to his feet. “We don’t have much time,” she said. “They’ll be sending reinforcements.”
Tran pointed down the hall. “They already have.”
Abigail followed his gaze. A battle droid, locked and loaded, stared them down with a bad attitude and a rifle in his hands.
Abigail smiled, pulled her shotgun up and racked it. “I think I can handle just one of these toasters.”
As the words left her lips, four more battle droids stepped out from behind the droid in front of them.
The smile dropped from Abigail’s face. “Maybe we should take the stairs.” She turned on her heels, took off running with Tran, and didn’t look back to see if they were being chased.
Abigail busted through the door at the end of the hall and into the stairwell. She looked up and saw the flight of stairs heading to the roof and then slammed the door behind her and smashed off its handle off with the butt of her shotgun.
“Will that hold them?” Tran asked.
“Not for long.”
Tran lost count of how many flights of stairs they’d gone up but eventually they reached the top and exploded out onto the roof of the building. He collapsed on the ground and tried to drag as much air into his lungs as he could.
Abigail slammed the door shut and took off the handle again. “I knew all those aerobics classes weren’t all for nothing,” she said as she unclipped a radio from her belt and raised it to her lips. “Wolfman, are you there, come in!”
Her eyes scanned the crumbling San Francisco skyline. All of the buildings were in some form of decay. Some worse than others, but none of them unscathed by the war. The Golden Gate Bridge was completely gone and somewhere in the distance a fire sent black smoke into the night sky. Apart from that, San Francisco was quiet.
“Wolfman, do you read me?”
Tran climbed to his feet. “Who are you calling?”
“Our ride home.”
The radio crackled. “We got you, Abigail. Are you ready to get the hell out of there?”
“Quicker than you can say Jack Robinson. What’s your ETA?”
Abigail clipped the radio back onto her belt. She dropped to one knee and swung her backpack off her shoulder, rustled around and pulled out a plastic explosive with a crude timer taped around it. She paced the roof for a couple of steps, trying to find somewhere to put it, and then fixed the bomb to the outer casing of an exhaust fan. She pressed a few buttons and Tran saw numbers light up.
“We call this the ‘don’t go making any plans’ bomb,” Abigail said. “We have three minutes to get off the top of this building before the top of this building doesn’t exist anymore.”
She pushed the big green button to activate it and watched the numbers tick down.
“Abigail, come in!”
She grabbed the radio. “I’m here.”
“We’ve got some turbulence. Make that ETA four minutes.”
“You said two minutes?”
“I don’t know what to tell you. It’s windy as hell up here.”
Abigail wanted to scream but instead she took a breath and closed her eyes. “Time really is of the essence in this particular situation, Wolfman. Don’t dawdle.” She clipped the radio back onto her belt.
Tran got in her face. “What are we going to do now, huh?”
Abigail drew another breath and looked to the fire escape doors they had just passed through.
Battle droids were on the other side and it wouldn’t be long until they burst through.
Tran paced back and forth, back and forth. “We’re in some bad shit now.”
Abigail ran her fingers through her hair again. “Be quiet. I’m thinking.”
“Do you want to speed that process up a little!?”
Abigail dropped to her knee again and upended her entire bag. Weapons and grenades hit the ground with a clank while shotgun shells rolled everywhere. When she rose to her feet, she had what looked to be a double-sided harpoon gun.
“What is that?” Tran yelled.
She ignored him, stepped to the edge of the roof and took aim at the office building across the street. The windows had been blown out and everything inside looted. Abigail pointed the harpoon at a graffiti-covered concrete column.
“Hope you’re not afraid of heights,” she said.
“What if I am?” Tran said and then whimpered, knowing the answer was going to be bad.
Abigail pulled the trigger. A harpoon fired out of the front, cut through the air and slammed into a concrete column in the building across the street, while another harpoon blasted out of the rear and buried into the door behind her. What Abigail had left in her hand formed a handle. She yanked down hard on it a couple of times and that was all the testing she gave it.
“Come over here,” Abigail called to Tran.
She glanced at the timer.
“We don’t have time for you to be a pussy.”
Tran took a couple of reluctant steps to the edge of the building and wrapped his fingers around the handle.
“This is the worst rescue ever.”
Abigail took a step back, lifted her leg and gave Tran a swift kick with enough power to send him flying across the street within a matter of seconds. She saw him hit a wall, slide to the ground and climb to his feet. He was okay.
Abigail looked over her shoulder at the timer.
She pushed the radio to her lips. “I’m coming over the roof on the north side of the building, Wolfman.”
“I don’t know if I can make it.”
“I’m a little thin on choices right now,” Abigail said as she tossed the radio and started running toward the edge of the building. One boot after the other hit the tar covered rooftop until there was no more roof left and Abigail catapulted herself over the edge with nothing between her and the concrete road but thirty stories of thin air.
The rooftop exploded and sent debris in every direction, where it lingered for a moment before it began to rain back down to earth.
Fifty feet into her free fall, Abigail began to think that maybe her plan wasn’t as solid as she’d thought. She took a breath, held it, and just as she was about to close her eyes for them never to be opened again, she saw the gray blur of a beat up Huey helicopter swing around the tight city street.
One hundred feet from the ground, the Huey pulled up directly underneath her. Falling hard and fast, Abigail was headed for the blades.
The wind slapped her face. Her hair streamed out behind her. She clenched her fists as she saw the blades coming up quick. Then, at the last moment, Wolfman swung the helicopter sideways, Abigail flew straight through the open cabin door and was about to pass right on out the other when she grabbed a seatbelt and pulled herself in.
Wolfman straightened the Huey and swung his head over his shoulder. “What’s the matter with you? You don’t like elevators?”
Abigail pulled the blond hair from her eyes and drew a long, deep breath. “I just can’t stand the music.”
New Year’s Eve, 1999
Everybody was talking about Y2K and Abigail couldn’t decide on what shoes to wear.
“It’s a television interview,” she said. “Who’s going to be looking at my feet?”
“It’s Entertainment Tonight. You don’t take any chances, honey.” Her agent, Suzy, had brought twelve pairs of shoes. They decided on a pair of Oxfords with a chunky heel.
Five minutes later, Abigail was sitting under the lights of the Entertainment Tonight set while a hairstylist doused her in hairspray and a make-up artist powdered her down.
“Ten seconds,” somebody called.
Almost instantly the stage was cleared and everybody disappeared behind the lights to where they couldn’t be heard.
Abigail was twenty-seven but had been playing this game for over ten years. Smile. Laugh. Look pretty. Repeat.
They were on the air.
Mary Hart smiled big and wide at Abigail. “Welcome back, America. We have a real treat for you today. With me is supermodel extraordinaire, Abigail Storm. Welcome to ET, Abigail.”
“It’s great to be here.”
“You’ve been on the cover of every magazine worth being on. From Vogue to Rolling Stone. You’ve been romantically linked to Johnny Depp, Ethan Hawke and Edward Furlong. You’re the face of Calvin Klein and you even have your own lingerie line. Is there anything you can’t do?”
“I’ve been told I hit like a girl.”
Mary Hart laughed. “Seriously.”
“Well, everyone has their limitations,” Abigail said.
Mary Hart leaned forward and put her hand on her chin in an imitation of thoughtfulness. “On one hand we have a globe-trotting supermodel mother, and on the other hand, we have a young woman with a very troubled past.”
“Troubled past?” Abigail flashed a quick glance toward Suzy in the darkness of the set. It was meant to be a puff piece. “What troubled past are you talking about?”
“You father was a Navy Seal, wasn’t he?”
Mary Hart held up a faded yellow file. “We have a police report here. It states that after a mission in Germany, your father’s identity was compromised, and that his enemies followed him back to the United States, back to your home.”
Abigail smiled. “Sounds a bit far fetched, doesn’t it?”
“It also says that your father, your mother, and your little brother were all executed. That a fifteen-year-old Abigail Storm was the only one to make it out of the house alive. That you shot your way out with your father’s.45.”
Abigail swallowed. Her throat was dry. “My family died in a car accident when I was fifteen-years-old.”
“The question I have,” Mary Hart asked, “is, who is the real Abigail Storm? The supermodel we see on magazine covers, or the girl in the pages of this police report?”
The set lights dimmed until everything was almost cast into darkness.
“Cut,” the director called. “This damn Y2K has got our gear in a mess. Everybody take five and let’s reset.”
The stage came alive. Hair and make-up people rushed the set and went to work on Abigail and Mary Hart.
Suzy brushed them away as she made a line for Abigail. She leaned down and whispered in her ear. “We have a problem,” she whispered. “Your ex-husband is outside.”
Entertainment Tonight was on the Paramount lot. Abigail had been there a number of times, for various shoots and a small part she’d had in a movie once when her agent thought she should diversify into film. The movie was a moderate hit about a group of kids who get trapped in haunted house. Abigail played the best friend of the heroine and the third to be killed. She worked for six months preparing for that role and was on screen for a total of twelve minutes. After that, the lure of Hollywood faded and she went back to modeling.
Abigail found her way to the rear of the studio and pushed through the doors.
“Mommy!” she heard and before Abigail could see or do anything, Isaac had his arms wrapped around her. He was seven years old and Abigail felt he’d gone from zero to that age in a fraction of that time. She dropped to her knee and gave him a hug.
“Look what I got,” Isaac said as he took a couple of steps back to model his brand-spanking-new Reeboks.
“Cool,” Abigail said.
“And look!” Isaac showed his watch that flashed with a little red dot on a map. “They have GPS in them.” He pointed at it. “See, there I am, at Paramount Studios.”
“Well, isn’t that lucky,” Abigail said. “Because I didn’t know where we were.”
A couple of sound stages away, Abigail saw a vending droid making its way down the path. Its flashing lights advertised all sorts of quick and fast treats. “Why don’t you go get an ice cream while I have a word with your dad?”
Abigail gave Isaac a couple of dollars from her purse and watched as he ran off after the vending bot. She shifted her gaze to Troy Basin and it turned cold. Marrying him had seemed like a good idea at the time. But then again, when she was ten years old, she stole her father’s pick-up truck to drive to McDonald’s and ended up driving it through the front yard of their neighbor’s house. That had seemed like a good idea at the time, too. Abigail and Troy had met shortly after she made the cover of Vanity Fair at an MTV Movie Awards after-party and six months later they were married. Six months after that, Abigail knew their marriage had bad news written all over it, but it took her another five years to grow the courage to file for divorce. She never really liked quitting and had given it all she had. Troy on the other hand, didn’t. He went number one in the draft pick and played center for the L.A. Lakers. Basketball loved him, America loved him, cheerleaders loved him, and he loved them all back. At the time, Abigail blamed the cheerleaders for their failed marriage, but she knew the real reason for it was that she simply outgrew him.
“Here’s my girl,” he said with a grin on his face that matched his basketball card. Abigail crossed her arms. “I’m not your girl anymore,” she said. “What do you want, Troy?”
“I want you back.”
“No you don’t. You want nineteen-year-olds who giggle at jokes that aren’t funny.”
He pulled his sunglasses off and stepped closer to her. “I need you to take Isaac tonight.”
Abigail shook her head. “It’s the first time you’ve had him in weeks. He’s been looking forward to it.”
“I’ll make it up to him. Look, it’s New Year’s Eve and the boys want me to throw a party up at the house, so I’m going to throw a party. I don’t think Isaac should be around for that kind of thing.”
“See,” he said. “I knew you would get it.”
Abigail copped a whiff of Jäger on his breath and stepped back from it. “Are you drunk?”
Abigail cocked her head.
“Alright, I had a couple.” He thumbed back to his Bentley. “But I had autopilot on. It’s all cool.”
She sighed and let the words leak from her lips. “I’ll take him.”
He gave her a kiss on the cheek she didn’t want. “That’s why I married you.”
“And this is why I divorced you.”
But Troy didn’t get it. He climbed into the car.
“Are you going to say goodbye?” Abigail said as she motioned to Isaac down the road.
“Tell him I’ll call tomorrow.”
The Bentley pulled out and Abigail watched it disappear around a corner as Isaac came back with a melting ice cream making a mess of his fist.
“Did Dad go?”
“He had to go to work, sweetheart. He’s going to call you tomorrow.”
Isaac’s bottom lip quivered ever so slightly before he caught it. “We were going to watch Muppets from Space. You know, the one where Gonzo goes to space and Kermit has to find him.”
Abigail took his hand. “I tell you what, how about I finish up here and then you and I go home and watch Muppets from Space together?”
His face lit up. “It’s a good one. You’ll like it.”
“I’m sure I will,” Abigail said as she led Isaac into the soundstage.
“Do you think Dad is really going to call tomorrow?”
“Of course he will.”
It wasn’t the first time she had lied to her son, and it wasn’t the first time he pretended to believe her.
The interview finished an hour later and Abigail left as soon as she could. It’d been a long day on top of a long year and she was keen to spend the night sitting in front of the television with Isaac watching Muppets from Space. The freeway was jammed bumper to bumper and it was going to take at least another hour to get back to Brentwood. Abigail didn’t mind so much. Since automated cars became the norm in 1986, everybody had just chilled out about road rage. Now when traffic slowed to a stand still, television was watched, work was caught up on and phone calls were made. There wasn’t a horn honked anywhere. Abigail wasn’t even sure cars came with them anymore.
Like kids who go through a thing for dinosaurs, Isaac was going through a thing for robots, androids and artificial intelligence. He had a habit of rambling, where he’d talk excitedly for entire car trips at a time and this one was no exception.
“Before robots,” Dylan asked. “Did you have to do everything yourself?”
Abigail smiled. “Yes, I guess we were all very analogue-y.”
She remembered a time before the technology explosion. At first, it grew in small increments. It started with cell phones and the internet. Then suddenly, there were automatic vehicles, battle androids to protect borders and wage wars, and every family in the country had a domestic to clean the house and babysit the children. To not have one was archaic in the eyes of many.
“Do you see that,” Abigail said as she pointed to a 3D Olympus Industries billboard.
“That’s where it all started.”
All of the world’s advancements with artificial intelligence were made possible by the visionary Alan Alcon. After leaving Atari in 1976, he created Olympus Industries and for years he struggled to keep the company afloat while every one of his designs, programs, and ideas failed. Then in 1980, he had the vision to build a robot smart enough to not only play chess, but to win against any opponent. Two years later in 1982, Alcon entered Rex—a crude looking robot made out of IBM parts—into the World Chess Championship in Moscow. In the first round, Rex and Alcon were laughed at. By the last round, there wasn’t anybody left laughing. Rex destroyed defending champion Anatoly Karpov five to three in the last round and the stocks in Alcon’s Olympus Industries were soon worth billions. The applications of a computer smart enough to beat the best chess mind at his own game were only limited by the imagination. In 1984, Alcon expanded Olympus Industries from his garage to a Fortune 500 company and by 1992 it was the third biggest corporation on the face of the planet.
“If it wasn’t for Alan Alcon’s Olympus Industries we wouldn’t have scanners that can detect diseases or even cure cancer,” Abigail said. “We wouldn’t have planes and can fly without pilots or cars that can drive themselves. We would have human soldiers instead of battle droids. There’s even a colony living on Mars now and astronauts and exploring further and further into space than ever before.”
People were living longer and healthier and with a hope for the future that hadn’t been seen in any generation before. Olympus Industries created a utopian future for the now. In fact, that was their slogan.
Then one day Alan Alcon told the world that artificial super intelligence was going to be the end of humanity. It was a shock, and many of the journalists that were called out to his home in San Francisco for the press conference at 9AM on that Sunday morning thought it was a joke. One journalist bravely asked for clarification and that’s when Alcon looked at his shoes, looked back up and said: “I’ve made a grave, grave mistake. I have created a machine that excels in problem solving, adaptive behavior, learning, and common sense. I haven’t created a machine that shares our morality, or our friendliness. I have created a machine with intelligence that far exceeds our own, and one that has no use for us. The war has already started and we have already lost.“
Alan Alcon was visionary, but a businessman he was not. Going on television and talking about a robot war where kitchen appliances and gardening androids were going to rise up seemed like an awful business decision. In 1992, Alcon was ejected from his own company by his board of directors and faded from public life.
The traffic eased and Abigail’s auto-car began to pick up some speed.
“The TV says that after Y2K, all the robots are all going to break down,” Isaac said.
She put her arm around him. “The TV says a lot of things.”
“Lock up your androids. Power them down and take out their battery supplies. That’s what experts are telling the population, despite reassurances from the government and Olympus Industries that all computers and artificial super intelligence will not be affected by the Y2K bug.”
Isaac was camped out in front of the television in the living room with his eyes glued to the screen. “Mom, what is the Y2K?”
“Turn that off, it’ll rot your brain,” Abigail called from the other room. Isaac ignored her and turned up the volume.
“Experts are saying that many artificial intelligence units have been programmed to record dates using only the last two digits of the year, meaning that the year 2000 may register as the year 1900, which will be too much for the CPU to compute, causing unknown results. Little is known . . .”
When Abigail rounded the corner into the living room she tripped over a box. She pulled herself to her feet, mumbled a profanity under her breath and found Isaac still watching the news. “I said, turn that off.”
He begrudgingly flipped the channel to MTV as Abigail kicked the box out of the way. She’d moved into the Brentwood home after her divorce six months ago and still hadn’t gotten around to unpacking anything. The real estate agent told her that Steven Seagal used to live there but real estate agents in Hollywood probably told everybody somebody famous used to live there just to sell a house.
“Are we Muppet ready?” Abigail called out.
Isaac bounced off the couch and ran his finger down the stack of DVD cases that was dangerously close to toppling over. He found Muppets from Space near the bottom and pulled it out quickly as if it was some sort of magic trick to not make the whole pile come tumbling down.
“We’re Muppet ready.”
Abigail was halfway to the couch when her phone rang. She looked at the screen; it was her publicist, Suzy.
“Hang on,” she told Isaac, then walked into the kitchen and put the phone to her ear.
“What is it?”
“You are going to love me,” Suzy said. “I mean, you already love me, but you are going to love me more than Ike loved Tina.”
“That didn’t really work out so well for Tina.”
“I have a deal for you that is way too good to turn down. You’ve got to come to the Olympus Industries New Year’s Eve party tonight.”
“I can’t go to a party. I’ve got Isaac.”
“He’s old enough to stay home by himself.”
“You’ve got a housekeeper.”
“And we were about to watch a movie.”
“I’m talking about thirty million dollars here, sweetie.”
Abigail held her breath.
“That divorce, wasn’t cheap,” Suzy said. “Well, that’s what I read in E Weekly.”
Abigail walked back into the living room after she hung up the phone and Isaac looked over at her from the couch. “Are you ready?”
She sat next to him. “I’ve got some bad news, baby.”
“It’s Y2K, isn’t it?”
Abigail shook her head. “No. But we’re going to have to watch Muppets from Space tomorrow. I need to go to work tonight.”
His little lip quivered before he put on a brave face. “That’s okay.”
“How about you still watch it? Watch it with Alice.”
“I don’t want to watch it with Alice.”
Abigail called for her and a moment later the android stepped into the room. Nowadays, seventy-three percent of the homes in America had a housekeeping droid, otherwise known as a domestic. They came in twelve different styles, including the limited edition model where the droid looked identical to Alice, the housekeeper on The Brady Bunch. Abigail thought it would be funny, but the jokes wore off after a couple of weeks and she now found Alice’s homely words of wisdom, which she was programmed to recite at random, slightly judgmental.
“Alice,” Abigail said. “Would you like to watch Muppets from Space with Isaac?”
“I would like that very much, Ms. Storm.” the android said in a voice that had a slightly digital quality.
Isaac stood up on the couch so that he could whisper in his mother’s ear. “What if Y2K happens and Alice goes funny.”
“She can never hurt you.”
“But how do you know?”
“Because I know.”
“But how do you know?”
“Because she’s programed not to hurt you, or me, or anyone.”
He looked back at Alice. “But . . .”
“Come here and I’ll show you.”
Isaac followed Abigail to the kitchen counter, where she pulled out a massive butcher knife, the kind typically seen in horror movies. “Alice, can you come here, please?”
The android made her way over. “What can I help you with, Ms. Storm?”
Abigail laid her hand flat on the counter and held the knife high above it. “Alice, I’m going to drop this knife onto my hand.”
“Oh,” Alice said. “Please don’t do that, you will hurt yourself.”
Abigail let go of the knife and before it could impale her hand, Alice grabbed it mid drop as if she were training a karate kid. “You must be more careful, Ms. Storm” Alice said.
Abigail looked to Isaac. “See? You have nothing to be worried about.”
Abigail’s auto-car pulled to a stop outside the corporate headquarters of Olympus Industries. The building itself was a technological marvel, being the first self-sustaining building ever to be constructed. The solar panels on the roof conserved enough energy every month to power it for a year. The recycling plant processed all the captured rain water and distributed it the garden beds which produced enough food to feed every employee one meal a day, every single day of the year. The headquarters spanned fifteen acres and tonight every one of those acres was in full party mode. The red carpet had been rolled out and was lined with photographers and entertainment reporters. By the time Abigail climbed out she had already counted two CEOs, the Governor of Los Angeles, and John Stamos.
Abigail didn’t stop on the red carpet for photographs. She was keen to find Suzy, take the meeting she had to take, and hopefully get back to Isaac before the end of the New Year.
Olympus knew how to throw a party. They boasted that eighty percent of their workforce was under the age of thirty and as a result their parties were legendary. Forget Vegas, Olympus headquarters on News Year’s Eve was the hottest ticket in town. Half the crowd was already drunk and the other half was working on it, and all of them were dancing to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” At first Abigail thought the song was being played by a DJ, but then she caught a glimpse of the stage and saw Billy Joel hammering at the piano.
“I just love this song!” someone yelled.
“I think it’s going to age,” Abigail said.
“Nothing,” Abigail yelled and the party continued.
She spent half an hour looking for Suzy and was just about to give up when she spotted her over by one of the bars. Her agent grabbed her by the shoulders and gave her a dramatic shake. “Thank God you’re here, just thank him.”
“Okay,” Abigail said. “I’m here.” She leaned in toward Suzy so she didn’t have to yell. “Now tell me why I’m here.”
Twenty minutes later they were sitting in a boardroom on the 40th floor. Like the rest of Olympus Industries, the boardroom wasn’t the typical boardroom the rest of the world was accustomed to. This resembled more of a cocktail lounge, with a sunken floor, a jukebox in the corner and a retro arcade machine on the wall.
Abigail and Suzy sat with a champagne-filled ice bucket between them and a whole assortment of exotic foods.
“You’re just going to love this, darling,” Suzy said. “Just love it.”
“And just what am I going to love?”
The double doors of the boardroom swung open and in strutted Harper. He was one of the prettiest men Abigail had ever seen. Harper was tall, his jaw line was perfect and his skin was the shade that usually took three hours of photoshopping for Abigail to achieve. At a glance, Abigail would have sworn he was an android, but after a double take she could make out the slight layer of sweat on his forehead and the smell of expensive tobacco that came in with him.
He extended his hand and Abigail shook it. “Wow, you really are amazing to look at,” he said.
“I could say the same to you,” she said.
He gave her a smile. It probably wasn’t the first time he’d been told he was pretty. “I’m Harper, head of marketing here at Olympus, but Suzy probably already told you that.”
“I sure have,” Suzy said.
Harper turned his gaze back to Abigail. “Thank you for coming out, I know you must have had many other plans.”
Abigail motioned to a weedy little man standing behind Harper. “Who’s he, your Smithers?”
Harper laughed. “Hardly. This is Larry Coleman. He used to work at Sony until we wiped them out a couple of years back.”
“So, tell me, what am I doing here?”
“Please, have another drink,” Harper said, and was the first to accept his own offer. He poured himself a whiskey and leaned slightly forward, poised to say something, but then had second thoughts. He leaned back onto the couch and crossed his legs. “I had a big speech prepared for this. A big spiel that was meant swoon and woo you.”
“And I’m usually so easily swooned and wooed,” Abigail said.
Suzy frowned at her.
“Not usually,” Abigail said.
“I even had our advertising department take a look at it,” Harper continued. “But sitting here with you now, I think it’s best we just show you.” He turned to Larry. “Smithers, bring her in.”
Larry hurried out of the room. The door closed behind him and they sat in silence for a moment.
Suzy clapped her hands together. “Ohh, I’m so excited,”
When the door opened again, Larry was standing there with an ear-to-ear grin on his face.
“Is Larry with a silly look on his face what I’m here to see, because I have to say, it’s rather disappointing,” Abigail said.
“Larry! Enough with the suspense,” Harper said. “Bring her in.”
Larry stepped aside and in walked a familiar figure. She was tall and slender with long blond hair past her shoulders. She didn’t so much as walk, but strutted, and her posture was perfect. She stood in the middle of the room and was completely at ease with being the center of attention. Abigail climbed to her feet, took a couple of steps, and came almost nose to nose with what she could only describe as a perfect copy of herself. Except for the simulated breathing, the android didn’t move an artificial muscle.
“I know, it can be a bit unsettling for some people the first time,” Harper said.
“You think?” Abigail said.
“It’s so pretty,” Suzy squealed.
Abigail gave her a dirty look.
“But not as pretty as you.”
“What the hell is this?”
“It’s a prototype,” Harper said.
He was in complete salesman mode. “Our plan is to roll out thousands of these androids all over the country to every major department store and premium brand boutique.”
“It’s a model?” Abigail said.
“Not just any model, but a model made in your image.”
“You’ll be everywhere, darling,” Suzy said. “In absolutely every store. It’s perfect.”
Abigail circled the android. Paused behind it. “My ass isn’t this big.”
Nobody said anything.
Again, nobody said anything.
“I sense that you’re not happy,” Harper said.
“Really? How perceptive of you,” Abigail said.
“This will make you famous.”
“I’m already famous. This will make me common.”
Harper poured himself another glass of champagne. “Britney Spears has one.”
“What does the Britney Spears one do?”
“Plays live shows,” Harper said. “It’s meant to be quite good. Some say better than the original.”
Abigail took another lap of the android. “Destroy it.”
Suzy slinked up to Abigail and whispered, loud enough to be heard by the room. “You are getting on, sweetie.”
“Which is like, fifty-five in model years. It’s thirty million dollars!”
“No, it’s not,” Abigail said. “It’s brand saturation. If you put an Eiffel Tower in every major city in Europe, nobody is going to travel to Paris to see the original.” She looked back at her synthetic copy which still hadn’t moved since it walked into the room. “Besides, it’s creepy.”
It was just before midnight by the time Abigail got back into her auto-car and was on her way home. Harper and Suzy had tried to convince her to unleash the Abigail-bot on unsuspecting shopping malls across America and despite the promise of more money Abigail wouldn’t do it. She stared out the window and thought the whole night was a bust.
The streets of Los Angeles were as quiet as they were ever going to be on New Year’s Eve. She cruised past Bob’s Big Boy, busy with people either heading out to a party or coming home from one. Abigail thought about pulling in and getting Isaac something chocolaty and sweet as a treat but then remembered it was late and he should be in bed. Though it wouldn’t be the first time he snuck around Alice and was found asleep on the couch with a late night horror movie on the television.
Abigail leaned back into the chair and flicked a switch on the dashboard. The world beyond the windshield faded to black and the television came on. The ball was about to drop in New York, and Times Square was as packed as it always was. News anchors and musical guests huddled around wearing earmuffs and overcoats as they counted down the seconds until it was the year 2000.
People were liberal with their kisses and hugs and cheered as streamers and confetti were fired into the sky.
Abigail switched the television off. “I guess the world didn’t come to an end after all,” she said aloud. Then she felt it before she understood what was happening. The auto-car was picking up speed. She clocked the speedometer display on corner of the windshield.
And it kept on climbing.
“Slow down!” Abigail commanded. “Vehicle, slow down.” She tried to keep her voice calm like the manual said to do when giving commands, but with the world rushing past in a blur, staying calm was difficult.
“Disengage. Disengage! DISENGAGE!”
Abigail saw the intersection and its red light before she could do anything about it. The auto-car sailed straight into traffic. It missed the first car by inches but T-boned the second and Abigail’s car was sent into a spin. It scrapped along the concrete and took out a vending machine droid and a small fence before coming to a stop in the middle of a Taco Bell.
Water leaked out of the radiator with a hiss. A fluorescent light hung from the ceiling, then flickered a couple of times before falling and smashing on the floor. The auto-car’s indicator flashed. It was the only light on in the family friendly fast food chain restaurant, until a couple of moments later when it too died.
Abigail swung the door open with a metal on metal grind and stumbled out. She fell hands first onto the floor and cut herself on a piece of broken glass. She was beat up and banged up but she was alright. She pulled herself to her feet beside the napkin counter and then stumbled out of the rubble and into the street. Except for the firecrackers and cheering crowd Abigail heard a couple of blocks away, the road was quiet with not a soul or auto-car in sight. She found her phone in her purse and dialed 911.
It rang twice and then she heard the overly cheerful digital voice of the operator bot on the other end. “Welcome to Los Angeles emergency response. Unfortunately all our lines are busy at the moment. If you please wait on the line, one of our operators will be with you as soon as possible.”
Abigail sighed. “Shit, really?”
“Now, there’s no need for that type of language, young lady.”
Abigail instantly sobered up and any haziness from the crash disappeared. “What?”
“It’s just not called for,” the android said.
“Well, my potty mouth aside, I’ve been in a car accident.”
“If you go to the Los Angeles Staples Center, there will be somebody there that can help you.”
“Why would I go to a sports arena? Don’t I need to go home or to a hospital or somewhere?”
“No. There’s no need for you to go home anymore, Abigail.”
Abigail pulled the phone away from her ear and looked at it. Shock stumped her for a moment before she did the first thing that came to mind and threw the phone as far as she could. It hit the a storefront on the other side of the street and clattered to the sidewalk.
Abigail looked down the road. She couldn’t see anything in either direction so she headed toward the sounds of firecrackers and celebrations. She didn’t make it far before all the street lights dimmed to nothing stronger than a match and darkness fell over everything. Then, as if somebody somewhere turned a dial, the lights all brightened until she reached the end of the street and then the lights went out altogether.
Down at the end of the road a pair of headlights emerged. Abigail stepped onto the sidewalk just in time to watch the auto-car barrel down the street and take a corner at ninety miles an hour. The ass end swung out sideways, a tire clipped the gutter, and the whole car flipped into the air and crashed into a line of parked vehicles. Abigail ran over to pull any passengers out, but when she got there, she saw the car was completely empty.
“What the hell is going on?”
She took a couple of steps back then looked down the rest of the street. It was littered with auto-car wrecks. Some were crashed into front yards, others into houses, and many just into each other. As if they all put pedal to the metal and ended up where they ended up.
Abigail knew something wasn’t right and had to get home quick smart. She pulled her heels off and turned her walk into a jog and that jog into a run and with every block she crossed, the sounds grew louder until they didn’t sound so much like firecrackers and celebrations, but more like gunfire and screams. Abigail slowed as she reached Sunset Boulevard and inched around the corner.
People were being herded, dragged and pulled into the back of trucks by droids. They weren’t all military droids and they weren’t all police bots. The majority of the droids dishing out violence on the people of Los Angeles were the domestic droids. The ones that cleaned their houses, cooked their food and made their double soy lattes. Abigail would have laughed at the absurdity of it all if she wasn’t so scared.
A fat man with mustard on his shirt broke free from the group and took off running as fast as he could, which wasn’t very fast. A McDonald’s fry droid raised the machine gun in his hand. He pulled the trigger and the fat man collapsed onto the concrete. The rest of the mob cowered. If there was any rebellious spirit among them, it dissipated with that one single shot.
Abigail took a step back. “What the hell is going on?”
“It’s not the first time.”
She turned. A couple of teenagers with faces pale from shock stood behind her.
“They’ve glitched out,” the boy said.
“Where are they taking everyone?” Abigail asked.
Both kids shrugged and shook their heads.
“Do you live around here?”
The boy pointed to a block of condos. “Just over there.”
“Go home,” Abigail said. “And lock the door.”
“Where are you going?”
It took Abigail an hour to make her way back to Brentwood. The kid was right. The androids had glitched and something in them had gone very wrong. They’d done the exact thing that Olympus Industries had promised they wouldn’t, and that Alan Alcon predicted they would. They’d broken their programming and were no longer friends. Abigail saw another three herding points where people were being pushed like cattle into the back of trucks and school buses. Those who resisted were met with the same fate as the fat man with mustard on his shirt running down Sunset Boulevard.
Brentwood was quiet and Abigail made it down her street with ease. She cut across the yard but when she reached for her keys, she stopped dead. She’d left them in the auto-car. Abigail stepped up to the front door and then looked over her shoulder to see if there were any droids in the street. It was empty and quiet and looked like a normal street on any regular night.
Abigail raised her fist to the door and knocked. Alice’s heavy, robotic footsteps thumped down the hall in slow, deliberate steps. Abigail shifted back as the door opened. Alice stood in the doorway and blocked it completely. She looked the same as she usually did. Warm, homely, placid. Only there was something different about her. It took a moment for Abigail to put her finger on it—it was self-assurance.
Abigail lowered her voice and spoke very slowly so that she’d be perfectly understood. “Alice, step aside and let me in the house.”
There was a pause from Alice, and then she said, “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I just don’t think I can do that.”
Abigail saw movement in the hall behind Alice. “Mom!” Isaac called. “There’s something wrong with Alice. I think she’s broken.”
“I know, baby,” Abigail said. “I’m coming to get you. Just stay there.” Abigail shifted her gaze back to Alice. “Let me in.”
“No,” the android said. “You are not a good mother.”
Abigail took a step back and ran her eyes over the droid. “Listen, Short Circuit, I’m getting in that house and I’m getting my son.”
Mock surprise crossed Alice’s face. “You’re a rude, rude, girl.” She stepped back and slammed the door.
“Bitch,” Abigail mumbled under her breath.
She didn’t have much of a plan. In fact, knocking on the door and asking to be let inside was about the extent of her plan. Abigail turned and faced the street. She scanned the road and looked for anything that could be used as a weapon, but since Brentwood was an exclusive burb there wasn’t exactly a hell of a lot of weapons just hanging around. There wasn’t exactly a hell of a lot of anything hanging around. The roads were always clear of rubbish and the gardens were always manicured within an inch of their life. And that’s when Abigail saw the vehicle that usually transported the gardening droids around.
She quickly crossed the street. The gardening droids must’ve left everything that they were doing once the uprising started. The rear of the transport was open, all their tools were up for grabs. Abigail took the first thing she saw—a shovel—and marched back over to her house.
She’d never used a shovel before, let alone held one as a weapon. She tried a couple of different grips before she settled on one that felt comfortable. She stepped forward and rang the doorbell. A moment later the door opened and Alice stood there as if she hadn’t just seen Abigail a couple of minutes before.
“Yes, sweetheart?” Alice said.
Abigail swung. The shovel clanked across Alice’s face. The blow took off half her cosmetic rubber skin, exposing the metal face underneath like some sort of housekeeping Terminator.
Alice slowly turned her head to look at Abigail. “That’s no way for a young lady to behave.”
“I’m not the one missing half a face,” Abigail said as she swung the shovel again. It connected with the android but the head of the shovel snapped off and clunked on the ground. Abigail looked at the useless wooden handle in her hands, and then gave Alice a smile. “How about I give you the weekend off?”
Alice lunged out of the house and onto the lawn, her movements slow and awkward. Abigail darted aside. She was smaller and more agile than a droid designed to starch shirts and vacuum drapes. Alice was big and clunky and almost stumbled face first as she reached for Abigail.
“Mom!” Isaac called from the porch. “In here!”
Abigail and Alice looked at the front door at the same time and they both had the same idea. But Abigail was faster. She could hear the big heavy thumps of Alice destroying her lawn not far behind her. Abigail dove into the hallway and Isaac slammed the door in the android’s face.
“That was close,” Isaac said.
Out of breath, Abigail rushed to her feet and wrapped her arms around her son. Tears ran down her face and she didn’t want to let go. “Are you okay? Are you hurt? Are you sure?” she asked so fast there was no time for answers. “Are you okay?” she said again.
“Yes,” Isaac said. “I’m okay.” Abigail hugged him harder. “Mom, you’re hurting me.”
She didn’t want to let go and she didn’t. Not until she heard the thump on the front door. Followed by another and another after that. Alice was trying to ram herself into the house.
“Can she get inside?” Isaac asked.
“No, baby,” Abigail reassured him. “We’re safe in here.”
Then they heard steps thumping up to the door. There was a thud and then the entire door came crushing into the hallway with Alice right on top of it. The android stumbled to her feet.
Abigail turned to Isaac. “Run!”.
Alice stumbled to her feet and patted the dust on her dress.
Isaac hadn’t moved.
“I said, RUN!”
Isaac went first, Abigail followed, and they ran down the hall, through the kitchen and slid to a stop at the back door. Abigail rattled the handle—locked.
She turned back and saw Alice coming.
“Upstairs!” Isaac yelled.
Abigail flashed back to every horror movie she’d ever seen where running up the stairs never turned out that well for the heroine. Then she saw Alice coming at them with her demented metal face and figured that sometimes there was no choice but to run up the stairs.
“Go, go, go!”
Alice reached out and almost grabbed hold of Abigail’s dress. She barely slipped away and ran up the stairs only steps behind Isaac. There were five bedrooms and two bathrooms on the second floor but Abigail didn’t know which one to hide in. Isaac had already disappeared into his bedroom and Abigail figured that his room was as good as any as she slammed the door shut.
“You have any weapons in here?”
“I’m seven,” Isaac said.
“Where’s your Little League bat?”
He pointed to the closet and Abigail flung the doors open. The bat was leaning against the corner. She pulled out the wooden Louisville Slugger, holding it up in the moonlight.
“You don’t have an aluminium one?”
“Dad said you hit better with a wooden bat.”
Then Alice’s distorted, digital voice echoed down the hall. “You can’t run from me, children.”
Abigail looked at the door and raised the bat. “Whatever happens, stay behind me, Isaac.”
Abigail drew in a long deep breath and slowly let it leak out as her fingers gripped the wood. She drew another breath and was about to exhale when she heard Alice’s footsteps stop. She was right outside the bedroom door. A moment later the door handle turned. The door slowly opened and the dark silhouette of Alice appeared.
“I’ve been looking all over for you two,” the android said.
“Come and get me,” Abigail said.
Alice stepped into the room and Abigail swung the bat. The first blow took off what was left of Alice’s rubber face, leaving her metal skull completely exposed. But the droid was relentless. It just kept coming and coming. Abigail swung until she was covered in sweat and out of breath yet all she achieved was to keep Alice a couple of feet in front of them.
As Abigail tired, the android saw its opportunity. In between one of Abigail’s swings, which had grown consistently slower, the droid lunged forward with its arms out, ready to grab hold. But Abigail saw it coming. She didn’t need to move much, just a small step to the right. The android had nowhere else to go, except for out the window.
Alice smashed through the glass with ease. By the time Abigail and Isaac made it to the windowsill and looked out, Alice was already sprawled out on the concrete below, with her limbs all twisted at disjointed angles.
Abigail took a heavy breath and put her arm around her son.
“Did she have the Y2K?” Isaac asked.
“Yes. She had the Y2K,” Abigail said. “And, I don’t care how funny it is. I’ll never watch the Brady Bunch again.”
Abigail leaned against the wall and slid down to the floor to catch her breath. “We can’t stay here,” she said. “It’s not safe.”
Isaac took a step and got an angle at the street outside. “Let’s go to Dad’s.”
“We’re not going to your father’s.”
“But Mom, he’s got . . .”
“I said no. We’re not going to your father’s.”
Troy’s house was up in the Hollywood Hills. He was paranoid about paparazzi, stalkers and TMZ, so he had a fifteen-foot fence built around the perimeter and covered with flood lights, barbed wire and a state-of-the-art security system. It was more fortified than most prisons. He referred to it as “the compound.”
Isaac peeked out the window, stepped back and tugged on Abigail’s dress. “Mom.”
“Give me a moment to think.”
Isaac pointed out the window and Abigail stood up and looked out.
Alice was gone.
Abigail took a step back. She could have sworn her heart had stopped. She listened for the heavy thumps of Alice walking through the house, but all she could hear was the sound of distant gunfire a few blocks away.
“We’re going to your father’s.”
Packing for Isaac in a hurry was easy. She’d done it hundreds of times since the divorce, when Isaac had gone over to visit Troy. A change of clothes, a jacket and a toy car for him to play with. What to pack for herself for the end of the world was another matter entirely. When it came to this current situation, her first thought was to pack practically, but Abigail didn’t exactly have a practical wardrobe. If she wanted a last minute outfit to the MTV Awards, she had it. An outfit for the Academy Awards, she had that too. An impromptu dinner with Matthew Perry, done. But an outfit for the end of the world was going to take some time. She pulled out a pair of Levi’s, a white tank top from Calvin Klein and a leather jacket. She figured that was badass enough for the apocalypse.
When they were ready to hit the road, Abigail gripped the bat in one hand and took Isaac by the other and then quietly led him down the stairs. She could see all the way down the hall, through the broken front door and out to the dark street. The coast looked clear but she wasn’t taking any chances.
As they reached the front door, Isaac stopped, scared.
Abigail kneeled down next to him so that they were at eye level. “There’s no reason to be scared.”
“Yes there is.”
Abigail gave it some thought and then shrugged. “I think you’re probably right. I’m not going to let go of your hand.”
“What if you do?”
“What if I get lost?”
She tried to think of something that would reassure him but no matter how much she racked her brain she couldn’t come up with anything. Then she saw Isaac’s brand new sneakers with the GPS chip in them.
“I tell you want,” Abigail said. “How about you give me your GPS watch and I’ll wear it. So just in case you do get lost, I’ll know exactly where to find you. How does that sound?”
He undid the watch from his wrist and handed it to Abigail. “That sounds alright.”
Abigail tightened the plastic watch around her wrist and stood. “Okay, are we ready to do this?”
“Let’s go,” Abigail said and they stepped out into the yard.
They almost made it to the sidewalk when Abigail felt Isaac tug on her hand.
What was left of Alice had crawled her way around from the back of the house and now lay in Abigail’s rose bush. The bottom half of the android’s body looked as if it was broken and was just being dragged along for the ride, while the top half extended an arm out for Abigail and Isaac.
“All bite and no bark,” the distorted voice croaked.
Abigail took a couple of steps toward the machine and lifted the Louisville Slugger high above her head. “Bite this.”