In the year 8510

God is gonna shake it mighty then

He'll either say "I'll leave where man has been"

Or tear it down, and start again

Alan's been staring at his laptop, and the OS restore discs next to it, for the last two hours.

Sure, it's something that happens to every computer owner at least once, even programmers with thirty years of experience under their belts. A perfectly normal service pack install gone wrong, leaving the entire system completely borked. Any normal person (any sane person, he thinks), would have just used the damn restore discs from the get-go; after all, that's what restore discs arefor. Two weeks ago, Alan would have been one of those people. And yet he's been scrambling madly all day to find any other solution—attempting to uninstall the service pack and start over, trying to reset from restore points, even breaking into OS12's base code in hopes of finding the error. Finally, though, Alan's been forced to come to terms with the fact that it's no use: the only way to fix the computer is a complete reformat.

The thought is paralyzing him.

He wants to tell himself that he's acting irrational, but he can't. Not after what Sam showed him the week before last. Everything he knows has been turned on its head, he's barely slept in two weeks (1996 all over again), and all he can think of right now is the miniature world that could possibly exist within his laptop—a world that is now a corrupted, glitching ruin. A world he has to destroy to save.

When Sam comes into Alan's office an hour or later and sees him still sitting there he doesn't say anything, just lays a hand on Alan's shoulder. Alan takes a shaky breath and finally puts the first of the discs into the drive, swearing to himself that he'll light a fire under Junior's ass down in R&D to debug OS12 Service Pack 1 before this starts happening all over the country.

Flynn used to joke about the weight of worlds resting on Encom's shoulders. Now, Alan understands.