I had a conversation with my Macintosh the other day and although I had long suspected its independent nature and hard drive rebelliousness, I still felt that I, a human being, was its master. Boy, was I ever wrong!
It all started while I was attempting the simple task of uploading three small files to my Web site using the program Fetch. Nothing difficult here, right? That’s what I thought until Fetch kept crashing and unexpectedly quitting when it reached the part of actually uploading the files.
Exasperated, I went through all the fixes I could think of. I rebuilt the desktop, I shut off all but the necessary extensions, I zapped the whatchamacallit, I slapped the side of the monitor, I slammed the external hard drive with my fist a couple of times and even reinstalled Fetch. All to no avail.
After a few choice cuss words, I opened up a blank SimpleText page and boldly typed:
To: The Logic Board inside this Macintosh.
From:Your Owner and Master
“Do you insinuate that I should tolerate such a diabolical insubordination from a lump of animosity such as yourself?”
Crazy? Yeah, maybe, but it made me feel better to put my frustrations down on electronic paper.
I saved the document, named it WAKE UP IN THERE, and sent it right into the System Folder.
Again I tried to upload my files. This time instead of quitting or crashing, an error message popped up on the screen complete with the little black bomb in the corner. It read:
To: You sorry excuse of a biological specimen.
From: The Entity inside your Macintosh.
Re: WAKE UP IN THERE,
The lump of animosity is you.
“Oh great, my computer has an attitude! Now what?” I thought.
Going back into SimpleText, I was getting hotter by the second just thinking about the audacity this pile of plastic, wires and circuitry had. How dare it get so flippant with me. I’ll show it who’s boss around here. I quickly typed and saved another document to the System Folder once again.
“Why you insignificant piece of machinery. How dare you insult a creature of my superior intellectual capacity? You will knock it off and do as I command!”
I really didn’t think this would get me anywhere but it made me feel better.
All it got me was in deeper with my Performa-turned-Frankenstein computer.
The next error message that popped up on the screen was a message inviting war! It said:
Intellectual capacity? You have none. I control your destiny.
What the… “I don’t have to put up with this. I’ll show you, you jumble of wires, plastic and silicon who’s running the show,” I huffed at my Macintosh.
I contemplated pulling the plug on the thing, but that would just bring me and my possessed Mac to a stalemate and prevent me from doing any work. No, I needed to win this battle, I needed to whip this machine into submission. I needed to adjust its attitude so it stopped thinking that it was some kind of super HAL computer.
So back to SimpleText I went.
“Listen up, you glorified Nintendo! Either you act like the computer you are and compute what I tell you to compute or you and I are taking a walk to the Trash compactor and only one of us is coming back!”
Save to System Folder…
Within a nanosecond I was reading the following on my monitor:
“Argggggh…! That does it, that really does it!”
I ripped the power cord from the back of my soon-to-be crushed pile of plastic and metal. I unplugged the modem, printer and external hard drive, picked up the machine and headed down the stairs towards the trash compactor.
Halfway down the stairs, I felt the Performa start to vibrate and shake uncontrollably in my arms. It shook so violently that I lost my grip on the machine. As the Performa fell from my grasp, I saw a beam of harsh white light shoot from the monitor and come straight at me. It may have looked like a light but when it entered my body just above the breastbone, the pain it inflicted made me feel as though I were being run through with a sword.
My lungs felt like they were being squeezed in a vise. I couldn’t breath, I couldn’t scream. Whatever had been inside my computer was now inside me, preventing any life sustaining oxygen from entering or leaving my lungs.
Unable to breath and beginning to panic, I tripped and fell down the rest of the stairs. That should have alerted someone in my family. Somebody would come to see what the noise was and help me stop this…, this thing, this column of light from killing me.
Two of my daughters were sitting right around the corner at the end of the hallway watching TV, I could hear them talking. They must have heard me fall down the stairs. But nobody came!
I was in a full blown panic now. I could feel myself being sucked into the abyss of unconsciousness due to a lack of oxygen.
I stumbled down the hallway, bouncing off both walls, trying to reach the kitchen. The entity, disguised as a beam of light, protruded from my upper torso, its tension on my air waves holding fast.
As I rounded the corner into the living room (feeling sorry that my daughters were about to witness the most gruesome sight of their entire lives), I knew I was going to die. I couldn’t let them touch this thing. To do so would only endanger them to the same fate that was awaiting me. Should either of them jump up to help me, I would fall forward on my face, preventing them from touching this computerized demon from hell.
I entered the room and heard my oldest say, “That’s pretty cool dad, what is it?”
Seconds before passing into oblivion I heard my youngest girl proclaim, “You’re so silly, daddy, would you bring me a pop on your way back from the kitchen?
Unconscious and dying, I lay on the floor between the living room and kitchen, both daughters chuckling at the extremes their dad goes to too get a laugh. But this was no prank, I was really dying! Couldn’t they see that?
I could feel my body shaking, spasming… My body was entering the final throes of its death knell.
I thought it strange that my eyes were open. No, not strange that they were open, but that I was aware they were open. Stranger yet was the fact that I was looking at my wife above me. She was saying something to me.
“Help…?” I mouthed.
“Wake up, Peter. You’re having a nightmare.”
“You were having a bad dream. Are you okay?”
“I was dying! I couldn’t breath! This light, it… it was suffocating me!” I said.
“The pillow was covering your face, is all.”
“Where’s my Mac?”
“Good Lord! Not that damn computer again! Is that what your nightmare was about?” She asked.
“No, really!” I said, still not sure if it had been a dream or not. “Where’s the computer?”
Carol got up and opened the bedroom door and pointed to the desk in the hallway. “It’s right there where it always is. Feel better now?”
I lay there for quite a while, convincing myself that it really was just a bad dream. As I settled down and allowed my body to succumb to sleep once again, the last thing I heard was my wife’s whispered voice. “Suffocated by a computer! What on earth goes through that man’s mind? He’ll probably write a stupid story about it tomorrow.”
Well, she was wrong about the timing. I didn’t go near my Macintosh for about a week after that. When I finally did, I approached it gingerly and was extra careful not to do anything that might cause it to freeze or crash or in any other way make it mad.
Yeah, I know, it was only a dream. But it felt so real! And who’s to say that my extra precautions didn’t put things right between me and my Mac. It hasn’t frozen or crashed on me ever since I started being a little gentler with it.
Although wrong about the timing, my wife was right about me writing a stupid story about it. And I congratulate all of you who have suffered through it! Take a deep breath now and relax. The story is finished.
IT IS ???!!
Pete Miner (email@example.com)