The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 58
(E-DAY) The I love you virus

The 24th of April, 2001, started out as a normal day, just like any other. I was at ‘work’, busy as usual with my AI program, when a new email arrived. The sender was Kirsty Cooper, and the subject was ‘I love you’. I sat, staring at my screen, eyes and mouth wide open and my heart pounding with excitement; I hadn’t heard from her since the hypnotist show, and suddenly, out of the blue, she sent me a message to say that she loved me? But why would she write ‘I love you’ as the subject? There was something very weird about that. Nevertheless, the little voice inside my head told me that it was obvious that God had decided it was a good time for me to have a girlfriend, and so I opened the email. The email was blank. Confused, I looked around and saw that there was an attachment. ‘Click-click!’

That double click was the sound that would haunt my thoughts for a very long time. It was as if time slowed down and the two clicks were 5 seconds apart. Suddenly it was obvious. Kirsty, sending me an email saying ‘I love you?’ The entire concept of Kirsty confessing her love for me after all these years was simply ridiculous. Seconds after I had double-clicked on the attachment, the whole office was looking at me. ‘What’s up?’ I asked.

‘You love me?’ asked Greg. ‘What’s this attachment?’

‘Don’t click it! It’s a virus!’ I warned him. ‘It’s a virus!’ I shouted in the general direction of the people giving me confused looks. Dan seemed to be giving me a little smile from the corner. ‘It’s a virus!’ I yelled again, this time in Dan’s direction. He seemed disappointed.

I was upset. I shut down my PC and called the computer technicians. Not that I couldn’t remove a virus myself, but we had to follow the rule, which was to phone the technicians to sort out any problems with our PC’s.

Half an hour after Kobus had fetched my PC, he phoned and told me that I may as well go home, because they would have to keep any infected PC’s switched off until they had received a fix. It was a good thing that I had started driving to work, otherwise I would have had to wait for a few hours until I could get a lift home.

The next morning started out as the worst morning of my life. I arrived at work, and was immediately called into my manager’s office. ‘I really hate having to do this,’ he told me. ‘You could have had a great future in this company.’

‘What are you talking about?’ I asked, shocked and confused.

‘They found them,’ he replied.

‘Found what?’ I asked.

‘The ... pictures,’ he replied slowly.

‘What pictures?’

‘The girls.’

‘What girls?’

‘The pornography that you were downloading when you got the virus.’

‘What?’ I yelled.

‘Kobus found them.’

‘Found what?’ I asked again.

‘I just told you. They found them and we’re going to have to let you go.’

‘I never downloaded any pictures,’ I said, desperately.

‘Kobus found them on your computer.’

I suddenly realized that Kobus was one of the people who used to sell pirated videos at work. I had probably tampered with his adverts. Perhaps he found my program and decided to take his revenge. I swore.

‘So you admit it then?’ my manager asked.

‘No! I...’, but I couldn’t continue. I couldn’t tell him that I’d hacked into the adverts. I could get fired for that too. I swore again, for the second time that year. ‘Before I go, can I just copy a program off my computer? I wrote a program while I was working here, and I’d like a copy,’ I asked.

‘No. Any programs you write here belong to the company,’ my manager replied.

He was right. That was in the contract I had signed, and besides that, it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. Who was I trying to kid? I drove home. When I got home everything was silent. It felt alone and depressed, and so I went for a walk.

I walked down the road until I reached the bridge outside Shelley’s house, where I sat down, as usual, looking over the water. I had taken a notepad and pen with me, so that I could sit there and draw. I was upset about the job, mostly because it was so unfair. I was also annoyed about having lost my AI program, but I kept telling myself that it wouldn’t have worked. It was probably a good thing that I had lost my AI program. I had learned an important lesson that I shouldn’t waste my time on things that would probably never work anyway. It started to rain, and me and my notepad were getting soaked.

I didn’t care, and remained seated. Sometimes when you’re unhappy it makes you feel good to try to be as unhappy and miserable as possible. I closed my eyes and sat in the rain, with my face resting against my knees for a couple of minutes until the rain seemed to stop, but only above my head. The enticing smell of strawberries filled the air, and I breathed it in. I wondered where the smell was coming from and why I could hear the rain, but was no longer getting wet, and as soon as I opened my eyes a voice from behind me spoke, ‘If you’re planning to kill yourself, you’re going to need a higher bridge.’

I looked around. Shelley was crouching behind me, holding an umbrella above both of us. I smiled.

‘So, what’s the plan here?’ she asked.

‘No, ...none,’ I replied nervously, staring at her without anything useful to say.

‘You don’t talk much, do you?’

‘No,’ I replied, and sighed, ‘but I want to,’ and wondered if that sounded weird.

‘Shall I get coffee?’ she asked.

‘Yes... please?’

‘Hold this,’ she said, and after handing me the umbrella, ran inside.

I sat there, holding the umbrella above my head and waited, smiling. A couple of minutes later Shelley arrived with two cups of coffee. She sat next to me and passed me a cup. I held the umbrella over both of us.

‘Why don’t you talk?’ she asked me.

‘I’m nervous, I think.’

‘Why are you nervous?’

‘Girls. I can’t talk to girls.’

‘All girls?’

‘No.’

‘Only pretty ones?’ she asked.

‘Only pretty ones,’ I acknowledged quietly, looking at my shoes dangling over the water.

‘So, you think I’m pretty then?’ she asked.

‘Yip,’ I replied.

‘Likewise,’ she replied.

‘You think I’m pretty?’ I asked, a bit unsure about what she meant.

‘You’re cute,’ she said, looking away, and suddenly she became the shy one.

The rain slowed down, and soon stopped. We sat there quietly, sipping our coffee.

I felt like we desperately needed to have a conversation, and so I tried something that I had read about in the Don Juan newsletter for situations like these. ‘Have you heard the riddle about the bunny crossing the river?’ I asked.

‘I don’t think so,’ she replied.

‘Pass me your hand, I need to draw something,’ I said, holding out my pen in my right hand. ‘Okay, there’s a river, right?’ I started, holding her right hand up and drawing a line across it. ‘And on this side is a bunny.’ I drew a dot to indicate the bunny. ‘The bunny wants to cross the river. How does the bunny get across?’

‘He hops over,’ she answered, quite confident of her answer.

‘No, I’m afraid not. It’s quite a wide river.’

Shelley continued guessing until she had run out of ideas, but each one was wrong. ‘Okay, I give up. How does the bunny cross the river?’ she asked.

‘He doesn’t,’ I replied slowly.

‘And the moral of the story is?’ she asked, confused.

‘I just wanted to ...’

‘Yes?’

‘Hold your hand,’ I replied.

She smiled and held out her hand for me to hold it properly.

‘I sent you a letter once,’ I told her, wondering why she had never responded.

‘You did?’ she asked, surprised. ‘Did you post it?’

‘Yes, I was too shy to put it in your post box.’

‘What did it say?’

I explained what I had written. We sat and chatted for a few more minutes, but I eventually became very cold, and so we exchanged numbers, separated and walked to our own homes.

Overall, it was a fantastic day.

 

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