Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Breathe (08/19/10)
By Gregory Kane
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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 d’être— 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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