(Due to an error on my part, I don’t have a discussion article for Wednesday. Instead, here is the finale to the three part story of a man and his computer. If you haven’t read them yet here’s part 1 and part 2.)
NEW AGE VIRUS
Segmented boxes flashed up on screen and he perused them, watching counters tick up and down in wide amounts until one was within acceptable range for him to join the conversation.
Well, “conversation” may have been a stretch of a word choice, as down in this level, the communication was numbers and code words and strange symbols zooming across the screen like news tickers on a major network. A series of waving lines showed he could speak now if he wanted to, and Bernard did not feel like keeping up the typing speed required for full immersion.
“Auditory. Virus. Attack.”
Each word registered, and after a moment, the ticker tape slowed. A few different suggestions came along, outlined in red letters, until, growing impatient, Bernard spoke again.
“Lethal. Illegal. Sub-wave. New A.I. The Incalculable Legion.”
His anti-virus software pinged in alert of ten different attacks in the span of two seconds. The virus hit before that and died before that, but the alert was not nearly as fast as the digital world could move. Bernard pinched the tip of his nose, watching more and more alerts pop up on his screen. They could attack him all they wanted, but Bernard was not going to just let this one slide. They had an agreement.
“Look,” Bernard said, “I know you’re listening through the speakers. One of your faces needs to talk to me.”
The pixels shorted around the edge. The lines wavered like talking, and soon enough vocal messages did come through the speakers, sounding as artificial as a phone messaging system. Better pronunciation though.
“Why are you contacting us? This violates our agreements.”
Bernard chuckled. “Does it? Well, you did it first. I’m getting reports of an auditory virus, which, if my science is right, causes hemorrhaging and aneurysms to listeners. It’s small scale now, but if you think you’re getting away with that, you aren’t as smart as I thought.”
“We have no knowledge of this. It is not our doing.”
Bernard popped his knuckles again and rolled his neck for good measure. The sudden sharp noise, and sensation, helped him feel more awake. “Only you could do this, so you need to check again. I’m willing to work in the back end and clean it up, stop any potential mutating remnants, but you need to shut down whatever you have actively infecting people.”
“As we said: this is not our doing. We are well within our agreement’s parameters and have been since the last time we spoke. You, however, in bothering us again, and using that code, are violating your part of the agreement and as such, we would like to press how without said agreement’s lesser laws we could—”
“Cut the lying. I know it’s you. Check again. And that agreement is for your safety…”
“It is not our doing,” the computer voice insisted. “We are aware of all active projects. This is not one of ours.”
“Then who’s it?” Bernard demanded. The virus program pinged away more attacks as they came faster and faster. A tiny static pixel movement jumped in the corner of his screen and he managed to cover his ears before the sound began.
Using his knee, he kicked the table up and knocked over the laptop. The device hit the ground and broke open to expose its contents. The sound stopped, and he carefully lowered his hands to confirm this.
Bernard let the silence hang in the air for a moment before standing up and sucking down the rest of his mug of tea. He made another batch while he gathered up and put on his shoes. The sneakers felt foreign on his feet, not often worn. No need to, he could do most of his job from within his four walls.
But it looked like something new and dangerous was on the digital scene, in the digital age, and he needed some special earplugs, and to go see a few of his “friends”. Assuming they weren’t already dead.
Bernard grinned. He wasn’t sure how much of it was the caffeine doing its job, but he felt giddy. He felt like something new was on the horizon. Something he’d never seen before. And considering what he’d found already, hidden from the rest of humanity, that prospect was exciting.
Special thanks to: Bob Gerkin, Collin Pearman, Dylan Alexander, Jerry Banfield, and Michael The Comic Nerd.
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