Google F-U – Free Story

“Look,” said Jack, “you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Me?” Don was incredulous. “I don’t know? You’re still using that outdated—”

“You’re both idiots if you ask me,” said Tony. “I’ve been telling you both since way back in college, Google is the only way to go.”  

He pointed at Jack, then Don in turn. “Yahoo. Bing. Wastes of time.”

Jack and Don started talking at once. Tony tried to talk over both of them and the whole scene degenerated into loud squabbling.

“Hey! Look, the both of you,” shouted Tony. “There’s only one way to settle this!” They fell silent, eying him suspiciously. “A test.”

Four eyes narrowed.

“What kind of test?” they said in unison.

“A search test.”

Jack and Don exchanged a glance.

“Searching what?” said Don.

“What’re the criteria?” said Jack.

Tony thought for a second, then looked at Don.

“We each come up with a search string. Something simple, nothing too crazy.”

He turned to Jack.

“We look at speed of search, number of hits, and how relevant to our search the top five hits are.” He smiled and spread his hands. “Whadaya say?”

In answer, the other two went straight to Tony’s computer, pushing each other away from the chair like adolescent siblings fighting over the shotgun seat. Tony shook his head.

“Jack goes first. We each take the helm for our respective tests, capische?”

Jack gave Don one final push, then slid into the chair. A web-browser opened, filling the screen: Google Chrome.

“Hey,” said Don. “I use—”

“Everybody uses the same browser,” interrupted Tony. “Less variables that way: same machine, same browser.”

Don and Jack nodded. Even they couldn’t argue the sense in that.

“Okay, first search . . .” Jack stared at the ceiling for a moment in thought.

“Dude,” said Don. “If you weren’t ready—”

“Jack Black,” Jack said loudly, leaning over the keyboard. The screen filled with a Yahoo search list.

“358,000,000 hits in .45 seconds.” Jack’s voice was smug. “Check that out.”

“Yeah,” said Tony, leaning over Jack’s shoulder to poke the screen. “But check that out. The top hit is for Jack Black facial care? What the hell is that? Don’t even tell me you were looking for that. You were searching the actor. Relevance score? Zero.”

“Wait! Wait! That’s a paid sponsor—it gets bumped up despite the relevance! How far down do you have to go before you find Jack Black, the guy?”

Tony counted down the screen.

“Hit number six is his International Movie DataBase page. Sixth from the top.”

“Next search,” said Don. “The role of Tituba in the Salem Witch Trials and her effect on the—”

“I said simple.” Tony held up a finger. “Remember?”

“Fine.” Don sighed. “The role of Tituba in the—”

He broke off, seeing Tony’s raised eyebrow.

“Okay, okay! The Salem Witch Trials. Happy?”

Jack’s fingers flew and the search page changed. 321,000,000 hits in .41 seconds and the top hits were judged one hundred percent relevant. Jack looked over his shoulder at Tony, who grinned.

“Next search: Jack Theopolis.”

“Huh?” said Jack. “That’s me.”

“I know. We each search ourselves. Takes the relevance out of it—I mean, we’re nobodies, right?—and just goes on the numbers for an oddball search.”

Don grunted. Jack shrugged and typed it in.

“Hey, check it out! There’s a Theopolis Insurance up in Canada! And who knew there was a Jack Theopolis in Nevada? And one in Michigan!”

“The numbers?” prompted Don.

“Oh, yeah, let’s see . . . 98,000,000 hits in .46 seconds.”

“Okay, dude.” Don pushed Jack’s shoulder. “My turn.”

Don slid into the vacated seat and the Bing Search homepage filled the screen.

“Okay . . . Jack Black . . . there: .39 seconds!”

“Yeah.” Jack pointed a finger. “But only 356,000,000 hits. That’s two mil less than Yahoo. Faster search, but fewer hits.”

“But look—I got that skin care site first, but Jack’s IMDB page is only fourth on the list! Booya!”

Don entered “The Salem Witch Trials” into the search field. 325,000,000 hits, again in .39 seconds.

“There! Four million more in less time! Kicked your ass!”

“Moving on,” Tony said, cutting off Jack’s retort.

Don entered “Donald Kirkus” into the field.

“What the hell is Kirkus Reviews? And look, a Don Kirkus in Germany—looks like he’s in construction. I don’t see me anywhere on the page, so I get a zero in relevance too. But I got it in .36 seconds, with 101,000,000 hits.”

He spun about in the chair, planting a finger in Jack’s chest.

“You lose, sucka!”

“Okay, my turn,” Tony nearly shouted, trying to head off any argument. He slid into the seat, the other two hanging over his shoulders like a pair of vultures. His fingers danced, and the Google Search homepage came up.

Okay . . . Jack Black.”

The result was 666,000,000 hits in .35 seconds, and Jack’s IMDB page was right below the skin care site.

“Holy crap,” said Don. Jack was speechless.

“Told you.” Tony shrugged. “Next search: The Salem Witch Trials.”

250,000,000 hits in .31 seconds.

“Looks like you lose too, sucka,” Jack said to Don, sounding smug.

“Wow. I guess so.” Don tapped Tony’s shoulder. “You win, but search yourself. Just for giggles?”


Tony’s fingers flew.

“189,000,000 hits in .25 seconds,” Don said. “Amazing. And look! I think that top hit is even you!”

“Anthony Belifaro, age 35 of Hartford, Connecticut,” read Jack aloud. “Holy crap, I think—no, wait, this can’t be you. It says this guy died of a massive heart attack in his home on . . . wait, what the hell? That’s today!”

They looked at Tony.

“What’s going on?” said Don.

Tony couldn’t answer, paralyzed by the sudden, radiating pain in his chest. He just had time to think, wow . . . that Google’s even better than I thought, as he slipped to the floor.


Rob Smales is the author of Dead of Winter, which won the Superior Achievement in Dark Fiction Award from Firbolg Publishing’s Gothic Library in 2014. His short stories have been published in two dozen anthologies and magazines. His story “Photo Finish” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and won the Preditors & Editors’ Readers Choice Award for Best Horror Short Story of 2012.

Most recently, his story “A Night at the Show” received an honorable mention on Ellen Datlow’s list of the Best Horror of 2014, and was also nominated as best short story by the eFestival of Words.

More about his work can be found at, or you can look him up on Facebook at

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