I realize I don't own any of Diane Duane's works. I just am amusing myself, and hopefully others.
I look at the computer's screen. It's almost four in the afternoon, I'm sitting in a chair designed for someone who is six years old, and I'm pretty sure that what is being displayed on the screen is a technical impossibility. Rubbing my eyes, I look again at my manual, which I have finally convinced to give me a Speech description of what is on the screen. For some reason, when I plugged in the computer, the Powers decided to install a mini manual function as a program. I left it alone, but somehow one of the kids not only managed to open it, but make the results visible to everyone else. Seeing as the program itself was selectively visible to only those who were wizards, I was a bit unsure of how this happened.
Looking at the screen, it looks like a video game, maybe a MMORPG. A park with a veritable ton of squirrels being chased by a big black dog is on the screen. However, the Speech translation of what is being shown is what is bothering me. Technically, what is being shown is a universe, and it definitely wasn't ours. Looking again at the manual, I look at the scroll of letters at the bottom of the screen. Translating the last bit, my eyes narrow in disbelief. I pick up my manual, and flip to the back. "Message Dairine Callahan, please." The manual put in her name, and then blinked gently, letting me know it's on active. "Dairine, could you please come to the school, and bring Spot while you're at it." I got up, groaning as I pop my spine into some shape that resembled normal, and walked to the mini fridge. Pulling out a juice box, I stuck a straw in and soothed my throat. A pop of displaced air announces the arrival of my college roommate. After we realized we were both wizards, we got along just fine.
"What's shakin?" her usual I-Don't -Care attitude had come through college unscathed, much to the teachers dismay. I flip a page in my manual, point to the computer screen to Speech translation, then flip to the last page of this and point to the line that is annoying me.
"Would you care to explain to my why your children are using MY CLASSROOM computer to run an alternate universe view spell?!" I'm tired. I've been here since 6 in the morning, and after dealing with two kids who just happened to realize they had the flu in my classroom, and finding that my lunch had gotten leaked on by a burst water bottle, I'm more than ready to go home, get into my Eeyore pajamas and maybe watch some NCIS reruns (Mmm… Mark Harmon).
"Ummm…" For once she's speechless. Maybe it's tact. Chances are she realizes how close I am to snapping, and decided not to push it. She sits down in the chair and starts typing away at my computer, talking to Spot as she did so.
I sit down at my desk and look at my manual, which had been tossed onto the desk as I'm yelling at Dairine. It had fallen open to a running commentary between Chao and I. Ever since the Moon; we had been doing lunch every now and then, mainly because I made sure that it was relatively unique. Next time however, I won't do lunch on Al'cher… I nearly became a condiment when we went into the restaurant. He won't let me forget it either…Even so; we have a lot of fun with just talking. My new message from him says, "Sada, I know you've had a rough day (boy that omnipresent thing can get annoying) however this is a reminder: Chin up!" I snort. I honestly think that Chao had way too much impact on the director of Charlotte's Web. I caught him humming that song while we were on our way to a pier on the Jersey Shore.
"I found your problem." Dairine states, pushing herself to her feet. The expression on her face as her hand pushes her back straight is almost worth it, but not quite. I look at her, waiting for her to explain.
"They aren't running the program on your computer, they're running it through the manual database. All computers with a manual version on them are running a part of the program, kind of like a bot network. Somehow, whoever did this only got the physical manifestation of the final spell to show."
I nod. Thanks to repeated exposure to my dad, who was a huge computer geek, I actually understood what she was saying.
"By the way, who did this?" she asks, trying to seem offhand about it.
"Believe it or not, one of the kids. A few of them had computer time as a reward for getting a 100 on a spelling test. Since the Internet has a built in proxy, I didn't monitor them closely." I said, taking another sip of my juice box. After teaching kindergarten, I had developed a love for juice boxes. Portable, easy to stick into a mini-fridge, and in perfect serving size. I shrug, pointing to a script on the screen. "What I want to know is how they did this. While I don't mind them playing on the computer, if this keeps happening, one day it won't be as easy to explain as a dog chasing squirrels." I say, thinking about things that I would not want to be explaining to angry parents. "More importantly, do you think you could fix it? I might be able to, but you're the computer expert. Chances are you can make it permanent." As she sits back down to start working on this, I look down at the conversation between Chao and I. Flipping to a page I had marked off, I start detailing what had happened during my day. Part of my manual was dedicated to this journal of mine. Doing this allowed me to look at things clearly, maybe come back to ideas or things that had happened to refresh my memory.
As I finish, Dairine calls me over. As I walk over to the computer, she points to the screen. "Alright, I've put a password lock on the manual. Anyone who wants to access it will have to input a password. They can request the password from their manuals, and depending on the situation, it will give or deny them access. Next, I also made it that there are verification that you have to give the further in you go, just to be sure."
I smile, relieved that this crisis is over. "Thank you, maybe now I don't have to worry so much." She leaves, and I shut down the computer. I pack up my things, turn off the lights, and leave. Getting into my car, I begin the daily battle with the traffic lights. I'm pretty sure that some of them conspire to turn red consecutively, just to piss me off. However since I don't have any proof, I don't go and buy wire cutters.
I finally arrive home. Running up the stairs, I quickly unlock the door to my apartment. Slipping inside, I breathe out, glad that another day is finished. I slip into my pajamas and grab a sandwich from the fridge. Flipping the channels, I finally get to one playing NCIS. I curl up under my blanket on the couch, and watch as the NCIS team try to solve the murder. My cell phone ringing breaks the suspense. I turn down the volume some as I grab my phone. Pressing the talk button, I say, "Yes?"
I hear Ms. Dennis, my school principal say, "Why am I getting calls from parents talking about a computer game with squirrels?"
The sound of my phone hitting the wall across from me matches perfectly with the sound of gunshots as Gibbs shoots the suspect.