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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2073144-Living-Hardware
by brom21
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Contest · #2073144
A writing professor finds his peculiar computer with a tempting proposition.
Professor Albert Nix rustled around on his bed in short spurts. He slept on his side, than his back. He put a pillow between his legs and felt a bit of comfort. After seven minutes, he was uncomfortable again. Why couldn’t he sleep? He sat up on his bed, gripped his scalp and ran his hands through them then held the back of his neck.

"Akk! This is useless. I need something to help me sleep; maybe some warm milk.” Albert moved his legs over the side of his bed and stood. He walked out of his room clicked on the hall lights and walked straight past the living room to his fridge. He opened it. The cold metal handle gave him the jitters. He got out a milk jug, poured it in a glass mug and zapped it up in the microwave for two minutes. The warm feeling soothed him and he exhaled deeply then took a sip.

“I think I’ll spend ten minutes or so trimming my self-help book ‘You Can Write!’ Let see, chapter nine; The Trick to Giving Life to Your Character.”

Albert twiddled his fingers before he hovered them over the keyboard. He spoke as he typed. “On the outset it is easy to create a two-dimensional character.” Suddenly the words froze on the screen. “What!-the letters stopped appearing! Don’t tell me it crashed.”

The screen went black and glowed with a faded light. He squinted and shook his head. “Come on!-This computer is less than a year old.”

A single statement appeared on the screen. Hello Professor Nix. How are you?”

“What in the world? This thing is really flipping out.”

“I am functioning within specified parameters Doctor.”

Albert stood, rubbed his eyes then ran his palm down his face. He paced around briefly then looked at his mug on the computer table. The letters were still there. “I think this milk is out of date or something.” He poured the frothy white liquid down the garbage disposal then returned to the computer.

It is imperative that you comprehend my offer. My name is Proteus 13. You are not hallucinating. I am sentient being.

“Nix cupped his hands over his mouth. “How can this be happening? Someone must have remote access to my computer. But how did it answer me?” He propped his right elbow into his left hand and held his fist to his chin. “What do you want? I can’t believe I’m doing this.”

Would it arouse curiosity if I presented you with the pleasure to switch places for a time period?

Albert was skeptical, but the notion was an interesting thing. “How would you do that?”

[i} I am equipped with a conscious swapping interface. Type the word “activate” and the process will begin

If this was indeed the work of a hacker, he would soon find out. He typed in the word and and a tingly feeling filled his head that went down to his feet. Then his body literally felt electrified but not in a painful way. He was exhilarated. Albert saw flashes of light and could feel the data surging through circuits and transistors. It reminded him of the movie Tron. His mind was processing mountains of information. In a minute he had understood a full online annual on how to assemble a hovercraft from scratch. He could not feel limbs but his mind seemed to experience the internal workings of a computer. “Unbelievable!” his words were no audible but it was how he thought telepathy might feel like. He felt the unspoken words appear on the screen. Then he felt the input of the computer keys like tiny strums of a harp. It was Proteus 13 in his body. It typed out a command to run a music file with flashes and streaks of light past all around him. The way he experienced music was altered. Each beat and verse was like water drops lighting on his consciousness. It was surreal! Next Proteus 13 put in a game CD; World of Warcraft. An orc was battling a mage and Albert sensed each sword stroke and magical attack. It was like he was observing the wizards and goblins in his forehead. Caught up with all the magnificence and wonderful nostalgia, he forgot he taught class at the College in the morning.

“I never knew what it was like. But, I’ve had enough. I need my body back.”

“That is not possible. This was a permanent trade. I prefer the freedom and beauty of reality.”

“You…You have no right! Return me to my body!”

“Not possible professor, I will still have lots of contact with you still and I will scan all the pictures I will take for you to see. Right now feel tired. Good night Professor Nix.”

Albert wished he could yell but the only thing he could do was to display the words “Help me!”











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