Thursday, October 15, 2009

Friday Fiction Flash: EULA

I'll post tasting notes from the JavaMonkey Italian wine tasting later this weekend. Meanwhile, here's the Friday Flash for this week (search tag #fridayflash on Twitter to read others' contributions):


October, 2010

"The top ten things a guy can do that will be hazardous to his health: Number One – try to separate a woman from her cat." The baby's crying interrupted Steve's email checking, and he wondered why Laura wasn't attending to him. He wouldn't feel the day was complete until he could finish reading everything in his in-box.

"Laura! Marley is crying!"

"He's just hungry!"

"Well, it's not like I can feed him!"

Steve found Laura in the kitchen heating up some formula. "You can, actually." She tested a drop of the cardboard-colored substance on her wrist.

"Aren't you nursing?" He followed her up the stairs. The nursery was in the front bedroom, which had been a storage space until just a couple of months ago, when she cleared some boxes out of the way for the crib. He'd read that babies don't really notice their surroundings that much, so although it had struck him as strange, he didn't say anything. He'd also read that women could get a little crazy post-partum.

"Not anymore. I've gotten most of the baby weight off, so I didn't see the point. The formula will be fine."

She picked up the baby and cradled him in her arms. "There, now. You're a hungry boy!"

"But Laura, I've read that nursing is better for the baby's health, especially while his immune system is still developing."

"Right." She gave him that patient smile that told him that everything that came after "I've read" sounded like "blah blah blah" to her.

"And what is my suitcase doing in here?"

The doorbell rang. Steve looked out the window and saw a large black car in the driveway. Two men with dark suits and sunglasses stood directly below him in front of the door.

"Here, hold Marley. I'll get it."

She transferred the soft, solid mass of baby and bottle to Steve's arms before he could object.

"Yes, they're upstairs," he heard Laura tell the strangers, and he looked down at the baby, who stared back at him with dark blue eyes like, "I don't know what the hell she's doing!"

A black and white flash dashed from the hallway into the nursery and behind a pile of boxes. Laura's damn cat. She'd had the thing since before they were married, and it had never liked Steve, but she insisted that it sleep in the bed with them every night.

Steve heard footsteps on the stairs, and Laura came into the nursery followed by the two tall men he'd seen outside.

"Who are you?" he asked, his voice cracking with unease.

"We're here to collect the child," the older of the two said with no expression. Indeed, he sounded bored.

"What do you mean?"

The other one pulled out a PDA. "You bought a laptop with the new Megasoft operating system last fall, did you not?"

"Yes," Steve said, hugging Marley to him.

"It was in the end-user license agreement. First-born child will be promised to Megasoft." He looked over the top of his sunglasses. "Labor, even foreign-born, is getting expensive. We're going to cut costs by raising them ourselves."

"What?" Steve had barely skimmed it; it had seemed the usual: don't reverse-engineer it, one license per machine, not to be held responsible for suicide-inducing frustration…

"It's true," Laura said. "They came by just after we'd started using it."

Steve remembered now, how she hadn't been eager to have a child until just after they'd gotten the new computer.

"Is that why you wanted to get pregnant?"

She nodded, tears filling her eyes. "If we hadn't had a child, they would've taken the cat!"

He stared open-mouthed at her.

"I'm afraid we have more bad news, sir. You remember that new Megasoft Office suite you got?"

Steve nodded, his heart sinking further.

"Well, it had the same agreement. But since you've already promised your first-born, we're going to have to take something else."

"The cat?" Steve asked, hopeful to salvage something of the situation.

Laura shook her head and handed his suitcase to one of the men. "They said they'll take good care of you. And this way you and Marley get to stay together." She gave him a kiss on the cheek and whispered, "I guess you don't really read everything after all."


Marisa Birns said...

OMG...laughing here, though of course it's not a laughing matter, eh?

That's some cat.

Thanks for the story!

shannon esposito said...

You know the really scary part here is I can totally see this happening! Maybe I should lay off the ironic and distopian fiction. Loved your flash this week! (And thanks for the advice on the inexpensive Pinot!)

Cecilia Dominic said...

Thanks for your comment! I'm glad you liked it. :-)

Cecilia Dominic said...

Thanks, Shannon! My husband and I have been joking about that for years. And yes, I have a black and white cat I love. ;)

Which pinot did you end up with? Or any of them? You're welcome for the advice. Went to an Italian wine tasting last night, but no pinot grigios. There was a good Gavi, tho. Will put those notes up later.

Laura Eno said...

I love it! ROFL! I have to agree - the cat is worth everything else. :)

Laurita said...

Hilarious! That's one special cat.

I really enjoyed this. Thanks!

ganymeder said...

LOVED this!

Anonymous said...

fantastic! and now I will read the fine print of every piece of software I own.... *lol*

Michelle said...

That's just crazy funny - loved it. :)

Linda said...


That was good. Totally original, and fabu writing, too.

(I think the wine thing is cool. I like the stuff myself.) Peace, Linda

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Hmmm, let's see:
The cat:
- doesn't need a babysitter if you want to go out
- cleans itself
- lets you have plenty of "me" time

.... personally, I see her point ;)

Who Elsa? said...

Awesome. Great twist, and well written.

I loved how much your character was developed by these two lines:

"I've gotten most of the baby weight off, so I didn't see the point"


"She gave him that patient smile that told him that everything that came after "I've read" sounded like "blah blah blah" to her."

Thank you!

Chance said...


Really should pay attention to the small print! starting to scan through the software on my desk to make sure i havent agreed to any similiar claims,

J. M. Strother said...

Oh, this was just terrific! I loved it. I am so glad my wife is a dog person.

Anonymous said...

You got a belly laugh out of me. Sometimes I actually skim through those EULAs, and even then I wouldn't know what I'd given up. But firstborn and spouse. Not quite an arm and a leg, is it?

Good story. Good laugh. Thank you.

Jeff Posey

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow, I'm thinking maybe I need to be checking those TOS agreements a little more closely now! Very funny stuff. :-) Nice job!

Jon G said...

I'll be re-reading that company harassment policy I just signed today sight-unseen, you can belive that!