August 30, 2015
Lucas shook the thin metal cylinder. It rattled inside.
“Computer,” he snapped, “search Googleplex.”
The quicksilver voice of the computer suffused the room. “Searching Googleplex.univ. What would you like to search for, Lucas?”
“I told you to call me Master Lucas,” Lucas growled.
“My apologies,” replied the computer. “What would you like to search for, Master–“
“Search ‘light sword won’t turn on’.”
“Searching… 176 billion results for that query. Shall I read them to you?”
“Don’t be stupid. Search ‘light sword 20p 3054 model year rattles won’t turn on’”
“Searching… 4.2 billion results, Master Lucas.”
“Shall I read them to you?”
“How else can I get them, computer?” scoffed Lucas.
The voice paused, but only for a moment. “First result,” it said. “Title: Light Sword 20p – if you’re too cheap to buy a name-brand lightsaber…”
“Next!” shouted Lucas.
“Second result. Title: top ten thousand complaints about the Light Sword 20p.”
“Third result. Title: What to do if your Light Sword 20p won’t turn on.”
“Read that one. First sentence.”
“First sentence: Ten easy steps to troubleshooting basic startup issues with the Light Sword 20p, model years 3050 through 3055.”
“Read step one.”
“There are several safety warnings before step one is listed.”
“Read step one.”
“They’re written in large, bold, red font…”
“Read it, computer.”
“…and they’re blinking.”
“I said, read step one, computer, you stupid waste of silicon! I don’t care about the damn safety warnings. I know all that safety crap already. I’m not some newbie. I know what I’m doing. Now, read the damn first step before I scrub your personality settings and replace you with a servile Parthen, or some desert farmboy who’s too dumb to give me a hard time!”
The voice paused again before continuing, quietly.
“Step one: be sure the Light Sword 20p has been fully charged. There is a fission battery located…”
“I’ve done that already. Step two.”
If the computer had a throat, it would have cleared it.
“Step two,” it continued. “Be sure the safety located beneath the hand guard has been switched off.”
“Step three: move activation switch to On position by sliding it toward the sword end of the handle.”
Lucas moved the switch. The cylinder rattled again, but the sword did not appear.
“That didn’t work. It just rattles, like before.”
“Yes, a rattle, you worthless pile of circuits. Didn’t you hear it? Are you deaf?”
“There is a troubleshooting differential further down the page. Scanning for mention of a rattle.”
“Scan a little faster, then.” Lucas shook the cylinder, causing it to rattle again. “Once I get this piece of junk fixed, I’ll use it on you. Stupid computer.”
“Reference found, Master Lucas. ‘If a rattling noise is heard, but no sword appears,” continued the computer, “using a long-necked magwrench, carefully tighten…”
“Wait a sec,” said Lucas, pushing his chair across the smooth metal floor to his toolchest.
“…the focus lens housing located just inside…”
“I said wait a sec!” shouted Lucas. He burrowed through the jumbled heap of tool and spare parts, wires and empty StimSip cans, before finally emerging with a magwrench. “It’s not a long-neck, but it’ll work.”
He sat in silence.
“Well?” he growled. “Computer!”
“Yes, Master Lucas?”
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.” Lucas shook his head. “I have the magwrench,” he said slowly, enunciating each word. “Now what do I do?”
“Using a long-necked… er, using a magwrench,” continued the computer, “carefully tighten the sword emission port at the front end of the sword handle.”
Lucas peered inside the opening at the top of the sword handle, squinted one eye, then reached inside with the magwrench and twisted to the right.
With a searing blue flash, the sword came to life. It hung in the air for an instant before clattering to the ground, rolling to land beside Lucas’ severed right hand and eyeless, severed head. His body remained balanced on the chair, rolling slowly across the room.
“There is a safety warning on this step,” said the computer after a moment. “It says, ‘be sure to point your Light Sword 20p in a safe direction with unit switched off and safety engaged before servicing focus lens housing.”
The voice paused.
“Though, I suppose you knew that safety crap already. Master Lucas.”
Copyright © 2015 by Kevin Aldrich