It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a blood-curdling scream reverberated throughout our house!
"What happened?" asked my wife as she rushed to my side.
An indescribable horror had rendered me speechless. All I could do is point a trembling finger in mute terror.
"What?" she asked, seemingly unable to perceive the ghastly specter that hovered mere inches from my face. "Is it something with your computer? It isn't doing anything."
Swallowing hard, I managed to croak, "I know! And it hasn't done anything for almost a minute now!"
"So I think it might be dead! Or turned into a zombie! Which means you can't do Facebook or watch cat videos on YouTube!"
Then it was my wife's turn to verbally express a deep sense of anguish.
I know nothing about computer repair. In fact, it wasn't until recently that I learned that computers do not contain adult male sheep. Then why in blazes do they call it RAM?
I hastily unplugged the jungle of wires from the back of my PC and spirited it off to my local computer wizard.
"Please, doc!" I pleaded as I tenderly placed the CPU on his workstation. "You gotta save him! He's only six years old! That's much too young to die!"
The witch doctor swiftly hooked up my computer and initiated its start sequence. He scowled at his screen.
"You definitely got something going on here," he mumbled. "Could be the hard drive. Or maybe it caught a virus."
"That can't be! I made sure he got all his vaccinations! Maybe that male sheep doodad is acting up," I said.
After making a few similar suggestions, it was suggested that I leave the patient alone with the wizard. Which was just as well; the sight of solder and transistors makes me queasy.
Some hours later, I got a phone call informing me that the patient was cured and ready to come home. All it took was the installation of a new hard drive, an operation that sounds roughly akin to a brain transplant.
The tangle of cables was eventually plugged back into their sockets. Holding my breath, I pushed the start button on my Frankenstein machine.
And it started up! It was aliiive! I was extremely pleased - until I began to look through my e-mails. A bunch of them were missing! And were the heck was my e-mail address book?
I called the witch doctor, who explained that some items may not have survived the transplant process. Even so, I was grateful to have a computer again.
This bliss lasted only a day. By the following nightfall, my machine was again malfunctioning.
Back to the wizard. A few hours later he called and asked, "When were you going to tell me about the power surge?"
I was confused at first because "power surge" is the code for "hot flash" at our house. Then I recalled that a recent bolt of static electricity had struck alarmingly close to our home. Everything seemed normal at the time, so we thought nothing of it. That is, until we discovered that the processor was kaput.
New parts were ordered. In the interim, we were forced to resurrect our ancient laptop from its cobwebby crypt. Our laptop is so old, booting it up involves starting a fire and building up a head of steam.
After a few days, we finally got the call saying my old - by now entirely new - computer was ready. Then came the agony of negotiating the labyrinthine onramp back to the information superhighway. This meant enduring the horrors of trying to recall assorted usernames and passwords.
Hours were wasted, teeth were gnashed and hair was pulled. And I thought: why can't computers just, I don't know, work? Why can't we simply plug them in and use them? After all, when you buy a new tractor you don't have to install its transmission.
Another thing I wondered was how we became so enmeshed with the Internet. A decade ago, I barely knew what cyberspace was. Now it feels as if we live there.
Perhaps the most annoying part of the process was getting things back to the way they were. This meant changing settings - a task that would be much speedier if one could tap the knowledge of the Internet. But without the proper settings, you can't get onto the Internet! It felt as if I were trapped in a cyberspace version Groundhog Day. Will this torture of installing updates never end?
If you are reading this, it means I finally found my way out of my mainframe maze. Either that or one of the YouTube zombie cat vampires has taken my place.