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LJ Idol IX - 24. Cupertino Effect (~1200 words)

Cupertino effect is the fancy name for the struggles caused by automatic autocorrect replacements. It owes its name to MS Word 97 which replaced "cooperation", spelled this way and not co-operation, with the name of this Californian town that is home to Apple Inc.

Scenes from an unfinished play

Place of action:
                          3-bedroom apartment in a residential area of Moscow.

                          CARP, House Spirit;
                          PUCK, Computer Troll;
                          BUBBLE, Washing Machine Imp;

                          Chairs, Tables, Dust Bunnies, Computers, various other Household Objects.

Part One. Shenanigans

Apartment kitchen: Scrubbed white Table on the right; four Chairs. A Tablet in peeling black cover on the Table. The Clock on the wall reads 3 a.m.

Enter CARP, a short fellow with kind face and sad eyes. He is clad in a hairy brown onesie and wears two women's socks on his left foot and a man's on his right.

CARP: climbs onto a Chair and taps Tablet
              Puck, you there? They are all in bed now.

Short pause.

              Come on, you Troll, a word.

A scraggly head of hair appears from under the Tablet's cover; two bulbous eyes stare down the cucumber of a nose at CARP.

              Make it quick, make it quick. I'm busy. Eating Tablet's battery juice.
              Cut the whinging about how Humans neglect you.

Tablet: in a tinny voice

              Don't be like that, Pucky, you know I'm right about them! Anyway, look what
              I've learned: the Man's Friend is coming tomorrow. The Girl's gonna help him
              with something on Computer. Remember Mouse grumbling at the lack
              of care and Computer moaning how sick he is from all the viruses Girl
              lets breed in him? Well, it looks like the Girl and the Friend will be working
              on Computer for hours.

He bends closer to to PUCK and starts whispering in his ear.

PUCK's eyes light up, he stares deviously at CARP.

              I like the way you think, old man. Consider it done.

He disappears inside Tablet, uses its WiFi connection to teleport to Computer and holds a conference with Mouse in hoarse and squeaky whispers. The Girl sleeping in the room is blissfully unaware of the conversation.

Part Two. A Dear Friend

One of my parents' best friends is one of the gentlest and most selfless people I know. He also was a merciless tease when I was little, whispering innocent things in my ears with such inclination and inflection that I threw tantrums, run from him and refused to sit near him during his visits. The teasing ended triumphantly and rather sadly one day when I was older and suddenly refused to react to the teasing. I will never forget the resulting look of wounded astonishment on his face.

I like him a lot and I think I always have, yet the forty years of age difference leave me uncertain of how to be a friend.

So when one day last year he requested my help filling in the monster known as the American visa application which I had then already won against twice, I gladly agreed. Despite the application questions being their usual nasty and excessive selves (What is your mother's maiden name? When was your father born? Are you going to commit terrorist acts in the U.S.?) I very much enjoyed time spent filling it out.

To my great embarrassment though, both my desktop and my mouse chose that day to start acting up twice as much as they did before. The desktop took ages to upload Internet pages, and the mouse which I kept forgetting to replace refused to be nice to my guest, for he could not find that one right position in which the worn-out double-click button still worked.

Part Three. Midnight Meeting

17 years earlier.

Big South room. Litter of wrapping paper and several boxes in different sizes around a Table. Brand new Computer on the Table. Man's and Woman's sleeping forms in two Beds on either side of the room.

Enter CARP in his familiar brown onesie and only one woman's sock. He looks around the room, sighs and starts rearranging the mess at the Table making it easier to throw away in the morning.

PUCK's head pokes out of the Computer screen; he follows CARP's movements silently for a few minutes.


CARP: jumps back from the table
              Who's there?

              Who's where?

CARP: looks around furtively, puts a finger to his lips
              Keep your voice down, you'll wake the Humans!

              Pah, Humans, they never notice what's right under their noses.

stands tall
              Be it as it may, I, Polycarp, Spirit of this House, command you
              to present yourself, stranger.

              Fine, ruin all my fun. I am Cupertino, Troll of Computers, brought to you
              by your Humans in this nice package.

He waves a long arm through the computer screen and drops the official voice.

              Call me Puck, will you? I hate that stupid name. I can do so much more
              than switch words on screen, now that I'm here to stay.

              aside And play.

stares between PUCK and Computer for a few moments
              You may call me CARP, I suppose. Come, I will introduce you
              to the others.

aside, clambering noisily out of the screen
              Goody, more of you old geezers.
              to CARP Lead on then, let's get this over with.

Part Four. Legends

In Russian mythology, every dwelling is inhabited by a house spirit, the domovoy. A benevolent domovoy would help with chores and protect the building against fire. When angry or neglected, the house spirit would mess with the belongings of human inhabitants, suddenly shut and open doors and make life unpleasant in many other small ways. To earn domovoy's allegiance, our ancestors took good care of their dwellings and also bribed him with bread and milk.

It remains to be proved though whether other spirits reported over the years are not part of people's vivid imagination. Washing Machine Imps are said to gorge themselves on socks, always only eating one of a pair, and sometimes snack on underwear. Electronic, and more recently, Computer Trolls like to wreak havoc with modern gadgets. Who knows what other spirits further developments will bring to life.

*Carp is an older version of Kuzia the little domovoy from the cartoon with the same name.
Cartoon doll of a little boy with dirty face, a large cap of messy straw hair, with button nose and green eyes. He's clad in red knitted cardigan with a big white button.

*Puck (after the evil spirit) is none other than our very own LJ troll.

A troll sitting cross-legged in front of the laptop. He smiles crookedly showing one tooth on the upper jaw and one on the lower, and has his left index finger pointed at the computer ready to wreck havoc.

*Cookies to everyone who caught the Harry Potter references (Dobby's sock obsession and the obliviousness of Muggles).

*A fair amount of licence with the timeline was taken in this piece, because I think our first computer was bought several years before 1997 (which is why Act Three takes place 17 years before now).


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 9th, 2014 09:53 pm (UTC)
ConCrit is welcome.

This is the first time ever I wrote so much dialogue in one place, so I hope it was readable and that I managed to convey that PUCK is younger than CARP. (God, writing different voices is both fun and a nightmare.)
Oct. 10th, 2014 06:02 am (UTC)
the monster known as the American visa application which I had then already won against twice

This cracked me up, because that is exactly what the whole process must seem like-- including the victory of having the VISA granted.

I've heard the word "domovoy" before, but didn't know what it referred to. The bread and milk reminds me a bit of legends about Brownies, which are fairylike but can cause mischief if not properly bribed and also left alone.
Oct. 10th, 2014 02:15 pm (UTC)
Some of these questions seem directed at making getting visas as difficult as possible for applicants whose family situation is not straightforward, because when relations between our countries turn to the worse, you may have to present proof that your mother's first husband whom she's divorced decades ago is deceased, for example (and not living in the U.S. and ready to help you run off).

In our case, mother does not remember her father's day of birth, only the year, because he was born 111 years ago and died 60 years ago, and we do not have any of his documents left, and even his gravestone only has his years of life on it with no dates.

Yes, there are certain similarities between domovoy's and Brownies. :)
Oct. 10th, 2014 03:10 pm (UTC)
does the visa application really ask if you intend to commit terrorist acts in the us? who answers "yes" to that?

this was really cute, with the more traditional house imp and the more modern computer imp. i like how it starts with the most recent events and works backwards, so all the little details (the dust bunnies, the socks, the malfunctioning tablet and mouse) make sense by the end.
Oct. 14th, 2014 02:43 pm (UTC)
Yes, it asks several questions like that, including whether you are participating in human trafficking or something like that. I suppose the purpose is that if you answer "no" but are then caught doing it, the punishment can be more severe, because that's perjury.

Thank you!
Oct. 10th, 2014 09:46 pm (UTC)
I kept expecting Puck to speak in iambic pentameter, but I suppose this version is much too modern for that.

Oct. 14th, 2014 03:16 pm (UTC)
He might, if he makes a reappearance.

(I'd have to research it though, because I do not know poetic meters well at all :-) )
Oct. 11th, 2014 02:31 am (UTC)
Aw, poor you. Computers can be so mischievous!
Oct. 14th, 2014 03:17 pm (UTC)
You are not going to believe it, but my tablet's autocorrect has been acting up ever since I posted this :D. It has reset all the word choices I've made, and I have to be very careful to post what I intend from it.

Apparently, Puck did not take well to being outed.
Oct. 18th, 2014 10:30 pm (UTC)
I'd say not! Have you tried checking for help online? Maybe it needs to be reset to default, so it'll stop acting up.
Oct. 11th, 2014 08:40 am (UTC)
This was a cute story.
Oct. 11th, 2014 11:11 am (UTC)
Heh! I like those mischief makers..A nice take on the prompt..Different and refreshing..:)
Oct. 11th, 2014 04:10 pm (UTC)
Interesting concept of the House Spirit. I think cars have them too. AW
Oct. 12th, 2014 03:03 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this :)
Oct. 12th, 2014 11:00 pm (UTC)
I love your writing, and this was all kinds of fun! Anything that begins with "shenanigans" is headed in the right direction.
Oct. 13th, 2014 12:09 am (UTC)
My mother taught me that if you lose something in the house, you should ask the house spirit to please return it. You'd be surprised how often I find things in a completely obvious place not long after saying that aloud!
Oct. 13th, 2014 05:35 am (UTC)
It's a fascinating concept that new spirits will be in new technology as we progress. Truly there is a ghost in the machine!

But this was a fun read... If I only had one small idea about it - it would be to place the bit about the legends at the top, to set up the rest of the story a bit more clearly for people who aren't that familiar.
Oct. 13th, 2014 08:12 am (UTC)
If spirits really were to start taking over our technology, as dependent on it as we are, we'd all be doomed for sure!
Oct. 13th, 2014 08:46 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed the format of this entry. Well done, the whole thing is great.
Oct. 14th, 2014 12:07 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this, but was really hoping for more tales of mischief. Your characters were amusing, and I think you did a good job with dialogue.

Oct. 14th, 2014 07:28 pm (UTC)
This was very adorable. I think my only concrit is that you mention Bubbles at the top, but he never really makes an appearance. Otherwise, this was very enjoyable!
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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