It had become fully dark. The moon shined down onto Joe’s moving vehicle. Joe tried not to notice the faint circular light from his drone shining down against his arms maneuvering the steering wheel.
Instead, he watched his surroundings move by. Joe saw a cone of light. Another “U.F.O.” was hovering over a man with a family exiting a restaurant.
He drove up to the curb in front of his father’s house. He had already seen what he saw hovering above the house as soon as he had turned the corner into the neighborhood.
A drone had its light shining down onto the roof, just above the room his father sleeps in.
Joe placed his car into park and thought back. During and before the funeral, his father had never mentioned anything about an app giving him incessant notifications, and Joe would have had noticed his father frequently checking his phone.
The Widen setting. No app, but his father was assigned a drone, to wholly track the events of Joe’s life. It “widened” the tracking parameters.
And the setting could not be deactivated.
Joe also realized that he had no way of knowing if the people he saw with drones following them had the app or if they were simply assigned drones for widening. Watch had told him that Joe had been “selected”; if he meant that Joe was chosen to receive the settings update, could others have been selected as well? “A question for Watch to save for later,” Joe thought.
Joe exited his vehicle, walked to his father’s front door and gave it a knocking. He was thankful that the edge of the roof concealed his view of his father’s drone.
Paws scratching from the other side of the door. Jolt. For a moment, Joe felt extreme happiness, a feeling that had been unfamiliar to him as of late.
His father opened the door. Joe had noticed the circular halo of light moving in to bathe the front door over his father, meshing with his own halo of light.
“Son! What a surprise.”
Joe said nothing and hugged him.
* * *
Joe’s fear was real. But it had always been real. The Widen setting may have been a decoy for a parameter that had always been activated. His father knew nothing, at least. Joe would never be the bearer of this news to anyone.
Joe thought on his father’s couch, whilst lightly scratching behind a relaxed Jolt’s ears. He had an ally in Watch. Joe wondered about Watch’s limits to what he could do. He had shown amazing aptitude in hacking his eyes. But he had only ever contacted Joe through surreptitious means. “He must not be a high ranking individual,” he mused.
Jolt whimpered on the couch next to him. Joe noticed faint movement on the floor near his feet.
His halo of light was moving.
It was barely visible against the bright lighting of his father’s frontroom, but he saw it, and it was moving away in front of him. Joe also noticed something else: Jolt was watching the light himself, ears perked, head slightly moving with the outline of the faint halo as it slowly moved away.
He had heard stories of animals having heightened senses far keener than humans. But he had only seen it happen a little when storms came and passed as a teen.
Joe and his dog watched the halo move across the room.
It stopped over his father’s computer. It was darker in that part of the room, and Joe could see the outline of the cone that was coalescing from the ceiling over his father’s desk.
The light suddenly vanished. Four seconds later, he detected a flicker near his feet. His faint halo was back in its place, all around him, and a little on Jolt.
Joe found himself with an urge to play on his dad’s old desktop.