Its 5 pm and work has been frustrating. My diary shows none of my To-Dos have been struck-off! My computer appears starved of resources and my mind of creative juices. I decide to call it a day and play squash. I feel sly. No one actually notices that I did not get done much today. Not one. Not my neighbour at work, not my boss (on leave) and not people whom I had meetings with today. And yet, I am at liberty to leave without answering anyone. Appraisals are due next week. I can work hard and be in good books then.
I usually don’t shut down my computer but today I decide to. To Start I go, and Shutdown! Let the machine do the rest. “Time for you to sleep”, said I and see the green button on my messenger window saying to me “Green lights! Floor it, speed away, break free!”
I am confident of not being watched. But someone is! My boss is. He is inside my computer. The computer is him! Just as I hit shutdown, the computer hangs up. The messenger window appears.
“How was your day?” writes the boss, or was it the computer as the boss?
I know I have hit the shut down button. I am hoping he sees me offline soon. But he writes again,
“Has the report been fixed?”
I stare at my diary, still open. The first task written in cursive black was ‘Fix report.’ The ink had dried out but the task was open.
“How can you not now shut down by now? I commanded you to” I tell my computer.
I realise. The computer is my boss. He wants to interrogate me. Now!
“Shutdown” I beg.
“Could you send me minutes of meeting today?” Computer asks. My black, still open, diary shouts back “Yes, that’s on the list too, didn’t you do it?” I close my dairy to save me from this phantasmagorical drill.
Something happens. I realise again. My boss is not alone inside the computer. My resident alter-ego tries to fight the boss. It is saying:
“I know you have tried to shut down, but someone here is proving to be stronger than my resources. I can’t help but wait for him to withdraw naturally. I can’t force this guy down.” My alter-ego disappears.
“Hello! Are you there? Where did you go? What do I do? Plug the cord out? But he knows I have seen his messages”, went my monologue.
No reply. I close the chat window and decide to pull out the power cord. I bend down to do so but boss appears again.
“You there? Please update me before you leave”
I give up and decide to reply. But this last chat window multiplies cancerously at an alarming rate.
I hear a sadistic laugh. It is from another cubicle. But I know. It is my Computer. It’s saying to me “You’re watched, all the time”. I cannot see the green light anymore.
I wrote this short story above in response to a Creative Writing exercise conducted by Writer’s Digest. I received a decent feedback on this story. This is the first time I did not write for myself. I wrote against a task, and assignment! The reason I took this assignment was that I always wrote for myself!
It was only a few days ago that I realized that I have been writing only for myself. The intent has always been more to express than to be read which is why my hand-written diaries have more of me than this wordpress site. Therefore, I fancied writing for a task and see how I went with it.
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