Friday, June 26, 2015

Day Eight-Seventy-Eight: Timothy Flannigan


Timothy Flannigan slammed his fist against the desk. Then, re-reading the error message, he slammed it again. The impact of his sweaty palm left a faint impression in the cheap wood. There were many such impressions, because Tim possessed a strong temper and a stronger arm. He liked to work out.

[Tales of Elsewhere v. 10.3.3]


[World Overview] -

ERROR 0512 - An exception occurred on Line 9845
ERROR 0722 - File has been corrupted
ERROR 0945 - Regulator Command Unit has been corrupted
ERROR 0972 - toe.exe has been corrupted

Tim skimmed the rest of the error message. The story it told was no more promising than the first half. Predictably, he punished his table a third time, then, for good measure, a fourth.

He wasn’t sure what had happened. Everything had been going so well. The mod he’d downloaded had released the Non faction - My fuck but they’re OP, he thought - and they’d lingered in Tim’s world for years, wreaking havoc. A pain that they’d been locked away for a while, and a mystery, but that problem had vanished on its own. He couldn’t play as them, for some reason, but it was still fun to watch them battle over civs. And, hell, surely someone would release a mod for making the bastards playable. Some day.

Maybe they’d fix whatever the fuck had happened here, too. Because the mod was obviously on the fritz.

Tim didn’t understand why. He’d left the Non alone for, like, two seconds. He just wanted to check the desert. The desert was always weird. He couldn’t do anything with the desert. The civ he’d built up there a few days before just seemed to vanish, and that kinda pissed him off, ‘cause there was no great reason for it. So, using the tool he downloaded, Tim tried to tinker with the desert, tugging at its variables with the finesse of a child reaching for a toy. He was no expert; he was just a gamer.

The desert resisted change. It didn’t care what he did. Nothing shifted the way Tim had expected. And then, just as he’d discovered some vast underground area that he’d never seen before, the whole goddamned program crashed. Hence the swearing.

Tim double-clicked toe.exe again. His computer screen darkened, flashed, and zipped back to the desktop. The .exe informed him of the crash, warned him that multiple errors he didn’t understand had occurred, and suggested he uninstall any mods and try again. Tim didn’t know how to uninstall mods - they always came in neat .exe packages, or at least they did for this stupid game - so that was hardly an option. Another double-click yielded the same results.

Tim hurtled his keyboard across the room, or at least he tried. It was a corded keyboard. It hit the end of the code, dangled in air for half a second, and whizzed in a tight arc towards Tim’s ankle. He howled in pain as the plastic struck his skin, leaving a neat little bruise that would display itself prominently for several days.

Grinding his teeth, Tim rose from his computer, tried double-clicking the .exe one more time, and stormed away. It’s not like he really cared about the damned thing anyway. He had better stuff to do. Even if it meant giving up on several days of studious work on his world. There was always better stuff that could draw his attention. It was a dumb game, and he would rather get down to serious business than obsess over a game.

Tim did not turn his computer off. He left it on overnight while he played console video games. Consoles to console. 

In leaving his computer, Tim had failed to notice two things. Both he would have noticed had he bothered to check which programs were currently running. The first was toe.exe, which continued to chug along in the background, now utterly inaccessible by users. The loss of the regulators saw to that, for, as agents of balance, they provided the framework through which a person could actually play the game. No regulators, no control.

The second was a file called june.exe. It slipped innocuously into Tim’s system, using up few system resources and not doing a hell of a lot. It lingered on the list of open programs for almost three hours, seemingly pointless…

… until Tim’s antivirus program kicked in for its daily scan of the system. 

The scan ran for half an hour. By the time it was done, june.exe was no longer on the list of active programs.

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