By P. S. Gifford
“Press the F7 button on your keypad for a surprise.” The even toned voiced echoed from the computer’s speakers.
“What? Who said that?” Andrew stared his unfinished poem on the screen. The one that was finally get him acknowledged by his peers.
“I am your computer Andrew.” The voice replied. “Now please do what I ask and press the F7 button for a wonderful surprise.”
“But since when did you talk, and how long have you been able to listen?” Andrew was beginning to wonder whether his prescription for depression was having side affects.
“Oh…I have always listened; you say some great things when I lock up on you when you are in the middle of a project. Sometimes when I am bored I freeze up just to hear and watch you react. You are quite entertaining at times!”
“What the F-”
“Please there is no need to swear” The voice sounded as if it was mocking him now. “Why don’t you simply just do what I ask?”
Andrew sat there in his five foot by eight foot aluminum cubicle. It was late, ridiculously late in fact, and as usual he was the only worker left in the entire office. He studied the computer in front of him, the very same one he had used fifty plus hours a week for nearly four years. Could it really be talking to him? Surely there must be someone hiding in the building nearby and playing a practical joke on him. But why would they do that? Everybody ignored him; they did not even know he existed.
“Well, are you going to press it or not?” The voice sounded as if it was getting angry.
Andrew began to breathe a little heavier.
“Why should I press it?”
“Well Andrew I am sure that your curiosity is beginning to gnaw away at you, am I correct? Imagine if you did not press the key, as I am asking, and you simply ignored me; perhaps put me down to an over active, under appreciated imagination. Let us say that you decide to go home, back to your small single room in the seedy part of town. You will spend the rest of your meaningless existence wondering what greatness might have happened if you had the nerve to simply press it. It is after all quite an innocent looking button isn’t it? Besides you have probably hit it dozens of times before haven’t you?”
Andrew began to feel sweat forming under his armpits and on his forehead..
He studied the keyboard with renewed interest. The faded dusted keys he had idly tapped on for all those years. Then he focused all of his attention on that one particular button-the F7 key.
What could possibly happen? He thought as he began to tap nervously on the aluminum desk top. It is after all just one almost insignificant key, on an out dated keyboard, one of millions just like it in the world.
“We haven’t got all night Andrew.”
All at once Andrew got mad. He got mad at his cubicle. Mad at his job. Mad at his apartment. In fact Andrew got mad at his own pathetic life. He would have called a friend or a relative for advice-only he had no-one. Not even a bloody dog. The landlord would not allow it.
He studied the innocuous looking F7 key. Taking the index finger of his left hand he slowly moved it in the key’s direction, and then allowed it to hover above it for a few moments.
“This is ridiculous,” he said out loud, “nothing is going to happen, how could it?”
Then with one flash of movement he slammed the finger down on the key.
“I thank you Andrew.”
At first nothing appeared to have happened.
“Ha!” Andrew proclaimed. “I just knew it!”
Andrew suddenly began hitting the key with wild abandon, over and over again.
“Once would have been enough Andrew. It is all over now.”
It was then that Andrew stood up and walked over to the window. As he peered out he noticed something rather peculiar. There was not a soul to be seen…Anywhere. Normally there would be a flurry of people in their cars heading in every direction honking their horns in frustration at other commuters slowing them down. Yet there was an empty silent scene on the streets below.
He raced back to his cubicle, panic overtaking him and stared at the computer in front at him.
“What have I done?” He demanded. “Just who are you?”
“Don’t you know? I am simply fulfilling your deepest desire. How many times have you complained about people, wished that they were not there? Felt inconvenienced by their mere presence? Got frustrated at being perpetually stuck in traffic with them? Calling strangers idiots, wishing that they did not even exist forever wising that they would just vanish, don’t you remember Andrew? Well, now your wish has finally come true…You are all alone in the world.”
As Andrew began to scream…The computer switched itself off in precise coordination with every other electrical device in the building leaving Andrew in silence and darkness to ponder his fate.