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Easy Does It

Andrew E. Love, Jr. is an electrical engineer and long-time science fiction and fantasy fan, with stories published at James Gunn's Ad Astra, Daily Science Fiction, Page and Spine and The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts; in addition to writing fiction, he also enjoys giving talks about science and mathematics at science fiction conventions.

It started with the milk. Harper knocked a full gallon on the floor at lunch, so I made a quick order--and by 1:30 the truck had delivered more. I guessed that milk is such a staple item that the local warehouse always has plenty on hand for delivery. Fine.
But just before dinner the next day, Band-Aids arrived. I hadn't ordered Band-Aids. I was tapping away at my phone, trying to figure out how to report the unordered delivery when Ava came through the door, crying. She'd fallen off her bike and was bleeding from half-dollar-sized scrapes on both knees. I went to the medicine cabinet--nothing there. So, I used the ones that just arrived. By the time I had her cleaned up and bandaged, the pain-crying had turned into mourning cries for her jeans, which of course had huge tears in both knees, and blood stains below. At which point, Harper noticed a new package on the porch: perfect replacements, in Ava's current size.
Of course, I checked my account. I found that I had been automatically signed up for the beta version of something called the "Enhanced Anticipatory Service."
Usually, I disable that sort of thing; let the company experiment with new services on its own dime. But this time, it had saved me a lot of trouble, twice in ten minutes, so I let it go. In a week, I couldn't live without it. I figured they'd get a better name by the time they pushed it to everyone (a cartoon superhero named "EASy," or something like that).
EAS kept getting better. One afternoon, spaghetti and tomato sauce turned up at noon. That afternoon, my sister Ashley asked me to take her kids for the evening so she and her husband could visit his sick parents. Have you ever tried to find a quick, cheap meal that five kids will eat without complaint? Spaghetti worked. I told Ashley about the service and got her to sign up for it, too.
Ashley was the last person I told, though, because the masks, hand sanitizer, board games, and shelf-stable groceries came soon after. I hid them in the basement utility room where the kids never go and cancelled an upcoming trip.
I felt a little guilty about not warning my neighbors, but I didn't want people to know I had supplies that were suddenly hard to come by. It's smart to look after your own family first, right?
When the schools closed, Ashley and I were ready (I didn't figure out the board games until then, but they were a lifesaver).
This evening after the kids were asleep, I got a notice that EAS would be unavailable after 8:45 AM tomorrow morning. I called Ashley. She hadn't gotten any notice, but had gotten a delivery of Geiger counters, oxygen tanks, thermal blankets, water purification tablets, and potassium iodide.
After I hung up, there was one more package on my porch. Inside was a gun.
It's midnight now, and I still don't know what I'm going to do. All I know is that my life hasn't been made more EASy, all things considered.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, May 2nd, 2022

Author Comments

"Easy Does It" was inspired by the current pandemic, of course, and how algorithms have been learning our needs and wants. I wondered what would happen if our needs were anticipated and understood better than we understand them ourselves.

- Andrew E. Love, Jr.
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