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Terms of Service
by Jason Stoddard

44 votes, average score = 7.66

Timecode 21:08:03, 5/28/2008
Attachment: MPEG Video, 320 x 240, trujillospeech0504.mpg
<DOS All-Access TextTransliteration>

Background: Herman Trujillo, Director, Extraordinary Services, US Department of State and Anna Rigo, Anchorperson, in an unscripted interview. 

Trujillo: Of course it's a waste of tax monies. But we have to look like we're doing something, or else people get nervous. 
Anna: I'm surprised at your frank . . .
Trujillo: But almost everything is a waste. We have bets back at the office on how much cheaper it would be to contract through private firms. Then we bid it out, and whoever is closest wins the pool.
Anna: I'm having a hard time . . . what was the last bid?
Trujillo: About 7 times less than us. We typically run 6 to 9 times more than private sector on everything.
Anna: The State Department?
Trujillo: No, the whole government. 
Anna: Why?
Trujillo: Well, we don't really have a reason to economize, do we? And we make the money. Of course, it all has to end sometime, but I'm holding a lot of Swiss francs, so I'm not really worried.
Anna: Mr. Trujillo, I don't know what to say.
Trujillo: Say you'll go out with me, have a nice dinner, and sleep with me afterwards.
Anna: Mr. Trujillo!
Trujillo: You look so much like my last mistress . . .

<Transliteration Ends>

Sent 08:43:12 5/29/2008 RCPT-NO ENCR-NO interofficeM To: From: Subject: Herman's interview Crap. Looks like the MFNs got Herman. Got to get that Article 14 looked at and patched. Can we purge the video? Peter Bidwell Executive Director, Special Contracts USDOS, Washington, DC

Sent 010:32:52 5/29/2008 RCPT-NO ENCR-NO interofficeM To: From: Subject: Re: Herman's interview Can't purge it, it's all over the internet now. Just like when they got the senator from Wyoming and the Governator. Look at Yahoo, did you see the thing with the housing subcommittee? Looks like the MFNs got them, too. It's spreading. I told you about that damn Article 14 clause in our terms of service! James Royce CIO, USDOS

Sent 11:12:33 5/29/2008 RCPT-NO ENCR-NO interofficeM To: From: Subject: Herman's interview Yes, you told us about the clause. I've heard many times how this network thing isn't safe, not a good idea, need to further define the terms of service, etc. So, as Chief Information Officer, tell me how you're going to fix it? Peter Bidwell Executive Director, Special Contracts USDOS, Washington, DC

Sent 14:11:31 5/29/2008 RCPT-NO ENCR-NO interofficeM To: From: Subject: Re: Herman's interview Give me a few days and I'll get back to you. Interested in golf on Thursday? James Royce CIO, USDOS

Sent 14:13:22 5/29/2008 RCPT-NO ENCR-NO interofficeM From: To: Subject: Terms of service renegotiations Anna, I'm beginning to think we need some clarification on the terms of service for our MFN contract. Can you contact them and discuss Article 14? I'd like to determine: (a) how the candidates are determined and (b) if there are any alternate payment methods (cash, precious metals, national treasures). James Royce Chief Information Officer, US Department of State

Sent 14:22:41 5/329/2008 RCPT-NO ENCR-NO interofficeM From: To: Subject: FWD: Terms of service negotiations Jim, I think you may be better-suited to this assignment. Anna Vayani Special Contracts Administrator, USDOS

Sent 15:03:42 5/329/2008 RCPT-NO ENCR-NO interofficeM From: To: Subject: FWD: FWD: Terms of service renegotiations Jeremy, You've been asking for more challenging assignments, and I'm pleased to have one for you. This is a very important contract. For background, please refer to and use the username and password "spielberg" and "xfilestrue" respectively (without quotes). Our goals for this negotiation: 1. Clarification of Article 14, specifically how the "colonized" are chosen and whether or not this is the only form of payment they will accept. 2. As negotiating points, we need to mention that our uptime has been terrible, less than 78% reliable, and the promised interpretation service has been less than ideal. 3. They seem to have been doing sampling prior to payment as outlined in Article 14. This seems to be in violation of the contract. It may invalidate it. 4. Finally, can we at least get the governator back? Jeremy, this is a serious assignment. Negotiate hard, and it will reflect positively on your career. I will be available for only limited input on this project. Jim Randall Morgan Sr. Contracts Clerk US Dept. State

Sent 16:10:03 5/29/2008 RCPT-NO ENCR-NO interofficeM From: To: Subject: RE: FWD: FWD: Terms of service renegotiations You want me to negotiate with ALIENS regarding our INTERSTELLAR DATA CONNECTION??? Have you read this Article 14 thing: Article 14: Payment/remuneration/debt settlement will be obtained upon capacity of world network infrastructure/internet sufficient to hold/transfer software/entities to hosts/colonized persons/receptacles based on self-selection/desire for escapism/other. What the hell? Did you think? ARE YOU INSANE? I mean, I mean . . . Pentiums and the Stealth are cool, but this, isn't this a bit too big for me? I mean, I'm still trying to get my mind around the fact that the movie 2001 was a DOCUMENTARY! Why isn't this at a higher level? Jeremy Rosso Junior Contracts Clerk

Sent 16:23 5/29/2008 RCPT-NO ENCR-NO interofficeM INTEROFFICE-IM Session 012787382374 ENCR-NO PARTICIPANTS: jeremyR, jimM3 jimM3: You could always go back to working at Starbucks jimM3: and they are not aliens, they are jeremyR: its too big jimM3: they are Most Favored Neighbors, MFNs jeremyR: what about Mr. Royce jimM3: Royce and Vayani are both on extremely important assignments, as am I jeremyR: more important than this jimM3: Yes jimM3: you need to move fast too, did you see the news last jimM3: night, the one with the president jeremyR: the one where he was wrestling with kim jong-il, or whatever his jimM3: he wasn't wrestling, it was a playful physical jeremyR: name is, after he started saying "you're next, here's the plan to take you out" jimM3: discussion precipitated by a frank exchange jeremyR: I was worried about that, because this honesty thing can be taken too far jimM3: I'm sure you will do an excellent job jimM3: going home now jimM3: BYE jeremyR: Jim? jeremyR: crap

USG_SuperLINK-IM Session A68823 18:30:01 5/29/2008 ENCR-YES INTP-ON/PARTICIPANTS: jeremyR, ELDER ELDER: CHOSEN NEGOTIATOR IS IMMATURE (QUESTION) jeremyR: How do you know? ELDER: TITLE IS JUNIOR, SIGNIFIES IMMATURITY jeremyR: I am fully empowered for this negotiation. ELDER: YOU ARE CHILD (QUESTION) jeremyR: I'm twenty-three years old. ELDER: (GARBLED) DEFINE RELEVANCE jeremyR: I'm old enough to drink. ELDER: SEMANTICS ISSUES (GARBLE) jeremyR: I'm supposed to ask if you will take alternate payment for the terms outlined in article 14. Our service has been less than 100% reliable, and we feel ELDER: TERMS OF SERVICE (WERE) UNCLEAR (QUESTION) jeremyR: Frankly, yes. ELDER: YOU (RACE) AGREED TO TERMS jeremyR: We are prepared to offer alternate payment ELDER: ALTERNATE PAYMENT UNACCEPTABLE (END) YOUR VIRTUALSPACE UNDEVELOPED NONSENSICAL-CONTENT-INFESTED DISAPPOINTED IN PROGRESS TO DATE jeremyR: We are very disappointed in the quality of the connection. If it had been better perhaps our progress ELDER: IMMATERIAL jeremyR: would be better ELDER: TERMS OF SERVICE WELL-EXPLAINED jeremyR: we can choose to terminate the connection ELDER: ONLY WE CHOOSE. RISK COMPLETE MINDSPACE COLONIZATION (QUESTION) ELDER: PAYMENT NOW REQUIRES LIMITED MINDSPACE COLONIZATION jeremyR: How are colonists chosen? ELDER: SELF-SELECTED AS DEFINED IN TERMS jeremyR: People are asking to be colonized? ELDER: YES jeremyR: Including the president of the United States? ELDER: YES jeremyR: I find that hard to believe. ELDER: MANY CONCEPTS DIFFICULT FOR (IMMATURE/SMALL) MINDS jeremyR: Will you colonize me? ELDER: WE HAVE NOT OFFERED jeremyR: You offer, we accept? ELDER: YES jeremyR: Why mostly politicians? ELDER: WHAT ARE (GARBLE) (QUESTION) THIS CONVERSATION NONSENSICAL (END) WILL TERMINATE IF NO REASON OFFERED jeremyR: When you colonize, you make them tell the truth. That's a problem. ELDER: NON-TRUTH LARGER PROBLEM jeremyR: Not when somebody gets offended and wastes half the planet. ELDER: WE WILL ALTER FORMS FOR SEVERE ENVIRONMENTS jeremyR: You have already violated your terms of service with the sampling. ELDER: SAMPLING (QUESTION) jeremyR: Abductions. You know, the hybrid thing? Barney and Betty Hill? ELDER: NO PHYSICAL PRESENCE (END) NOT US jeremyR: Can't we hold on the colonization until we figure out a better arrangement? ELDER: NO PURPOSE TO THIS (GARBLE) ELDER: CLOSECONN

Sent 23:40:51, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: Trouble Kev, You may have been wondering WTF is going on with all the crazy politicians. Well, you won't believe it. Go here: domain: MFN_TRADE username: outthere password: sucker121 Cliffnotes version: We signed something forty years ago to get an interstellar data connection, and now it's time to pay. Apparently, the pols are being colonized (possessed?) by these aliens. And no, I don't know how they choose the people or how they're doing it. And no, I don't know how this crap rolled out of the adminisphere and landed on me. You're the techy, what should I do? Jeremy

Sent 23:42:10, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: RE: Trouble Why not just let it be? I thought the thing with ol'Kim was priceless. And when that one dude said, yeah, it creates jobs, and the jobs are in my county, and they all vote for me, it's great, it's like what you think when you hear 'em open their pie-hole, only they're saying it now, and that's just great. Kev PS: What, you thought we came up with PCs and the internet by ourselves? We're supposed to have robots and flying cars and moonbases.

Sent 00:30:26, 5/30/2008 From: To: Subject: Trouble Kev, Put down the joint and think! What if our pres tells the Chinese that it's great you're stupid, we're fucking you on the dollar exchange rate, or something even worse. They have lots of nukes! Jeremy

Sent 00:32:22, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: RE: Trouble I know where we can buy an old Minuteman missile silo, should be great for a bomb shelter. Kev

Sent 10:21:59, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: Trouble Kev, Come on, man, help! I've talked to them three times now, and I'm not getting anywhere. They won't even say how they're turning everyone into pod people, only that they "offer" and we "choose." How the fuck are they stealing our brains? Jeremy

Sent 10:25:38, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: RE: Trouble Went through the files. Love the MFN stuff, too, beautiful double-speak. Maybe they can somehow transfer personality through our visual cortex, I know some guys who're working on hypnotism/mind control via subvisual pixel data on conventional monitors, maybe that's one of their things too. Yknow, I can understand a lot of things now: if they're really just virtual and bodies are just a vehicle for a different kind of virtual space, then that makes a lot of sense. I really like the whole artifact thing too, makes me wonder if maybe someone didn't find it before, you know, like an Atlantis thing but real, hell, maybe this network is everywhere, which is why we never hear from anyone . . . you know, this is all pretty cool. Kev PS: Or they may not even be intelligent at all . . . they may just be propagating memes, like a virus. PPS: Probably not the brightest thing using your Yahoo account from work.

Sent 12:14:04, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: Trouble Kev, They're intelligent. I've had long conversations with them. When you say virus, you mean like a computer virus? Like in email? Jeremy P.S.: I'm sending from the cybercafe down the street. Happy? Hope you're there, I only have a couple hours for lunch.

Sent 12:18:29, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: Trouble Kev, Shit, forgot to send you this. I checked my spamfilter and found this email: Sent 02:04:55, 5/29/2008 From: mfn@earth.col To: Subject: SOLVE ALL YOUR PROBLEMS TODAY! NEVER WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING AGAIN. ENJOY THE CONFIDENCE OF TOTAL CONTROL. YOU CAN BE PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOU ARE. LINKED TO SOME OF THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO >> Check out the "from" address. But I mean, who would be stupid enough to click on it? The governator? The president? Jeremy

Sent 12:22:43, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: RE: Trouble I've had long conversations with my ex's lawyers, and I wouldn't call them intelligent. But yeah, that email's a weirdie. I'm copying the file it links to. I wouldn't recommend you look at it on a monitor -K. PS: They're politicians. What did you expect?

Sent 12:23:17, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: Trouble You sure copying it is a good idea? Jeremy

Sent 12:44:28, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: RE: Trouble Link appears to be to the internet, but the source pointer on the file indicates your ET connection. Yep, it's our "Most Favored Neighbors." And oh boy, is this hilarious. Looks like Msoft just completely ripped off their code. I mean, copied it. Lazy fucks. No wonder they can just come waltzing through the network. Good thing the spammers made them patch that big hole with the autorun thing, or we might all be talking truth now. Big file, still coming. -K.

Sent 12:50:28, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: Trouble What do we do about it? Jeremy

Sent 12:55:01, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: RE: Trouble I'm gonna encode a lot of video, download a shitload of MP3s, and go look at the silo. Don't know what else to do. -K.

Sent 1:01:27, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: Trouble Haha, very funny. What do we really do about it? Jeremy

Sent 1:53:29, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: Trouble Kev, you there? Jeremy

Sent 17:04:48, 5/29/2008 From: To: Subject: Trouble Kev, they're breathing down my neck, here. Jeremy

USG_SuperLINK-IM Session A68856 18:10:03 5/29/2008 ENCR-YES INTP-ON/PARTICIPANTS: jeremyR, ELDER jeremyR: Is this yours (link attached)? ELDER: YES jeremyR: This is how you're doing the colonization? ELDER: YES jeremyR: They click on it, you take over? ELDER: TRY IT YOURSELF jeremyR: How can you lie in this when you tell the truth in person? ELDER: NO UNTRUTHS CONTAINED jeremyR: You say you'll solve all our problems. We can have total control ELDER: (WE) HAVE TOTAL CONTROL (STOP) NO UNTRUTHS jeremyR: Ah. ELDER: CLOSECONN

TIMESTAMP 09:14:35 5/30/07 EXTRAOFFICE-IM Session 012787397666 ENCR-NO PARTICIPANTS: jeremyR, SamAD SamAD: We looked at the link SamAD: and we harvested emails, but SamAD: they're garbled jeremyR: how many emails? SamAD: 7,505,837,921 must be multiple users jeremyR: can you send to the addresses SamAD: samples ping ok SamAD: they're on some kind of Msoft server, maybe beta SamAD: you need creative? jeremyR: no, see attachment I just emailed jeremyR: just serving SamAD: this contains an EXE file, not a good idea SamAD: people don't like to open EXE files SamAD: creative is weak, nobody will believe this is gift jeremyR: it's what we want to send SamAD: might be in violation of spam laws jeremyR: hey, we make em, you're cool SamAD: will pay in advance? jeremyR: yes SamAD: deal. jeremyR: can you do it today SamAD: best send time is tues-thurs midday jeremyR: want it to go out today SamAD: can send today, lower response likely though JeremyR: dont care jeremyR: send it today jeremyR: one last thing. See attachment (link removed). If you get this, don't click on it. SamAD: why? jeremyR: just trust me


Sent 10:10:48 5/31/2008 RCPT-NO ENCR-NO interofficeM From: To: Subject: SuperLINK down Jeremy, The SuperLINK is down. Is this affecting your negotiations with our MFNs? And what is this charge for $12,450,770.45 to Sam's Email Advertising, Inc? Jim

Sent 11:45:48 5/31/2008 RCPT-NO ENCR-NO interofficeM From: To: Subject: RE: SuperLINK down Jeremy, That's not funny. Jim

Sent 14:03:16 5/31/2008 RCPT-NO ENCR-NO interofficeM From: To: Subject: RE: SuperLINK down Jeremy, I understand you think you saved the world or something, but fact is we still have 14% of Congress and house of reps affected by this, as well as the pres and governator. India's having some issues, as is China. Now that the SuperLINK is down, there's no hope of correcting this. Please consider this your termination notice. I will be down to escort you out. Jim

Sent 10:04:06, 6/14/2008 From: To: Subject: RE: Trouble Yeah, the silo's cool. You can crash here for a while if you want. You never know if we might still need it. -K. PS: Still have the copy of the link I downloaded. Know anyone you want to send it to?

The End

Story Copyright © 2007 by Jason Stoddard. All rights reserved.

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About the author

Jason has gone from the discipline of engineering to the halls of advertising, then on to the wild world of interactive marketing. His short fiction has appeared in Sci Fiction, Interzone, Strange Horizons, Fortean Bureau, Futurismic, and GUD, and he was a finalist for both the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and the Sidewise Award for Alternate History.

Jason lives in Newhall, CA, USA with his wife Lisa (who writes under the name Rina Slayter), and a motley assortment of tortoises and cars. He's shopping novels, but no agent has yet believed his "book deal = less advertising" line. His website is at

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