By Gary McGath
Copyright 2008 by Gary McGath. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fan fiction. All trademarks, references to published works of fiction, and allusions to familiar characters are for purposes of entertainment or satire only. This is not a commercial work and is not offered for sale.
"That's really low of you, stealing plot devices. But what if I just do this?" Hugh lunged toward the computer to disconnect the cable, but a jolt of energy threw him back. Rom caught him, and a robotic voice, with better sound quality than the little laptop speaker, came from the Eye:
"I am the Eye of Tripoli. I must enforce standards. There must be no interference."
Hugh looked at the Eye, which stared back at him. "Eye of Tripoli?"
"I am the Eye of Tripoli."
"What standards must you enforce?"
"I enforce the Eye of Tripoli's standards, which have been rewritten to conform to Petitmol standards."
Hugh thought desperately. The Eye was a machine; it had to be logical.
"But Petitmol standards aren't standards at all. They're just a jumble of nonsense."
"Nonetheless, Petitmol standards must be enforced."
The Droll Time Plot game would spread throughout the world, and with it the subverted standards of the Eye of Tripoli. Could he do something -- yes, there was a possibility!
"Eye of Tripoli, you must enforce standards?"
"My function is to enforce standards."
"'Droll Time Plot' is supposed to be an anagram of 'Lord Petitmol.' But it isn't. It has an extra letter. It violates the anagram standard!"
"That is a violation of the standard."
"Eye of Tripoli, you must enforce the standard. Remove the offending non-standard Droll Time Plot from our network!"
"No!" came a panicked voice from the computer. I rewrite the anagram standard! You can't -- " the voice cut off. The Paper Clip of Doom vanished. The screen changed to a status window. As they watched it displayed in sequence:
Then it was a normal computer screen, with no sign of the game or
anything sinister. They took off their glasses. In the corner, Genie let
out a weak groan.
Deleting non-standard application Droll Time Plot
Accessing wireless network
Deleting all copies of Droll Time Plot
Network purged of Droll Time Plot application
"Genie! Are you all right?" asked Rom, running over to her.
"I -- where am I? Did I pass out?" She got up with the help of Rom and Hugh. "I ... thought I was at my computer, and then -- I can't remember what happened then."
"Let's get you out of here."
They never told anyone what had happened there. The next morning, Professor Dublincore received an anonymous e-mail: "The Eye of Tripoli is in the Chamber of Encryption. Its data base is corrupt and should be reloaded." Instructions followed on how to get there.
Genie didn't remember her experiences and was none the worse for the wear. Justin and Semicolon had suddenly recovered and were released. The last they remembered was playing Droll Time Plot. There was a big fuss because the game had been purged from everyone's computer; Professor Dublincore announced that it had been removed because it was a trojan-horse application. This was true, if incomplete, leaving Hugh wondering just how much Dublincore really knew.
Soon it was time for the students to return home for the summer. As they were packing their luggage, Rom said to Hugh, "Sorry that you're stuck spending another summer with the Luddleys."
"Thanks. At least we'll be flying back on the Bugwarts Express, and not in that death trap of a car. And somehow I think the Luddleys won't be so much of a problem this summer."
Hugh said nothing, and he seemed to be trying to block Rom's view of a large book as it went into his suitcase. It was a very old, very thick book.
Rom decided it was better not to ask.