The Virus

This was an extreme-short I wrote in 1988 as a contributiuon to a mailing list called WEIRD-L that my brother ran at the time.

No installation had been hit by a computer virus for some time. By God, they had all taken enough precautions since the last one a few years ago. Suddenly, however, people started noticing that the calculations weren't getting done quite so fast and started wondering...

Everyone suddenly seemed to be utterly concerned; everyone who even seldomly used a computer. There was a growing interest in learning how to program so you could "disinfect my computer" "just in case." Even secretaries using computers only for word processing got involved. And yet, things still seemed to slow down.

Career programmers were taking longer to complete their projects, essay-writers as well. "Just making sure I'm not infected; that's all."

Eventually, even the ATM machines started slowing down. News broadcasters had to wait for their slow-moving teleprompters to catch up. Finally, prime time ground to a halt as people were hypnotized by the flickering words, ever faster, as more and more people added to it, in dozens of languages, in an endless feedback loop:

"Make this appear on somebody else's screen."

Copyright © 1988–2020 Dan Bornstein. All rights reserved.