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By Design - a Scifi Short Story

Updated on January 9, 2018
tamarawilhite profile image

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

A Funny End of the World Story by Tamara Wilhite

Re: Account Deactivation Notice - must log into account to verify information

Wow, I never thought I'd bother responding to one of these scam messages. I always set my filter settings so high to filter all the junk. All the messages of "it's the end of the world", "buy gold", "buy silver", "what the government doesn't want you to know", "the end is near" - all went to spam. All that 2012 scam stuff went into the digital trash just like the Nigerian money laundering and porno ads.

But I’ve played all my games to the end and no new editions are coming out. The Internet is failing in many places, so the digital world I have been escaping into has been shrinking. At least I had that familiar escape from the disaster. I always imagined those to survive the end of the world would be wild-eyed survivalists holed up in the middle of nowhere, not a nerd like me.

There's something to be said for being a nerd. Few friends except online. Few family, since we rarely married or made kids. Happy and content in the digital cocoon. Some slow moving plague sweeps the world, taking months to manifest into illness ... I ordered out piping hot pizza and maybe touched the delivery guy with cash once in that time. Paid online with a credit card the rest. Take the trash to the curb, pick up delivery boxes of groceries, take mail out of the mail box. Almost as sterile a life as you can leave. As long as I have a digital connection to receive information, send information, email and upload my work to get paid and place orders, I'm self sufficient. Well, that and electricity.

I noticed the lights going out a lot of places. A plague that kills everybody slowly ... I finally read all that after I stopped getting legitimate messages. Like sleeping sickness, but a kind of prion disease. It ate away at the brain, not really noticed by family and friends until the person hits that crisis point and starts to sleep extra hours per day. The prion load finally hits the point where the body can't manage the brain, and seizures kick in during REM sleep.

The person has a seizure and a literal brainstorm and the autonomic nervous system has something stop. I saw those videos before Youtube shut down. So much is shutting down. Thank God I live in a building built for quality nerds; built in renewable power to get the green credits and let you have a T-1 line and satellite internet connection regardless of the local power and communication grid status. Water's from rainwater capture and cisterns. All I might want for is food. I might finally run out of ideas of what's edible from the "green roof" they have up there with the garden when I can’t look it up online.

After that, I'll have to risk going into other people's apartments. That's my absolute last choice. Give it a few more weeks, and I might do that. Give it a few more weeks, and the virus might be less active in those dead bodies. A little safer, then, to take the risk. And maybe they’ll have decayed to the point of bones, so it doesn’t stink so bad. The high quality air filters take away almost all the smell. That, or most of my rich neighbors fled during the pandemic and there aren’t enough dead bodies to overwhelm the air filtration system. At least it keeps out the smell of the city; that can gag me when I go up to the green roof / garden.
I noticed that the auto-spammers keep sending out until their server shuts down. Damned automated robots. I’ve tried chatting with a bunch of websites where it said people were online, and all I get are ‘bots.

I can't find legitimate responses on most of the internet. End of the world and a couple billion people, and the spam keeps going. I researched it. They'll send a message to a system admin a notice if it seems like a real person responded. Just my luck, the last person in the world who isn’t hiding in Alaska or Australia’s Bush had their iPad’s batteries die. Maybe there’s somebody holed up in Bora Bora or a desert island somewhere. But if I can’t talk to them, make sure they are both alive and healthy, I’m not leaving. I saw too many videos of that prion virus infection. It rots the brain, and that’s all I really had in the first place. I made real good money at it, too.
OK, loneliness and boredom go the hold of me. Even an un-people person like me needs to talk to someone some time.

Guess what I’m doing with this stupid “my account is ending” notice on a dying server in a dead world? I'm a real person. And I'm responding. What's the worse you'll do? Send more spam?
If only digital spam were real spam, I'd eat like a king until I were dead of whatever.
LOL. I may not like my life, but I don’t want to die. Especially not alone.

Please get back to me.


Re: Re: Account Deactivation Notice - must log into account to verify information
Dear Devon.
Thank you for replying. Yes, we do refer responses to system administrators for processing.


Re: Re: Re: Account Deactivation Notice - must log into account to verify information
Hi, Svetlana,
Are you a real person? Just gotta ask.

Re: Re: Re: Account Deactivation Notice - must log into account to verify information
Yes, I'm human. Here's my picture.
With deepest regard,

Re: Re: Re: Re: Account Deactivation Notice - must log into account to verify information
Oh, my, GOD! You are hot! Where are you? What do you do? How are you? Are you OK? Tell me everything!

Reply: I'm so lonely
Dearest Devon,
I am a computer science student in Russia. I live in a province in the former Soviet Union. I, too, am very lonely. I have attached more pictures of myself. Please, tell me more about yourself.
Hugs and kisses,

Re: Reply: I'm so lonely
Where are you? Siberia? I guess if you're far from people, that'd make it harder to get infected. Does the cold provide protection from the effects? Or stop the spread of the infected?

Wow, I didn't know hot chicks like you got into computer science in Russia. I wish they did in the United States. Jesus, Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, add whatever deity you want. And a lot of cuss words. Do you mind if I used a cuss word in an email? It seems like we're the last two people on Earth. Like we're destined to find each other.
God, is there any way you could get on a plane and come over here to meet me? Or are there other people where you are? Could one of your aircraft to pick me up and bring me back to Russia?
Desperately missing you,

Re: Re: Reply: I'm so lonely
Dear Devon,
I would love to come meet you! Please wire $5000 American dollars to the paypal address associated to this email. I will take the next flight to you and see you.
Loving you so much,

Re: Re: Re: Reply: I'm so lonely
Uh, Svetlana, are you infected? That absolutely makes no sense. Are you joking? God, please let that be a cruel joke. The airports are all shut down. That happened right after the prion infection was reported on three continents.

How would you get here? Teleportation? Magic carpet ride? I could wire money to that paypal address, but what's the point?
Signing off,

Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply: I'm so lonely
Dearest Beloved Devon,
I can be on the next flight! Please send the money! I need it desperately to get away from this stifling nation, away from the cold and into your warm and loving arms. I will see you soonest! Only $5000! Please, loved one!
Here is a picture of me, to see what you are missing!
Desperately yours,

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply: I'm so lonely
Wow, red hot photo. And how would I get money in such a collapsed economy? I am sorry. So, so sorry. I guess I got referred to another artificial intelligence ‘bot when it was clear I wasn’t renewing the account. So it hooked me up with a Russian hooker-droid instead.

What could I possibly do to make any of this a reality? I wish I'd met you before the end of the world. I would have married you if you were real and this was serious and it could actually be a reality.


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply: I'm so lonely
Please, darling, will you marry me? Will you pay for me to fly to you if I promise to marry you? Please, send me the money. I can visit for only $4000.

Here is another photo of me and what I would like to do with you.
Loves and kisses,

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply: I'm so lonely
Dear Svetlana,
Are you for real? Excuse me, are you real? Before I go totally mad, I have to be sure you’re artificial. And I’ve run out of beer, so I know I’m not drunk.

I've read about next generation auto-responders with neural networks. Review the messages, send a tailored scam to the person and try to lure them into coughing up money. Is that how this works?
Just Devon

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply: I'm so lonely

Thank you for your inquiry on the latest neural network auto-responders. We offer a wide range of targeted audiences and objectives. For a whitepaper overview of our services, please send $10 American to the email address associated with this message. We offer a wide array of services and pricing plans to meet all budgets.
System Administrator

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply: I'm so lonely
1. You kept the response line from when you were pretending to be a hot lady. If you're smart enough to fix that, fix it.
2. Send more hot chick photos.

"By Design" is a short story by Tamara Wilhite, author of "Humanity's Edge" and "Sirat: Through the Fires of Hell".
"By Design" is a short story by Tamara Wilhite, author of "Humanity's Edge" and "Sirat: Through the Fires of Hell". | Source

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reply: I'm so lonely
Dear Devon,
Have you considered our hot women of frozen Russia package? For only 99 Euros, you can gain access to our high quality Russian women database! Three-D videos at additional and affordable rates!
Are you ready to melt with the frozen women of Siberia? They’re ready to melt your heart and heat up your hard drive.

XXX Perfection By Design

Re: XXX Perfection By Design
You are a good sales pitch. Please hook me up with more of Svetlana's profile and picture database. Digital signature attached to this message activates my online payment account.

I guess you really do work by design. I’m sold. If I’m going to die alone, at least I don’t have to feel so lonely.

Last man on Earth,

Re: Re: XXX Perfection By Design

Payment verification completed.

Your account information will be sent shortly.


XXX Perfection By Design

Re: Re: Re: XXX Perfection By Design

Where’s my account information? It’s been three hours.

Last man on Earth,


XXX Perfection By Design

Resend: Re: Re: XXX Perfection By Design

Where’s my account information? It’s been eight hours.

Last man on Earth,

Resend: Priority!

Where’s my account information? It’s been EIGHTEEN hours.

Last man on Earth,

Resend: Priority! Red alert!

The payment cleared! Send me the pictures!

Signed: Devon

Priority! Red alert! Second time!

Oh, God, don’t die on me, too! Svetlana! Send me the pictures! Talk to me! I don’t care if it’s an ad! Someone, something, talk to me!


If you enjoy this short story, consider buying "Humanity's Edge" from
If you enjoy this short story, consider buying "Humanity's Edge" from | Source


Submit a Comment
  • Hyphenbird profile image

    Brenda Barnes 

    8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    I laughed so much while reading the last part of this story. It is great! And you even described me in this part, "quality nerds". Yep, that is me. Tamara, this is so wonderful. Please submit it to a magazine somewhere. Please!


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