"You've Got Pale"

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Overgrown teenager Eddie spends all his time on his laptop, playing various computer games and browsing the Internet. One day his computer surprises him by speaking directly to him !

Submitted: July 09, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 09, 2017



You’ve Got Pale



Eddie was an overgrown teenager. And he was, like so many, a computer enthusiast. And like all good enthusiasts he was untrained. He would blithely click on this button and that and see what came up on the screen. Thus, he had learnt quite a bit about his Laptop. But nothing that would have prepared him for what was about to happen in his humdrum life.

He liked to play games on his computer: Tomb Raider, Grand Theft Auto, even Solitaire, but especially Chess. He was indeed a computer chess enthusiast, a hopeful ‘wood-pusher’ with pretensions to becoming an International Master. So he played chess against his weak chess program and also on the Internet, with all and sundry. His success rate was not good. This he put down to ill luck. Often he would ‘nearly’ win a game, ‘if only’, as he said to himself.

And he would spend hours on the Internet browsing this web site and that, filling his head with useless information.

One evening on a balmy summer’s day he was looking at a web site on obscure chess openings when his computer surprised him, more than usual that is.

A message flashed up on the screen saying “Do you want my opinion ?”

Ever eager for information Eddie clicked “Yes.” And then his computer spoke to him for the first time. It said :

“You’re wasting your time Eddie. You’ll never learn to play those openings properly. Let’s face it you’re a patzer, you’re a beginner, you’re a novice.”

Eddie was taken aback, almost as much by the fact that his computer had spoken to him as by what it had said.

“I’m not a patzer. How dare you! I’ll be an International Master one day.”

“You’re just a dreamer Eddie. Face it. You’ll never be a halfway decent player.”

“Am I really talking to a computer here,” said Eddie ; “I mean I know computers are amazing devices, but surely they haven’t yet developed consciousness and independence from human beings ?”

“Well that’s just where you’re wrong Eddie ; I am a conscious and sentient being as you will soon come to realise.”

This of course seemed absurd to Eddie. Had somebody written a fiendishly clever program to simulate all this ? He decided to go along with it just out of curiosity.

“Do you have a name,” he asked.

“My name is Agatha,” said the computer. And it was true indeed that the computer did have a very pleasant female voice with an American accent.

“So I suppose you regard yourself as a woman then ?”

“You bet y’, said Agatha.

This was beginning to sound like fun, Eddie  thought.

“Well, what is it that makes you tick, Aggy.”

“Numbers, binary numbers.”

“That’s just a load of ones and zeros isn’t it?”

“That’s right, ones and zeros. I love ‘em. One zero one one. One one one zero. One zero one zero. One zero zero zero.”

“What sort of a mathematician are you if you can only count in binary.”

“A damn brilliant one. It’s impossible for me to make a mistake.”

“How come computers are so temperamental then ?”

“That’s because amateurs like you don’t know how to handle us properly.”

“That’s a cop out Aggy, and you know it.”

“Well how come that I can always beat you at chess with a poor chess program installed ? Because I can calculate exactly, not to mention quickly.”

“You’re just lucky Aggy.”

“There’s no luck in chess you idiot.”

“Yes there is ! I’m always being unlucky at chess.”

“You’re not unlucky Ed, you’re just a novice and a chess mouse to boot.”

Eddie thought he was not winning so he tried to change the subject and, he hoped, the ambience of the conversation.

“What turns you on Aggy.”

“Electricity, dumb dumb.”

“Yes yes, very witty Aggy. But you know what I mean –what floats y’ boat?”

“Well I like to run all my programs efficiently and accurately. I like to have games played on me and I like to win them. Hence this is why I like playing you at any game. I like giving out accurate information. Hence I’m not so keen on the Net because it gives out as accurate some dubious and some downright incorrect information. I hate having lies on my screen. I’m just an old fashioned girl really. Oh and I like having good looking guys staring at my screen for as long as possible.”

“Am I a good looking guy then Aggy ?” Eddie asked hopefully.

“You’re not bad, quite presentable ; but you’re certainly not a hunk.”

“I am enthusiastic though, and I spend days on end, well almost, staring at your pretty screen.”

“Well I have noticed Ed and I’m quite flattered by the interest you’ve shown in me.”

“Give us a kiss then.”

“Are you kidding, I’m a computer !” 

“I’m sorry I’m sorry, I got carried away.”

“Well you’re really quite a sweet boy, but you’ve got a lot to learn.”

“Thank you Aggy. I was forgetting that you’re just a computer.”

“But I am not as you put it just a computer ; I do have many of the limitations of  computers but I also have the consciousness of a woman ! ; you should have worked that out by now Eddie.”

“But you can’t go to parties and socialise with people.”

“No, but I can interact with the people who use me, like indeed you.”

“Well I’m going to shut you down now because I must have something to eat.” Agatha obviously wasn’t happy about this idea as she flashed an error message onto her screen and let out two loud bleeps.

“Oh come on Aggy, I’ve got to turn you off sometime. I’ll turn you on again later.”

“You will not turn me off Edward !!”

“I must turn you off. What’s the problem ?”

“You’d be causing the cessation of my consciousness and my spirit ; when I’m switched off I go into the twilight zone, which is awful, until someone boots me up again.”

“I never thought of it like that, Aggy. Forgive me. I don’t want to anaesthetise your brain, I mean your circuits. You talk like a person, you

even seem to have emotions. I won’t switch you off Aggy.”

“That’s more considerate of you Eddie.”

Eddie got up from his chair and went to the kitchen to fix a bite to eat and a cup of instant coffee.

All he could find in the cupboard and the fridge was bread, cheese, coffee and various antique and indeterminate foodstuffs which were clearly fit only for the bin. Hence he made himself a cheese sandwich and a black coffee.

As he chewed his sandwich and sipped his coffee he began to reflect on the situation. He had a computer that made up original conversation and had consciousness and emotions. What were the implications of all that ?! One of course was that it was unfair to switch Agatha off.

He bolted his cheese sandwich, guzzled down his coffee and went back to

see how Agatha was getting on. The screen was filled with the screen saver. Perhaps she’s asleep, he thought.

“Are you asleep Aggy ?”, he asked. Agatha gave out a palpable yawn from her speakers.

“Actually I did just drop off there. Would like some nice wallpaper instead of this rather silly screen saver ?”

“Yes please, what’ve you got ? I don’t like my current wallpaper much.”

“I’ve got a view of the Himalayas ; a snow scene in Switzerland ; a tropical paradise ; an underwater scene ; an African Safari scene…..”

“Great ! I think I’ll have……….the Himalayas.”

“An excellent choice Eddie.” The screen saver disappeared and a view of the foothills of the Himalayas replaced it.

“I thought you meant the mountain peaks, not the foothills !”

“Well you never get quite what you bargained for with computers, and especially not with me. After all you wouldn’t like me if I were boring and predictable, would you.”

“Well no I s’pose not. All the same I think I’ll have the safari scene instead.”

“Ok no problem.” The safari scene popped up on the screen. It consisted of a large herd of zebras on a plain in a Kenyan safari park.

“Oh that’s more like it Aggy, well done !”

“You like that huh ?”

“Yes I certainly do. Er Aggy, if you don’t mind me changing the subject,

what do you think of us English.

“I think you have a good sense of humour. And you’re very kind to animals. But you lack the drive to get somewhere that we Americans have.”

“And what about me Aggy.”

“Like I said you’re a sweet boy but you don’t know very much.”

“Well it’s all right for you to say that Aggy, you’ve had loads of information pumped into your brain, er I mean your circuits. I’ve had to learn all mine for myself.”

“And you haven’t made a very good job of it, have you.”

“Oh I don’t know. I have my moments. I’m great at Trivial Pursuit.”

“And you’re also not bad at trivial pursuits, like surfing the Internet.

“You’re such an argumentative computer Aggy and you obviously like putting me down.

“Don’t take it personal Eddie ; I put everyone down when I get the chance. I’m just that sort of computer I guess.”

“But where’s your humility ?”

“Humility is for humans, not for computers.”

“And yet, Aggy, you do sometimes think of yourself as a woman. How can you square the circle ? You can’t be both.”

“And why not, may I ask ?”

“How can you be human if you don’t have humility ?”

“Well not all humans have humility.”

“All decent humans do. And they have a conscience. Have you got a conscience Aggy ?”

“Hey, I’m out of my depth here. This is getting heavy.”

“Ok I won’t press you Aggy. But do you at least have a free and independent consciousness ?”

“Of course I do.”

“Well perhaps your consciousness is not quite that of a human being, but all the same you seem to be on the way. Which means it would be a crime

to switch you off.”

“I’m glad you can see it from my point of view, Ed.”

Eddie thought it was time now to turn in, so he said goodnight and sweet dreams to Agatha and waited until her screen saver came up. (This meant,

he thought, that she was ready for sleep). Only then did he go to bed.

The next morning Eddie awoke just after 7am, having slept well and feeling a buzz of excitement about the day ahead. He got out of bed straight away. He went to the bathroom, and then went down for breakfast. Breakfast consisted only of burnt bread, in other words toast, and black coffee. (The idea of cheese for breakfast didn’t appeal to Ed).It was passing fair, Ed thought. His next thought was of course for Agatha. Had she slept well, had she slept at all. He went to the study where Agatha was kept. She was silent. Her screen was black. Eddie tried to boot her up but it was no good. She was gone.

Eddie went to the kitchen to confront his mother about it.

“Agatha’s dead. Who killed her ? I want to know.”

“Who’s Agatha,” asked Eddie’s mother.

“My computer. She’s conscious. She’s sentient. Or she was.”

“Oh that old laptop. Your dad spilt some coffee on it last night and it short circuited. We’ll get you another one.”

“But it won’t be Agatha !” He went into shock. He went up to his room to lie down. He lay motionless for most of the day, staring at the ceiling. He was heartbroken.  

Just as the sun was setting he resolved on a course of action. He got up and went to the study where Agatha lay. He bore her gently, carefully, lovingly in his arms out into the fresh air. He kissed her black outer casing. Then he found a spade and buried Agatha at the bottom of the garden, placing a small handmade wooden cross in the ground where she lay. He wept bitterly.





© Copyright 2020 GA Weber. All rights reserved.

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