by Mason Bushell
Kelvin read the computer store sign above the entrance and stomped inside out
of the rain. He paused to wipe his glasses off with a grumble. “I may as well
live in this piggin’ place!” Ignoring the phone and television departments, he
went straight for the computer section. He selected USB leads, a pack of
microfilters and a large memory stick. Approaching the help desk, he caught the
eye of the server and technician Rupert Hutton. Kelvin knew he hadn’t been on
staff long, but he was very good at his job and the two had become friends. It
was hard to believe; Rupert in his smart suit used to be a homeless man living
in a doorway by the park. Kelvin admired him for how he’d changed his life
It’s not all good news I’m afraid.” Rupert took a box from the customer
collection shelf and came to the counter.
“I thought as
much. What’s the verdict? Have I lost everything?” Kelvin rubbed his face
stressfully. Sometimes he hated computers with a passion.
“The patient is
as dead as a technically advanced dodo. However, the phoenix rises from the
fiery microchips – You see, I was able to get your data from your hard drive
and implant it into this new one for you.” Rupert patted the box with a
“Oh, you star!
You just saved my life.” Kelvin wrung his hand and smiled for the first time in
“My pleasure. I
found something weird when I took your old hard drive apart.”
Kelvin dreaded the coming answer.
ribbon cable, inside, was twisted into a nice neat bowtie. I’ve never seen
anything quite like it.”
“That is weird …
Anyway, thanks again, Rupert. What do I owe you for the hard drive surgery and
these?” Kelvin put his purchases on the counter and took out his circuit board
Rupert rang the
purchases into the till and bagged everything. “That’s eighty-nine,
“And worth a
fortune in recovered data too.” Kelvin paid in notes, never realising he received
an unusually large and abnormal coin in his change. “Thanks, man.”
“See you next
week.” Rupert gave a cheeky salute.
his eyes, waved and left for home. He wanted to get back and check his data
really was okay - as soon as possible.
Kelvin lived in
an apartment within view of the river. It wasn’t big or beautiful but it suited
his needs. The little white kitchen had a microwave to nuke a reasonable meal
when he forgot to order pizza. The bedroom was a place to crash; it didn’t need
to do anything else. The lounge was the furthest from a resting space as you
could get. A sweeping desk of monitors, keyboards, modems, game controllers,
circuit boards, pen-drives with yellow ducks on them and an assortment of fast
food cups and boxes filled one wall. To its right, a tv screen was mounted on
the wall. It was playing a space show on a sci-fi channel as Kelvin came in
with his bag in one hand and a pizza box in the other. His eyes ran over his
collection of comic book character figurines as he dumped his bag on the
cluttered sofa. He loved superheroes above even technology. He threw off his
Krypton trench coat and collapsed into his big leather swivel chair with a sigh
of relief. Going out was always an anxiety-inducing experience. Still being
able to sit and devour a five-cheese, three-pepperoni, sweet-pepper, bacon,
barbecue pizza, hold the pickles was well worth it.
With his pizza
devoured, he threw the box on the pile burying the sofa, chucked his wallet on
the desk dislodging some coins and unpacked his new hard drive. As the computer
booted, he noticed his low WIFI speed with a disdainful scowl. Pulling out the
new microfilters, he ducked beneath the desk to install them in the phone
socket. They were his last hope to boost his speeds. Crawling out, his hand
brushed the tower of plugs. The spaghetti junction of electrical cable shocked
him. He flinched backwards, bashed his shoulder on the desk, dislodged his
glasses and scattered disposable coffee cups and gadgets on the floor. Amid them,
something hit him over the head. “Aww, blast my luck!” he cursed while
searching for his glasses.
spectacles amid the debris, he shoved them back on his nose. Looking through
the lenses again, he felt his focus returning and noticed the odd coin sitting
on the floor.
“That’s weird,” he muttered as he picked up the talisman with a hand over his sore shoulder. He
took in the horned demon surrounded with flames and read the inscription around
it. “Rupert must have paid me with you.” Kelvin hurled things back on the desk
and sat down again never realising an old computer tower had taken on a red
glow. He tapped away on his keyboard, never noticing smoke issuing from the CD
Drive. “Bloody great, HHD Error – Oh wait; new hard drive. I have to let it
install its driver’s fir —” Bang!
fell off his chair as the computer tower erupted in a flash of fire. The sides
fell off and the CD drive shot out. It rocketed across the room like a cruise
missile, decapitating several superheroes on the shelf. Kelvin’s mouth fell
open and his glasses almost fell off his face as he watched on in shock. A
five-inch tall figure emerged from the smoky interior of the computer tower
holding a circuit board. As though chiselled from rock, the red-skinned demon
blinked and looked about through thick-black rimmed glasses. He had on large
red boxer shorts, baring images of computer mice and a slogan. ‘If you like
my mouse, check out my stylus baby!’
The Jinn peered
about as if struggling to see. Eventually, he spotted his summoner and scowled.
“Thanks a bunch! That was my most painful summons in a while.” He held up the
circuit board. “I don’t know what this is but it brained me in there.”
“Figures, it’s a
… Erm – it’s a memory card.” Kelvin gulped as he cleaned his glasses and tried
to figure out whether to believe his eyes or not. “What are you?”
“I’m a Jinn. You
summoned me.” The Jinn squinted about him and took the geeky glasses off. He
smiled as his vision cleared. With a snap of his fingers, he turned the glasses
into designer shades before putting them back on. “That’s better. I hope you
didn’t summon me to clean this room out, its looks and smells awful in here!”
that, I have a lot of work to do. I work with big companies to detect holes in
their security as an Ethical hacker you see.” Kelvin opened his arms and
Last time I saw someone get hacked it was on the football field – there was
nothing ethical about that let me tell you!” The Jinn walked through some of
the gadgets, turning his head to look at them. “What all this stuff?”
“Well, that’s a
WIFI pineapple.” Kelvin pointed to a gadget with lots of antennae. “That allows
me to find, use and penetrate any device or security network so long as I have
a WIFI signal I can use.”
painful.” The Jinn scratched his head. “What’s this?” he indicated a green
circuit board with lots of ports and components attached.
raspberry. It —”
“Ha! Like to see
you try and eat that with your fruit salad!” The Jinn gave it a kick. “You
wouldn’t need a Jinn then; you’d need a good dentist!”
“I didn’t name
it.” Kelvin grinned. He liked this sarcastic little guy. “I just use it like a
hacker’s Swiss army knife. It's like a mini-computer that allows me to
manipulate so many things when trying to execute entry into computer portals
portals, I know about. Don’t try and enter one of those unless you know what
you’re doing. Trust me, its no fun getting your anatomy rearranged. I once knew
a Brownie who made that mistake; he walked around with his head stuck to his
arse for a fortnight until I managed to repair the damage.”
“Wow! Poor guy,”
reckoned taking a crap was a nightmare. At least he could see what he was doing
with his toilet paper though.” The Jinn roared with laughter and ended up
holding his sides.
too. “Oh, I see, you’re a big joker,” he remarked while tapping away on his
“I do like to
have a little —”
his hand down on his keyboard furiously. “What do you mean internet connection
lost? Stupid damned computer!” he blustered at the screen.
inanimate object really knows how to make you mad, huh?” The Jinn folded his
arms and grinned up at him.
Kelvin retorted, now stabbing his keyboard with furious fingers as he attempted
to diagnose the problem.
“Fine.” The Jinn
vanished in a puff of smoke and reappeared on the shelf of superheroes. “If you
tell me what’s wrong, I might be able to help,” he volunteered, having taken
hold of a Superman figurine by the shoulders. He gave it a shake and a slap to
see if it was alive.
“Agh! No – put that down now! You already
killed two of my prized figures.” Kelvin indicated the decapitated heroes on
the floor with the smoking CD Drive. That one is a limited edition and worth a
“He’s a bit
crude, having his underpants on the wrong side of his trousers, isn’t he?”
“Says you walking
about in your boxer shorts,” retorted Kelvin, resorting to swearing at his
The Jinn returned the desk and put on a
swagger. “I do, but at least I make these look good. Don’t you…” the little man
flashed out of existence as Kelvin punched the desk, sending coffee cups flying
across the surface. “…Geez! Calm down before you break your hand!” he said
having reappeared sitting on top of the screen.
thing drives me mad. It must have Gremlins or something.” Kelvin slumped in his
chair and sighed.
“Did you say - Gremlins?”
The Jinn dropped down on the keyboard and began hopping about the keys.
“Yeah, its gotta
be, by the number of times this heap of neurons has gone wrong.”
“Yeah, I’m not
surprised. The Gremian, Vexii – or ‘little pain in the arse’ commonly known as
a Gremlin; has a knack of making any sort of machinery malfunction. They began
slipping into your world when the aviators learned to fly. They…”
“Wait, Jinn. Are
you saying Gremlins are real?” Kelvin sat up and looked at him in shock.
“Oh, yeah. They’re
real alright. Let’s see if you have one.” The Jinn stood in front of the
computer screen and rolled up his imaginary sleeves. Raising his hand, he said,
‘Gremian aperio.’ and shot a bolt of indigo light at the screen.
recoiled in fright. “Don’t blow up my computer! I … still … need ...” he
spluttered to silence, his eyes widening as the screen grew bright and millions
of windows, webpages, executables and documents began opening, closing and
flashing all over the screen. At the same time, all manner of horns began
blaring from the speakers.
“Yup - you got a
Gremlin!” The Jinn hit the screen with another blast of indigo magic. This time
a blue fog grew out of the screen. It ejected a skinny, sallow-looking grey
figure, wearing denim overalls and a lurid red shirt. He shrieked as he landed
on his head, rolled a few times and slammed into the mouse.
staggered about until he shook off a cross-eyed look. He revealed himself to be
an inch taller than the Jinn (not including the last few strands of his wispy
grey hair) and just as rude as he promptly flipped his middle finger at him. “That
bloody ‘urt!” he complained while rubbing his pointed nose.
What are doing here? I see your manners haven’t improved.”
“ ‘Allo, Jinn.
‘ow the devil is ya? Doris alright, is she?” Marlin beamed making his thin lips
and dark eyes appear like those of a friendly gargoyle. He came over, ears
flapping as he clapped him on the back.
Doris is fine thanks.”
“Jolly good! You
should see that guy up there when I cut ‘is internet connection, or make ‘im
think ‘e’s ‘itting all the wrong keys – Woowee! ‘e gets boiling mad, ‘e does.”
said the Jinn leaning against the printer looking unimpressed.
“Excuse me. Are
you saying, you caused all my computer problems?” said Kelvin leaning in close
with fury narrowed eyes.
matey. Bin ‘aving a lot of fun for the last few weeks, I ‘ave.” Marlin grinned.
“Thank ya very much for the entertainment.”
A vein began pulsing in Kelvin’s forehead. “I should bloody kill you for all
that hassle you caused and for ruining my hard drive, you little b—”
down you’ll blow a fuse. I’ll …”
“Ooh! Don’t you
worry about that. I’ve got a collection of fuses. Big ones, little ones, ‘eavy
duty ones. You tell me what amperage you is needing and I’ll fetch it for you.”
Marlin said looking pleased that he might be able to help.
The Jinn slapped
his forehead. “I don’t even want to know where you’re getting those from.”
“Well, you see.”
Marlin put his hand over his mouth and carried on in secretive tones. “These
‘ere ‘umans is needing them to protect and earth all their gadgets and gizmos.
When you vanish fuses, things stop working and ‘umans get super mad, see. I’ve
seen ‘oovers flying out windows, men wrestling with power cords. And you should
of ‘eard the lady next door, Woowee! The things she called ‘er electric mixer,
were dark enough to curl my delicate ears – and all because I took the fuse
calling you worse things if she got hold of you, you idiot.” The Jinn rolled
made a pained expression. “I’m not going back there again then.”
going back in my computer again either, you ugly, walking nightmare,” Kelvin
told him with a finger pointed at him.
looked stunned. He furrowed his little eyebrows and scowled. “ ‘ow dare you
insult me. I is just ‘aving some good clean fun with you. That’s all.”
“When will you
learn, Marlin. People don’t like troublemaking little gits. Especially when
they make a person’s expensive computer malfunction.” The Jinn conjured a
swirling portal. “Now, sod off home. I’ll see you at the Tipsy Toadstool for a
pint of nectar later.”
Marlin hung his
almost bald head and slumped at the shoulders. “I is sorry ‘uman. Gremlins is
unable to sit still for too long. We is ‘aving to tinker with things and cause
trouble to be ‘appy, you see.”
“I understand. There
are no hard feelings, mate.” Kelvin put out a finger and smiled as Marlin took
in both hands and shook it.
“You is nice
‘uman,” he said humbly.
“Well, I do try
to be nice.” Kelvin became thoughtful for a moment, “You know what, Marlin. If
you promise to make things work with your tinkering, instead of breaking them -
you could visit from time to time.”
beamed and danced a little jig.
“Sure, I could
use a hand repairing things now and then.” Kelvin returned the smile.
“Aww, in ‘e a
nice ‘uman, Jinn?”
“Yeah, too nice.
I’d have squashed you flat if I was him.” The Jinn sighed and winked at Kelvin.
“Goodbye, Marlin.” He added before kicking him up the backside. The Gremlin was
caught unawares, the impact sent him flying through the portal.
Kelvin was sure
he said something unrepeatable as he vanished but he’d never know now. “Will Marlin
come back; do you think?”
“Well, he can
make portals to Earth, so he might.” The Jinn spread his hands as he rose into
the air. “Well, your computer troubles are over, anyway.”
The Jinn snapped
his fingers as his body took on a warm red glow. “Your superhero’s have their
heads again too.”
Kelvin saw his
figurines beautiful restored on the shelf. “Cheers, Jinn. I appreciate a man
who repairs the damage he causes.”
“Me too!” The Jinn was now hovering under the
ceiling fan. “So, when you ethically hack someone, I guess you say ‘sorry’
afterwards do you?”
closed his mouth. The Jinn had vanished. Kelvin smiled, shook his head and
laughed. That was the strange half-hour of his life.