I am very excited about the upcoming release of my book, kongo.com. It’s a bit different than your typical novel or short story collection. It is comprised of four related novellas that each tell a distinct story about a behemoth corporation, kongo.com.
It’s no secret that online organizations are part of our everyday life. The company portrayed in this book takes what we know today to the next level.
It takes place in a not to distant, potential future. The stories in this book are all based on the possible evolution of existing technology – nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and our obsession with our devices.
Over the next couple of weeks, leading up to the release, I’m going to tell you a bit about each novella. Three of the four were previously published on my blog as serials. these three have been enhanced and modified. The fourth story is brand new and is meant to tie the previous three stories together.
I look forward to your reaction to these excerpts. This first week, I’m going to introduce you to Joyce and her quest for fitness and the ideal body in the story No Pain, No Gain.
No Pain No Gain – An Excerpt
Joyce loved her stylish new personal fitness device. She had saved up for the latest Buff Cuff. It was not cheap, but the girls in the office all had them. Most had received them as gifts from their boyfriends or husbands. Joyce didn’t have either of these, so she had to buy one for herself, but that was okay. If it worked as advertised, she would have a boyfriend or husband soon.
tried everything to lose weight. Diets, exercise and pills had not worked. She investigated
bariatric surgery and was not a candidate. She was about 35-40 pounds
overweight which was below the threshold for which insurance would pay for the
surgery. She even considered gaining enough weight to qualify for the surgery,
but that seemed self-destructive, especially with her borderline hypertension
Her doctor had
sent her to a nutritionist, but nothing seemed to help. Then she saw an
infomercial for the Buff Cuff. Its technology was cutting edge and the spots
featured numerous testimonials, some from women just like Joyce, touting the
product and its life-changing benefits.
When Joyce saw
the price, about what she made in a month, she hesitated. These infomercials
could be biased and misleading and, when weighing the priority of rent, her POS
car and utilities, the Buff Cuff seemed like a reckless purchase. Then her
coworkers started raving about the ones they received and started talking about
and showing their results.
Marcy, who seemed
to be perpetually pregnant, received a Buff Cuff as a present from her husband.
At first, she was angry with him taking it as a message that he thought she was
fat. After she started using it, however, her baby weight began to drop off
almost instantly. She was thinner and more fit than anyone in the office had
ever seen her. Her energy level improved as did the quality of her work.
the leading office donut and cake consumer, started noticeably trimming down
when her husband gave her a Buff Cuff for her birthday. Her eating habits
changed, and she started working out at the gym at the end of each day.
This was when
Joyce realized that this fitness gadget was not an anomaly. There was something
there. She resolved to save up enough to purchase one. It was now six months
later, and she had scraped together the funds she needed. She sat in front of
her computer looking at the latest models. She had just enough for generation
4.0. This was the latest and the manufacturer, Kongo-Fit, a subsidiary of the
giant retail mail order conglomerate, kongo.com.
touted the usual fitness gadget technology. It could monitor heart rate and
count the number of steps for its wearer. Somehow, through patented technology
that was rushed through government approval, this device could also monitor oxygen
levels, blood sugar and blood pressure all in one device. It was equipped with
an array of sensors that used ‘super-secret’ technology (in the company’s
words) to ‘help you with your fitness journey’. As a result, it was being
prescribed for patients by medical professionals at a staggering rate.
Insurance companies were scratching their collective heads as they pondered
whether to pay anything toward this device.
down the minutes on Friday afternoon. Her package from Kongo was due to be
delivered today and would likely be waiting for her when she got home. The
office, an accounting and financial advisory firm, was quiet on this Friday
afternoon at the end of summer and that made the time pass much more slowly.
While she waited, Joyce reached into her desk and pulled out a dark chocolate
bar that she had been saving for this day. She unwrapped it and savored it as
she acknowledged to herself that this would be the last one until she reached
her weight and fitness goals.
she found some work that took her to five o’clock. When that magic hour arrived,
she nearly sprinted from her desk, as close as she could get to sprinting,
anyway. She got into her ancient Chevy Cruze. It was nine years old with over
120,000 miles on it. She opened the door and could still smell the fast-food
from lunch. In anticipation of receiving her Buff Cuff, she had done somewhat
of a farewell tour this week consuming all her guilty pleasure foods. She truly
believed that this small piece of electronics was going to deliver her from her
life of obesity and bad habits. She didn’t want to be delivered without saying
goodbye to her old friends like tacos, French fries, milkshakes, and cupcakes.
The debris in the back seat confirmed her venture into each of these favorite food
the traffic as she on her way home. She pulled into a space near her apartment
building and went out to the community mailbox. As she unlocked the one for her
unit, her hand was shaking. She internally scolded herself for being so excited
about receiving this gadget, but she couldn’t help it. Finally, she wrestled
the key into the lock and opened the small door to her mail slot. It was empty.
Not only was the Buff Cuff absent, but there was no mail at all despite it
being nearly 6 PM.
There was a
precedent for this. Her mail delivery person was a woman who was in her late
60s or early 70s. She sometimes fell behind on her route if there were several
medium to large packages to be delivered. Today must have been one of those
days. Joyce wasn’t sure what to do. She guessed she would go up to her
apartment and change and come back and check the mail later.
Just as she
was about to do so, she saw the mail delivery woman’s battered white jeep
pulling into the parking lot. There were three community boxes in this lot for
each of the three buildings that surrounded the cars belonging to their
She watched as
the woman moved at the pace of a three-toed sloth as she carefully put bundles
of mail in the slots in box one. Next would be box two and then, finally, box
three, where Joyce’s mail was assigned. Joyce thought about returning in 15
minutes or so, but just knowing that her Buff Cuff was on the verge of being
delivered and was in this civil servant’s hands, she wanted to supervise the
seemed like days, the woman navigated the jeep toward box three. She gathered
her bundles of mail and opened the rear of the box to place them in the
individual slots. In anticipation, Joyce opened her slot. Immediately, the woman
stopped her task and looked at Joyce over the top of her thick bifocals.
“Miss, I can’t
deliver the mail with a slot open. That’s against regulations.”
matter. Please close it so I can continue.”
Joyce let out
a frustrated sigh and closed the small door to the slot. Finally, the woman
finished placing mail and Joyce reopened it. There were a couple of envelopes
and a small parcel in a bubble wrapped sleeve. The return address had the
Kongo-Fit logo. As she pulled it out of the slot, she was a bit underwhelmed at
the packaging and the size and weight. She held in her hands nearly a month of
her salary. It seemed like it should be bigger or at least weightier.
She was out of
breath as she climbed the stairs of building 23 to her second floor 1-bedroom
apartment. She had that same shakiness in her hands when she opened the door.
She wondered to herself, was she putting too much faith in this small package?
Would it change her life? Then she thought of Marcy and Jennifer. It had
certainly worked for them.
carefully opened the package. There it was. Her very own Buff Cuff. It came
with the standard black band. She would have to save up to buy other colors. She
opened the molded plastic packaging and carefully set her new purchase on the
table. The instruction booklet was amazingly small, but there was a
comprehensive web site and social media community around the device. She had
already feverishly read the areas that were accessible to the public prior to
being a registered purchaser.
As soon as she
opened it, she realized the instruction booklet was essentially a quick start
guide. It had three steps to complete before she could put it on her wrist. She
pulled the plastic tab from the back of the unit that covered the sensor array
and separated the battery from the device. As she did this, the face of the
Buff Cuff came to life. It read, “Hello Joyce. Have a great day!”. She was a
bit surprised by this, but she had used her name when she purchased the device
on line and remembered checking the box that said it was for her own personal
use. The next step was to put the device on her wrist. It instructed her to put
it on the wrist of her dominant hand, which in Joyce’s case was her left. She
felt a slight vibration as the device seemed to mold to her wrist as she
The next step
was to register the device. She brought up the Buff Cuff site and entered the
serial number as instructed. As she did this, it brought up her name and
address. There were several fields she was asked to enter to complete each
screen. As she entered height, weight, desired goal weight and blood type, she
felt the device vibrate a few more times. As she saved her information, she
felt a slight pinch under the face of the Buff Cuff. She supposed that was
normal. It vibrated again and showed readings on the face. Her respiration was
20 breaths per minute – high end of normal. Here blood pressure – 130 over 85,
a bit high. Her blood glucose level – 150 – too high for someone who hadn’t
eaten since lunch, but she did have the chocolate bar. The reading made sense.
Now that her
Buff Cuff was on her wrist, the sensation was a bit anti-climactic. She didn’t
feel different and she still had laundry to do. She would get on the web after
she started her clothes in the wash. Joyce gathered up her dark clothes and
walked down the stairs and to the apartment complex’s laundry room. She put the
clothes and detergent in the washing machine and pulled some quarters out of
the little canvas bag where she collected them for this purpose, put them in
the slot and started the machine.
back to her apartment feeling much the same as she did before she received her new
purchase. She was a bit depressed. She was out a month’s salary and didn’t feel
inspired to do anything. She got back to her apartment and went directly to the
freezer for a carton of Ben and Jerry’s peanut butter cup ice cream. She took
it over to her computer with the intention of looking up more information on
her new acquisition and, possibly, investigating how to return it for a refund.
When she sat
down, she saw a message on the computer display screen that must have come up while
she was putting in her laundry in. It said, ‘ACTIVATE FINAL CONFIGURATION (Y/N)’.
Joyce looked at the message and felt a sudden feeling of relief. She eagerly
keyed in a ‘Y’ and checked the box saying she accepted the terms and conditions
without actually reading them. She then clicked continue. The browser refreshed
with a congratulatory message and she felt a slightly sharper pinch under the
face of the Buff Cuff. It was very brief, but she felt a slight electrical
current emanating from the device, down her left arm and into her body. It was
gone as quickly as it happened.
on the home page and started to read about her device’s capabilities as she
took a generous spoonful of ice cream from the carton. She absently spooned the
frozen treat into her mouth and began to savor the flavor. Suddenly, she began
to gag and spit the ice cream out. It tasted horrible. It was a mixture of a
creamy and vinegary taste that was rancid in her mouth. She dropped her spoon
on the floor and looked at the carton. The ice cream looked fine. She checked
the expiration date and it was still months away. She had already eaten a third
of this carton last night and it tasted fine then. She looked at it again and
then sniffed it. It smelled as bad as it tasted.
the ice cream in the sink, rinsed out the carton and threw it in the trash. She
still had the horrible taste in her mouth. She grabbed her last 20-ounce bottle
of cola from the fridge. She was going to switch to diet or some other
low-calorie drink but had this one bottle of regular soda left. She quickly
twisted off the top and took a large mouthful from the bottle. She immediately
spit it into the sink. It tasted like a mouthful of vinegar to her.
She grabbed a
glass from the cabinet and filled it with cold water from the fridge door.
Water was the last resort. She hated the taste of it but needed something safe
to rinse the taste from her mouth. As she swirled the water around in her
mouth, she was shocked by the taste. It was the best tasting, most refreshing
drink she ever experienced. She quickly drank the rest and filled the glass two
more times. The taste was gone from her mouth. In fact, she felt like she had
just brushed her teeth. The aftertaste of the water was wonderful.
to eat something. She opened her cupboard and saw that there was a can of green
beans in the back. For some reason, the picture of the beans on the label made
her mouth water. She opened the can, poured the beans into a bowl and put them
in the microwave for 30 seconds. When they were done, she wolfed them down with
a spoon and followed them with three more glasses of water. She felt more
satisfied from this small meal than she had from anything she’d eaten in recent
By this time,
Joyce needed to transfer her laundry to the dryer. She changed into sweat pants
and a t-shirt. For some reason, instead of her usual flip-flops, she put on
socks and laced on her rarely used sneakers. She grabbed a load of white
clothes and trotted down to the laundry room. After she transferred the clothes
and put in the new load, she suddenly felt the urge to run. Joyce had never
been a runner, but for some reason that was all she had the desire to do at
this moment. She left the laundry room and ran around the perimeter of the
apartment complex three times. The distance was at least a mile, which was about
a mile farther than Joyce had ever run continuously in her life.
physically exhausted but exhilarated at the same time. It was a feeling she had
not experienced before. She finished her laundry and returned to her apartment
feeling energized, yet tired. She took off her sweaty clothes and padded into
the shower. She let the hot water soothe her muscles which had been shocked by
their sudden use. She put on pajamas, crawled into bed and entered the deepest,
most restful sleep she had felt in a very long time.
morning, Saturday, Joyce awoke feeling a bit sore, but energized. She needed to
get some groceries. She got dressed and went to the supermarket. As she cruised
up and down the aisles, she gradually filled her cart. By the time she got to
the checkout, she didn’t recognize what she was about to purchase. The cart was
filled with organic fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurts and whole grain
concoctions. These were things Joyce had never purchased, yet somehow, she had
grabbed them from the shelves as if she had made a stringent list of healthy
foods. The funny thing was, everything looked delicious to her.
her purchases home and put them away. After a breakfast of yogurt mixed with
granola and a banana, she had the urge to take another run. She got dressed and
did another set of laps around the complex. Once again, she felt great.
continued for the next week. Joyce was getting up early to run. She was packing
herself a healthy lunch for work and making sensible meals for dinner. It felt
like this lifestyle change required no effort on her part. She had a wonderful
week. When she shared her new-found energy with her co-workers, they agreed
that they had felt the same thing once they activated their Buff Cuff. The
device was truly a miracle.
Saturday, one week following her purchase, Joyce bounced out of bed and headed
for the scale. She had not weighed herself the entire week. She wanted to see
if this drastic change in her lifestyle would have an impact after a week. She
wanted to see a three or four-pound difference in her weight. She was
astonished to see that she was eleven ponds lighter. She checked the scale and
stood on it three times to be sure.
Joyce showered. Her plan was to clean out her apartment today. She had been putting it off, but today she felt like she had the energy and desire to do it. As she dried herself off and got dressed, she thought about where to start. She looked in the mirror trying to spot a difference in herself. As she ran a brush through her hair, the first large clump of hair fell out.
kongo.com is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com by clicking HERE.