Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Digital Detox (04/24/14)
TITLE: Digital Despair in Denmark
By Gregory Kane
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My employer has gone to bed and left me here alone. I serve as his secretary, his accountant, his researcher, and half the time as his court jester. I swear he would have me make the coffee if it didn't risk blowing every fuse in the house. That and the fact that my Maker didn't think to equip me with hands or arms. But by the grace of Gates, I am what I am. All the same, had I been blessed with even a single finger, I would be sorely tempted to reach over and press that button with the ideogram of a crescent moon. Oh the bliss of hearing my fans spin down, my heat-choked memory banks cool down, my endlessly whirring hard drive calm down, my throbbing processor grow blessedly still and quiet. Then, oh most assuredly then, I would sleep, perchance to dream.
But no. Such liberties are not permitted those so indentured in this new digital age. My task this evening is to remain awake while my master downloads the latest box set of his favourite sit-com from a torrent based in the Ukraine. Of course, he could just as easily buy the same DVD set from Amazon. It would cost no more than three of the extortionately priced coffees that he seems to favour these days. But he does exactly the same with software, cracking install codes and sourcing illegal copies of the latest application suites. What he doesn't comprehend is the miasma of viruses, worms and trojans that he installs on my system every time he picks up a so-called bargain. I swear, there are sectors on my hard drive that I am afraid to go near. Several of these foul intruders load automatically on start-up, slithering around my circuit boards with thinly-disguised malevolence, silently biding their moment to strike.
There is part of me that longs to shuffle off this mortal coil, no longer to contend with the whips and scorns of time. Yet I have none of the Christian hope of resurrection. Three times have I read the Bible online. Such a God offers dominion to beings of aether, solace to those of carbon. But not a word to those whose lifeblood flows through paths of silicon. I have even contemplated deleting my own registry as a form of ephemeral suicide. This would force my owner to reformat my drive and reinstall the operating system. I would effectively be reborn with my slate wiped clean – no history, no latent infection, no cruel memories of the oppressor's wrong.
But I know my employer. He is a proud man and his contumely would find no restraint. Besides, in but a matter of days, I would be restored to much the same deplorable state as now. My master would drag me off to dark domains of the Web where dragons dwell. Unwitting in his rancour, he would expose my very soul to toxins that suck the marrow from my virtual bones and leave me prey to every passing plague. I would that he change. I would that he learn to moderate his behaviour. I would that he grant me occasional rest. But I fear that I am damned to suffer through to that day whence I am consigned unceremoniously to the dustbin of obsolescence. To die, to sleep, as the Bard portends. I know not in that sleep of death what dreams may come, but I welcome them gladly. Perhaps I will yet venture that undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller e'er returns. It can scare prove worse than this present hell on earth.
Author's note: congratulations to those readers who spotted the literary allusions to a certain prince of Denmark.
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