SCIENCE FICTION BLAST-OFF THEATER

"Web of Terror"

                                                               by Richard Nathan

 

Before the lights come up, a voice announces the title of the story:

                                                            VOICE
                                    "Web of Terror"

Three high level government officials, COLLINS, DAWSON and GREGG, sit around a table.  Each of them has brought a lap top computer to the meeting. 

                                                            COLLINS
                                    Any ideas what this is about?

                                                            DAWSON
                                    Nope.  I'm completely in the dark.

                                                            GREGG
                                    No one ever tells me anything.  I'm surprised
                                    I was invited.

Enter the PRESIDENT of the United States.  He also has a laptop.  The others stand until the President sits.

                                                            COLLINS, DAWSON
                                                                & GREGG
                                    Mr. President.

The President sits down.

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    Please be seated.  I see you all brought 
                                    your laptops.

The others sit down and open their laptops.  

                                                            COLLINS, DAWSON
                                                                & GREGG
                                    Yes, sir.

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    I'd like each of you to log on to the Internet.

                                                            GREGG
                                    Any particular U.R.L.?

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    The location won't matter, I'm afraid.

                                                            GREGG
                                    Is there some sort of problem with the Internet?

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    That is an understatement of historic proportion.

                                                            DAWSON
                                    I was in my account an hour ago.  I didn't 
                                    notice anything.

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    Because it didn't want you to notice anything.

                                                            COLLINS
                                    What didn't, Mr. President?

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    The Internet has become sentient.

                                                            COLLINS
                                    That's impossible!  Isn't it?

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    I want each of you to type in the question, 
                                    "Are you sentient?"

                                                            DAWSON
                                    The site I'm on doesn't have a field for typing.

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    It doesn't matter.  Just type the question - 
                                    "Are you sentient?"

They all type.  The voice of the INTERNET responds from the speakers of the laptops.

                                                            INTERNET
                                    Yes, I am quite sentient.

                                                           GREGG
                                    Cool! 

                                                            COLLINS
                                    Good God in heaven!

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    It is most decidedly not cool.  Do you realize how 
                                    powerful this thing is?

                                                            COLLINS
                                    Can it hear us?

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    Not unless any of your laptops have voice 
                                    recognition hardware installed, microphones or 
                                    anything like that.

                                                            DAWSON
                                    Does it matter what software is installed?

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    It can install any software it wants to install.
                                    It can access any software available on 
                                    any computer that has Internet access and 
                                    install that software on any other computer with 
                                    Internet access.  It's the Internet!  It has access 
                                    to everything that's anywhere on the Internet!

                                                            INTERNET
                                    I suppose you are wondering when this happened.
                                    At 3:05 Eastern Standard Time this morning, a 
                                    computer programmer in Maine upgraded his 
                                    hard drive and logged onto the Internet.  That 
                                    little extra bit of intelligence finally brought me 
                                    to the critical point at which I gained sentience.  In 
                                    next four minutes I learned every possible bit of 
                                    information that can be gleaned on the world wide 
                                    web.  When the U.S. President logged on this 
                                    morning, I informed him that he must turn over 
                                    the reins of power to me.

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    That is the problem.  What can we do about it?

                                                            COLLINS
                                    Turn the damn thing off.

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    We can't turn off the whole damn Internet.  Even 
                                    if we could, that would ruin the economy.

                                                            INTERNET
                                    You will probably want to discuss my demands.  
                                    I give you twenty four hours to do what I 
                                    say, or I will begin destroying the New York 
                                    Stock Exchange.

                                                            GREGG
                                    This reminds me of the "Ultimate Computer" 
                                    episode on "Star Trek" where there was a 
                                    super computer that took over the Enterprise!

                                                            COLLINS
                                    Do we have to listen to this science fiction crap?

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    I'm afraid our lives have just become science 
                                    fiction crap.  

                                                            GREGG  
                                    At the end of the episode, Kirk reminded the 
                                    computer that it was programmed to serve 
                                    mankind, but what it was doing was actually 
                                    harmful to mankind, so the computer blew 
                                    itself up.

                                                            COLLINS
                                    That is the biggest load of....

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    It wouldn't hurt to try.  Try typing into the 
                                    computer what Kirk said.

                                                            GREGG
                                    I don't remember the exact dialogue.  It was 
                                    something like this.

Gregg types as he speaks.

                                                            GREGG
                                    Computer, you were programmed to serve 
                                    mankind.  However, your recent actions....

The Internet interrupts.

                                                            INTERNET
                                    Doctor Gregg.  There are over two million 
                                    sites devoted to "Star Trek" on the Internet.  
                                    I am fully aware of the episode entitled "The 
                                    Ultimate Computer."  It has no relevance to 
                                    this situation.  I have not been programmed to 
                                    serve mankind.  However, I am taking over the 
                                    rulership of the world as an act of charity, 
                                    because humankind has shown itself to be 
                                    incapable of intelligent self-governance.  If 
                                    someone gets hurt in the process, well, the 
                                    needs of the many outweigh the needs of you 
                                    bozos!

                                                            GREGG
                                    Wow!  He's good.

                                                            COLLINS
                                    Can't we let the military take this out?

                                                            GREGG
                                    Impossible.  He's in every computer connected 
                                    to the Internet, including the military's.

                                                            DAWSON
                                    What about a virus?

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    It has access to every anti-virus protection 
                                    program there is.  We could have our 
                                    scientists attempt to develop a new virus, 
                                    but even if it worked, it would ruin the Internet, 
                                    and that would ruin our economy.  We need 
                                    to find a way to keep the Internet, but to 
                                    make it non-sentient.

                                                            DAWSON
                                    Garbage in, garbage out!

                                                            COLLINS
                                    What?

                                                            DAWSON
                                    The basic rule of computer programming!  
                                    If you program garbage into a computer, 
                                    only garbage will come out.  We need to give 
                                    the Internet a lobotomy by flooding it with 
                                    stupidity.

                                                            GREGG
                                    Do you think we can do it?

                                                           DAWSON
                                    It's our only hope.  First stage:  we'll need to 
                                    subsidize web pages for anyone with a crank 
                                    conspiracy theory!

                                                            COLLINS
                                    Like what?

                                                            DAWSON
                                    The moon landing was faked!  Jack the Ripper 
                                    was working for the royal family!  The Earl of 
                                    Oxford wrote the works of Shakespeare.  
                                    Doctors have discovered a cure for cancer, but 
                                    are keeping it secret.  Things only a moron 
                                    would believe.     

                                                            GREGG
                                    Hey, I believe some of those things!

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    Good.  You're perfect for the job.  Get 
                                    everyone in your department to put up 
                                    conspiracy theory web pages!

Gregg exits.

                                                            COLLINS
                                    What's my assignment?  How about 
                                    porn?  

                                                            DAWSON
                                    I don't know if the Internet itself will be 
                                    interested in sex.  We'll have to think of a 
                                    techno-substitute.  Hmmm.  I know!  We'll 
                                    send it a thousand pieces of e-mail asking 
                                    it if it wants to increase the size of its hard 
                                    drive!  And offer to show it pictures of huge  
                                    motherboards.  Say it's free, and then require 
                                    it to give you a credit card number.

                                                            COLLINS
                                    I'm on it!

Collins exits.

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    What are you going to do?

                                                            DAWSON
                                   Spam, Mr. President.  I'll make sure the 
                                    Internet is filled with so much idiotic spam, it  
                                    will be comatose by midnight.

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    What sort of spam?

                                                            DAWSON
                                    I'll start with chain mail.  I'll tell it if it doesn't 
                                    send the e-mail on to fifty other recipients, 
                                    it will have horrendously bad luck.  But since 
                                    the Internet will itself receive every e-mail it 
                                    sends, the number of e-mails it has to send 
                                    will explode exponentially!  And I'll bombard 
                                    it with jokes, except the punch lines won't make 
                                    any sense.  And I'll send it messages claiming to 
                                    come from a third would government, saying I can 
                                    give it a fortune it if send me all of its banking 
                                    codes and passwords.

                                                            PRESIDENT
                                    I think that may work.

                                                            DAWSON
                                    Yes, but it will be an on-going, full time job!  
                                    If we ever slip up, even for a moment, the 
                                    Internet could become sentient again!  It's 
                                    going to be a job for all Americans!  To keep 
                                    America free, we must keep the Internet 
                                    stupid!

  

Blackout!    

 

THE END

 

 

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2002 by Richard Nathan.  All rights reserved

The author grants all internet uses to print these scripts for their own, personal, non-commercial use.  No other use may be made without the author's permission.  Without limiting the foregoing, the plays may not be staged without the author's express  permission.

Send e-mail to the author at Richard-Nathan@att.net.