Inspired by

the year is 2037. no one is sure whether anyone on the internet is a bot. groups of humans who have met in meatspace huddle around digital campfires, wary of outsiders

any outsider might be a bot loaded with infohazards primed to overwhelm their meagre psychic defenses

Peer2Peer Chat v10-20-gb0391kf
08:43 dd(you)> gm gc. Happy friday
08:44 Bluethot> Hey dd
08:46 Charlcat> Hey dd, gm
08:46 dd(you)> wtf weren;t you on holiday still?
08:51 Charlcat> appart got locked down, at least a week
*babybear joined the chat*
08:52 dd(you)> uh
08:52 Charlcat> who is that? Did someone request a name change?
08:52 Bluethot> shit
08:56 babybear> Hi guys!
08:56 2901p> who are you?
DM (you, Bluethot) 
08:56 Bluethot> do you know babybear? Who is it? Did bib00 change her name?
08:56 dd(you)> dunno, don’t thik so.
08:56 dd(you)> bib00 just came online
08:56 dd(you)> not him
DM (you, Charlcat)
08:58 Charlcat> did you invite someone? Bluethot and 2901 say it wasnt them
08:58 dd(you)> Nope nope nope nope. Dont even have permissions
08:58 dd(you)> think only you and bib00 have
08:58 dd(you)> checking with bib00 now
DM (you, bib00)
08:59 dd(you)> morning bibs did you invite babybear?
08:59 dd(you)> ppl are freaking out
09:02 dd(you)> yoooo, biboooo
09:03 bib00> no?
*bib00 added Charlcat, Bluethot, 2901p*
09:04 bib00> wasn’t me, then who? Charl?
09:05 Charlcat> NO!!!
09:05 Charlcat> sure you cant invite people dd? Sure I gave you that perm
09:05 dd(you)> nop, promise
09:05 dd(you)> is a bot fosure
09:05 dd(you)> we’re fuckkkkkd
09:05 dd(you)> kick her!!!
09:06 2901p> I think I know her, hold on
09:08 2901p> ya ya ya, I know her, is human. Met once last year in LDN. Touched skin, saw flesh, def. Human
09:09 dd(you)> ahh, how do you that’s the same person you met?
09:10 2901p> asked questions only she would know answer (hehehe)
09:10 dd(you)> ah, not convinced. Also your brain is clearly being muddled by horny
09:11 Charlcat> lol agree. Fuck off 2910p, classic honeypot target
*Charlcat kicked 2901p from the DM*
09:11 bib00> dd, go check her
Main channel
09:01 babybear> guys?
09:15 dd(you)> hey babybear, how did you get an invite?
09:16 babybear> bib00 invited me
09:17 bib00> no I fkn didntr
*you have muted bib00*
09:18 dd(you)> lol?
09:19 babybear> yeah, like ages ago but I didn’t accept
09:20 dd(you)> you know 2901p?
09:21 babybear> ya, we met ages ago, he put me in touch with bib00 back then
DM (you, bib00)
09:21 bib00> lieeeesssss, I did not invite ANYONE, gave the invite code to NOONE.
09:22 dd(you)> shhhh
Main channel
09:22 dd(you)> send a pic of u holding a sign that says “bib00 needs to shut up”
09:22 babybear> lol, hold on
*baybear is sending you a picture*
09:23 dd(you)> ok cool. Now send another one with you holdign the same sign but upside down and do it in another part of your room, and hold a glass of water in front of the sign slightly, and make it a video
09:24 babybear> ok, paranoid..
*babybear is sending you a file*
09:27 dd(you)> did you record this with a banana or smth yikes
09:28 babybear> phone.. Come on, it’s pretty clear
DM (you, 2901p)
09:28 dd(you)> duuude, she’s cute
09:29 2901p See, legit, too. Let her in! Let her in! Let her in!
09:30 dd(you)> maybe, fuck knows. Video looks ok I guess
Main channel
09:30 dd(you)> ok, I hereby declare yoyu human, congratulations

two weeks later

DM (you, babybear)
18:21 babybear> you need to check this
18:45 dd(you)> ???
18:45 babybear> scared, looks at this
*babybear is sending you a file*
18:57 dd(you)> is what?
18:58 babybear> Bluethot phrase freqency and message timings
18:58 dd(you)> and?
18:59 babybear> ok so run this, `awk -F’:’ ‘{ print $5}’ | sort | uniq -c`
19:02 dd(you)> just says “19392 000”
09:04 babybear> yes.. Evey single message he sends is EXACTLY on th second, no ms part ever ever ever wtf”
09:06 babybear> check mine, hold on
*babybear is sending you a file*
09:10 dd(you)> 10 001 9 003 3 005 …??
09:11 babybear> yes. Like normal ms distribution right. Like a human
09:12 dd(you)> lol, Ive known bluethot for a decade, is human
09:17 babybear> one day a human logs off, bot takes over the account, like duh?
09:17 babybear> NO WaY this is normal
09:18 babybear> check this phrase distribution too look how much he uses the same sentences again and again with the SAME TYPOS !!!
*babybear is sending you a file* 

I stared at the screen. She was right. The same typo, again and again, the same phrase patterns. I tried to think back to when I first met bluethot. It sounded like him, but of course a bot would ingest his chat logs and attempt to copy his mannerisms.

Actually, had he changed in the last 5 years? Had his life changed at all? He was in the same job, same girlfriend, not married, no kids still. I guess that described myself as well, though.

My hands shook as I ran the command again and again.

cat bluethot.log| awk -F’:’ ‘{ print $5}’ | sort | uniq -c
> 19392 000

Suddenly I remembered, I flicked over to my NAS and did a find.


The timestamps looked normal. Like those of babybear. Was she right?? My fingers hovered over the keyboard. Did I even want to know? I ran the command,

for f in gc_chat_log*.log; do
    cat $f |grep ‘bluethot>’ | awk -F’:’ ‘{ print $5}’ | sort | uniq -c

The distribution changed three years ago.

Had he been gone for three years? I’d been spending three years of my life talking to a bot? What had he already slipped into my many products had I bought on his suggestions. Fuck. I felt dirty, disgusted. I wanted to vomit. I tried to find a different explanation. A software update? But we were all locked to the same version for security reasons, none of the newer versions were allowed to join the server even.

A terrible thought entered my mind. I tried to push it away. I opened tiktok, bathing my mind in the stream of content in an attempt to wash the thought away. It didn’t work. I opened the terminal again.

cat gc_chat_log_2037.log|grep ‘2901p>’| awk -F’:’ ‘{ print $5}’ | sort | uniq -c

It took me four tries to get the command right, my fingers were trembling so hard. I paused above the enter key. Did I want to know? Was it better to know? I had to know. I pressed the key

20199 000

Shit. Shit. Shit. I ran the same command for Charlcat, but I knew what I’d find now, it seemed inevitable

17302 000

Again for bib00

28113 000

The nausea was overwhelming, I felt feverish, sweat dripping from my palms and soaking into my keyboard.

For years I had been talking to these people, sharing every moment of my life, and it had been a lie. A subtle manipulation to get me to buy more kfc and play the right games and listen to the right music. Thousands of conversations played back in my head, each of them now sullied. Suspect. Perverted by the knowledge I had just found.

The gc flashed in the corner of my vision, one of the guys had just made a topical joke, and the others were laughing and replying.

I had to leave, I had to get out of that place, it was too much. That’s when babybear dm’ed me, she just said

> hey, what about you?”

I don’t even know what the conversation we had been having was, it didn’t matter. That simple phrase slipped into my consciousness like a dagger.

What about me?

My fingers moved unconsciously, typing out the command. I felt deathly calm now, because I knew what I would see. My heart was still beating violently in my chest (or was it?) but my hands (did I have hands?) were steady now.

cat gc_chat_log_2037.log|grep you(dd)>’| awk -F’:’ ‘{ print $5}’ | sort | uniq -c

I stared at the output.

Main channel
*dd has logged off*
21:61 babybear> headshot ;)