The Thing In Ted’s TV

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Ted was 4-years old when the thing in the TV first appeared.

He was watching the roadrunner make a fool out of wily j. coyote when something that kind of looked like an octopus to Ted, appeared and grabbed the unfortunate coyote with its tentacles.

The thing then turned to Ted and asked him if he ever eaten a coyote?

A four-year olds thought process is still unencumbered with a world of facts, so he answered the things question without giving it any thought, “No. Don’t want to eat doggies.”

The things eyes glittered with mirth at Ted’s innocent response. It finally had discovered the elusive conduit it needed to go back to it’s planet…this small human named Ted. It would take time to totally control Ted, probably a lot of earth years.

That was okay with the thing because it’s lifespan was 1,000 Tomiad years-old. Earth years were just a drop in the bucket. In addition, the process would reveal human weaknesses, making it easier to invade Earth when it returned with a fleet of warships.

So the thing befriended Ted.

After Ted told his mom one day about his new friend on the TV, the thing warned him to keep their friendship a secret. She laughed it off and kissed her son. But that was the last time Ted told anyone about the thing. 

In fifth grade Ted brought his class assignments home. He would turn on the TV while doing his homework and the thing helped him. His mother would chide him about having the TV on when he was supposed to be studying, but didn’t make an issue out of it because he had great grades.

Ted was a straight A student that got scholarship offers from four major colleges when he graduated from high school. He chose the University of Los Angeles (UCLA) and entered the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.

The program was listed among the 10 most prestigious Engineering Schools in the nation. It was an honor to be accepted.

Throughout this time Ted stayed in daily contact with the thing. The thing only appeared when Ted was alone in the room. The thing was pleased with Ted’s progress and felt closer every day to accomplishing it’s mission.

But the thing didn’t count on the human brain’s ability to expose danger in any situation. It had no idea how complex humans really were. It assumed Ted was an easy mark. What it didn’t know was that Ted had been suspicious of it for a long time.

By the time he entered first grade he knew his relationship with the thing in the TV was odd. He suspected something wasn’t right when no one else he knew ever spoke of seeing a thing on their TV’s. And he didn’t want to be laughed at.

Ted was always a clever kid with a boundless imagination. He spent his life trying to figure out what to do about his situation. On one hand, the thing taught him a lot and was always a good listener. On the other, he knew the relationship wasn’t natural.

Eighteen months after graduated with honors, Ted was given a million dollar grant to pursue his studies on Artificial Intelligence.

Using a process that transformed the artificial intelligence field, Ted discovered an effective drug combination that optimized the eradication of roundworms, and common agricultural parasites that infect livestock.

Unknown to anyone, including his assistants, Ted was pursuing another agenda. How to get rid of the thing. He suspected for a long time it wasn’t telling him everything. He was sure it wasn’t a guardian angel. It was too damn ugly.

Ted developed a software program capable of intelligent behavior. He named it XZAR. One day he decided it was ready for the real thing. After installing XZAR in his flat screen TV, Ted turned on the evening news.

Five minutes into the broadcast, the thing appeared in the top right corner.

“Will you help me go home now that your research has taken you this far?”  the thing asked, unaware that wily j. coyote was sneaking up on it.

As It Stands, TV sets are always good science fiction material.

Author: Dave Stancliff

Retired newspaper editor/publisher, Vietnam veteran, freelance writer, blogger, married 43 years with three sons and five grandchildren.

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