Mike opened a new browser window. The computer crackled as it loaded the webpage. Mike tapped his fingers on the desk, cycling through the computer processes that the system was performing in order to access the internet. Mike didn't mind that the computers were slow. He knew how they worked and what it took to keep them running. No one else understood this, they never asked, they just treated him like part of the furniture.
Mike wondered if, one day, when he felt in the mood, he could turn up to work in a chicken costume, or juggling firebrands, or naked save for a strategically placed wreath of ivy, and anyone would notice.
Probably not, he thought, they think I'm part of the furniture, part of the fabric of this place.
He hummed a little, matching the modulation of the music that reverberated through the computer room.
The computer finished crackling and loaded the library intranet page.
Mike clicked the link for 'search' and resumed waiting as the computer began crackling once more.
Mike thought about the server and the workstations and the backup system in the basement and the antiquated wires that connected them all together. Mike thought of the system as a 'she'. In his mind, he pictured the system as an ancient, creaking multi-limbed creature, like an octopus or a squid or a kraken or something else from the sea, a creature out of its home environment, requiring constant attention to keep it going and make sure it sees another day. Mike felt a sense of satisfaction and responsibility and slight arousal at the thought of servicing this vast, female creature every day. 'She' needed him, even if no one else did.
The search page was nearly loaded.
The door to the computer room flew open, and one of the librarians strode in, the skinny, balding one from the front desk. Mike paid full attention to the computer.
John marched in, his mind thrumming with Dewey decimal numbers and the topics they represented. "Birds of the
The computer guy was in there, sat at a workstation. He had that far-away look in his eye that always made John uncomfortable, a look that suggested he was fantasising about something or someone, and not in a good way. John clenched his fists involuntarily and went to an empty workstation. He needed to double check one of the Dewey numbers that Linda had told him.
The computer didn't work, remaining unresponsive to his attempts to start it. The next one he tried started but only displayed a blank, blue screen. The third one started, but then froze, displaying a confusing and slightly disturbing warning about a 'dirty volume'. John sighed. There was only one computer left to try. He walked over to the computer guy.
"Are you going to be long?"
Mike looked up, breaking out of a reverie about fibre-optic cables, and looked into John's sweaty face.
Unable to copy a document, thought Mike, this guy doesn't know what a right-mouse button is for.
"I really need to check something in the catalogue", said John, "it's urgent."
"Alright, keep your pants on", said Mike in a squeaky mock-Liverpudlian accent, "I'm just looking for something myself."
Mike turned back to the screen.
John looked at the computer, and the webpage it displayed.
The white webpage with one large, colourful word on it.
John's knuckles whitened as he gripped the back of the chair, his vision darkening until all he could see was the word on the screen in front of him: 'Google'.