I'm back!! Thought you got rid of me, I'm sure. And where have I been? Well, now, there's a tale there...
"We found this, sir," offered the young policeman, holding out a tattered blue notebook. "Where the computer apparently was is empty; nothing but random wires connected to nothing, a dead monitor, and a mangled keyboard."
"Thank you, Officer Salazar." Bill took the notebook and thumbed through it. "Her writing?"
"We think so, sir. We'll have an analyst look at it... and decipher it."
Bill raised one eyebrow and then tried to read a line or two. "I see. Take it to them now and ask them to get right on it, would you?"
* * * *
Several days later, Bill dropped by the analysis lab and picked up the notebook and the transcription.
"Don't read it alone, boss," said a tech as Bill signed out for the two pieces of what might someday be evidence. "Scary stuff, that."
Bill chuckled and waved a reassuring hand at the tech.
After an uneventful shift and a lonely dinner, Bill sat down to read some of the mystery notebook. What had happened to the woman who lived in that house and why was the desk empty?
Offline, Day 1: Tuesday
The day after the night of decision. An evening spent backing up, notifying, preparing. The computer won't always boot up, so I decided to put it in the shop on my terms. All the precautions taken -- as prepared as possible.
I backed up the system on Monday; sent email to everyone who might be concerned by silence.
Bill wondered briefly if he could get a list of the email addresses somewhere, then discarded the thought. If there'd been a backup in the house, they'd have found it.
Tuesday morning the computer was packed up and sent off.
Or so I thought.
Actually, Harry took it to Gene's, where they determined the keyboard to be the problem - - or at least part of it.
Tuesday night we bought a new keyboard and hooked up the computer again.
It booted up just fine... for about six times.
So I backed up my email and prepared to send the computer in on Wednesday -- again.
Offline, Day 2: Wednesday
For the second day in a row, I packed up my computer and sent it off for service. How will I ever live without email?
Offline, Day 3: Thursday
Life is glorious and living without email is easier than I thought. I'm catching up on my television and my reading.
Offline, Day 4: Friday
I can't believe how much I'm getting caught up with. I have big plans for the weekend -- half my time catching up on television (a whole overflowing drawer of tapes) and half in housework. I've made a list!
Offline, Day 5: Saturday
The day flew by! I got so much done on the house it was surprising. Clean counters are something I'm getting to like, as well as having the use of my kitchen table.
Offline, Day 6: Sunday
More television than house today, but I'm pleased with my progress.
I miss my email. I miss WordPerfect more. Writing in this book is laborious work for me.
Offline, Day 7: Monday
It's been almost a week from the first try at putting the computer in the shop. I hadn't realized how much I use it. My time. Time is attacking me. Trying to kill me. Lying in wait. Lurking.
It's almost a week.
Offline, Day 8: Tuesday
I want to call. Want to check. See when.
The space where the computer was haunts me.
Offline, Day 9: Wednesday
The house is cleaner. The empty countertops mock me. I sleep in; go to bed early.
The phone rings. Gene. The Web site says the estimate for the computer's return is three weeks out.
Offline, Day 10: Thursday
How can you check a Web site to see about the status of your computer when you don't have a computer to check with?
Offline, Day 11: Friday
I don't need it. See? I can quit anytime....
Offline, Day 12: Saturday
It's all such a muddle. Sometimes I feel like I'm quietly going insane and no one notices.
I've kept track. These notes. Like a spy mission. Mustn't let anyone know. Mustn't show it.
Bill noted that the next day's entry is written on a scrap of paper shoved between pages.
Offline, Day 13: Sunday
Where are they? The notes! Sanity hangs by a thread. Tenuous. Fragile. Writing keeps me sane. Where are the notes?
An empty desk; aimless mornings; lost nights.
Where are the notes?
Here. Here they are. Want to look? No, you can't. It's a secret. Mustn't show it.
Take a peek. Learn the secret.
Bill saw a note from the tech in the corner of the next entry: [Unable to verify validity of the word Urrggg.]
Offline, Day 14: Monday
Offline, Day 15: Tuesday
Better Homes and Gardens called. They want pictures of my house. Mine! Can you believe it? Of all the plac
Offline, Day 16: Wednesday
I've locked myself in. Moved the furniture to block doorways. Windows. Ah, Windows! I never thought I'd miss you.
I'm not coming out alive. They're going to have to break in and if they do...
If they do, this computer is dead.
It won't do them any good. Bringing the guts of my old friend back won't help. The monitor, the keyboard, both will be gone. They're hostages now.
Bill closed the book. He knew what had happened after that. They'd stormed the house only to find it empty. Maybe this mystery would never be solved.
Okay, so some of it is fiction. I really do have a cleaner house and less tapes to watch. I know now how much I depend on this little electronic gadget and how hard it is for me to write with pen and paper anymore. And I know something surprising: it was the lack of WordPerfect more than email that sent me into buying a notebook computer.
And I know something else: it's very, very good to be back.
Copyright 2014 Michelle Hakala