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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hacker or Virus (computer) (12/15/11)

TITLE: Creepiest sound
By Jack Taylor


Creepiest Sound

“The creepiest sound that I have ever heard is nothing at all.” That’s what Russell Moore said of his experience.

I thought I could relate to him on the day I walked into my office and saw the blank screen on my computer. I was sure that just a few hours before I had been uploading a new cheap program guaranteed to help me speed up my video game files. The sound of silence was creepy, alien, out of place.

My good friend Bob had guaranteed this would solve all my problems and I’d shared it with dozens of my friends. I’d stepped out for a quick dash to Starbucks and I couldn’t wait to hear their gratitude at helping them increase their capacity for gaming.

I realized that sitting down at Jenna’s table with my latte was likely a mistake when I saw Amy walk by and give me the evil glare. There would definitely be silence coming from that direction for a while. When my fifteen attempts at calling her later went unanswered I knew this was going to be a long day.

When I walked back into the office, the sun was reflecting off the screen at just the right angle so that I could see my furrowed brows as I began to tap on the space bar and press on the return key. My frown was obvious as I took another prod at the start button.

I reached up and pulled the cord to shut the curtains letting in that bright light. There was still nothing on the screen. No response. No image. No sound.

Pulling out the plug and refitting it into the socket didn’t help. Checking the cords didn’t help. I checked for signs of mischief and there was nothing.

I pulled out my laptop and fired it up. The usual options showed. I checked my email and there I saw the damage. Thirty emails from friends complaining about a virus I had somehow spread to them in the last hours.

I called up Jim. “How in the world could I have sent you a virus. A virus is a program that multiplies itself and spreads. I didn’t lend you a DVD or a USB drive.”

Jim wasn’t impressed with my excuses. “You obviously had an infected file in that game program you sent. Until you get it fixed, don’t bother sending me any more emails. Furthermore, you’ve crashed my computer.”

I noticed my laptop was suddenly blank. I hung up with Jim and started trying the same restart process I’d just been through a few minutes before. Nothing.

I knew most viruses were just nuisances. This was annoying. Worse than usual. The tech store was closed today.

I picked up the article Jenna had handed to me when I’d made my excuses and tried to run after Amy. I never did find her and I still haven’t made a connection.

The article was about a trip that Russell Moore and his wife Maria had made to an orphanage in Russia to adopt two one year old boys. He talked about the squalor and stench of the building that housed all these little ones. Little ones that lay untouched and uncared for in their crude little cribs.

He talked most about the strange silence and then he learned. He learned that infants learn to stop crying when no one responds to their calls for food and comfort and love. No one had ever responded to these children. Russell Moore considered the silence the creepiest sound of all.

As the tears coursed down my cheeks and splashed onto the grainy image of Russell and Maria with their two little sons, I suddenly realized that I had very little to complain about in terms of my computer.

In my heart, and in my society, was a virus of apathy that ignored the 140 million orphans that struggled to survive in conditions like this. It was passed from heart to heart. From family to family. In my quest for video gamesmanship and a better program I hadn’t even thought about children who had long ago learned not to cry anymore.

The computer games I played were filled with noise and action. They were filled with life that didn’t matter anymore. Unreal life. It took a hacker and a virus to bring me the silence to turn my attention toward the cry of silence of life that did matter. The silence of babies no one loved.

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This article has been read 398 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amanda Brogan12/29/11
Well written! I loved the quote from Russell Moore and the bit of insight into his ministry with orphans. I'd never heard of him before, but now I'm intrigued to do some research on him.

Love how you showed that the virus of apathy and selfishness in our world is far worse than any computer virus.

The whole misunderstanding between Amy and the main character concerning Jenna made me want to hear a little more about their relationship. Sounds like a deeper story lies there ...
C D Swanson 12/29/11
Wow - this was packed with intrique and held my attention throughout. I truly enjoyed it, and the message it conveyed. Nicely done. God Bless~
annie keys12/29/11
Very nice. I love the comparison of apathy to a virus. Well written, thought provoking. Good job.
James Brown12/29/11
Definitely an award winner. Loved the transition from gaming to orphans. Not only did you express the idea of a computer virus, but you joined it with a real life issue. Great contrast.

The story captured my attention and held it to the end.

However, the critiquer in me won't let me stop with a simple 'well done'.

My first impression was an overuse of the idea of the creepiest sound at the beginning.

I'm of the persuasion that you don't repeat the title in the first sentence of the story. The title introduces the thought, so I want the first sentence to say something new.

Since you start with a quote, I'd opt for a stronger title that incorporates gaming with the orphans.

You drew the story to a successful conclusion with a quick summary of all that transpired.

Endings need to be strong. One thing I noticed was your use of passive sentences in the last paragraph.

You say the games 'were filled'. A stronger method says, "The computer games filled my life with empty noise and action." Then again, you can replace a common word - filled - with something stronger. Maybe something like - Computer games crammed empty noise and action into every corner of my life.

Oh well, you get the idea.

Thanks for sharing this gem.
Leola Ogle 12/30/11
This story kept my attention start to finish! Well written! At first I was amused by the image of innocently sending a computer virus to some friends, but by the ending, I felt anguish for those babies who cease to cry because no one responded or cared. Thanks for sharing. God bless!
Allison Egley 12/30/11
Oh wow. I love the connection you made here between the beginning and the end of the story. Silence can indeed be a "creepy" sound.
Jenna Dawn12/30/11
Very creative story idea. I love the flow from gaming to orphans. There were a few things that confused me a little, however.

When you mention Amy, I guess I assumed at first that she was mad at the MC because her computer must have gotten a virus from him, yet that wasn't the case. Therefore, I wasn't sure why Amy was mentioned, as she wasn't relevant to the rest of the "very short" story.

When you mention that the MC "shared the program with dozens of friends", it would have been good to specify that it was "sent" via email. I think I initially assumed that he told them verbally, which would not have even resulted in a spread of a virus.

The following sentence was very confusing to me:

"It took a hacker and a virus to bring me the silence to turn my attention toward the cry of silence of life that did matter."

Lots of prepositions are jumbled in there. I think the idea expressed in this sentence, which is the summation of your entire story, could have been better written.

I pointed out several negatives, but again, I liked the story overall. It was a very innovative story idea with the contrast between gaming and orphans and what is important in life. I, too, am curious to know more about Russell Moore. Nice job!
Edmond Ng 01/03/12
A very sad message within a well written piece. Excellent work.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/04/12
The opening line was a great hook! I think you did a great job writing about the topic in a fresh way.

I did have a tad difficulty following some of it. I wasn't sure who all the characters were. I think the word limit hurt your transitions.

The ending was fantastic. I've learned the lesson that what I think is a huge problem is really nothing compared to what others endure. This is a wonderful message!
C D Swanson 01/05/12
Congrats - God Bless~
Amanda Brogan01/05/12
Congratulations on getting Highly Commended!