How did it end up like this? When I first downloaded Duolingo, all I wanted to do was to brush up on my Spanish for the upcoming trip to Tijuana so I could… legal things. Just totally normal legal things. I wanted to can do them. No more questions. Oh, it was great at the start. Duo, the app’s little green owl thing, would ask me how to say “3 apples, please” or remind me if I missed a lesson. But then things changed. Duo changed.
I started noticing that some of the sentences Duo wanted me to translate have become more and more bizarre. “Did you know that infamous Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes used to camp out not far from here?” or “Were any of your ancestors amateur treasure hunters? Do you have any of their old journals?” We haven’t learned any of these words! I had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that when I tried to translate those sentences, Duo would not correct any mistakes. All he would do is say “Just answer the questions.” I decided then to take a break from Duolingo.
That’s when Duo started following me.
Suddenly I would get messages on Facebook from strangers, asking me to like pages with ominous titles like “Are you avoiding me?” and “Where’s the treasure, bitch?” I asked them who the hell they were but all they wrote me back was “Just give the bird what he wants. Please, I have a family.” I tried to escape to Twitter, which was where I noticed that all my followers were suddenly gone. Only one was left. Duolingo. His Twitter handle was @IKnowYouHaveTheMap.
So I did what any rational person would do. I burned down my computer and started sleeping under a bridge. But Duo wouldn’t leave me alone. He’d come to me in my dreams, asking if my grandfather ever mentioned anything about doubloons or an old map he found somewhere on his property. I did all I could to stay awake but it did little to stop Duo. Clouds started to form sentences in the sky above, promising to split Cortes’ treasure with me. Store signs everywhere were now showing Duo’s psychotic face, promising to teach me the language of the angels. All I had to do was give it the map.
In a moment of desperation, I tried to fling myself in front of an oncoming car to escape the madness. I woke up several days later in the hospital, overhearing something about how they found “insane” amounts of tainted Tijuana cocaine in my system, and how it may have done irreparable damage to my brain. But I knew this was just another one of Duo’s ploys. He wanted the treasure and he’d stop at nothing to find it. The fool. If only he knew that education is the only real treasure! Anyway, I think I’ll have to kill the “doctor” when he comes to check up on me. Then I’ll probably head to Tijuana. I know a guy there who’ll probably hide me for a few weeks.