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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Breathe (08/19/10)

TITLE: Webcam
By Gregory Kane


I know that the following may sound a little odd. But I am quite convinced that my laptop is alive. And it's watching me - right now.

So maybe "a little odd" is something of an understatement. But to appreciate my paranoia, you need to have met my husband. He's one of those men who only has to look at a computer and instantly it stops misbehaving. The following scenario transpires two or three times a night at our house. Some ridiculous impasse has left me feeling frazzled, my hair ends frayed, and my self-control within milliseconds of hurling my intransigent laptop across the room. Knowing that I will regret said destruction, I whisper the simple petition, "Darling?" and await my deliverer. Moments later my adorable husband drags himself away from his latest DVD blockbuster and traipses over to my desk. Then, with often no more than two clicks of the mouse and an authoritative depression of the Control key, my electronic gridlock vanishes into the ether. Sometimes he doesn't even have to touch the computer. Sometimes it's enough for him just to place a comforting hand on my shoulder and stare forcefully at the screen. But you can be sure that henceforth my Toshiba will operate perfectly. At least until he returns his attention to Angelina Jolie.

I suspect that my laptop is terrified of my better half. My husband has learned arcane lore to do with something called DOS. He's even dabbled at writing software and he wields a mean soldering iron. I know that if I was a hunk of plastic and silicon, I would be quivering in fear too. I only wish that I could somehow con it into thinking that I was he. Do you want to hear a confession? One time I deliberately donned my husband's favourite checked shirt and swiped his spare pair of glasses. A flesh coloured bandanna covered my auburn locks and made for a fair representation of his receding hairline. But did my disguise fool the wretched machine? Not on your life. Two seconds after I sat down, the telltale blue light flashed on and off on the webcam, a sure sign that the computer was checking my identity. Six minutes later, my inexcusably-way-past-its-deadline report transmogrified into Polish and all my word processor's drop down menus disappeared.

On one occasion I covered the webcam with a pink sticking plaster, but somehow it still knew it was me. I'm not 100% sure about this but I suspect that my nemesis uses its inbuilt microphone to listen for those give-away sighs, snarls and sniffs that indicate a female computer user. I don't think that my machine has a fingerprint reader but I don't see why it couldn't take a quick scan of my forefinger while it's resting on the touch pad. My perfume is also quite distinctive. I've never heard of a computer being able to smell, but these days who's to say?

My Toshiba even breathes faster when it's taunting me. More than once I've put my ear beside the outlet vent and listened to the whirr of its fan. When my husband's typing away, it gives a steady contented hum. But the moment I sit down, you can hear the fits and bursts as if it's getting increasingly excited. Once the fan has got to the stage where it sounds like a mosquito on amphetamines, I know that I'm doomed. It's only a matter of time before it does something bizarre just to spite me. This is its raison díÍtreó to make me look stupid to the world.

I've finished. Wow. I can't believe I made it right to the end without something downright nefarious occurring. Could it be that my laptop has turned over a new leaf? Am I becoming more cOMPETENT iN uSING wINDOWS? All I can say is that regardl

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This article has been read 713 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sharon Kane08/26/10
If I didn't know I hadn't written this I'd might have thought I had. What a riot. And Oh! So sadly familiar.

Tiny bit of red ink. "I know that if I was a hunk of plastic..." Should be "If I were..."

I loved the mosquito on amphetamines, and the ending is brilliant.
Cheryl Harrison08/30/10
Very creative.

When my husband's typing away, it gives a steady contented hum. But the moment I sit down, you can hear the fits and bursts as if it's getting increasingly excited. Once the fan has got to the stage where it sounds like a mosquito on amphetamines...

I loved this. :o)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/30/10
I absolutely loved this! It's hysterical. It also creeps me out a bit. Have you been spying on me??? I believe that my computer meltdown is due to my nerve damage from shingles. It acts up when I walk into a room, my family will shout "Mom get out of here, you're messing up the computer". As soon as I leave, I'll hear a "Thank you." When it acts up for me and I have to call "Darling," my husband also can fix it just like that. Your writing drew me in from the very first word. I laughed out loud several times. I'm going to show it to my husband to prove I'm not alone.
Melanie Kerr 08/30/10
I think the laptop is actually in love with you - it goes to peices when you are around!

A fun account to read.
Virgil Youngblood 08/30/10
My computer is gender neutral. The computer repair man and I are now on a first name basis and I think, if anything, my machine dislikes him. Or, maybe it doesn't, since they visit so often. I relate completely to your well written story.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/31/10
Oh how I love this! My computer is so much smarter than I am and laughs at my imeptness!
Sarah Elisabeth 08/31/10
haha, loved the ending! :-)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/02/10
Congratulations for placing in the top 15 of your level and in the top 40 overall and for the EC.