Joe noticed the identical numbers in the notification, and found it odd. But nevermind that. This was his first real lead. This person was someone from the inside. “A friend?” Joe hoped. The alert arrived immediately after he returned Watch’s blog site message, using Joe’s verbiage. Did Watch have the same monitoring capabilities that the app seemed to have?
He contacted Claire about this new development. Sent +1. He dreaded having to wait for another reply via email and was tempted to trade his mobile number, but he didn’t want to be presumptuous.
He suddenly recalled the odd “Widen” setting in the app. He brought it up.
He hit the setting box. The setting changed in a fading colour for a second acknowledging that his finger had touched it, however there was no change.
Joe hit it again. No change. The box stayed dark. He hit it a third time. Nothing.
“Oh **** you,” Joe muttered at it. He tried to think back to when he enabled it. Moments before the money laundering alert.
Why was he chosen to receive the update with these settings that Claire didn’t get? “Who is controlling this?” he mused. Claire had a very good point; he and she were now connected in this, and it felt eerily by design. And now this person on the inside…
Buzz. A reply from Claire.
Except it wasn’t.
The subject line was blank, the sender ID asterisked out (but the name read as Claire), and the message body said only the following:
“watch your emails as well!”
Joe read it again. It was a non sequitur, not at all a contextual reply to his email to Claire. But it was typed in her style. He thought for a moment. Was this Watch? “Has to be,” he decided. Joe did not reply, but took the message to heart. “They” were watching his emails. “Sent +1”, without fail. He regretted sending the email to Claire a little, but he wasn’t of the mind of keeping things from her now. She’s been his only ally during this experience, before Watch.
Outside, the thunder continued, less intense than earlier. The storm was moving off. Joe microwaved some food and filled his belly (meals +1). He streamed an episode of a show he used to watch only weeks prior, and was barely able to focus (streamed shows +1). “This is hell,” he felt.
“No. Please no.” Indeed, it was from Stats.
“Life changing event +1; now at 5 [Ok] [Go to Stats app]”
It was very vague. Joe stared at it in confusion mixed with dread. He was used to dread these days. He then held his breath for something to happen. A second later he exhaled and shook his head. “This infernal app has me trained,” he thought.
Moments passed, and nothing happened. Joe felt exhausted. Drained. It was 4:30pm and he crawled under the covers of his bed (phone in hand). He actually loved the sound of rain when he was sleepy.
“Rain, rain, come on by
Whisper me a lullaby…”
Joe remembered the sweet singing of his deceased mother’s voice as he drifted off to sleep.
Joe awoke. He had felt the vibration of his phone against his back from underneath; he had fallen asleep with it on his chest again. He hit the Home button: 8:37pm, email from Claire.
Joe yawned and wiped the sleep out of his eyes with his free hand. He felt slightly refreshed. And he wondered who that email was really from.
It was from the real Claire. “i got curious and emailed watch back too, sorry! no response on there, definitely no notifs like what you got. so weird you got that notif! keep me posted! i have to go to work, ugh! thankfully most sitters don’t have school on sunday nights!”
Joe mused about Claire. “What cruel agency or whatever this is would want to include a working single mother in this… experiment?” And Watch had failed to respond to her inquiry, or possibly decided not to respond. “Which means… was *I* soley chosen for this connection to the inside? Why me?”
Joe did not feel like going to work the next morning. But he recalled the earlier alert, “life changing event +1”. Most of these large-action notifications had occured after or during events that had happened at his workplace.
He would go to work. He would see what would happen next. If the un-checkable Widen setting was any indication, he was trapped in this. He had never tried the Mute setting, and he doubted it would work now.
Joe stayed up long that night. He then fell asleep. BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ. Time to wake up. Buzz. Slept +2.
“Plus 2?” Joe uttered. He thought back, and realized he had never received the usual “slept” notification after his nap the previous day. Now he had, combined with this morning’s alert.
“Lazy watchers,” Joe thought. But “they” still knew he had caught some extra shut-eye.
Joe pushed it out of his mind. He had more pressing matters.
It was Monday.