By: Kevin Diebold
Second level. No parking spots.
Fourth, Jesus Christ! I turn to go up another ramp.
Fifth, You’ve got to be fucking kidd- oh there’s one!
I swerve into the only available spot in the five-story garage; my tires squeal viciously on the drab, gray concrete. A half empty bottle of Mountain Dew barrels across the passenger floor and my miniature Chicago Cubs helmet swings frantically from the rearview mirror. I’m gonna be so late! But not so late– I reach into my pocket and grab my small pillbox. Without looking , I snatch two pills from the upper section. The blue pills hit the back of my throat and I swallow. I grab my backpack, slam the door, and don’t look back. Out of my peripheral, I catch a quick flash of white. I jerk my head but there’s nothing there. No time to stand around like a dumbass; I turn back to continue my charge forward. Two parking spots are wide open right next to me. The hell? I’m losing it. Out of the garage, I run across the street and into the campus courtyard. A couple of people are setting up a tent on the main walkway. They try to stop some students walking by and shove flyers into their hands. No time for that shit. I cut left and race across the green field but halt in my tracks and slowly look to my right.
“What the fuck?”
Creeping out of the grass like a damn meerkat is a six inch mouse cursor. Frozen, dumbfounded, I watch the cursor slide over me and land a few feet away on a crumpled up flyer. A three foot tall context menu pops up right above it. The cursor hovers over a couple of selections and lands on delete. A Recycle Bin desktop icon pops up 15 feet in the air. The paper that was once on the ground disappears and the Recycle Bin icon is now full. I reach into my pocket and pull my pillbox back out. Nothing is missing from the upper section. Oh shit. I quickly comb through the other sections. Two blue pills are missing from the hallucinogens. Those aren’t Adderall. It shouldn’t be kicking in so fast though. I really am losing it. I narrow my eyes as I scan the courtyard. Seriously? No one else notices the cursor that just deleted a goddamn physical object? A couple strolls by, textbooks in hand. The flyer-pushers shove their agendas like everything is normal. Okay. This is fine. People go insane all the time. My feet override my uncooperative brain and walk three feet to stand directly in front of the cursor. I reach my hand out slowly. Twelve inches.
The cursor jumps like a cat that just noticed a cucumber. It pauses for a solid two seconds before it submerges into the grass. To my left a chat box opens, midair:
There is nothing for at least five seconds. Then, one by one the words slowly appear:
The chat box disappears. My head screams as I notice how tightly I’ve been grasping my hair.
Shit…Okay, let’s say I’m not crazy for a minute. I just “acknowledged” something really fucked up. This is like some weird Matrix shit. Oh God, I’m a dead man. They’re gonna delete me like I’m some crumpled flyer! Wait, did they delete those cars too!? IS THIS WHY I CAN NEVER FIND SOMETHING WHEN IT FALLS UNDER THE SEAT OF MY CAR!? Okay, big guy, stay focused on the matter at hand. What’s my next step h-
The cursor reemerges from the ground. I freeze. My heart rate spikes as the cursor creeps toward me and a single context window pops up over my head. It makes its way down the list.
Without thinking, I sling my backpack off my shoulder and thrust it at the suspended window. The backpack crashes through, and the window begins to dematerialize like a dying
8-bit game monster. The mouse attempts to right-click on me again. I clinch my teeth and swing my bag around like a roided out Sammy Sosa with a corked baseball bat. It connects, and the mouse cursor goes flying.
“Holy shit! That actually worked!” I yell maniacally. I notice a group of perplexed students watching from a safe distance. My burning face paints itself at least four shades of red as I wave and laugh. Smooth recovery, James Dean. The crowd whispers to each other. Some people have their phones out filming. A faculty member is talking into a radio. Shit, they probably think I’m crazy. I should probabl-
A clicking sound from behind jolts my attention in time to see the cursor back over the context window. I jump up and grab the cursor with both hands. It dips from my weight and lands on Rename. The sound of another click, and a bar shows up at my shins.
The blinking line shifts back between the “)” and the “.” One by one the letters that make up my name disappear before my eyes.
Flashing lights catch my eye off in the distance, bringing me back to reality. The campus police climb out of their SUV, and the faculty lady with the radio starts sidestepping toward them awkwardly, her eyes darting in different directions. Super inconspicuous, lady. Their voices are inaudible as they continue to glance my way, avoiding eye contact.
“Can I at least get some subtitles?” I say, eyes gawking around the sky above me. The two officers split; one plodding to my left and one to my right. This will be fun to try and explain. I glance down at the box at my shins to notice my new identity almost complete.
“What the hell?! I’m not corrupted! Leave me the fuck alone!”
The cursor travels above me to the right. It clicks and a rectangle with dotted outlines begins to grow as the cursor angles down past my body to the ground on my left.
I’m boxed in.
The officers now stand to my immediate right and left, fingers tense as their hands float dangerously close to their utility belts.
“No, guys, this is a big misunderstanding. See, there are these people, and they’re deleting shit like we are in some kind of computer program. They even-“
The officers move forward and pin me to the ground. The handcuffs dig into the skin of my wrists.
The cursor moves within the box it drew around me and begins to drag me against my will.
The officers push me into the back seat of their car. A voice comes over the radio.
“You have him in custody?”
“Roger, 1202. What should we do with him?” one of the officers responds.
There is radio silence for at least five seconds. A shiver pries itself into the ends of my arms and legs. It crawls tauntingly between my skin and flesh. It continues its mission to violate the rest of my body as I read the white subtitles that appear in the bottom third of my vision:
“Bring him to the Bin.”