I Bet You Say That to All the URLs


Another SFF World story.  I can’t recall what the theme was.  What I do recall is being very incredibly pleased with the title; I’m not even sure if the title came to my head first and I wrote the story to fit it or the other way around.  But as awful puns go, it’s particularly awful.  And before anyone asks, no, this is not autobiographical.

Brushing a fine layer of Cheeto dust from his keyboard, Leonard sat heavily in the battered office chair, the blue glow of the monitor the only light in the room.  Multiple websites were poised like dominoes along his task bar, in various states of loading.  The Mountain Dew was cold, the chair was comfortable, and the evening was his.

What would be the first course this evening?  Naughty Blondes?  Redheads in Trouble?  Bountiful Brunettes?  Leonard always loved this moment, the sense of anticipation, the enticing options waiting for him with a click of his mouse.  Some might think it strange that he chose to spend a Friday night with women on a computer screen rather than the real thing, but these women, they wouldn’t notice his paunch, or his bad skin, or any of the other myriad faults he felt assaulting him every time he looked in the mirror.  Out there, he was just Leonard Malinovsky, retail clerk, but here, in the comforting darkness of his room, he was King Leo.  He clicked Naughty Blondes and sat back.

“This program has performed an illegal function and will be shut down.”

“What the hell?” Leonard mused as the grey box popped up in a most inconvenient spot, as far as his interests were concerned.  He clicked the close button and the window vanished.  Maybe some malicious code running in the background of the site?  He’d have to check into that later.  For now, there were redheads in trouble that needed tending to.

“This program has performed an illegal function and will be shut down.”

“Oh come on!” Leonard shouted at the screen as the grey box once again inserted itself directly over a particularly troubled redhead.  He paid good money for this subscription, and that money should have bought a more secure site than this.  He opened his virus scan to make sure nothing nasty had gotten through, but a quick check of the log showed nothing.  Must be problems server-side.  Oh well, bountiful brunettes awaited him.

“You’re really not getting it, are you, Leonard?”

Leonard blinked.  It was the usual grey box with the big red X, the old Microsoft salute, but he’d never seen an error message like this before.  Then he laughed – it must be something from the site, some kind of targeted ad perhaps.  They had his first name from his subscription, after all.  He closed the alert.

“Oh, so you think this is funny?”

“Huh?” Leonard muttered to himself, but before he could do anything, another alert popped up.

“I thought we had something special.”

“Okay, what the hell is going on?”  This was serious.  Someone had hacked their way into his system.  He leaned over and yanked the Ethernet cable out of his modem.  Great.  He’d be spending the rest of the evening running scans and trying to undo whatever this idiot has done.

“After all we’ve been through, THIS is how you treat me?” popped up over the other two alerts.

“No, no way,” Leonard shouted, “I’m not connected anymore!”

Another grey box:  “Not connected?  How can you say that about us?”  A colon and a parenthesis had taken the place of the red X.

Leonard removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes.  If he didn’t know any better, he’d swear his computer was talking to him.

“Of course I’m talking to you!”

Leonard pushed his chair back, but the wheels caught on the thick shag carpet and he pitched backward, tumbling to the floor.

“Honey, are you all right?” came another alert.

Leonard panted as he pulled himself from the floor and read the newest alert.  “No, I am not all right.  My computer is having an argument with me!”

Now an apostrophe appeared between the colon and the parenthesis.  “I’m only saying these things because I love you.  And I thought you loved me.”

“You thought I loved you?”

The alerts were popping up one after the other now, cascading across the screen.  “You said all those wonderful things to me.”  “You would stare at me and tell me how much you wanted me.”  “You made me feel special.”

Realization slowly dawned on Leonard.  “The chat rooms?  You thought I was talking to you?”

“I felt your fingers on me as you talked.”

“I was typing on a keyboard! I was talking to a girl in a chat room!”

The parenthesis was replaced by a capital letter O.  “You … you weren’t talking to me?”

“No!  I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong idea…”

“Wrong idea?”  “WRONG IDEA?”  This alert repeated itself until it flowed across his screen like a spread deck of cards.  The activity light on his tower glowed bright red.

“Wait, look – “

“I see how it is.”  A greater-than sign appeared above the colon now.  “You think you can just lead me along.”  “You think I’m just going to sit by and watch you cheat on me.”  “Well I’m not that kind of motherboard.”  “Good-bye, Leonard!”

With that, the screen went dark for a moment, only to come back with white letters on a blue background.  “A fatal exception has occurred.”   CTRL+ALT+DEL was Leonard’s only option.

“It Blue Screen of Deathed me?” he said in disbelief.  Slowly, he righted his chair and plopped down in it.  He heard the hard drive whir to a stop, and the system light blinked out on his tower.  The monitor blinked for a moment, then showed “NO VIDEO INPUT” in big block letters.  “YOU BASTARD” was underneath.

Leonard sighed.  Then he shrugged and picked up his TV remote.  No sense in the evening going to waste.  There had to be some decent temptations waiting for him on pay-per-view.  His TV powered on, and he keyed in one of his favorite channels, tapping the guide button to see what was playing.  The info box for the channel popped up on the screen:

“So, just how long has this been going on with you and the computer?”

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3 thoughts on “I Bet You Say That to All the URLs

  1. Pingback: New Story: “I Bet You Say That to All the URLs” «

  2. Pingback: Making the Sausage: How I Write «

  3. Great story. Suggestion: when he first see the pop up with his name. The website more than likely has his name from the cookies stored in his browser. So the character can say something like “Damn cookies” or something like. I dont think it would have worked out with the girlfriend on the computer. You would have to read every comment she makes, and that would get annoying. lol. gret job.

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