Chapter Four

Olivia


Olivia Hoffsteader is a 26-year-old woman born with shoulders, but no arms. At an early age she taught herself to do things that many fully armed people can’t do. She can drive a car, change a tire, do her wash, go shopping and make her own meals. She is fully independent. Trained as a graphic designer, Olivia also can navigate a computer keyboard and a mouse with her feet, something she is doing at 2:22 in the morning. While designing a poster for a client in Sacramento, control of her current screen was taken over, and a new red screen appeared. “Hello, Olivia!” appeared in yellow on the red background. The type was followed by a well-done animated graphic of a man in a yellow suit. A cartoon speech bubble then popped the man’s head, to which the man pointed. “Please turn up your volume.”

A bit shocked by the take-over, Olivia is not thrown by many things. Her whole life was filled with challenges, so using a right big toe she made sure the volume was set to a higher volume.
The cartoon bubble then mimicked the words mouthed by the yellow suited man on the screen.“I know this may seem shocking to you, Olivia, but we also know that you are not as surprised as many would be by this introduction.”

There was a pause on the screen...and then the man and the “bubble” continued.

“Later today, you will hear more about us from online news, TV, and radio announcements since we are making most of the world aware of us.”

Olivia is more curious than afraid. She also is fascinated with the animation and the processes necessary to communicate without any prompt from her. In her work as a graphic designer, she uses many programs including a few dedicated to animation, but this is entirely different.

The man on the screen continues, now walking back and forth slowly across the screen like a speaker might on a stage. “Many of the announcements we are making are simpler than ours to you. They are, or will shortly be, appearing through emails, text messages, on opening screens in DOS, and streaming along the bottom of TV screens all over the world. Our message is being delivered in numerous languages and even on electronic billboards, in a more simplified format.

“Though our message will no doubt be disquieting, our endeavor is not to shock, but merely to inform that we, as a large group, exist. We also want to let the world know that we mean no harm. Lastly, we want all to know that though we have the ability to take over many, if not all, control and data systems throughout the world, we are not looking to do so.”

In some ways, it is hard for Olivia to concentrate on the message in that her fascination is with the graphic man in the yellow suit who seems quite human in his mannerisms, gestures and tone. As he continues, it appears that he is photographed from various angles by various cameras. There are close-ups of his face, pans and wide angled shots of him on the red background. The speech bubble remains a consistent size throughout.

The man continues, “Just click your space bar if you are still listening.”

Olivia clicks the bar with her right big toe.

“Good!” says the man.

“We have selected you, along with numerous others, to receive this special message, the reasons for which you will discover in due time. We know that you have ‘voice assist’ controls on your laptop, and we would like to augment them for you as a “thank you” for your cooperation. And ‘No’ We’re not asking anything from you at the moment, and ‘Yes’, you may tell anyone you like about our brief encounter.

“With that, I say, good day, Olivia! We look forward to working with you.”