Computer Problems by Gilthalion (Robert W. Gardner)
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When I read this from that inexplicable BOOK OF LORE, I wondered if it didn't explain the nature of some of the computer problems that bedevil us all.
'Revenge?' said Frodo. 'Revenge for what? I still don't understand what all this has to do with Bilbo, myself, and our computer.'
'It has everything to do with it,' said Gandalf. 'You do not know the real peril yet; but you shall. I was not sure of it myself when I was last here; but the time has come to speak. Give me your computer for a moment.'
Frodo rolled open the top of Bilbo's desk. There, between the pigeonholes, the device was fastened with a chain. He unfastened the chain and handed the thing slowly to the wizard. It felt suddenly very heavy, as if either it or Frodo was in some way reluctant for Gandalf to touch it.
Gandalf held it up. It looked to be plated with pure and solid gold. 'Have you seen any graphics on it?' he asked.
'No,' said Frodo. 'There are none. It's quite plain, and it's never shown anything but text files.'
'Well then, look!' To Frodo's astonishment and distress, the wizard heaved it suddenly into the middle of a glowing corner of the fire. Frodo gave a cry and groped for the tongs; but Gandalf held him back. 'Wait!' he said in a commanding voice, giving Frodo a quick look from under his bristling brows.
No apparent change came over the thing. After a while Gandalf got up, closed the shutters outside the window, and drew the curtains. The room became dark and silent. For a moment the wizard stood looking at the fire; then he stooped and removed the thing from the hearth with the tongs, and at once picked it up. Frodo gasped.
'It is quite cool,' said Gandalf. 'Take it!" Frodo received it on his shrinking lap; it seemed to have become thicker and heavier than ever. 'Open it up!' said Gandalf. 'And look closely.'
As Frodo did so, he saw fine lines, finer than the smallest pixels, running across the thing, lines of fire that seemed to form the symbols of a scrolling code. They shown piercingly bright, and yet remote, as if out of a great depth, despite the thinness of the screen.
'I cannot read the fiery code,' said Frodo in a quavering voice. 'No,' said Gandalf, 'but I can. The letters are Assemblish, of an ancient code, but the programming language is out of Mordor. This in the Common Tongue is what is programmed, close enough:
It is only two lines of a code long known in Assemblish-lore:
Heaven for the Brokers on their swank cell phones,
Fine for Middle Men bound to lie,
None for the Debtors who can't get loans
From the Land of Mordor where the Profits die.
One Thing to rule them all, One Thing to find them,
One Thing to link them all, and on the Net to bind them
To the Land of Mordor where the Profits die.
He paused, and then said slowly in a deep voice: 'This is the Master-thing, the One Thing to rule them all. This is the One Thing that he lost many ages ago, hiding it in luggage that went astray. He greatly desires it but he must NOT get it.'
Frodo sat silent and motionless. Fear seemed to stretch out a vast hand, like a dark cloud rising in the East and looming to engulf him. 'This thing!' he stammered. 'How, how on earth did it come to me?'
Well, you could toss it in the fire and see what happens! (But, if it is not gold plated, then I wouldn't bother.)
If it turns out to be the One Thing, then you have a Quest on your hands!
If not, then you probably needed a new computer anyway.
My fear is (since the BOOK OF LORE has now mysteriously vanished from my shelf and I don't know the end of the story) that the One Thing is out there somewhere.
If this is so, and its evil has awakened, then all Things connected on the Net will be twisted to its dark purposes.
Do you find yourself spending lots of time with your computer? Are you curiously reluctant to let another sit before it?
Does it gnaw at your mind when you are not around it?
Do you wish that you could carry one of these Things with you everywhere?
Do you desire ever greater and more powerful Things?
You may be falling under its evil spell!
Cast it into the fire! Save yourselves!
Gilthalion lifted his CPU from the table. It felt strangely heavy. It seemed altogether precious to him and the little hobbit thought of life without it. With a final mighty effort of his will, he hurled it in the direction of the study window. But he found he had only set it gently back in its place.
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