FICTION BLAST-OFF THEATER
"Web of Terror"
by Richard Nathan
Before the lights come up, a voice announces the title of the story:
"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.
Any ideas what this is about?
Nope. I'm completely in the dark.
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.
The President sits down.
Please be seated. I see you all brought
The others sit down and open their laptops.
I'd like each of you to log on to the Internet.
Any particular U.R.L.?
The location won't matter, I'm afraid.
Is there some sort of problem with the Internet?
That is an understatement of historic proportion.
I was in my account an hour ago. I didn't
Because it didn't want you to notice anything.
What didn't, Mr. President?
The Internet has become sentient.
That's impossible! Isn't it?
I want each of you to type in the question,
"Are you sentient?"
The site I'm on doesn't have a field for typing.
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.
Yes, I am quite sentient.
Good God in heaven!
It is most decidedly not cool. Do you realize how
powerful this thing is?
Can it hear us?
Not unless any of your laptops have voice
recognition hardware installed, microphones or
anything like that.
Does it matter what software is installed?
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!
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.
That is the problem. What can we do about it?
Turn the damn thing off.
We can't turn off the whole damn Internet. Even
if we could, that would ruin the economy.
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
This reminds me of the "Ultimate Computer"
episode on "Star Trek" where there was a
super computer that took over the Enterprise!
Do we have to listen to this science fiction crap?
I'm afraid our lives have just become science
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
That is the biggest load of....
It wouldn't hurt to try. Try typing into the
computer what Kirk said.
I don't remember the exact dialogue. It was
something like this.
Gregg types as he speaks.
Computer, you were programmed to serve
mankind. However, your recent actions....
The Internet interrupts.
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
Wow! He's good.
Can't we let the military take this out?
Impossible. He's in every computer connected
to the Internet, including the military's.
What about a virus?
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.
Garbage in, garbage out!
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
Do you think we can do it?
It's our only hope. First stage: we'll need to
subsidize web pages for anyone with a crank
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
Hey, I believe some of those things!
Good. You're perfect for the job. Get
everyone in your department to put up
conspiracy theory web pages!
What's my assignment? How about
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.
I'm on it!
What are you going to do?
Spam, Mr. President. I'll make sure the
Internet is filled with so much idiotic spam, it
will be comatose by midnight.
What sort of spam?
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.
I think that may work.
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
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SCIENCE FICTION BLAST-OFF THEATER
science fiction scripts
© 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.
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