Johnny America


Through the Looking-Glass


I be­gan to sus­pect that some­one was on the oth­er end when my portable com­put­er start­ed tak­ing so long to shut down. I’d switch it off and start putting things away, tidy­ing up in my room, and when I went to fold the screen the lit­tle blue light that in­di­cates that the cam­era is watch­ing would still be on. I’d leave the room and come back and it’d still be shin­ing, a tiny but bright sap­phire eye, built in­to the mid­dle of the cas­ing right above the screen, and af­ter a while I grew self-con­scious. I’d close the note­book and un­plug the ma­chine and the next time I opened it again the lit­tle blue light would still be shin­ing. I’d run the bat­tery down to noth­ing and leave it for a while, but the next time I plugged it in the light would snap on again. I asked them about it in the ser­vice de­part­ment of the store where I bought the com­put­er, and since the war­ran­ty was still good and I kept com­ing back and in­sist­ing so much, even los­ing my tem­per on one oc­ca­sion, they re­luc­tant­ly ad­mit­ted the com­put­er in­to the shop where they took it apart and put it to­geth­er again at least half a dozen times. But the lit­tle blue light wouldn’t go out. They changed the bulb and when that didn’t work they re­moved the chip — the soft­ware and dri­ver were long gone by then — but the light was still on. Fi­nal­ly they took it from me and gave me an­oth­er com­put­er, just to get rid of me, and I heard lat­er through a friend who temped there that sum­mer that they beat my old com­put­er up with a ham­mer and sal­vaged what they could while in­cin­er­at­ing the rest.

But the strange thing is, ever since I took the new com­put­er out of the box and boot­ed it up for the first time, that same jew­el-blue eye has been wink­ing on and off, let­ting me know that the mo­ment I ask to take a look in­side, she’ll be star­ing back at me.

Filed under Fiction on October 22nd, 2009

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