Wintermute

September 7, 2009

This summer, I walked past a certain computer lab in the Public Affairs building every week, on my way to class. In late July and early August, the lab was filled with kids attending a junior computer camp. The walls were done up with huge printouts of Mario characters and other morale boosters. Everything shone in the green color of the camp logo.

Then, as suddenly as it had started, the camp was over. The kids disappeared. The lab was quiet.

But the other day, I walked by to see that all of the perhaps fifty computers were on. Each displayed an esoteric command prompt, running through thousands of lines of code. Nobody sat at any of them.

I know that they were just being ghosted, but I felt a little like Neuromancer‘s Case, when he walks past a line of public phones, and each of them rings as he goes by. In that moment of twilight at the end of the day, when everyone has gone home and you’re the last one in an abandoned building, when the dog days of summer are on their last legs, the imagination runs wild.

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