HP and the Programmer's Printer: Chapter 7

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.

Chapter 7

Hermioport rushed forward. "Professor Squirrel?"

Squirrel pointed a small device at her and shouted, "Kill -9!" A green beam shot out at her, and she fell over.

Hugh and Rom ran toward her, but Squirrel pointed the gun at them and barked, "Stop right there, or you're next!" They looked at her body in horror. "You can't help her now. She's dead. And you will be too, if you don't do just what I say."

He looked penetratingly at Hugh. "Last time your mother protected you by giving you root privilege, but that won't help you now."

"You must be ..." Hugh gasped.

He nodded imperiously. "Lord Petitmol. I had myself surgically disguised to infiltrate Bugwarts. Now I know what you brought in your backpack, Hugh. Turn around. Slowly."

Hugh obeyed, and Petitmol took his backpack, laid it on a table, and opened it. Inside were Hugh's laptop computer, a USB to SCSI adapter, and a memory stick. "You came well prepared, I see. I appreciate it. Now you're going to get this computer to talk to the printer."

"And if I don't?" Hugh said defiantly.

"Then I'll kill your friend first."

"You'll kill us after you get it working anyway."

"I'll need you for maintenance. You'll stay alive as long as you're useful."

"Don't do it, Hugh!" shouted Rom. "Once he can use the Programmer's Printer, there's no stopping him!"

"I can't let you die," said Hugh, looking at Hermioport's body.

"Very smart," said Petitmol. "Now get to work."

He connected the cables, powered up the computer, and then opened the folder with the driver. Then he remembered. "I need a book," he said. "Hermioport was carrying it."

Petitmol gestured to Rom. "Make yourself useful," he said. "Get the book."

"No," said Rom with a quavering voice.

For a moment Petitmol looked as if he would kill Rom, but he said, "Fool. But it's not worth wasting you just yet." He kicked Hermioport's body, and Flamebait's book fell from her hands. "Take it, Hugh," he said coldly. "And you," he said to Rom, "lie down on the floor and stay there." Rom didn't dispute this order.

Hugh picked up the book with trembling hands, saying softly to Hermioport, "I'm sorry." He brought it back to the table and started setting up the driver. Petitmol carefully watched everything he typed, without forgetting about Rom.

It was about twenty minutes' work, but finally Hugh said, "It's showing that the printer is on line."

"Very good," said Petitmol. "Are you ready to print something to it?"

"I should be," said Hugh reluctantly.

"Send it just a line. And make sure it's something harmless. I know what anything that comes out of that printer can do. And today it's mine. Today begins the reign of the √úberbenutzer, the superuser!"

Hugh typed in a one-line script. "Random characters? Very wise of you," said Petitmol. "Now hit Enter." Hugh did.

For the first time in unknown years, the Programmer's Printer came to life. The noisy mechanism advanced the paper a single line, and then smoothly moved it out to the next perforation.

Petitmol tore the page off and looked at it with satisfaction. "Excellent. Now move away from that computer."

A horrendous noise, as if some monstrosity were breaking free from the stygian pits, welled up from below. Rom jumped up as the floor shook from the subterranean pounding. Petitmol tried to fix his weapon on him, but was thrown from his feet.

The floor burst open, and a hideous, gigantic, slime-covered tentacle shot into the room. Rom opened his mouth to scream, but could utter no sound. The tentacle whipped itself around Petitmol, whose eyes bulged out in horror as he struggled to escape its diabolical grip. Rom winced as every bone in Petitmol's body gave way under the strain.

The awful appendage released Petitmol's lifeless body and withdrew back into the abyss. Rom vaguely recalled that they were on the thirteenth floor, and it should not have been possible for anything to burst in from a subterranean depth, but his mind was in no condition to deal with such questions. He could only gasp, "What -- what -- "

Hugh looked utterly calm. "He didn't know, Rom," he said. "I didn't know myself, until Dublincore told me a few days ago. It was hard for me to accept, but I know my destiny now, and with the Programmer's Printer I can fulfill it.

"You see, I'd never known my real family name. When the Luddleys adopted me, they used only my first and middle name."

The printout had fluttered over near Rom. He picked it up and read it:

"Cthulhu Rlyeh wgah nagl fhtagn."

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