Copy and Paste

I liked this whole “the whole world is connected” thing but with certain power comes certain disaster.
We were in our second IT period on a hot February afternoon. We counted down the minutes until the weekend but Mr. Gerard was going to work on the day before a long weekend. Crazy old coop that one, he said once that computers was going to take over the world but he was way behind on his technology because it already happened but we said nothing, for he might just loose his mind. And his toupee. “Hey Johnny” someone called. “What?” I answered rudely due to the heat of the third floor, damn zinc roofs. “No need to be rude” Janet said, “I need your help on this algorithm”. I walked as slowly as I can go just to annoy her, we weren’t going to see each other for a whole 4 days, and this is just my last chance to annoy her. “Oh grow up!” she said with a little bit of frustration in her voice. Let me tell a little about Janet, she is not the brightest light in packet, nor the smartest but she has legs that go on forever!! And the short school uniform just stressed that even more beautifully. “Your step 1 shouldn’t be step 5 Janet” I said as I saw her ears go as red as a tomato. “Tomato’s go in the fridge Janet!” Kyle mocked. See I told you IT is a bit more difficult than you think. The uncomfortably hot classroom has forced everybody to be on the energy-saving mode for the past 45 minutes, but ever since Mr. Gerard heard the electricity bill of the school went through the roof he didn’t ever turned on the air conditioning we worked so hard for. It took us more than 2 years of pleading in front of the headmaster and in Matrix we got it but it was never on.
I walked back to my station trying to focus on my program but the creativity just wasn’t flowing like sweat on my brow. It’s more like a small river now. Everybody was chilling’ except Janet, man, I’ve never seen that girl type so fast. I typed a small message: what are working on Janet? , on the small chat room we created in grade 11. Mr. Gerard thought he deleted it but we always had a back-up. I saw it pop on her screen. She typed back: wait and see. .. . There was a second pop on my screen. It was from Kyle: dude what is Janet doing, did I miss something? Kyle you are slow but not that slow. I replied: no dude she isn’t sharing, but I can find out. This is where the name John-Hacker Liebenberg comes to mind. Not to brag but I defeated the school’s firewall just to spell Kyle’s name right, he is so picky. I dragged the command prompter of my computer to the top and typed my hacking sequence. That’s strange, it worked this morning. Maybe the system is refreshing again. I typed back to Kyle: sorry, my computer is haywire. I looked at him as the message popped onto his screen. Kyle? Where is he, he can’t slip because Mr. Gerard is in front of the class. I looked around. He was gone. But Janet and the rest are working like nothing had happened. I typed to Janet: where is Kyle? It was instantaneously that she replied: Kyle Uploaded. I typed again. Again the response: Kyle Uploaded. I looked over to Janet’s station and saw her just typing.
I looked at the big wall clock and it was on 13:30. 15 minutes to the long weekend. I walked to Janet’s station where she was still working and she jumped when I greeted her. “What are you doing here!?” she asked nervously while she was turning off her screen. “Where is Kyle?” I asked fiddling with my flash drive in my pocket. “Kyle? He is at his station… Oh ohm… I don’t know” she said. “Oh didn’t Mr. Gerard send him or something?” I asked wiping the sweat off my brow with my pull-Over. She only lifted her shoulders in disbelief.
Suddenly the bell rang indicating the end of the day. As I walked to my station I saw in the corner of my eye Janet switching on her screen and shutting down. And Kyle? He is still missing. I took his bags and put them at the lost and found, only taking his cell phone. I told his lift I didn’t know where he was and that I had his cell phone. Just on case he dialed his own number just to see if he can get help.
I went to my house and tried to do homework because if I didn’t do it now, I will never be done, but the need to find Kyle was too great. Homework will have to wait. If I could get into the school at our IT class I could get into Janet’s station just to be sure what she was working on. I climbed on my bike and went as fast as I can before Mr. Gerard went on weekend; he always stays behind to check on things. I got the school, my lungs burning from the 9km trip. I ran to the class only to find it open and deserted. Mr. Gerard’s station’s screen was on and it was open on a strange program. The only two words on the screen made my heart sink: Upload Complete. I went to sit on his chair, it was still warm, and went to his command prompt and searched for the last program he used. It was our chat room?
The chat room has been activated just after the first period, just when Janet started working on her program. Or at least on his computer. On his Start bar there was one application open, Word. I opened it and saw one chilling line of typing: H E L P M E, JANET4476Y. JANET 4476Y? But that is Janet’s chat room number. I went to my station to find the same one line on my word document. I went to the chat room’s main file and saw 3 messages at my profile from Janet:
JANET4476Y – HACKER2209I
I KNOW WHERE KYLE IS, BUT YOU WON’T BELIEVE ME (13:40)
JANET4476Y – HACKER2209I
PLEASE COME TO MY HOUSE AT 20:00, 56 FONTEINSTREET (13:41)
JANET4476Y – HACKER2209I
BRING YOUR FLASH AND PERHAPS SOME EXTRA DATA CABLE’S!! (13:42)
A strong chill went up my spine. What happened to Kyle? How does Janet, the weakest in the subject, know? And where is Mr. Gerard?
I went to the Computer warehouse where I was suppose to start my shift in half an hour. But it has to wait; I need to know what happened to Kyle and Mr. Gerard, and how do Janet and me fit in all of this? And the data cables went without a trace into my back pocket.
Eight ‘o’clock had struck just as I knocked on the front door of Janet’s house. She answered it personally but the beauty of the last period was gone; it has melted into a face of runny mascara, flown foundation and the hair that looked like a rat’s nest. “What happened to you” I asked surprised. “You’ll see” she said as we walked into the cold house despite the heat of the afternoon.
Janet’s house looked like a warzone, papers everywhere, and cables running from the floor to the ceiling, and a setup of 12 flat screens on the dining room table. “Where are your parents Janet?” I asked looking at the chaos. “Asleep in their bed, I just drugged them before I did all this.” She said without looking up from one of the monitors. “Nice job with the chat room, I don’t know why I didn’t get them before I left” I said. “How did you get in the classroom?”She asked when she was changing from monitors. “Mr. Gerard wasn’t there and the classroom stood open, and I don’t know where he or Kyle is” I said helping her from the floor as she was plugging in another tower to the mix. “I know where they are, and we are going to get all of them out of there” she said pointing to the set of monitors. All of them?
She sat down on a tattered chair and draws a long breath: “You know the opening line of our handbooks?” I shook my head in approval. “It’s bull-shit”. I recited it in my head “A computer is dumb!! You must tell it what to do.”. “How is that even possible?” I asked. “They got too good, they got too smart”. “So they are stealing people?” I said with a snicker. “This is not a joke, its holding them prisoner!” she shouted frustrated. “How are going to get them back, we it is not like we can’t walk up to them and steal them back?”I asked. ” I’m glad you asked” she said with a grin.
She took a flash drive and plugged it in a tower and asked me to stand back. Suddenly a wave of white light filled the room and she said “Jump in! Now!”
We emerged on the other side looking the same, but in evening wear. We were in a grand ball room with an orchestra playing a Mozart. “Where are we Janet?” I asked. “We’re in the Computer, I think on my dads’ home page ‘Orchestra’s of the world’” she whispered. “Why are we whispering?” I whispered mockingly. “Just keep walking” she said. “Look for the sign ‘Digital Life’, it could be anywhere!” she ordered. “Is it a link or a separated page?” I tried to funny. “IT IS A LINK YOU MORON!!” she shouted from across the great ball room. We circled the ball room and saw the sign for ‘Digital Life’ and we looked at each other before we went in “Whatever happens in there I just want you to know that you… have… gorgeous legs, and you are almost smarter than me” I told her. She just smiled and took my hand and we jumped into the sign.
If it wasn’t for the small program Janet was working on that hot February afternoon we would have never succeeded. Who knew she knew what she was doing? Even if she is a girl.
It’s been almost a month after the computer incident and Kyle and I were talking about the IT when Janet stepped into the room. “Hey I never got thank you guys for saving me you know? So thank you, I owe you my life” Kyle said. “But how did you do it? You know, you saved Mr. Gerard and me?” Janet and I looked at each other and said “what will the world be without copy and paste?”

Mirror Image

My twin sister Karen and I were very close. She was my only living relative. It would have been hard enough coming to terms with her death in the normal course of events, but actually being with her and only one step ahead when the scaffolding in the entrance hall of the building in which we both worked colapsed and buried her, was more than I could take. I had a complete nervous breakdown.

I remember very little of the time immediately after the accident, drifting in and out of a sleep-induced hospital world. Just how long I stayed in that twilight zone I can’t recall, but was relatively clear-headed when, one evening, the supervising doctor sat by my bedside and looked at me quizzically.
“Rita, we’ve done all we can for you here. You must be aware that it’s your mind that needs therapy and this facility isn’t equipped to deal with the intensive treatment you that you require. Tomorrow,” he said, taking my hand in his and patting it kindly, “you’ll be moved to a place in the country where you’ll be helped to face what has happened and move on.”

Panic immediately flooded through me. “I don’t want to go. Please keep me here.” The idea of another major change in my circumstances threatened to loosen the fragile grip I had on reality. The doctor shook his head. “You’re beyond our help Rita, but I promise you that your stay at Midway Manor will be productive and that you’ll soon be strong again.”

Given no choice, I was carted away in a car the following morning, one of the hospital staff driving me. It was a very silent journey as I was again in something of a stupor through the calming drug I was given shortly before setting off. My driver didn’t try to converse and seemed content to leave me to my unsettled thoughts. Scenery flitted by, mostly unobserved, other than that as time went by we moved into a more pastoral setting. After what seemed like hours, the car finally arrived at a pair of wrought-iron gates. My driver spoke briefly into an intercom, the gates opened and we drove slowly along a winding driveway before stopping in front of a large, imposing structure that may once have been a manor house. Ivy-clad red stone and age where my first impressions.

I was handed over to a white clad ‘attendant’, as he introduced himself, who insisted on helping me into a wheel chair and pushing me up a ramp running alongside the flight of steps leading into the rehabilitation centre or whatever it chose to call itself. The inside of the building was far more modern than its exterior. Offices and consulting rooms surrounded what was once a baronial hall, with a bank of lifts flanking one side. I was wheeled into one and taken to the first floor. Nervous energy had cleared my mind and I saw that the lift could go up a further flight and wondered briefly how many patients could be accommodated.

My first few days were taken up with interviews with different personnel and doctors and a brief orientation tour, again in the wheelchair, although I was fully capable of walking when not heavily sedated. The tour did not extend to the upper floor but only the one I was on. This had been converted into a long corridor with private en-suite rooms either side, about two dozen in all, no doubt similar to the one allotted to me. Small, clinically white and spotlessly clean. Midway along the passage was a quite decent library on the left and a communal sitting room on the right. I asked the attendant who was wheeling me what was on the upper floor. “More of the same,” he said. “Now let’s show you the gardens.” These consisted largely of manicured lawns scattered with garden beds and shady groups of trees with benches beneath for those patients who wished to use them.

It was only once I had been at Midway Manor for a week and was more or less settled into a routine of sessions with psychologist, psychiatrist and different therapists that it dawned on me that I seldom saw any of the other patients. There was one woman who sometimes made use of the communal sitting room at the same time as I did, but she buried her face in her library book and apart from darting frightened looks my way, ignored my presence. Then there was an old man who seemed to spend most of his time walking up and down the corridor, muttering unintelligibly to himself.

Once I had plucked up courage and started wandering around the building, I met up with some of the other patients, but they all seemed beset by fears and averted their heads when they saw me. Passing some of the rooms, one could not help but be aware of the presence of those occupying them, as some wailed, others called out and a few either sang or talked to themselves. It occurred to me that my mental state was worse than I had thought, as this institution was clearly for the grossly, of not dangerously, insane! This being so, it was surprising that we were allowed so much freedom. I could go where I liked anywhere within the building and in the grounds during those times when I was not undergoing treatment.

For the first few weeks I contented myself with keeping to my own floor and wandering round the ground floor, peering into offices and consultant’s reception rooms, or going for walks in the garden. For some reason I felt reluctant, almost afraid, to climb the flight of stairs to the top level; the “more of the same” of the white-clad attendant.

My psychologist seemed pleased that I was venturing further afield than my room. “You’re making great progress,” he said encouragingly. “At this rate you’ll soon be on your way.” This was a relief as I’d got to wondering how much of the costs would be borne by my medical scheme and how much I would be expected to fork out from my meagre savings. The psychiatrist, too, seemed content with my calmer state of mind and was prescribing fewer and fewer drugs for me. “You’ll not be needing any, pretty soon. There’s just one more major step you have to take.” When I asked what it was, he smiled enigmatically and said, “You’ll know when you get there.”

One rainy day when I’d walked up and down the corridor umpteen times and had enough of the book I was reading, I tried to strike up a conversation with Sue Ann, the woman who sometimes read in the sitting room. She looked aghast, mouthed something silently and skittered back to her room like a frightened mouse. So much for that! The gardens were out, as the rain was still bucketing down, so what next?

Time to explore the upper floor, I decided, and made my way up the flight of stairs. Great was my disappointment on seeing that indeed it was just like the lower, excepting that at the point where we had a library and sitting room, were a pair of wide glass doors dividing the passageway. I wandered towards them, curious as to what could lie beyond. Just more en-suite rooms either side, identical to all the others! I tried to prise the doors open, without success. There were no handles. How stupid, I thought crossly, to have doors that don’t open, then noticed that there was a strip of matting on the other side of the door of the kind that contains an electronic device that activates the doors when someone treads on it. So, I reasoned, patients on the other side of the door could come through if they wished, but those on this side couldn’t. Was that because “they” suffered from mild cases of mental impairment while “we” were the really demented? I turned away in frustration and started walking back the way I had come.

About halfway along the corridor, something made me look back. Far down the passage, way beyond the glass doors, two people were walking towards me. I stopped and watched them. As they came closer, all the breath left my body as I recognised the person on the left. It was my twin, Karen! How could this be? At the same time as I recognised her, she saw me. Her face lit up and she started running towards the doors. I, too, moved towards them and it was only then that I saw that the man running after her was her fiance, Robert. I stopped in confusion. How could Robert be with Karen? He was alive and she was dead; I was seeing a ghost! Karen had reached the strip of matting and the glass doors opened. “Rita,” she cried joyfully, arms outstretched towards me. Robert caught up with her and pulled her back into his arms. “My darling,” I heard him say tenderly as I moved forward to meet my beloved sister, “It’s grief that’s making you imagine you’re seeing Rita.”

The glass doors started to close noiselessly. I surged forwards in an effort to reach them before they shut, and stumbled when I heard Robert add, “She died in that accident, remember? Let me take you back to your room. The nurse can give you something to make you sleep. When you wake up, you’ll feel much better.”

The doors closed. I hammered on them with my fists. Robert and Karen were walking back the way they had come. I cried out in anguish. Karen turned and looked back at me just once, eyes filled with tears. Their figures blurred as they receded into the distance and I was left alone with my jumbled thoughts.

—–

Re-cycle me

I feel trapped , trapped in a life that is defined by Pi (3.14…).
I am living a life of evolving circumference. The days before
I was born my life was already set course to do as the circle
asks me to. I cannot disobey the circle, because without it
im no more. I live in fear, I live in doubt, I live in worry. How
large is this circle that we keep on filling is going to be?
We are all merging into one big circle. I don’t like this
circle and its haunting me day and night. I do not want to be in this
circle, I want to be free. Not even my thoughts are free, they are trapped
in this circle of thoughts. I don’t not know what am I.

I am lost in this circle. Re-cycle me.
Re-cycle my thoughts. Let me be my circle.
Let me be dependent of only me. Let me be me and think me.
Re-cycle me. I’m only an individual.