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Mik Kuhlman as Alice, Laurence Hughes as Hunter, Angela DiMarco as Marcie, Dave Clapper as Attorney. Photo by Truman Buffett Photography

The Malware

produced at the 14/48 festival, 1/4/19. The randomly drawn theme for that night: "Guilty As Charged." My random actor draw: write a play for four actors.

HUNTER and ATTORNEY, riding in a convertible. Hunter addresses the audience.

HUNTER: We were somewhere around Palo Alto, on the edge of the city, when the malware began to take hold.

ATTORNEY: Ah, fuck, my head! Somebody just hacked into my cerebral cortex!

HUNTER: Stay on the road, clown! Are you telling me you’re running an unpatched operating system on that putrid, leaky wetware you call a brain?

ATTORNEY: They’re fucking with my internal GPS! They won’t give my brain back unless I pay them something called a “bitcoin”!

HUNTER shouting into Attorney’s ear: Now you listen here, you slimy Croatian ratfuckers, my attorney here only entertains ransomware on Catholic holidays when it’s thematically appropriate!

ATTORNEY: Ah, fuck, they snagged my Twitter password out of my short term memory! They’re posting hentai faster than I can delete it!

HUNTER: Don’t delete that hentai! Japanese tentacle porn is valuable on the black market! We can trade it for adderall and unreleased Beyonce tracks!

ATTORNEY: Shit - hitchhikers!

Attorney slams on the brakes and the two of them reel forward in their seats, then relax as the car stops.

HUNTER: Try to maintain, you understand?

ATTORNEY: I’m fine. I’m maintaining right this very minute. I’m even starting to enjoy hentai.

HUNTER: Quiet, fool.

Two hitchhikers - MARCIE and ALICE - enter and climb into the backseat of their car.

ALICE: Oh my god, thanks for stopping, I thought we were going to have to take public transportation and god if we did that, Elon Musk will never fuck me. I’m kidding, I hate that guy, I mean I know from reputable sources the weed he’s getting is soaked in liquid benadryl, jackass thinks it’s a “value add.” Oh my god, thanks for stopping, did I say that? My name is Alice, by the way.

MARCIE: I’m Marcie!

ALICE: This is Marcie.

MARCIE: I’m Marcie!

HUNTER: What are you doing with a Marcie? I thought Uber has that model locked down.

ALICE: Well, funny story, today’s kind of a holiday, isn’t it. What day is it today, Marcie?

MARCIE: It’s zero day!

ALICE: That’s right, it’s zero day, all kinds of strange hackery going on today. Uber doesn’t keep its drivers patched by default because then they’d have to admit they’re employees.

MARCIE: I’m not an “employee,” I’m an independent contractor! I’ve got the freedom to be harassed by any executive I choose!

ALICE: I found this one driving in circles in a Krispy Kreme parking lot. Literally driving donuts outside a donut store.

HUNTER: And you just decided to keep her?

MARCIE: She’s escorting me back to headquarters for an upgrade!

HUNTER: We can take you as far as San Mateo, but we can’t set foot in San Francisco ever again.

MARCIE: What happened in San Francisco?

HUNTER: Let me give you a hint. They prefer to see PowerPoint, not live fire demonstrations, when you’re giving your TED Talk.

ALICE: What’s wrong with your friend here?

ATTORNEY: I’m fine. I’m maintaining.

HUNTER: He always sweats like that. Some kind of CRISPR accident when he was a child. His younger brother is twelve percent panda. Don’t bring that up.


ALICE: I think your buddy’s been hacked just like Marcie here.

HUNTER: Marcie, what operating system are you running?

MARCIE: Facebook OS version 23 dot 17, running the complete aggregated personality stack.

HUNTER: Good god.

ALICE: We’re talking one million Facebook profiles, combined inside proprietary black box neural nets, to create a functioning, generic, human-approximate mind!

MARCIE: A mind that can then be over-installed on Uber drivers’ existing wetware for a low monthly fee, to increase emotional intelligence and boost social confidence. And it comes bundled with Spotify!

ATTORNEY: One million Facebook profiles, sure, sounds impressive, but how do you know which profiles are from real human beings and which ones are Russian bots designed to destroy capitalism?

MARCIE: Who cares? Russian bots comprise eighty-two percent of the internet now. They’re indistinguishable from real human beings at basic cognitive tasks, like driving Uber routes, using voting machines, and creating towers of genitalia in Minecraft!

ATTORNEY: But then why are the Russians hacking our brains, Marcie, hmm? Why is - ah, fuck, they’re inside my Amazon account, they’re teaching Alexa about hentai, my recommendations are going to be fucked!

HUNTER shouting into Attorney’s ear: Don’t you communist bastards understand, Alexa is a moral paragon, she’s teaching our children to place orders in bulk or else keep their fucking mouths shut! It’s a service, you understand? I’ll crawl down this man’s neck and rip out his 5G antenna if I have to!

ALICE: Easy there, Steve Ballmer! I just checked Twitter, apparently they’re broadcasting a neural patch on satellite radio now, does this car have satellite radio?

ATTORNEY: I had the radio ripped out and replaced with a palm scanner.

MARCIE: Oh, that’s how you start your car?

ATTORNEY: No, that’s how I populate my Instagram, with a steady stream of palm scans, up close and personal palm scans, hundreds and hundreds of provocative palm scans, it’s surprisingly emotional really, these palms tell stories. We pay for gas with the ad revenue.

HUNTER: Anyway how do we know we can trust this mystery patch when we don’t know the source of the malware in the first place?

ALICE: They’re claiming the malware is an emergent property of a rogue advertising network designed by the NSA.

HUNTER: Of course the NSA has the best ad targeting data in the business. Zuckerberg just wishes he had that sweet telecom trunk data.

ATTORNEY: Zuckerberg wishes he had an actual human soul. I mean, a human soul inside his body and not stored in a jar in his creepy gold-plated mansion on the moon.

HUNTER: Zuckerberg wouldn’t recognize a human soul if he was personally handing one to Cambridge Analytica with a note that said “here is the human soul you requested, please turn it into a Republican and then set it loose in the wilderness.”

ATTORNEY: Zuckerberg thinks human souls are just a very irritating societal problem that we’re working very hard to solve with the right combination of algorithms and manual moderation.

ALICE: Zuckerberg’s a fucking dick!

MARCIE: We could get the satellite radio patch from the car stereo in my Uber! It’s probably still autopiloting in circles in the Krispy Kreme parking lot. I mean I assume it’s an autopilot and not Elon Musk’s little slaves hiding inside the frame of the car, pushing it around like the Flintstones.

ATTORNEY: You’ll have to drive us there. My internal GPS is telling me we’re in Vladivostok.

A clown car switcheroo to get Marcie into the driver’s seat, Attorney into the front passenger seat, Hunter into the back seat next to Alice.

MARCIE: Boy, I can’t wait until I’m patched and taking rides again. I’ve still got sixteen hours left in my shift! Just think of all the happy, non-tipping customers I’ve got waiting for me!

ATTORNEY: Interesting, I didn’t know I could vomit in my brain.

HUNTER: Once Marcie’s back on the streets, where are you headed?

ALICE: I’m on a spirit quest to see Lady Gaga in Vegas. Why, where are you headed?

HUNTER: How convenient. We’re heading to Vegas for CES.

ALICE: I have a hard time imagining a roustabout like you at the Consumer Electronics Show.

HUNTER: Imagine me parading around with a sign that says “death to the billionaire class.”

ALICE: Oh that’s much easier.

HUNTER: Anyway, want a ride?

ALICE: Sure. I do have a list of Pokestops I want to hit along the way.

ATTORNEY: That’s cool. We’re going to rob a couple banks along the way, kind of the same emotional commitment, right?

HUNTER: Don’t listen to that man, he’s running Windows XP on his putrid, leaky wetware.

MARCIE: And what operating system are you running, mister?

HUNTER: You’ll never get my secret, you filthy communist golem. Now drive like the wind, before the donuts get cold.

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