Here’s a sneak peak at the first chapter of my new book: The Robin Hood of Couches. It will be exclusive to Kickstarter in January. You can preview it here. Keep in mind, this chapter hasn’t been to the editor yet:
Tyrell’s life was officially over. He elected to spend his last precious moments fiddling with the controls of his couch. When he had first learned of the impending disaster, he decided on Fluffy Cloud which felt like he drifted through the air when he sat on the billowing white cushions. Now, after a few swipes and taps on the display hovering in front of him, he selected College Futon. The molecules in the couch rearranged themselves to a hard, uncomfortable mattress on top of a black metal frame.
College Futon felt right. Let them take a sad futon when they would take everything he owned. He went for the TV next. He closed the couch app on the screen hovering in front of him and opened the TV one. He always liked 360 Display with HoloSport Playback. He could see the football fly from the rear wall of his apartment to the front wall as if it were in the room. He turned off 360 and pulled up 1970’s Vintage Wood Panel Tube. The TV screen that enveloped his living room faded away and old type tube TV with wood paneling and knobs appeared on the other side of the room from his futon.
Tyrell laughed as he changed the channels with an actual knob. He even had to bang the side of the TV when the picture went out. He could have saved so much money per month if he had done this earlier. But now it was too late, his bank account was not only negative, but it was so negative that his next paycheck wouldn’t even make it positive again.
He would have been fine if the daycare waited till Wednesday like they said they would. Instead, every little five-dollar transaction got hit with an overdraft fee. Tyrell was addicted to chipping in five bucks to any Kickstarter campaign that seemed halfway interesting or had a heartwarming story behind it. The little charges created giant negative cash flow when the overdraft fees got involved.
Tyrell had yelled at the customer service representative of the bank. He had called the fees a tax a on poor people and would tirade to anyone who would listen about how banks could charge as much fees as they wanted, but the only people it would end up hurting were the people without money. He had screamed and yelled, but in the end could do nothing to prevent the loss of everything he owned.
The couch went first. The screen hovering in air popped up with a message and a countdown timer marking the last minutes he’d own a couch:
Couch+: FINAL NOTICE: Your Payment was unable to process. Enter alternate payment now?
When Tyrell failed to enter an alternate payment method, the couch dissolved when the timer reached zero. With no molecules strung together under his rump to form a College Futon, he hit the floor with a thump. The TV went next:
TV HERO: Payment failed: 3rd Notice. Please enter a new payment now to avoid disruption of your service.
In the course of the next few days, every object he owned disappeared until he was left with an empty apartment. He thanked his lucky stars that his bathroom tied to the rent and wasn’t on a subscription service. He still had another couple of weeks to figure out that impending disaster.
The 3d printer built into the fabric of his walls was the deluxe edition, and the payment bounced like the rest of them. Now he couldn’t even print a new couch even if he could restart his service. He sat down in the middle of the empty room and a put formed in his stomach. Tyrell’s ex would be dropping off his son tomorrow, and once she saw the state of his apartment, everything she ever said or thought about him would be confirmed. He knew what would happen next. She would march his son out the door, and the state would evaluate his fitness to be a father. Because of a few overdraft fees, he would never see his son again.
His paycheck had hit the account last night. The negative balance was slightly less negative but still not even enough for a meal. Tyrell was hungry because even the food in his fridge (not to mention the fridge itself) was on a subscription service. He was lucky that lunch was a perk at his place of employment, so he at least got one meal a day plus whatever he could shove into his pockets.
Tyrell pondered barrowing some money to clear the balance and at least reup his kid’s room subscription service. His mother had less money than him. His father was in prison and his friends always owed him money. That left Payday loans, which were worse. He’d owe more money than he could afford in interest and be right back where he started. However, the black hole of payday loans was tempting. Maybe his ex would be a little more sympathetic when she saw he spent his last dime on his son.
Tyrell wrung his hangs and cursed the overdraft fees. There were fees to keep his drone technician’s license up-to-date. There were fees for phones, utilities, and roadways. Every time he encountered a mandatory task from the government, there were fees. There were late fees, and overdraft fees, neighborhood associations fees, parking fees, and the ultimate scam, the electronic processing fee.
It also didn’t help that most of his paycheck would go to his ex. The money was supposed to be for his son, but he saw her nails and hair. They weren’t cheap to maintain. He cut that thought before it could go any further. Whenever things got rocky, he’d blame her for their problems, which led to the divorce. It wasn’t until he almost lost his son that he realized he had some of the blame to share as well.
He sat in an empty apartment and waited for his life to crumble.
But it never did.
The doorbell rang.
He tiptoed toward the front door. His footsteps echo in the empty apartment and the noise unsettled. He almost didn’t answer the door, but the doorbell was persistent. He swung open the door and a white guy with a long beard and thick glasses said, “Tyrell Bryant?”
“Who’s asking?” Tyrell said.
“We have a delivery for you.” The man said, and a screen appeared between them with a signature box. Tyrell reached out and signed for the package with a flick of his finger. The man went back downstairs to get the package. Tyrell racked his brain for what it could possibly be. The various Kickstarter campaigns would always come with an award, but they would always be digital. In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time he had a physical object shipped to his house. It way too expensive to order an object like a fancy new kitchen knife and have it delivered than pay a low monthly fee for a fully stocked kitchen of any utensil he desired. Only elderly people like his mom had kitchens with all these drawers and cabinet space. Before his subscription ran out, he’d punch up the tool he needed, and it would appear on the counter in front of him. When he was done, it would disappear along with the mess. It loads better than loading the dishwasher like when he was a kid.
Only collectors and rich people seemed to own physical objects anymore. He had a friend who would pay buy the hundred dollar tier on Kicststarter just to buy a physical copy of a book because he liked the way the pages felt. He used to think his friend was such an oddball. However, all the collection of his Kickstarter rewards books in Tyrell’s collection disappeared when the EliteCloudPlatinum digital storage space had expired. He would not make fun of his friend anymore because of what he’d give for a book or something to take is mind off his encounter with his ex tomorrow.
The bearded man didn’t comeback with a book or anything that could even be misconstrued as an award for supporting a crowd funded campaign. It was a couch, a large brown couch with a stain resistant finish.
“Where you want it?” The bearded man said.
“I didn’t order this.” Tyrell said.
“If there is a problem with the order, take it up with the place you bought it from. We are just the delivery service.” The man rolled his eyes. His partner set the couch down and leaned against it.
“No, what I mean to say is you must got the wrong address.”
“Are you Tyrell Bryant? At this address?”
“Then all this stuff is yours.”
“What do you mean all?” Just as Tyrell said it. Two more large men hefted a twin-sized bed up the stairs. It was a perfect size for his son’s room.
“You can refuse delivery—” The bearded man began.
“No, you can put that over here, and that bed can go in smaller of the two bedrooms.” Tyrell said. His prayers had been answered. Even if it was mix up, maybe he could keep the stuff long enough to clear his account, give his son a place to stay for the week.
For the rest of the night, the movers lugged a two-bedroom apartment worth of furniture up three flights of stairs and down the hall to 307. He was getting the full service from lamps, to a new bed, and even kitchen utensils (include an cart to store them in). He even got a network enabled TV, not that it would do any good without subscriptions to any of the streaming services. To his surprise, he even got a bookshelf with enough books to make his friend jealous. What really amazed him was an archaic piece of technology called a Blu-ray player. He hadn’t seen one of those since he was a kid. Physical movie players disappeared when collections went digital. Some of the movies included were ones he remembered watching as a kid in his pajamas with his father. However, oddly enough, there were new movies too, even though companies stopped making Blu-rays years and years ago.
Before he could ponder any further, the bearded man shoved a screen in Tyrell’s face. “Sign here to verify that it is all here.”
“Since I don’t know what supposed to be here, sure, I’ll sign.” Tyrell said. The bearded man and his colleagues walked out the door. He could hear them mumbling something about rich people as they went for the elevator. Tyrell would have been right there grumbling with them if his apartment wasn’t fully loaded with subscription free furniture. The couch itself must has been worth years of Couch+ service, and it was sitting in his apartment.
Tyrell was pretty sure it wasn’t illegal to accept gifts, and for all he knew, the furniture was a gift. It was addressed to him, and while he didn’t know all of his neighbors, he was pretty sure a person who could afford to have an apartment delivered wouldn’t live in his apartment complex. He was sure they lived in compounds with private lakes in the center. Even if they did come looking for it, he’d give it back. All he needed was a few weeks to get his bank account back on track.
Until he knew otherwise, he decided to treat it like it was his own.
That was until the police showed up on his doorstep a few weeks later.