Back in high school, I had this friend, Alex, who was really good with computers. I mean, he made games just for fun and he let me test a few of them as soon as he made them. I remember watching Alex mess around with some game or another at lunch. He would tell me and my best friend at the time, Megan, about stuff he created; from games to accidental viruses (how they were accidents I have no clue).
One day we watch him play some sort of platform game with a blue creature, which I assumed he made. The more I looked at it, the more it looked familiar. When I asked, he told us it was Veemon (yes, the same Veemon from Digimon) and that it was his antivirus program in a way. He also said that Veemon was alive, that it had a mind of its own. Megan and I didn’t believe him completely, but with him, anything pretty much went. He gave us a spiral note book to read, saying it was a log of what happened with his program. It was really farfetched story, but we were into that kind of thing at the time thanks to .hack//SIGN, an anime series for those who don’t know.
A few days later, he offered us our own Digimon program. He gave us a list of characters he was almost done with. Sadly, most of my favorites weren’t on the list. In fact, only two I really liked were on it: Renamon and Gatomon. Megan wasn’t as familiar with the series, but I knew her taste. So, I let her have Renamon and I chose Gatomon, which I didn’t mind.
Years passed and I stopped being friends with Megan and I didn’t talk much with Alex (though I did hang out with his little brother). I was graduating, getting ready to go study what my parents “suggested”: Engineering. It was at graduation party that my high school threw when Alex came up to me. In his hand he had a jewel case with a CD simply labeled with my name.
“Sorry it took so long, Holly,” he said. “There were some complications, but I think I got them all fixed. She’s been waiting.” Confused, I took the CD, thanking him. I mean, I couldn’t even remember what program he was talking about. It must have been something he promised me that much I could figure out. I put the CD off to the side, forgetting all about it thanks to starting college.
I eventually had to take a break from college due to having a mental break down so bad that I was actually suicidal. At one point, I was cleaning up my room when I found the jewel case with a CD that had my name on it. I popped the CD into my laptop to see what was on it. It ran like any other CD with a program: a window popped up ask for permission to run the CD followed by another one to start up the installing process. So far, nothing strange except for how the CD looked. When it was finished with the downloading, it automatically started the program.
A window that probably took up about 50% of the screen was in the center. It looked to be a 16-bit platform type of game set in some sort of technological city if the background was any indication. The platforms looked like it was made of metal, not a very pleasant place to live all the time. On the bottom, there was a text box that looked like it would allow me to communicate or something with the game by typing in a response. But what was on the middle platform got my attention. There was what looked to be a sleeping white cat that had yellow front paws and some areas of purple. I couldn’t believe it! There was a sleeping Gatomon in this game! I then remembered back to freshman year with Alex. The guy actually pulled through with his promise!
Without doing anything, the Gatomon woke up and looked towards me. A text box appeared near the bottom.
“Oh, you’re finally here! What’s time is it?”
A menu popped up with a clock and calendar. I thought it was like in some games that had a clock built in so I inputted the time and date. The Gatomon jumped up, shock was evident on its face.
“What!? So much time has passed! Why did it take you so long?”
Huh, so it had a personality. I had a faint recollection of Alex saying that his program was smart. Gatomon started to look irritated as if waiting for something. I then remembered the input text box at the bottom, figuring it was waiting for a reply.
“I’m so sorry,” I typed. “I became busy after he gave you to me. I kinda forgot about you until recently.”
Gatomon huffed. “It’s okay. Just don’t forget me again. Do you know what I am?”
A Digimon of course. But then I remembered Alex saying it had another purpose.
“An antivirus, right?”
“Correct! I can tell already that there are a few bugs in here. Really, why can’t they come out with good software?”
That made me giggle. Alex always did complain about antivirus programs.
“So, what do we do?” I typed.
“Leave it to me!” was the response. “You can help if you want. We can make it a game!”
A door appeared right by it with a flashing arrow pointing in the direction of the door. I waited for something to happen, yet nothing did. Gatomon looked upset, tapping its foot as if waiting for something. I realized that I was now in control of the cat. I pressed the arrow key in the direction and Gatomon went towards the door. Nothing happened when I got to the door, so I tried pressing the space bar. The door opened and the screen changed to a different area, one that looked like the previous area only at night. In one corner, I could see a red mass of….something. It reminded me of the wax in a lava lamp the way it moved.
“You see that red stuff?” a text box popped up. “That’s one of the viruses. To get rid of it, I have to defeat it. I can attack when you use the space bar.”
Weird that I’m now getting some sort of tutorial when I didn’t get one before to move. I shrugged it off figuring Alex never programmed that part in. I mean, it’s not the first time he forgot to put in directions when he gave me stuff. To say the least, we defeated the virus with ease. Virus after virus, we continued on until I was pretty much falling asleep at my laptop.
“Hey, Gato?” I typed. “I’m tired. Can we pick this up another day?”
“Sure,” the text box said. “I need some rest anyways.”
So went the daily cycle. When I had free time, I would play with Gatomon until we had the viruses under control. I never knew how infected my computer was! Eventually, I just talked to Gatomon. I found out Alex programed it to be female and that she kinda missed the other programs Alex had, like the Veemon I saw in high school. She was also interested in the real world. I would tell her some things about what was going on or explain how things are like.
Not only that, but the world in the program started to change. There was a house now for Gatomon that was one room with a bed and a sitting area. I figured it was to make her seem more alive to me. Even the thought of her actually being alive crossed my mind a few times. The platforms became grassy. The background, while still looking like a city, was falling apart with plant life taking over it.
Eventually, my mom and I agreed that I should go back to college to get some sort of degree. I told Gatomon about what was going on and that I wouldn’t be able to talk much because of it. Surprisingly, she understood and wished me the best of luck. We knew that I wouldn’t stop talking to her since she was basically my best friend at that point.
One day, Gatomon’s program started up while I was in class. I knew something major was going on from the panicked expression she had. She also knew my schedule and knew not to contact me in class.
“I screwed up!” she said. “I was looking around some sites and a virus followed me! It looks like a bad one!”
Confused, I asked her how that happened. Gatomon explained that she somehow managed to find a way to the internet so she could do her own research of the real world. In her most recent exploration, a virus followed the path back to my laptop. The worst part was, she recognized it as a virus Alex made that was particularly nasty. I remembered that story since it was kinda funny at the time since it got out by accident. This was not good at all.
“What can we do?” I asked.
“It will take a while, but I can contain most of it,” Gatomon said. “If I need help, I’ll let you know.”
I told her to do her best and packed up my stuff for lunch. I was sure she could handle it since it was created by my friend. She had to know some sort of trick.
I was wrong.
When I got home that night, Gatomon told me the situation got worse. Evidently, her actions were predictable since they were created by the same person. There was only one option: I had to control Gatomon since I would be unpredictable to the virus. I spent all my free time trying to contain the virus using the method we preformed countless times.
I never really thought about what happened next. I started to feel exhausted even though I got a full night’s sleep. Every so often I would see something red in the corner of my eye. I could even hear murmurs at times, like someone was talking. I soon found out something interesting that should have alarmed me more than it did.
“We could try to get a head of the virus and protect those areas first,” I said to myself. “That way we can push back even more and corner it.”
“That sounds like a good idea,” a child-like voice said. I looked around to see a text box with the same message was on my screen, as if Gatomon said it.
“Wait, can you hear me?” I asked. Strange as I never typed in any of my ramblings and I had no memory of my laptop having a microphone.
“Yeah,” she responded, the voice said as the words appeared. “Are we going to try it?”
Thinking it was the fatigue at the time, I continued on. But I eventually couldn’t ignore the fact I was literally talking to a program and I could hear said program. I had no clue if it was my imagination or not since I was having a hard time telling what was real or not by this point.
It’s been hard to wake up lately, let alone stay awake. The only time I’m not tired is when I’m on my computer with Gatomon. My parents and friends are concerned. I have an appointment with a specialty doctor. I can’t remember what they handle. I’ve also been a hard time remembering stuff unless it relates to the program or virus. I remember Alex and Megan, about watching Alex play games, about how this all started. Yet, I couldn't remember my class schedule so well towards the end.
Those whispers I mentioned? I notice it only happens around things that are connected to the internet. It does happen around Wi-Fi and hotspots, but they’re really faint. Could I be hearing the voices of programs? I also realize that the red I’ve been seeing is the virus. It’s usually attached to a computer or laptop; a few times it was a cell phone. It does randomly appear though. I’m even starting to hear Gatomon away from my computer, telling me it’s alright and it will get better.
I’m worried about what is going on. But if Gatomon says it’s going to be alright, I believe her.
Man, I’m really tired. Hey, Gatomon? Can you go through this to make sure it is in order? I’m too tired to go over it. Thanks.
Will do, Holly. Good night.
On December 21, 20XX, Holly [expunged], age 23, was found in her room asleep by her laptop. No attempts made to wake her were successful. She was taken to [expunged] where she is still in her comatose state. This document along with a Chrome window and a game program was open on the screen of the laptop. The internet window showed her email account that said she had sent an email to herself. On closer inspection, the attachment was that of the program that was open. The program was just like Holly had described in the document only there was no white cat character.
It is interesting to note that a month previous, Alex [expunged], age 24, also fell into a coma. He was also found by his computer with similar windows open, minus the document on the computer. Though, there was a spiral notebook next to him. We can assume that he was the Alex that Holly referred to as they went to the same high school and his brother confirmed being friends with Holly.
A month after the incident with Holly, Megan [expunged], age 24, fell into a coma in a similar fashion as the other two. No documentation was found, but an internet program along with the game was open. Friends of Holly from high school confirmed that they were also friends with Megan back then as well.
Traces of a virus on the three computers show that it is the same bug that has been spreading across computers around the world. It is important to note that several computers important to the world, be it economical or military, have been saved by an unknown program that comes from the outside. People who have seen a screen of the computer or database being attacked say that they see a 16-bit creature with a human in a window that they have never seen before.