I don't talk to computers!

By: Amanda Hanley

"Come on, we can hang out in my room," my brother led his friends into his room. I was in my room, listening to music. Well, to be honest, I was hiding. Somehow, he and his friends always found a way to ruin my day.

While Josh and I may look alike, well, as alike as a twin boy and girl can look, we were complete opposites. Sure, we shared brown hair, blue eyes, and skin that tanned easily, but other than that we were total opposites. He skated and listened to the top forty songs station. I took dance classes, played softball, and listened to older rock. He read books about romance. I liked non-stop action and hated sappy endings with a passion. Even our names clashed- Joshua and Kaitlin- Josh and Kate for short.

It wasn't always that way though. We used to both like rock music and sports that didn't involve pieces of wood with wheels on them. I went to all of his base ball games up until last year. He really only got into this new stuff, and started hanging with jerks, a few months ago. Before that we were friends. Not anymore.

Another thing, they always try to ruin my day even when I stay out of their way. Josh burst in without knocking. "I need to use your computer."

"You have your own laptop. Why do you need mine?" I threw a pillow at him.

He batted the bedding away. "I want to email myself a song you have." He clicked on something. "There. I'm done."

I followed him out of my room. "What song did you want? You hate my music."

"You had a new rock song that just hit the top twenties." He tapped on his keyboard. "Got it," he opened his media player. Sure enough, one of my new favorite songs came from the speakers.

"Hey, what's up with your media player?" I pointed at the screen. Light pulsed from the screen. Spirals wove in and out of each other.

"It just does that."

"But why? And what's up with the names on it?"

"Didn't you hear me? It just does that! It's done that since I downloaded it!" He closed the program and snapped it shut. "Go away freak. We're busy."

"Are not," but I left anyways.

But I couldn't stop thinking about the spiral. What was up with it? And why was he being such a jerk about it?

That night, I slid into his room. He was already asleep. I snuck to his desk, tripping over a video game. I held my breath, waiting for him to wake up. He didn't, so I snatched his laptop and hurried out.

In my room, I opened it up. The media player was hard to find. I finally found it and opened it up. Instead of a playlist of hip hop and popular rock music in his favorites, I found one song that was nearly ten minutes long. I clicked on it.

The spirals started to swirl and pulse. I stared at it, wondering why he had this song. It was just a pulsing, steady beat. I shook my head and looked at the media player name. I turned on my own laptop and typed it in. It showed up with an immediate pop-up, asking if I wanted to download it. I hit the yes button and turned his laptop off.

As I slid back into his room with the laptop, I felt like I was being watched. I checked on Josh. He was out cold. I shrugged it off and turned back to my own room. Something made a sound in the hall. I looked down the hallway and thought I saw a flash of white. I blinked. Rolling my eyes, I went to my own laptop.

The flash of white slid past me in my room. I jumped and turned towards it. Nothing.

The player had downloaded. I clicked on it and found that there was already something in it. An introduction, according to the name on it. Some sort of video, I figured. I clicked on it and slid on my headphones, so as not to wake anyone up.

Instead of a video, it was a song. A steady, thrumming beat, like on Josh's computer. Maybe it was a piece that came with it that you couldn't delete? I realized that the swirl pattern on my computer was different. I stared at it, hearing the pulsing beat. My eyelids grew heavy. I assumed I was tired and tried to look away from the spirals to close the screen.

Something was wrong. I couldn't look away. No matter how hard I tried, I could not, for the life of me, pull my eyes from the center of the swirl. I couldn't move at all for that matter. Panic rose in my throat.

From out of nowhere, a voice came through my headphones. "Be calm. You are very calm."

My first reaction was to jump, but I didn't move. The voice continued to filter through my speakers. "Emotions are pulsing through you like a heartbeat. Safe, happy, warm, peace. Safe, happy, warm, peace. Safe, happy, warm, peace. Safe, happy, warm, peace."

Emotions seemed to seep out of the spiral. Just like the voice said, I felt safe and warm. Everything was peaceful, and I was smiling sleepily. The thrumming beat drummed on with the voice. "Relax and let go. Relax. Relax and let go."

My entire body relaxed. Even my mind felt numb. "Your thoughts are heavy. Everything is fuzzy. Forget it all. It doesn't matter. Your thoughts are heavy. Everything is fuzzy. Forget it all. It doesn't matter."

Memories seeped away from me, until it was only the pulsing color and the voice. They were all that existed. Those and the steady beat. "You are too sleepy to resist me. When I count to three, you will let go of yourself. You are too sleepy to resist me. When I count to three, you will let go of yourself. One…two…three."

I tried to fight the feeling away for a moment, but a fog settled over me, and it was all I could do to just hold my head up enough to see the spiral. I couldn't look away from it, the way it pulsed and had become my only world was addicting. I could vaguely feel myself floating away from consciousness. It was a faint feeling (no pun intended) that I hardly felt, because only the spiral and the voice mattered.

I slipped away into darkness so thick I couldn't penetrate it. The next thing I knew, I was lying down on something hard with Josh calling my name. "Kate? Kate? Oh, crap! Oh no, crap, crap, crap!"

"Josh?" I opened my eyes. I was lying on the floor of my room. "What happened?"

"Oh no, you can see me! Then I was right! Oh, I tried to warn you, but it's too late! Now they're here and more will come and…oh!"

"Josh! Calm down! What are you talking about?"

"You! The media player! It wasn't a media player! It was…some sort of virus I think. It pulled us out of our bodies, and now we're like ghosts, and the virus is in the real us!"

"What?"

"LOOK!" he pointed at my bed, which made me realize I was on my floor. I was in the bed too!

"That's me!"

"I KNOW! You saw me before, I was white. Now I look normal to you because you're like me! I thought it was a media player and I…I…oh!"

"When did you download it?"

"A couple of months ago I guess. I…I can't really…remember. I…I think…" he trailed off.

"Josh? Josh!" I shook his shoulder. "What's wrong?" I noticed he was wearing normal clothes, and not the black and white trendy clothes he'd started wearing.

"It's the player. I think…every time the virus turns it on again…it drains a little bit more of the real us away. It makes us weaker...and the virus in me watches it all the time…so…I guess..." he trailed off again and passed out.

"JOSH!" I cried. His eyes opened slowly. "We need to figure out how to get home."

"Don't think we can," he murmured.

"We can try! Come on!" I pulled him to his feet. "Can you touch stuff?"

"I could before. Not really, now."

"Then I'll try." I slid THROUGH my closed door, with him following slowly. I got to his computer.

"Be careful. I think the viruses can hear us," he whispered. I nodded and opened his computer as easily as if I were solid. He touched it and his hand slid through. Like a real ghost. I shivered. "Try deleting the program."

I did as he said. It vanished. "Now what?"

"Get it…out of the recycle bin. Erase it…all the way."

I deleted it. "Now my room." I ran back and deleted it from my computer. "Josh?"

He didn't look any better. In fact, he looked a bit worse. "I think…it also has to do with time. I've been here…too long."

"Josh! Wake up!" I shook his shoulders as his eyelids drooped.

"So…tired…"

"Don't go to sleep! Stay with me!" I looped his arm around my shoulder. "If you're a ghost, you can get into yourself, but you need to stay awake to fight the virus!"

He shook his head. "Kate…I'm a goner…I can't…stay awake…long enough to…fight."

"Try to stay awake. I'll talk to you, you won't fall asleep!"

"I…will too. You know…I can't…stay awake…much longer. Kate…get yourself out of here. Just…don't forget about me."

"No! Wake up!" I dragged him to his bed. "This is your body, not his. You can win this one Josh!"

He looked at me steadily. "No Kate…I can't."

Tears welled in my eyes. "Please Josh. Don't give up. I can't lose you."

He sighed. "I'll try." He kissed my cheek softly and let go of me. He stumbled to his body. I helped him up to it and he started a battle of wills inside himself. The virus fought with him, making it hard for his body to breath.

The virus, which looked like the trendy josh, shoved Josh out. Josh floated, literally, to the ground, his eyes closed.

"Josh! Josh!" I got down next to him. He didn't respond, but he was still breathing. I stood. "No. You will not win. You will not replace my brother." I stepped over the scarcely breathing Josh and up to his body. "GET! OUT!" I screamed and slid my hand straight to his heart. I grabbed the virus (which I could somehow feel where it was) and ripped it out of him. When it was out I clawed at it and screamed again. I struck over its heart and it disintegrated with a wail.

"Josh? Josh!" I stooped next to him again. His eyelids fluttered weakly as he struggled to regain consciousness. I knew it was no use though. If he didn't get back to his body, he was going to die. "I've got you Josh. I'll get you back to yourself." I lifted him, noticing how light he was. He hung limp in my arms. I set him in his body gently.

He didn't move. His body didn't breathe. I touched his hand gently. "Josh?" He coughed and gasped, his eyes opening a crack.

"Kate?"

"We did it."

"Kate, where are you? I can't see you anymore."

"I got back to my body. I'm right here." The fake me came into the room.

"No," I whispered in anger.

"Good." Josh sighed in relief. "Come here."

She/me smiled and stepped close to him. Lighting fast she pressed a hand over his forehead. "Forget that any of this happened! Download it again!"

Josh fell back onto his pillows. I screeched and lunged at her/me. I landed inside myself and clawed at her. After several minutes fighting she disintegrated. I was alone in my body, it was mine again.

Josh woke up. "Kate? What are you doing in here?"

"I thought I heard something in here. Is everything okay?"

"Yeah. I just need to download something." He went to his laptop and started to search for it. I realized what would happen almost too late.

"NO!" I yelled. I shoved his hand away from the button to download.

"Kate, what are you doing? I need to download this."

"Oh God, let him remember! Don't let him die on me!" I took his laptop and closed the link. I gripped him by the shoulders tightly. "Think Josh. What's today's date?"

He gave me a weird look and said the date of what I'm guessing is the day he first downloaded the program. I shook him. "NO! THAT WAS MONTHS AGO! REMEMBER, PLEASE! YOU DOWNLOADED IT AND THERE WERE THE VIRUSES…AND…AND…REMEMBER!"

He closed his eyes and sighed. He went limp in my hands and fell back. "Josh?"

He groaned and opened his eyes. "Thanks for getting me back to my body. I really owe you one sis."

I cried out in joy and hugged him. "I hate her."

"I don't think it had a gender. Now do me a favor. I'm ready to pass out again, but could you delete all of that hip hop music and put rock back on my laptop?"

"Sure bro." I kissed his forehead. "No dying on me, okay?"

He nodded drowsily and closed his eyes. "I won't."

I took his laptop and transferred the music from mine to his. "Kate," something whispered. "Download it again. Bring me back."

I ignored it and turned on a rock song. "I'm sorry, but I don't talk to computers."