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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Help! My Ipad is following me!

I don't know about you, but  I think my I pad is following me. Everywhere I go, the thing follows, beckoning me to play one more round of Angry Birds, enticing me to check my email one more time, and don't get me started on social media. It's a great premise for a horror story,and it's even more scary since its real. Unfortunately though, Rod Serling beat me to it with this Twilight Zone episode, which quite honestly was one of the scariest programs I've ever seen. You can view it yourself on the IMBD website, or read the capsule review, which is equally frightening.

“Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Gibbs, three days and two nights, all expenses paid, at a Las Vegas hotel, won by virtue of Mrs. Gibbs' knack with a phrase. But unbeknownst to either Mr. or Mrs. Gibbs is the fact that there's a prize in their package neither expected nor bargained for. In just a moment, one of them will succumb to an illness worse than any virus can produce, a most inoperative, deadly, life-shattering affliction known as "The Fever".”

In 1960, Rod Serling penned the ‘Twilight Zone’ episode entitled ‘The Fever’. A prescient and thoroughly creepy episode (the writer as a child enjoyed it from under the couch), Serling wondered what would happen if instead of following your obsession, your obsession followed you.

The story starts when Gibbs wins a trip to Las Vegas… The wife, Flora, is excited about the trip and you get the impression that Franklin only went because he’s too damn cheap to turn down anything free. The dude detests gambling and refuses to play any of the casino games at all and even forbids his wife from doing the same. But then a drunken slot player puts a silver dollar into Franklin’s hand, forces it into the machine and leaves to join his friends. Franklin just can’t let the dollar go to waste… it’s already in the machine, right? So, he pulls the handle and of course hits a big payout. I’d guess maybe $15 or $20 from the amount of dollar coins he collects. 

That starts the addiction. At first he resists, feeling superior to all the idiots who will just keep feeding the money back into these machines, but as he’s walking away he hears a payout, coins hitting metal, that sounds almost like his name being called. The pull is too great. After staring at his stack of coins in his room he has to go down and play, giving some excuse to his wife about how the money is dirty and deserves to be back in the machine… Three cashed checks and some 24 straight hours later Franklin is reduced to a jibbering, ranting degenerate feeding money into a machine he’s growing to believe is sentient and evil.

Why else would it keep a man hooked, paying out 5 dollars for every 6 he puts in? Then the cherry on the top… it breaks right when he puts his last dollar in. The handle is stuck and won’t budge. That pushes Franklin over and he attacks the machine, the hotel security stepping in. Back in his room he’s finally lost it, hearing the call of the machine, a mixture of voice and slot machine sounds calling his name that is, honestly, pretty damned unnerving. Then he starts seeing the machine and his delusion is complete. He’s all the way down the rabbit hole at this point with no hope of return. 


When the machine continues to follow him, repeating his name over and over, "Franklin, Franklin, Franklin!" he backs up towards the window, his hands over his ears, finally crashing through the glass and falling to his death. The police stand over his body, noting that his wife had stated that he had not slept in 24 hours. A casino manager comments that he's "seen a lot of 'em get hooked before, but never like him." The last scene shows Franklin's last dollar rolling up and spinning out flat near his outstretched, dead hand. The camera pans over to the direction where the coin came from and there sits the slot machine "smiling" at him. (Source: Ain’t it Cool

Moral for modern times: Google and Facebook and Apple and Verizon will also follow you everywhere, and a friend to the end, will smile at you. 

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