Terminal Green

Gabe checked the clock again. Only fifteen seconds had past. Work days usually flew by for Gabe. He loved the mundane normalcy of 9-5, Monday-Friday. Today was quieter than most, like Christmas on a weekday. Everyone but Gabe had gone to the memorial. That would be a change to his routine, and he didn’t handle change well. Gabe liked the cozy blanket of predictability. But today Gabe had a chill he couldn’t shake.

The blue pills will chase away the chill of anxiety. But those would have to wait until he got home. Blue home, pink work. The pink would have to do for now.

Five o’clock finally arrived like an old man using a walker. Gabe popped another pinkie and started his sign out. Don’t sign out properly and get a call from Charles. Gabe had never received a call from Charles, and never wanted to.

As the screen went black Gabe swiveled his chair around to exit his cubicle.

Beep. The computer was powering back up. Gabe swiveled around. The terminal screen was up. In the middle of the screen blinked a green, pixilated cursor. Gabe saw his perplexed expression mirrored in the screen.

Gabe was about to execute the three key Force Quit combo when the cursor blinked out five characters.

HELP!

Gabe hit the Force Quit combo several times. Gently at first, then more forcibly. The cursor blinked out another cry for HELP Gabe struck the keys. Frustrated, he held the power button down. Charles may well be calling me tonight. The cursor refused to go away. It stubbornly blinked out H-E-L-P-!

Gabe popped a few more pinkies and bent under his desk, searching through the coiled, slithering cables, for the beasts head. Charles will definitely be calling. Fuck it. He choked the cable before ripping it out of the socket. H-E-L-P-! was sucked into a flash of light, screaming, then disappeared. Gabe had heard that scream before.

A couple more pinkies. 

Gabe stood from his chair to look over the empty cubicles. His eyes landed on Shelley’s chair and stayed there a while. Then he heard a beep. Then another, and another, and another, until every computer in the office had joined in a chorus of deafening beeps.

The glow of a hundred green, blinking cursors, combed through every hair on his body. Over and over, every computer blinked out the word HELP!  Racing toward the end of each line until every screen was full of the word. The word then began scrolling an pulsing. Beating on his heart until it cracked open. Picking at the scabs of his guilt so his confession ran like blood from his fingertips.

When Gabe’s office mates came in Monday morning it was not the word HELP they found looping on every screen. What they did find were two empty bottles of pinks and blue. Fifteen messages from his parole officer, and a single sentence looping over and over.

Please forgive me Shelley. 

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