Read Friend Me Online

Authors: John Faubion

Friend Me

BOOK: Friend Me
10.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Praise for
Friend Me

“Right from the start
Friend Me
caught me off-guard and threw me into the first loop of an action-packed ride that is anything but what you expect. Filled with rich characters and complicated situations,
Friend Me
is a compelling read that makes you glad you took the ride. Don't miss this book.”

—Tosca Lee,
New York Times
bestselling coauthor of the Books of Mortals series and author of
Iscariot

“This thought-provoking tale reveals the frailty and potential wickedness in all of us and the terrible, life-altering things we are capable of when we yield to our own selfish desires and devices.”

—Creston Mapes, bestselling author of
Poison Town

“For anyone who has thought of—or is involved in—seeking a virtual relationship on the Internet,
Friend Me
is a must-read. John Faubion has penned a chilling yet eerily real tale that will cause you to think again.”

—Deborah K. Anderson,
Christian Fiction Online Magazine

“In his novel
Friend Me
, John Faubion creates a delightfully creepy tale you'll not soon forget. In our day, with so many people spending increasing amounts of time online, the virtual premise of
Friend Me
comes alive to grip the reader with both a whopping, suspenseful story, plus much food for meditation concerning reality, morality, and the imaginary realm of ‘what if . . . . ?' Highly recommended reading!”

—Rick Barry, author of
Gunner's Run
and president of the American Christian Fiction Writers Indiana Chapter


Friend Me
is an exciting foray into today's cyberculture. I loved every minute of the hero's frantic efforts to extricate himself and his wife from the virtual web of the villainess. Fascinating characters and exciting plot twists make this a stellar read.”

—V. B. Tenery, author of
Dead Ringer
and
The Watchman

“John Faubion introduces a new and different kind of chiller, an uncharted world of cyber suspense. The writing? It's fabulous.”

—Donn Taylor, author of
Deadly Additive
and
Rhapsody in Red

“John Faubion's
Friend Me
starts off with heart-pounding suspense. The idea of a virtual friend intrigues, and the author has created unscrupulous executives in the cutting-edge technology company developing this revolutionary idea. The reader can clearly see the potential for wicked abuse. Suspense drips from the lines of this novel as the villain plans a few nasty surprises.”

—Nike Chillemi, author of the Sanctuary Point series andchair of the Grace Awards


Friend Me
is a suspense-filled trip torn from tomorrow's headlines; an all-too-believable story that had me turning pages to the unexpected end. I'm anxious to read more from this debut author.”

—Richard L. Mabry, MD, author of
Stress Test
and
Heart Failure


Friend Me
captured me from page one and wrapped me in thought-provoking suspense until the end. The intriguing plot made it nearly impossible to put this book down. Mr. Faubion has crafted a great story that will grab your attention and stick with you long after you read the last page. I highly recommend this book.”

—Larry W. Timm, president of the American Christian Fiction Writers South Central Kansas Chapter and pastor of Gracepoint Church in Peabody, Kansas

“In an ever-changing technological age, John Faubion has written a tough and gritty story that could one day be reality. Though he has shown how technology and the times change, he has also shown that God and his mercy do not. John has succeeded in writing a book that is at the same time frightening and hopeful.”

—Warren Pratt Jr., pastor, evangelist, and head chief of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma

Thank you for downloading this Howard Books eBook.

Join our mailing list and get updates on new releases, deals, bonus content and other great books from Howard Books and Simon & Schuster.

or visit us online to sign up at
eBookNews.SimonandSchuster.com

Dedicated to my Lord, Jesus Christ, and my faithful wife and family
.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things
.

—
PHILIPPIANS
4:8

CHAPTER ONE

Melissa

M
elissa Montalvo folded her hands on her lap and stared across the table at her final interviewer.

He adjusted the name badge on his shirt.
Chief Software Scientist Aaron Getz
. “You've excelled in both your other interviews, but this is a different kind of meeting.” He leaned in toward Melissa. She felt his gaze upon her. He was slender, with dark eyes that burned under thick, curling eyebrows.

This was it. She either had the job or she didn't.

“I'd like you to take a look at this, Melissa.” Getz withdrew a letter envelope from his jacket pocket, turned it facedown, and slid it across the rosewood table. “I think you'll be pleased.”

She searched his face, but his eyes gave nothing away. It must be a job offer, but . . .

Melissa picked up the unsealed envelope bearing the embossed Virtual Friend Me logo, and withdrew the letter inside. Getz's eyes remained noncommittal as she unfolded the paper.

Dear Ms. Montalvo:

Virtual Friend Me is pleased to offer you the position of chief architect . . .

Her chest constricted as the breath caught in her throat. They were offering her the second position in software development? And more. They were proposing a salary 10 percent above what she had requested.

Getz continued to look at her with the same deadpan expression. What did he expect her to say? “Mr. Getz . . .”

“Call me Aaron, Melissa.”

“I'm very pleased with the offer. When do you want me to start?” She held the employment offer with both hands, unwilling to let it escape her grasp.

Getz smiled. “How about Monday? Or do you need a couple of weeks to finish up with your current employer?”

“No, Monday is fine.” She shut her eyes, a rush of relief washing over her. “I would like to know a little more about the project, though. It's all been so super-secret.”

“No hurry. We want you to be completely comfortable with everything we're doing here.”

His hand glided unerringly across the table to rest on hers. His lotioned skin felt soft and slimy as the fingers moved across the back of her hand.

She pulled back, looked down at his pale hand still poised like some serpent over the spot where her hand had been.

“Problem?” he asked.

She choked back the revulsion she felt at being touched that way. “No, no problem,” she said stiffly, struggling to regain composure.

“The project. Can you tell me more about it now?”

Getz's hand slid silently back behind the tabletop.

“No problem. We can take a few minutes right now.”

If he had noticed her reaction to his touch, he wasn't showing it. If a man was going to touch her, she wanted it to be on her own terms. She would not be used.

Getz continued, “What we've got going on here is, in my estimation, the most aggressive, cutting-edge, artificial intelligence project in the nation. At least in terms of social networking. And you are going to be a major part of it.” He leaned forward, eyebrows raised. “No one outside this company is to know what we're doing until it's done. That's very important. Can you agree to that?”

“Yes.”

“Here it is.” Getz held up both hands, as if ready to catch a ball. “You know about the whole social-networking thing. We've got Facebook, MyLife, and all the rest. People are looking to the web for friendships, for relationships at all levels.”

“I know. It's been a major cultural phenomenon.”

“The big question is, how can someone, some company, break into that in a really unique way? Facebook already has more than eight hundred million active users. That's from them, their own statistics. Eight hundred million! That's better than eleven percent of the entire population of planet Earth. Do you know how many friends each user has?”

She shook her head.

“I'll tell you how many. The average Facebook user has over one hundred friends.” Getz's green eyes grew large, intense. “Do the math. Fifty percent of their active users log on every day. Every one of them has an average of one hundred thirty friends,
right? How many people are potentially touched by all that? How many?”

Melissa worked the numbers. She had only gotten to the first set before Getz spoke again.

“Half of eight hundred million is four hundred million. Multiply that by a hundred thirty. Know what you'll get? Fifty-two billion people!”

“But that's more people than there are on the whole Earth,” answered Melissa. “What sense would it make? That would mean we're hitting many people more than one time.”

“Exactly. So we have overlap. What it comes down to is we're hitting all those millions of people six, seven, maybe eight times a day. Somehow, we're touching all of them.”

Melissa considered the implications. “Okay, so there's all this social interaction. I get that. But how does that help us? How do we benefit?”

“Okay, here's where it gets good. Imagine . . .” He raised one finger right in front of her nose. “Just imagine we've got a percentage of those ‘friends' working for us. Even a very small percentage. Keep imagining. What if we could get those workers of ours to recommend movies, products, vacations . . . you name it. Would that be huge?”

Nodding, she stretched herself mentally.

“Are you imagining? You get online with Facebook, and we've got one of your friends telling you how great the latest chick flick is, and that you ought to go see it. Or she's using some new kind of dish soap and you ought to try it. Any kind of product, you just name it. As they say, this is the most amazing concept since sliced bread. And you're going to be front and center, right in the middle of all of it.”

Getz stood up and turned to the whiteboard behind him. “We do it like God did it, but better.” With a bright blue marker he drew a circle on the board. “We create them.”

“Create them? How's that?” It was common among software developers to use the word
create
freely. But to create people?
Where was this going?

“Let me illustrate it for you.” He drew a smile in the circle, then added two eyes, with turned-up, innocent-looking eyebrows. “So far, so good. We've got a friendly face. What's missing?”

“A body?”

“That's good, but what I mean is, what's missing in the face? Don't answer. It's a nose.” He drew a rounded triangle in the center.

“Now, how about the body? Should it be slender or fat? Your call.”

“Fat. It should be fat because the face is round.”

“Right, because the two go together. We know what makes us comfortable.” He sketched a rotund figure into the drawing, which began to look like the Pillsbury Doughboy.

“Now, Melissa, look at his right hand. It's empty. Tell me which object you prefer.” As he spoke, he drew a handgun in the right hand, paused, then erased the handgun and replaced it with an umbrella. Then he erased the umbrella and faced her. “Which did you like? The gun or the umbrella?”

BOOK: Friend Me
10.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Finding Their Balance by M.Q. Barber
Seeder Saga by Adam Moon
A Killing in the Market by Franklin W. Dixon
Trauma Queen by Barbara Dee
Bangkok Rules by Wolff, Harlan
TheTrainingOfTanya2 by Bruce McLachlan
Somerville Farce by Michaels, Kasey
The Replacement Wife by Eileen Goudge
Go! Fight! Twin! by Belle Payton