Chapter Twelve

Olivia Gets New Software

After viewing the animated message on her computer, Olivia leaves her station to make herself a sandwich. As you might imagine, simple tasks are not easy for a girl born with no arms, and a deformed leg. Nothing much has ever hindered Olivia from reaching self-imposed goals. She has always been a fighter, as was her mother, who refused the doctors the right to amputate Olivia’s malformed leg, which today serves as her surrogate arm.

Olivia gets the peanut butter out of the fridge, and the bread from the pantry. She boosts herself onto the counter and washes her feet in the sink. She then proceeds to unscrew that lid of the peanut butter bracing her left foot against the jar and the counter and grabbing the lid with the toes of her right foot. She turns until the lid comes off and grabs the scoop end of a spoon with her right toes and proceeds to spread the peanut butter on the bread, and then tops the sandwich with another slice of bread. Done!

Olivia must eat with her feet, but she is neat and deliberate in her manners. As she’s eating she thinks about the message and how it was made. Whoever put it on the screen was working with her Adobe subscription and using Character Animator, a program that enables animators the ability to manipulate on-screen puppets, while the mouth is activated by the movement of the operator’s mouth as mimicked by the various shapes a mouth makes when it is speaking.

The difficulty of the program’s use in this instance is that there was no perceived operator mouthing, or saying the sounds necessary to speak to Olvia on-screen. Realizing that almost anything is possible, Olivia is not as amazed as others might be, since many told her growing up that she could never live on her own, never function normally, never have a boyfriend (which she does), and never realize any dreams of normality. Despite their discouragement, Olivia lives a fairly normal life. She does her own wash and puts it in drawers neatly when done; she has her own YouTube channel, from which she earns an income; she can shop, entertain and do minor repairs around the house.

Olivia rinses her dish, bumps her way off the counter, and returns to her computer where she sees a “red” folder underscored with the words: Olivia’s Apps

Inside the folder, Ester finds three applications and includes .pdfs for installation and instructions for use.

The first is a “Control Enhancement App” that according to the instructions will allow her to operate more computer functions than her existing voice control app. It appears to her that it may make using her mouse and keyboard irrelevant for most tasks in that she can use eye movements to gauge the length of a drawn line, to create any curve or filled area, and to measure accurately. Her voice will still activate the keyboard but also spell correct in any program, erase and make changes with controlled blinks, and provide more control over all design functions from the complete Adobe Suite.

The second app is a “Personal Virtual Reality” program that allows her to ski, sky dive and enjoy all manner of sports usually requiring arms. The character of interest is a very lifelike version of herself, including her upper body without arms, and her deformed right leg with a prosthetic enhancement, when she chooses to use it.

The third app explains that it is for future use, and will provide Bluetooth integration of a range of products on the drawing board for the near future. It includes controls for a “washer-dryer-folder, organizer” that will automatically clean and finish all wearables and cloth accessories including bed linens and table cloths, and a toaster that notifies the market when the bread runs out, and automatically gauges the thickness of the bread, rolls or bagels for each individual’s toasting  preferences. There are also numerous controls for items not yet envisioned including a prosthetic leg that will automatically adjust to any length desired on mental command, and possesses a foot with toes that converts to a hand on the retraction leg from an expanded position.

“Wow!” thinks Olivia. “Thank you, God!”

The Control Enhancement App will be of most use to speed up her work flow, and help her bring in more income, so she immediately installs the program to gain access.

During the installation process, her boyfriend, Sean, calls. It’s still only 4:30 in the morning, so she wonders if she should answer, or just keep working.

She decides not to diss him, and answers, “What’s up, Sean?”

“Have you seen the news, Hon?”

“Yeah....!?” she says absently as the bar on her app shows the app half applied.

“Then you’ve seen the’s everywhere.”

“Yeah?  You mean the one about the ‘so called’ takeover of the world.”

“So called?” answers Sean.

“I got my own message, Sean. A special one....” her eyes remain on the load bar.

“And you’re not scared out of your friggin’ mind”

“No. Why should I be?”

“They’ve like broken through.... everything. And now they want us to sit and wait to see what happens as they take over, ruin our economy, and empty our wallets.”

“Geez, Sean! That’s a bit dramatic. And that’s not the message that came across to me.”


“It’s no worse than we hear every day… the Russians, the Chinese, the environment...they’re all out to get us… and then the next day...nothing!” responds Olivia

“Yeah, but this is different,” says Sean.

“What’s so different about that, Olivia replies. “Yeah, I got my message a little before 2:30 this morning.”

“Yeah, that was the time it happened,” answered Sean.

“And they told me they meant no harm, told me they would be in touch, and they put three great apps on my computer.”

“And you loaded them...?

“I read the .pdf that came with them and am loading the first one.”

“But what if it, like empties all of your files, and burns out your hard drive?”

“Relax, Sean! It’s me, a girl with no arms who can barely get by financially. It’s strange enough that they contacted me at all... especially with a different message than most. I mean, I was communicating with a cartoon man in a yellow suit. He even bowed to me when he said goodbye and left the screen.”

“And you’re not terrified?” Sean responds.

“I’ve got too many things that are more terrifying to bother me,” she answers. “Just getting out the door, and going to the market terrifies me. In fact, I’m kind of looking forward to the man in yellow getting back to me. It was really cool, the way they did the animation.”

“You’re crazy, girl!” says Sean.

“Look, Sean, this is fun and all, but I got to get back to work. I want to see what this new software will do. Gotta go!”

And with that she pulls the phone from between her shoulder and ear with her foot, puts the device down, and returns to her computer.