My Affair with Computers

When I was younger I used to spend a lot of hours playing video games. It was the best thing in the world then. It’s the one thing I look forward to most in the morning, and when I was in school bored listening to my teacher. It could be my addiction that has cost me my examination marks. You see, playing computer games was one thing that I thought I want to spend my whole life doing. The idea of being able to play an entirely different life, a hero, appeals to me so much more than my ordinary life. I even thought I will align my life achievements to creating an immersive and multiplayer educational game. Like “The Elder Scrolls Morrowind” but with real plants, real people speaking English, and morals to teach us about society. Of course that never happened. There was no way I could have built such a sophisticated software. Even by today’s standards with all the highly simplified Integrated Development Environments. “Aren’t computers meant to make our lives easier? Didn’t the guy on the Microsoft TV commercial say that?” I would think and it’s partly true.

Then came my teenage years, and the popularity of the Internet started growing. People started being frequently online. Google started becoming relevant and useful. I started searching the Internet for Range Rovers, Defenders, videos on cars off roading and Music Videos. I’d marvel at the ability of the artists to provide free songs on YouTube. Most didn’t have videos like we do today, it used to show only a picture of the album with the music. I grew up with the Internet, learning the culture of the world through it. (Well, maybe the culture defined by the Internet, like the Nerdfighters, Brotherhood 2.0). I started to realise the power one wields in being the Internet service provider. The Internet was unstoppable and everyone benefits in life and work from it. Those who are afraid of technology, has to live through it. I have an innate feeling that our generation will usher in a new age. Different in comparison to previous generations because we have the aid of the Internet.


An Unusual Experience

It was a California afternoon, the sun obscured by heavy rain clouds suggesting a downpour soon. There were occasional flashes of lightning followed by deafening claps of thunder from the tropical forest nearby. Road-side stall owners were packing, scurrying to seek nearby shelters.

Gil and I were having our usual Chemistry lesson. Distracted by the latest Sci-fi game, we were increasingly excited and anxious to get home as it was one that we have waited a long time for; the deliver was due today as stated on the receipt.

After gush of wind whirls and whistles, rain started puring like billions of glass marbles. We knew we had better devise a proper plan if getting home quick and dry was our goal. Outside the classroom windows were pedestrians scurrying to their destinations, some clutching on to their hat s and others holding their coat flaps tightly. The wind made holding an umbrella an impossible task and branches were strained to snap any moment.

This was dangerous weather and possibly one Gil and I had never experienced. Phone lines were out but this was a norm during storm. Besides, everyone knew all the dangers that lie in this town. Anything that is natural, that is! Nevertheless, Gil and I persisted on returning home quickly. We discussed our plans ignoring the lesson.

Ringgg!!”, the school bell rang. Doors were harshly kicked open. This was the moment every student of East High have never failed to look forward to. The corridors started to pack like ants colonising a leftover meal. Gil and I were among the first few to reach the main entrance. Glazing outwards, were wary parents of their molly-coddled children.

With out plan already established, we slid our way past the crowd. Off we ran when the green man flashed at the traffic junction. Halfway down the slippery road, I realised an unusual buzzing sound that strained my ear, leaving me agonized slightly. That buzz spurred curiousness to us, as it was exactly like the video game we were dying for. Sci-fi genre was what we both enjoy and have in common. Such a moment was hard to resist… We went to investigate beyond the woods.

A building constructed out of antique wood borders of what seemed to be windows materialised before our eyes. It was a small simple looking house with pyramid-like roof inhabited by moss and panels of decomposing wood. On the one side, there were hammers and handyman tools… “Someone was here”, whispered Gil.

I thought for a while and replied: “I believe someone was trying to abolish this house.”

The buzzing sound was louder but surprisingly much less annoying. Gil found a trap door under clumps of black charcoals. Each swipe revealed the wooden trap door surface sending dust whirling into the air. The vibe to our new video game subsided. We were eager to check out this abandoned half destroyed charred ruin.

Sliding down a tube, we landed face palmed. The sand here cushioned our fall. I went on into the dark first as I was excited to explore. A lighter I smuggled to school provided me the necessary lighting.


Metal wall. Not a very good moment, when you hit one. My mind went blank for a moment but I managed to compose myself. Holding the lighter forward revealed a three handled door. Gil and I turned it. Inside what seemed like a bank vault were loads of electronics that reminded me of the matrix. There were plenty of computer screens and buttons laid out like the mixer of a sound engineer’s recording room.

A man with fuzzy hair appeared from nowhere. “What’s going on? How did you get here?”

Flabbergasted, I stammered: “Who… who… are you? We found a trap door and stumbled upon this place.”

The man introduced himself, “I’m Dr Douf, I abduct children in this country side and sell their brains as tools to my clients. This is a perfect timing, I need exactly two more.” Smirking and gawking, this maniac was nightmare at its worst. Our problem is, this was no nightmare, we need to get out of here, and fast!

Dr Douf came towards me with outstretched hands. Aghast, Gil backed and tripped onto something. I punched Dr Douf between his eyes, sending him to the ground, stunted and slightly unconscious. “Quick!”, I said, “get to the door, be quick! We need to get out of here before he awakes!” Gil was trembling with fear. How I regretted not listening to my mum about exploring places unknown without their permission. He staggered to the door as quick as his legs allowed while I checked on Dr Douf.

We had better be quick Gil. Oh bother… Darn you, I’m going first.” I went forward seeking an exit leaving Gil to fend for himself.

Without warning, Gil was lifted off the ground, his mouth gagged by a hand, his body paralysed. Upon returning, I shouted a carnivorous warning like a cobra revealing it’s venomous slits to it’s predator.

None… of you are leaving here, no one ever escapes my lair!” Dr Douf exclaimed.

Oh yeah, then let us be the first one. I command you to release the boy! Now! Or what you’ll be getting next is a foot to your nut.”, deep inside me, was distress but my martial arts teacher taught me to stay calm during such situation, it’s the only and best way to making it out alive.

Dr Douf backed off a little, clearly taken aback by my impromptu threat.

No?”, I declared sternly, revealing from the back a steel pole.

Dr Douf then releases Gil and came forward to battle me. I knew how to fight but loosing is what I have always ended up with. It was like a blood bath except it was bruises not cuts. Dr Douf lurched forward a kick, blocks my punch and smoulders a psychotic expression. Then an idea sparked in my mind, most probably due to my survival instinct. I carefully walked sideways, careful not to make any sudden movement then look over at Gil who we’ve forgotten and hinted him.

Gil was still stupefied but he calmed himself by mumbling some comforting words before picking up the steel pole Dr Douf kicked off my hand. With all his might, while I held Dr Douf arms while risking a head butt, Gil finished Dr Douf with a ear splitting clank on his head.

Contented I reposed, and congratulated Gil for his bravery. We then went on to find an exit.

With luck and some skills, we found a way out. Never was the sweet smell of moist air, the familiar sound of cars passing and cows mooing sounded this good. Falling to the ground, from the trauma we had, we counted our blessing and took a deep breath admiring our country side we might have never lived to see again. I belief we both learned a very important lesson…

Late-night laughter on a city street always made her nervous…

Late-night laughter on a street always made her nervous…

The creepy laughter echoed as if haunting her as she walks down the alley sending goosebumps to her skin. “This is Milano Cove”, Melissa stammered. There couldn’t possibly be any spirits… Grandma’s superstitions were but a belief. Perhaps it could be the movie, or perhaps I needed a break.., she thought.

Milano Cove is the safest city in Philippines considering the high taxes the residents have to pay to the authorities as a contribution to the country and to keep potent unwanted threats at bay. Only those who can afford the lavish lifestyle stays here. The place was known to be quiet and seldom do cars pass by, whirling dead leaves in the air. Recently, Lelissa has noticed the influx of younger families who have their teenagers causing noise pollution or public nuisance as they often hung out in groups, in cafes or in bars. Though the alleys were dark with many hidden corners for intrusion robbers often take advantage of, residents here can expect to walk down them confidently knowing help is a mere minute away.

“Watching horror movies is the best way to relieve stress because it’s like riding a roller coaster down the apex to the bottom.” Pricilla always declared. “You study too much, Melissa. Those eye bags are hideous! You need to take a break!”

Melissa was never a fan of horrow genres. Infact, she had nightmares spanning a week right after watching each scary film. She enjoys comedies best, or romance movies, but only action thrillers put her at the edge of her seat. Even after explaining to her cliques of her dislike, she was dragged into the cinema together with them, assured that she will sit through just fine.

Not only was the laughter in horror films scary, when Melissa was younger, she went through a horrifying experience that left her emotional stigmas from then on. As she was quiet and always by herself, the bullies frequently surrounded her at corners and hurled insults at her, “What fuzzy hair you have, you must never have combed them!” and sometimes “What a loner, I never knew you existed!”. The others would laugh and that horrific moment has been with her ever since…

Trapped in her memories, as she walked on soullessly, the laughter seemed more distinct. Nearing her home the lights were switched off. She was not sure what was going on, but her curiosity