User Friendly?

 

Connie Berridge

 

Ellie was the typical hacker that was addicted to her PC day and night! Little did she know certain Web Sites possessed a strange and dangerous element. Did anyone else know? Had they experienced the terror that was in store for her?

Rushing home from her day job, Ellie couldn't wait to turn on the PC and surf the Net. She lived alone, except for her cat Tutu, and would usually get 'antsy' by four in the afternoon, waiting for that big hand to get to five so she could put the paperwork away in her job as an assistant Bank accountant and start her life as a 'Web Surfer.'

Tutu would greet her at the front door of the apartment, (hearing her bound up the stairs) and Ellie quickly pet him, fed him, and then turned on the PC-in that order each night.

While the PC was warming up, she showered, stuck a TV dinner in the oven or made a fast sandwich. At times she brought home a Big Mac Hamburger and would share that with Tutu. Eating wasn't important to Ellie. Only surfing those Web Sites, seeing what was HOT this week, and chatting in the many conversation rooms with acquired Net friends! TC2224, BOBO1665, AlleyGo, were all newly found friends she had met in Cyberspace.

Being young and single, living alone (her parents were killed in an auto accident two years ago) you would think that Ellie would date and socialize with people from Work. But she was shy, plain looking, and did not make friends easily, at least not face to face. It was more comfortable to type her words in Chat Rooms where she could hide behind her shy personality, say what she liked, and no one knew who she was. To Cyberspace and the Web she was only 'Ellcat.' Why not? she thought, I am really Ellie and I do like cats so it's the perfect screen name.

It was close to midnight and El had been typing on and off for hours. She decided to find some new Web Sites and clicked on 'What's New?'

An interesting title caught her eye. It was had a background in dark blue and a pair of yellow doe eyes were centered. Below the eyes was the question-"Are you tired of ordinary Web Sites? Visit our Soulful Dreams Site to find a new and exciting game that will mesmerize and please you. There are free contests to enter with great prizes! Take just a minute and visit us!"

Ellie quickly grabbed her mouse and-CLICK-she was there. At first her eyes couldn't focus on the large spinning wheel in the center of the site. It seemed to change shapes and became forms, then pictures of green valleys, sandy beaches, lovely waterfalls, and it was sort of like being in a dream with the screen changing vivid colors.

It was as though she couldn't take her eyes off it, and it had a mesmerizing effect on her. She didn't know how long she was at the site, she lost track of all time, but suddenly Tutu jumped onto her lap, then onto her desk and interrupted her view of the screen. He had knocked over a glass of coke she had been drinking and the startling effect of the cat's presence with glass flying to the floor breaking, broke her concentration, causing her to lose focus on the PC screen.

The time on that Website had seemed like minutes, but when she looked at the clock she was astonished to see it was over an hour later. What had happened during that hour? Had she fallen asleep? No. She was upright at the computer desk when Tutu awoke her with his accidental upset. Dismissing the incident, she got ready for bed and soon drifted into a long, deep sleep. Her dreams were disturbing and she tossed and turned most of the night.

She dreamed of spirits, ghosts in long wavy luminous gowns, calling to her, beckoning her into a dark deep circle of blackness. She was cold and it was windy and eerie in that dark circle. She envisioned herself trapped in the middle, caught in a cesspool of spiraling wind, going deeper into the pit, not being able to get free. When she awoke in the morning she was wringing wet with perspiration. Such a horrible dream. She glanced at the computer and noticed it was still on. "I thought I turned that off last night Tutu," she said aloud. Tutu just ignored her words and brushed against her, rubbing his fur and purring.

Ellie needed to go shopping; today being her typical Saturday shopping day. She showered, dressed, and poured Tutu his breakfast milk, which he quickly lapped up. She gathered up her laundry to go to the laundry room in the basement of her apartment house, and started for the door.

"Oops, better turn off the PC," which she promptly did. "Let's see, laundry, soap, softener, grocery list. Guess I have everything." She then threw Tutu a kiss, instructed him to 'be a good baby' and bounded out the door.

It was a brisk fall day in New York and Ellie had bundled up in a heavy sweater and over-jacket. A knit hat on her head would keep her from getting a cold. . .at least that's what her mother had always told her. She missed her parents. It was two years now that they had been killed in the auto accident, and with no brothers or sisters she had felt very alone these past two years. Tutu was her best company. She had friends, but no one that close to confide in. Seems like her secrets were always told to Tutu. Well, she thought, at least he can't repeat them.

Ellie dropped off the clothes in a washer downstairs and while they were washing she opted to go get her groceries. The store was only a few blocks away and she had gotten to know the owners Mr. and Mrs. Santos quite well. They were a nice old couple that owned the store what seemed like a hundred years to them. It was their life and they made the neighborhood friendly with their concerned conversations and smiles.

"Hi Mr. Santos," Ellie cheerfully shouted as she entered the store.

"Ellie, sweet girl," he replied with a smile, "how are you on this fine day?"

"Doin' great, thanks. I need to get some things. Tutu is running out of cat food and I need some of your delicious croissants and pastries to get me through the day. I'm addicted!"

"Ah, yes, Mama Santos makes the best baked goods in New York. Get a cart and pick out what you want on the shelves and when you are ready I will get the baked goods from out of the glass case.

"By the way, Ellie, this old man is getting updated. I bought a computer to do my inventory and books. Now all I have to do is learn how to operate it."

"I'll be glad to help you. Just give a holler when you need me to come over. I get home around six every night, and you know my address from the delivery lists."

"Ah, you are a real sweetheart, Ellie. Thank you so much. I will let you know." Mr. Santos smiled with appreciation.

Ellie helped herself to all the food necessities, and a few luxuries that she needed and Mr. Santos handed her the baked goods she requested. She paid him and just as she was leaving Mrs. Santos entered the store from the back door stairway. They lived above the grocery making it convenient to run the business.

"Hi there Mrs. Santos," Ellie waved.

"Hello Ellie. How nice to see you. Got everything you need from the store?"

"Sure do. Got to go do my laundry now. See you later. Have a wonderful day."

"You too Ellie," Mrs. Santos replied, a big smile on her face as she waved good-bye.

Ellie returned to her apartment, put the groceries away, and went down to the basement laundry room to put her washed clothes in the dryer. When she got there a young man was sorting his clothes to be washed. "Hi," she said.

"Hi there. I'm Don. I live on the third floor, front apartment. Just moved in last week."

"Welcome," Ellie replied. "I live on the fourth floor, front apartment, so I guess I'm just above you. Name's Ellie Pearson."

"Glad to meet someone in the neighborhood, let alone the apartment complex. I don't really know too many people in New York. Just moved here from Virginia two weeks ago. Was transferred from my job."

"What do you do?" Ellie asked inquisitively, "If I'm not too nosy."

"Not at all. I'm a manager at a computer store on 81st street. It's a chain called One Stop Web Shop. Ever heard of it?"

"Sure. I bought my computer there about six months ago. I do research for articles on shopping, health, and you-name-it for women. Work for a women's' site measuring the hits and uploading my articles. It's nice because I can work at home."

"Well I just started at the PC store, so I guess I missed you."

The dryers stopped and Ellie and Don proceeded to fold their finished laundry and put it into their laundry baskets. That is, Ellie had a basket and Don had a duffel bag.

"Can't help but notice your laundry sack. Looks like a sailor's duffel bag."

"It is," Don replied. "I was in the service before I got my computer degree."

"Well, I'll see you around again, I am sure," Ellie said and started for her apartment.

"See ya," Don replied.

When Ellie returned to her apartment she quickly folded her laundry and put the groceries away. She headed into the living room alcove and towards the computer. The PC was ON and the site showing was that Dream Site she had been on last night. "Strange," she said,

"I know I turned that off." She looked around for Tutu and found him lying on the floor beneath the window, in a lethargic state. Usually he greeted her at the door whenever she came home. "I don't like this at all," she said, picking up Tutu. He licked her hand and then closed his eyes, apparently to nap. He seemed all worn out and exhausted. "Why?" she said. "Tutu, are you okay?" He just opened his eyes, looked up at her, and then curled up in her arms, feeling safe and glad she was home. She put him on the couch gently.

Ellie turned back to the computer and saw the strange red and blue wheel turning. She did not want to look at it and quickly switched the off button. But the computer would not stay off. Again, the strange site appeared. She quickly typed a new URL and changed sites. She waited for a few seconds and the new site seemed to stay on the screen. She continued on, surfing, researching for her articles.

After spending most of the afternoon working, Ellie decided to make supper for her and feed Tutu. "Guess I'll quit for the day and watch a little TV. It's nice to become a couch potato sometimes, Tutu." The cat meowed a low note of approval.

The doorbell rang and she opened it to find Don standing there holding a sock and a hankie. "These must be yours. I found them in the dryer downstairs."

"Oh, thanks Don. Care to come in? I was just cooking up a pot of Spaghetti. Won't you join me? there's plenty here. Homemade meatballs too." She smiled.

"Sound good to me, Elllie. I was just going to junk-food-it. Can I add a bottle of wine?"

"Sure. Thanks."

"Back in a sec." Don went back to his apartment and grabbed the wine he had in the cabinet. He also washed up quickly and put on a clean tee shirt. Want to look decent for my "date" he thought. Ellie was attractive and he had been drawn to her when he first saw her in the laundry room.

Back in Ellie's apartment, she feed Tutu in his 'pampered pet' dish, poured him some milk, and finished setting the table. She was thinking it was nice not to eat alone for a change. Before long there was a light tap on the door and Don was back. "Come on in, it's open," she shouted from the kitchen.

They enjoyed the dinner and wine and feasted on Mrs. Santos Chocolate Chip Cookies for dessert. "Ummmmmm," Ellie said. "I just love the baked goods at Santos. Do you shop there?"

"Sure. It's the closest store and the bakery section, as you say, is superb. I like their fresh meats and veggies too. But I rarely cook dinner for just me. I tend to buy some of their subs or prepared dishes. It's nice to have supper with someone for a change."

"Funny, I was just thinking the same thing."

Don helped Ellie clear and put the dishes in the dishwasher. They then sat down on the couch sipping the last of the wine.

"Don, maybe I can ask you something"

"Shoot."

"I am having trouble with my computer. I turn it off and all of a sudden it goes on again by itself. Confusing and I must admit, scary."

"It's probably just a power surge or a wiring problem. I'll check out the outlet tomorrow and give the computer a going over. I'll have lots of time. The store isn't open on Sundays."

"Thanks."

They chatted for a while, exchanging backgrounds and watched a few TV Sitcoms. The time flew and before long it was midnight.

"Well, I'm gonna be going now. Thanks, Ellie, for the delicious meal and terrific company. See you tomorrow."

"Night." Ellie straightened up the living room, took a shower, and snuggled into bed. Tutu curled up at her feet.

It must have been three o'clock in the morning when she was awakened by a noise. The computer was on and the Dreams Website appeared on the monitor. That damned red and blue wheel was turning, turning. She couldn't look at it for any length of time. It gave her a headache.

She tried to turn the computer off but the switch would not work. She suddenly became very dizzy and fell to the floor. She could hear the sounds on the Website, it was someone saying "You are my slave and you will do as I dictate. You will repeat after me."

Ellie moaned and wreathed on the floor. "No, no," she kept saying. Tutu hissed at the computer. Suddenly a streak of what looked like lightening charged out of the PC and hit Tutu. He howled and ran into the bedroom.

Ellie was scared. What was this site doing to her and Tutu? She decided to call Don to come up and see the strange happenings first hand. "I know its three in the morning, but I have to call him." Tutu just tilted his head with a questionable look in his face.

Don answered on the third ring. "Hello. Who's calling me in the middle of the night?" he said, glancing at the alarm clock.

"I'm sorry Don," Ellie said. "I'm scared out of my wits. Will you come up and look at this Website and tell me what's going on?"

"Okay," he muttered, half asleep. "I'll be up in about five mins."

"Thanks."

When Don arrived he looked at the monitor, noticing the Dreamsite wheel, spinning, spinning. It gave him a headache too and he had to blink and look away. "Weird site! Let's delete it from the Favorites list and the memory banks."

"Can that be done? I never put it into my favorites list, but I did not know you could delete it from the memory bank on the server."

"Piece of cake." Don smiled. He checked the plugs and outlet connections and then sat down and started typing like mad. Images and sites came and went, scrolled and stopped, and when he finished he pushed himself away from the PC and said, "There. That should do it. It shouldn't bother you again."

Ellie signed a sigh of relief and thanked him profusely as he left to finish his 'forty winks'.

* * *

The next day Ellie decided to go on to the Santos to help them with their computer. Perhaps I can help them with the basics and they can continue on from there, she said to herself.

The Santos apartment was over their Market and Store and it was a convenient operation for them. They put the computer upstairs in their dining room on a large old oak table. They wanted to be able to put their inventory on a list and each day have the computer mathematically figure their remaining items and stock needed. The computer could then send an Email to their suppliers. It was easier to Email at night when the store is closed then to be on the phone each day trying to take care of customers at the same time.

Ellie set up the basics; the supplier's lists, grocery and bakery items used, and stock prices and costs. It was a simple system and would greatly enhance their knowledge of this 'computer age' system. Even the Santos, at their ages, wanted to improve their marketing and be online with the rest of the large Grocery Retailers. They felt, although a small neighborhood store, they could advance into a well cyber-based operation, thereby increasing their sales value should they ever decide to sell the business.

Ellie had transferred several basic systems from her computer which included Budgeting and Finance, Microsoft Excel and Word, and had installed her server CYBERGO to help them surf the Net and price other operations' produce and items. She hoped this would be of help to them and showed them how to use each system.

"For seniors well into your sixties, you sure are quick studies. You picked up on the systems really fast. Now, don't forget, if you need me or any help, just call. You have my number." With that Ellie returned to her apartment.

She noted that she was not having the usual problems with her computer and figured Don had finally fixed the root of the problem. At least she could relax now and Tutu could calm down. Poor Tutu was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, left alone with that scary site frightening him.

The next day Ellie, noticing she was out of cat food and a few other items, decided to go to Santos Market. When she arrived she notice a yellow police tape around the door with a sign "Do not cross." There was a small crowd of people outside trying to look in the windows. A Coroner's car was parked out front and also a Medic Ambulance.

"What's going on?" she asked the policeman out front.

"Seems the couple that owns this store was found last night by relatives. They are dead, miss. Are you a relative?"

"No, a friend. I just saw them last night when I helped them install their computer."

"When was that miss?"

"Let's see, about supper time, sixish."

"You'll have to come with me miss," the policeman said, taking her arm. "Coroner estimates the time of death about an hour after that. You may have been the last person to see them alive." Ellie gasped.

Just then the Santos daughter Maria came out of the store and by her red eyes, Ellie could see she had been crying. "Maria, I am Ellie, a neighbor and shopper friend of your parents. I'm so sorry."

Maria managed a low "thank you" and continued to her car, the arm of a policeman supporting her.

The policeman went over to another man and whispered something in his ear. The man then came over to Ellie. "Ho do you do Miss. My name is Detective Conners. I have been assigned to this case. I understand you may have been the last one to see the victims alive."

"Please don't call them 'victims'! Their names were Mr. and Mrs. Santos."

"Sorry Miss. Could you please accompany me to the station to answer some questions?"

"Of course."

Ellie got in the Detective's car and rode to the station with him. They rode silently and she assumed he did not want to talk about the case to her. When they arrived she followed him upstairs to a large room, and through a door to a private room, enclosed on three sides by glass, and an exterior wall on the other.

"Please tell me what happened when you visited the Santos."

"I just helped them set up their computer and showed them how to operate the various systems. It took about two hours and I left about six. I told them to call me if they had any questions. They know my number and address because I sometimes have my groceries delivered."

"Did you notice anyone else around the store? Or in the neighborhood that looked different."

"What do you mean different?"

"I mean anyone you did not know that might have been acting suspiciously."

"No. The store was closed when I left and there was not anyone unusual on the street, just the same traffic there is every day. I did not see anyone I knew or anyone they looked out of place."

"Well, thank you, Miss. . .?"

"Pearson."

"Yes, thank you."

"May I ask, Detective, what killed the Santos? They seemed pretty happy and healthy to me. Were they robbed? Was it a mugger?"

"I can't discuss that right now. I can tell you they were not robbed. He then looked away and seemed to be pondering over papers on his desk. Ellie guessed that was her clue to leave.

"Good-bye. I gave the policeman my name, address, and phone number if you need me anymore."

"Yes, thank you" he said, never looking up.

* * *

Ellie could not wait to get home and phone Don. His answering service answered and she left a message saying to call her when he got in.

Don arrived home about seven that night and after listening to his messages, called Ellie. She explained the happenings of the day and her distress, knowing the Santos were gone. She could not envision someone murdering that nice old couple. What could it mean? No robbery was committed the Detective said. "Who could possibly want to kill two sweet old people like them? Just for thrills? Why? And how were they killed? They wouldn't tell me."

"I don't have the answer to that, Ellie. Must be some sort of psycho. Better be sure and lock your doors until that idiot is caught. Who knows who may be next. And remember, I am just downstairs. Call me or bang on the floor if you need me."

"Will do. I don't even want to even think of that happening in our neighborhood again." She hung up the phone, uneasy and perplexed. It was difficult sleeping that night. Ellie tossed and turned all night and even Tutu was annoyed at the disturbances of the covers, which he had snuggled deeply into.

The next day Ellie awoke around ten and proceeded to read the morning paper over coffee, as she usually did. The murder was all over the front pages.

GRUESOME MURDER IN GROCERYLAND. COUPLE CHARRED BEYOND RECOGNITION IN BIZARRE INCIDENT. POLICE HAVE NO CLUES. MORE BELOW.

She went on to read that the Santos were apparently sitting at their computer at the dining room table and something, or someone, burned their bodies. What was unusual was that nothing else in the room was burned or touched. The computer was still on, a blank, black monitor showing. It was so bizarre, Ellie thought. No apparent electrical damage was reported. The article went on to say, there was no open flame nearby. The police were stumped and the fire department could not explain the phenomenon. The baffling circumstances would be investigated by a Task Force set up by the Police.

There was a knock on the door and she opened it revealing Don, newspaper in hand, with the same expression on his face as she had. "It just doesn't make sense, Ellie. Why them? That sweet old couple. What terrible person or thing could do this? I don't understand." He rubbed his forehead, distressed at the whole incident.

"It does not make sense to me either. I had just transferred some of my programs over to them and showed them how to organize their business. They were 'happy campers'. And what about the computer being left on with a blank screen? Isn't that weird? And the computer with not a scorch mark on it!"

"Look, we can wrack our brains forever. Let's go out and grab a bite of lunch. The Police will handle it. What say we go to the Pub for a burger and ale."

"I'll just get my purse and be right with you." Ellie entered her living room and noticed her PC was running. Strange, she thought, I never turned that on today. She flipped the switch and thought nothing more of it.

Tutu was curled up on the couch earlier, but for some reason had darted into the bedroom while she was talking to Don. Hmmmm. Was it just coincidence? Did Tutu run away because the computer came on? She dismissed it as coincidence, grabbed her purse, and started for the door and Don.

* * *

The Pub was crowded but they managed to find a booth in back near the juke box. After ordering, Ellie turned to Don. "What do you really think happened at the Santos? I mean, those sweet people never harmed anyone. Who would want to kill them?"

"Like I said, let the Police handle it. You can't keep dwelling on the murder. It isn't healthy. Eat your lunch and maybe we can take in a movie."

"No. I don't really feel like it. Need to wash my hair and get some research done on my job. Besides, I haven't fed Tutu yet. Want to come over later and we'll rent a video and down a few beers?"

"Works for me. See you later." They finished their lunch, said their good-byes and parted outside the Pub. Ellie walked past the Santos Market and noticed they were open for business again. Strange, she thought, who resumed the business, so soon after the murders? She decided to go in.

Maria Santos was behind the counter. "May I help you?"

"Well, I wanted some cheese and rye bread. Tell me, did you reopen the store? Do you remember me, Maria? Ellie Pearson. I was with your parents just before that horrible incident."

"My brother and I decided to run the business until all the legal papers are completed. Paul and I - Paul's my brother - we decided to operate it temporarily. Don't know if it will be sold or not. Did you know my parents well?"

"Yes. Tragic. I am very sorry. I was a good customer and helped them get started setting up their operation on their computer that night. I am sick about it."

"Well, Ellie, life goes on I guess." Maria's face had a sad expression as she looked away, a tear in her eye. "Here's your order. Hope to see you again."

"You will. And if you ever need anything or anyone to talk to, please call me. My name is in the computer and their delivery book. Ellie Pearson. Bye"

"Bye."

Ellie walked back to her apartment and Tutu ran up, brushed against her legs and purred. "Missed me, huh? Well, I'll fix your supper now. Here's some nice milk and canned food to fill your tummy," she said as she attended to Tutu's needs.

The phone rang about eight and Ellie was just finishing up her paper work. It was Don saying he had rented a movie and would be up in ten minutes. She turned on the computer to enter her data and the Soulful Dreams site came on the monitor. The more she tried to type in her file names and clicked to other sites, the more she realized the monitor was not changing. The Soulful Dreams started up. . .that red and blue wheel. . .turning, turning. . .mesmerizing her. . .hypnotizing her. She sat there in a trance not knowing what was happening. I thought Don deleted that site, was going through her mind.

"You are a prisoner of your own fate. You have dared to experience the Soulful Dreams wheel and I own you now. Your soul will be mine. You need only to press GO. If you do not you will burn in Hell." In a hypnotic-like trance, her hand slowly was reaching for the G when a loud knock on the door interrupted her trance. She was shocked back to reality. She slowly walked over to answer the door, a blank look on her face.

* * *

"What's going on?" Don was concerned and confused. "I've been ringing the bell for ten minutes. When you didn't answer I started banging on the door! I knew you were in there. I could hear a loud humming sound and Tutu crying loudly like he was being tortured."

"I don't know what you mean." Don could see Ellie was dazed. It was apparent she had no recollection of any doorbell ringing or anything else. He wondered how she had finally heard the knocking.

He decided to change the subject. "Let's just watch the movie I brought. You've been working too hard and need some relaxation. I'll get the beer in the fridge and start the VCR."

They settled down on the couch and watched the movie quietly. Ellie did not offer any explanation and Don did not press her. He left near midnight with an "Anything you need, just call or bang on the floor. I'm a light sleeper." He sensed he would not sleep that night.

Ellie went to bed, Tutu curled up at her feet. She was awakened by someone calling her name.

"Ellie. Ellie, come here to me. Come on Ellie, get up. Come back to me and finish what we started. You need me. I need you. Come. Come to me."

Ellie got out of bed, half asleep, and walked out into the dining room. the computer was on the Dream site again. The red and blue wheel was spinning, but now in the center was a grotesque face, with fire all around it. It was talking to her, beckoning her. "Come Ellie. I need you. I need your soul. Just type GO and you will be my slave forever. You will find riches you never conceived of having. You will be the Queen of your world. Come to me. Come. Type GO. Do it now. DO IT!"

"She stared, dazed and confused and said. "What will happen? Why should I do this? What will happen if I do not?"

"YOU WILL BURN. BURN LIKE YOUR FRIENDS. THEY DID NOT LISTEN TO ME EITHER."

"You mean the Santos?"

The distorted face sneered and laughed. "YES. THEY DID NOT OBEY ME."

"Oh my God, you killed them? But how did you even get to them?"

"That was easy," the face said, "I came through on your computer hard drive, You stupid girl, do you not know that I can jump from computer to computer. I need only ONE person to download my file or visit my site and the virus spreads wherever you go. Whomever you send an Email to or transfer files to will have my site. They will be in my power!" The face laughed hideously.

"But how?" Ellie was frightened. Had she really been the destructive force that killed the Santos? Was it all her fault?

"I am tired of these questions!" The face let out a roar and Tutu jumped and ran into the bedroom. "Do what I tell you or I will destroy you. Or should I destroy your little pet first?"

Ellie quickly reached down and pulled the plug on the computer but it did not go off.

"Do you think you can unplug me? My powers are greater than you. You cannot fight me. Now, TYPE GO!"

Ellie ran into the bedroom and closed the door. She pounded hard on the floor with her shoe. "Please, please hear me Don!" She was frantic.

Suddenly there was a loud banging on her door and she knew it would be Don. She ran to the door, opened it, and fell into his arms, sobbing. "My computer!" was all she could manage to say in between sobs.

"Calm down. I'll take a look at it."

"NO! Don't go near it! You will burn up like the Santos." She could not stop sobbing, her head buried in his chest.

"You are not making sense. What has the computer got to do with the Santos gruesome murder?" He started to walk her into the living room which was off the dining room where the computer was. She screamed "NO" and he stroked her saying "OK, we'll go into the bedroom, away from the computer."

Don sat her in the bed. She calmed down enough to tell him the whole story and what the grotesque face in the monitor had said to her. He was not entirely convinced the whole story was not a nightmare.

"I'll stay here till you fall asleep."

"No, Don. You must get that computer out of here and destroy it. PLEASE!"

"Ok, I'll do it in the morning. I'll stay with you tonight until you fall asleep, or all night if you wish."

"NO! You must do it NOW! If you don't it will destroy us." She was beginning to become hysterical again so he said he would do it right away.

His mind was racing as he sat down at the Monitor. That damned red and blue wheel. . .turning. . .turning. He covered the monitor with a piece of paper to shield the wheel from his eyes and started deleting and uninstalling all the programs, clearing the hard drive, trying to crash it. It was then a voice came over the system. "Don't you know, mortal that you cannot destroy me? I am all-powerful and can destroy YOU." then that hideous laugh returned.

"Who are you?" Don asked behind the paper protector.

There was a laugh and the paper over the monitor singed and fell to the floor, leaving the monitor intact. "That's impossible," Don said aloud.

"Nothing is impossible with me. You will be under my power too as your little friend will soon be." The loud, hideous laugh continued. Don thought it would never stop. His head was splitting. Then he got another idea.

"Who are you? Are you the devil?"

"I am the Demon of the Souls, that all powerful black angel that collects innocence and has it do my bidding. No one can stop me. I will burn you in Hell if you try. I will burn you alive right now, if you do not obey me."

Don quickly ran into the bedroom. Ellie had a cross over her bed on the wall. He grabbed it.

"What are you doing?"

"No time now, Ellie. Just stay here." He ran back into the dining room and quickly put the cross on the scanner. He scanned it and downloaded it into the computer.

The cries and screams coming out of the computer were monstrous and terrifying. The screams lasted for about five minutes, then suddenly they stopped and the monitor and memory tower exploded. Don shielded himself under the table and was not hurt by the flying debris. "It worked! Thank God!"

Ellie came running out of the bedroom and saw the disintegrated computer parts. "You did it! Thank the Lord for that!"

"That's what I said." Don sighed a big sigh of relief. "Now we'd better destroy the Santos computer too. We'll go over there in the morning."

The next day Ellie and Don entered the Santos market and told Maria they were going to check the computer upstairs in the apartment.

"No need. The stupid thing blew up last night. It was the craziest thing. No one was even near it. Faulty wiring I guess."

Ellie and Don left without a word, not wanting to alarm Maria.

"It must have been the Cross transfer from your PC that triggered the destruction. Lucky. I suppose we should go to the Police station and tell the Detective what happened.

"No need. They wouldn't believe us anyway."

 
 
 
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Author Bio

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." - Albert Einstein

 

A native New Yorker, I moved to Florida about fifteen years ago and now consider myself a "Floridian." At first, writing was a hobby with me, but it soon became such a joy that I decided to pursue the career professionally. Now retired I can write full time. I spend most of my leisure time at my computer, sipping Bottled Water, a "DO NOT DISTURB" sign on the door, and frantically typing to all hours of the night. I can't seem to get my thoughts out fast enough. My family often wonders if I've fallen asleep at my keyboard!

Novels of all genres, poems, short stories, plays - I have no special favorites. I write whatever inspires me, usually fiction.
Being a lover of tulips, I registered a d/b/a called TULIP PRODUCTIONS for business purposes.

   My Email address is: TulipProductions@aol.com
   My Webpage URL is: www.tulip-productions.com

 

Finished manuscripts include:

PARK AVENUE COUNTRY - Country Western Romance Novel.**
WHERE HAVE ALL THE BABIES GONE? - Crime/Detective Novel.
ECLECTIC LIGHTS - Sci-Fi/Fantasy Story.**
THE GLASS HEART - Romance/Murder Novella. **
LOVE IS TERMINAL - Sci-Fi/Spy Thriller Novella. **
WAY TO GO HARPO! - Nonfiction Humorous Short Story. **
I REMEMBER A PLACE CALLED HOME - Nostalgic Nonfiction Story.
SILK CARNATIONS & FLAT GINGER ALE - Humorous Short Story.
PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY - Humorous Short Story,
BROTHERLY LOVE - Romance Story
USER FRIENDLY? - Sci-fi Novella. **
DEATH BY GREED - Murder Mystery Novel.
VISIT TO A FRIEND - Anti-School violence Article.**
MOONSHADOWS - Love and mystery in a resort town.
MOONLIT BEACHES OF MURDER - Murder mystery on the seacoast. **
SEVERAL POEMS **

** Denotes published, or accepted and pending publishing.

 

Works in progress include:

EVIL IS AS EVIL DOES - Murder Mystery Novel.
THE ORGAN MASTERS - Crime/Detective Novel.
MONTANA - Drama Novel with a Western flavor.
CYBER-STAR - Sci-Fi Novel.
COUNTRY LIGHTS - TV Sitcom.
BABES ANONYMOUS - Musical Comedy Play

 


 

 
 
 

"User Friendly?" Copyright © 2000 Connie Berridge. All rights reserved. Published by permission of the author.
 
This page last updated 1-21-01.

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