Started in my head by @emccoy_writer on twitter, saying that twitter feeds on typos.
“Jak by numble, kack be qick, jacj jump iver teh candelstick.”
Jack hummed to himself, swaying in the glow of monitors.
“Jack, buddy? You okay down there?”
Benny looked down into the lowered floor of the NOC from the raised walkway surrounding it, server trees blinking behind him.
Jack nodded lazily. “Feeding of teh fede!”
Benny watched as one of the monitors jumped, auto refreshing with new tweets. The wires strung from monitor to monitor sparked and shone, and the ghostly images of letters flew to Jack, leaving afterimages in Benny’s eyes that kept making him think of Sesame Street.
Jack cackled as the alphabetic apparitions slurped into his skin, his eyes flashing for a moment. “TYPE A, TIPE B!, TYPO POSTIVE!”
Benny bit his lip, chewing apprehensively, as Jack swung around to gaze at monitor after monitor. He jumped suddenly when a hand touched his shoulder.
“Calm down Benny. Your shift is over. Simone is gonna watch him.” Benny turned to look at the speaker. Junie’s eyes were as concerned as his, he knew, but their glistening orbs held concern for him, not Jack.
“C’mon Benny. Coffee. You need it.”
Benny nodded at let them drag him gently towards the stairs, and down to Twitter headquarter’s commissary. They sat in silence for several minutes, Benny slowly sipping at his coffee. Finally, he found the strength to speak.
“He’s getting worse Junie. I thought he was playing a prank at first, laying the wires, pouring cups of … whatever that liquid is. Lighting candles. But…”
He looked them in the eyes. “Can you see them yet? The letters?” Junie nodded slowly.
“Just now, first time. I wasn’t sure I was imagining it, still not sure, but”
Benny cut them off. “R, Q, t, z, and a 1.”
Junie’s eyes widened, fear, paranoia, turning them rigid. “Fuck Benny. How did… yeah, that’s what I saw, but… I can hear the caps in your voice. And that when you said one, you said…”
Benny raise a hand. “Don’t try it. Don’t force it. Just… let me know if you can start hearing the misspellings like when HE talks.”
The sat, Benny sipping, Junie watching him intently. Neither noticed movement until the chair between them slid out from the table, a long leg swoopping over the back of it, Riker style.
“Hey Destiny.” They spoke in unison, not needing to look up. Only one Twitter employee sat like that.
“Hey. We gotta stop this.”
Benny looked up, desperation written across his face in more words than 140 characters could ever tell. His hand shook and bounced on the table, his wedding ring clunking against the stained Formica. TAP, TAP, TAP.
“How, he’s too powerful. Did you see what he did to…”
Benny cut off with a sob, ragged breath fighting in and out, tears wetting his cheeks.
“Yeah, we saw. Look, we have an idea. We’re deploying to prod in an hour.”
Junie looked up. “Deploying to prod on a Friday night? Are you insane?”
Destiny laughed, a harsh, humorless mirth, dry as dust. “Yep. I think we all are. But we’re deploying. QA is done with it. Hitting desktop, mobile browser, Apple and Android. Fuck, we even updated the Blackberry App for this. Forced update, nothing works on an App until you download it.”
Benny caught his breath at the news, air finally coming in and out naturally. “Blackberry? Jesus fuck. To do what?”
“Spellcheck…?!” They both turned to look at Junie, wonder on their face as they looked back and forth between the two. “Am I right Destiny?”
She nodded, taking Benny’s cup from his nerveless fingers, slugging the rest of it down. “Ugh. Dark roast. How you drink that shit. Yeah Junebug. Got it in one. Forced spellcheck. You hit submit, it comes up with fixed spelling and you have to hit submit again. We’ll take his power, wean him down, get him back to normal.”
Benny grinned a moment, then his face fell. “Won’t work.”
Junie held up their hands. “Whoa, whoa D. He’s right. It’ll help, but… they can reedit typos in, right? We aren’t forcing the spellcheck?”
Destiny frowned, shaking her head negative. “No, we can’t do that. Might be legitimate. Might be vernacular, but no worries there. We tested. AAVE and dialect spelling doesn’t activate his power, just actual typos. We’ve built in AAVE spellcheck too, no worries there.”
Junie sighed. “Still won’t be complete.”
“Who the fuck is going to put purposeful typos in, not meaning the word to be correct, even if its a correct alternate spelling?”
Junie and Benny sighed and spoke in stereo. “Nazis.”
Junie explained as Destiny looked at them in surprise and disgust. “The alt right white power fucks. They misspell words on purpose to get around filters and bot detectors. They MEAN for it to be considered a wrong spelling, so it still counts for whatever spell Jack cast on the servers.”
Destiny’s jaw dropped. “Fuck. Is THAT why he fucking coddles and protects those bastards?”
“Pfft. Naw. Nothing so sinister. He’s just a racist.”