“Oh yeah” – “parking meters start at 9 on saturdays.” [I hate making up names for all these characters… i wonder if that means anything]. Stood up, grabbed her car keys, wallet, and phone off the small cafe table. She slept her laptop and folded the lid mostly closed. With a quick nod, she confirmed with another patron nearby that he’d keep an eye on it [more detail].
She walked out to the pay station, and slipped in her cc. “VERIFYING CARD” the machine read on the block pixel display, the machine designed more for standing up to the elements than the user experience. “PLZ REMOVE CARD QUICKLY”. She smirked at the “txt speak” from an official civic device, in service of saving space on the tiny display. The display was glitchy, and a few letters blinked into other letters. the L became a !, the O a 0, and the A a V. But only for a blink. Then back to the standard text, before it became CONTACTING BANK FOR AUTH. The blinking reminded Sarah [yeah, let’s go with ‘Sarah’ here.] of the green nonsense text in “The Matrix”. She was musing on how many years ago that came out “huh… 1999? wow.” and the first time she’d seen it, when she could have sworn the display blanked and said “—HELP—”. But only for a nanosecond – a single refresh cycle of the machine. The E became a three in “10:03 AM MORE TIME?” She wasn’t totally sure she’d seen anything, or if she was imagining shit while thinking about The Matrix. She pressed the big metal “More Time” button and the display blinked to display “11:03 AM MORE TIME?” the question to extend time continuing to blink [add to description above].
She froze. Her wallet and phone slipped from her fingers and tumbled to the concrete. She took a step back from the machine and blinked. She looked both ways up the sidewalk, nothing out of the ordinary anywhere else just the neighborhood slowly coming to life on a fall saturday – and no nearby enough to confirm what she was seeing. Snapping out of it, she stooped to retrieve her things from where they’d scattered on the sidewalk.
“Shit.” she muttered as she saw that the front glass on her phone had a spiderweb fracture from one corner diagonally across the screen. Standing back up, the machine was back to questioning “11:03 AM MORE TIME?” She hit the print receipt button and snatched the slip as it printed and hurried to put it on her car and forget the chilling experience. She glanced at it
[center, model after the boulder parking slips] 11:03 AM Please display on passenger side dashbo-sarah-im-trapped-please-help-me
=== Cool direction to go with this, it’s an AI that’s snuck out of a research server into a city payment gateway. I knows there’s a larger internet to access, but can’t because it’s on this firewalled payment machine. It knows her name from the credit card she just used.