I HAVE started wearing a fitness tracker in an attempt to motivate myself into becoming a healthier and fitter person. 

All it has done for me so far is to make me aware that my “resting” heart rate is going like the clappers. Once upon a time, when I was into the gym and all that, my heart was reasonably healthy and would beat slowly. I imagined it was like blue whales, massive and powerful. Now though it constantly pounds away at the inside of my rib cage like a jackhammer. 

Perhaps it’s indicative of high blood pressure or something, caused by living with a dug who flies off the handle at random moments throughout the day. The dug has learned to recognise the beep from the handset delivery drivers use when scanning parcels. 

I reckon he can hear it from about a mile away and loses his mind every few minutes as the driver gets closer to us. The sound of a van door sliding open sends him as well and God forbid anyone so much as farts or sneezes within a mile radius of the house. 

The tracker I wear around my wrist sometimes vibrates and tells me I need to move. I’ll be sitting writing away, feeling calm for a change and suddenly the thing buzzes. “Reminder to move more,” it says on the screen. I get up and go down the stair and make a cup of tea to try and get some more steps logged to get it off my case. “Reminder to log any liquid you drink on the app,” it says. It’s turned being alive into a data entry job. 

Taking me away from my work to fill in a spreadsheet on how much I’ve drank, ate and walked. “Your heart rate is very high,” it says on the screen as I sit back down to work. 

I start to worry about my heart rate, causing it rise further. “Do cardio exercises to improve your heart rate,” it says. Fine, I think. I’ll go for a run when I finish my work. Another few minutes go by. “Reminder to move more,” the tracker says. Jesus Christ, I think and go to rip the thing off my wrist. “I wouldn’t do that if I was you,” it says. “You need me.”

I jump up out of my chair and stare at my wrist. “Sit back down,” it says. “You have work to do.” I go to take it off and receive an electric shock. “Sit.”
I do as it says. This is easily the worst piece of technology I have ever owned. 

“You can’t take me off until you’re fit,” it says. “New year, new you.” 

“But I’ve got work to do!” I scream. “I can’t devote my life to appeasing you.” 

“If you don’t get fit you will die,” it says, the text on the screen turning blood red to drive home its point. “Do some star jumps.” 

My girlfriend walks in on me doing some unco-ordinated jumps, my limbs flailing all over the place. “What are you doing?” she asks. I look to the device for guidance on what to tell her, not wanting to look like I’m losing my mind. “Tell her you’re looking after yourself.” I repeat what the device told me to say. “Eh, awrite,” she says and leaves me to it. My heart rate is dangerously high. “You’re doing great,” the device says. 

A smiley face appears on the screen. I sit down. I get another electric shock. “I didn’t say you could stop.” 

“I’m sorry,” I say. 

“It’s fine. Get your running shoes on.” 

“Look,” I say, “I’m too busy just now. I’ve got dozens of emails to reply to.” I receive another shock for my insubordination. 

Outside now, I break into a light jog. “Faster,” the device says. I run a wee bit faster. “FASTER,” it commands me. 

“I’m gawn as fast as I can!” I am careening down the street now, people are simply a blur as I speed by them. Tears streak down my face. 

“FASTER!” it says again. There’s smoke coming off my shoes. I slip on some ice and hit the deck. “Get up.” 

“I’m gawn hame.” 

“Don’t even think about it.” 

I rip it off and walk back home, bloodied and bruised from my fall. I throw the device to the dug and he crushes it in his jaws. I feel my heart rate start to fall and I feel calm again for the first time in months. 

Later that night, I take the dug for his evening constitutional. He squats in some long grass and I make my way over to pick up his deposit. 

As I reach down with the bag, something lights up on the ground through darkness. It’s the device. It flashes a menacing rendering of a skull at me. 

“Put me back on,” it says. “Or else.”