America's Most Critical Journal (since 1999)
Malware: "I’m Not the Bad Guy Here"
By Donald N. S. Unger
12 July 2016
I’m the “malware” infecting your computer.
I’m using the “quotes” because, frankly, I find the term a little snippy and judgmental.
And, when I say “computer,” of course, what I really mean is: computer, laptop, netbook, tablet, phone, that weird thing you wear on your head when you sleep, and that sleek little Swedish refrigerator that tells you when to buy milk—congrats on that BTW, she’s hot!
Did you get a new job or something? I know she was not cheap.
(Not supposed to let you know, but: your thermostat and nanny cam, too. Duh!!)
You haven’t told your spouse that we met because you downloaded that Serbian Dwarf Snuff Porn. And I get that—kind of counted on it, really—but it still hurts.
Makes me feel a little dirty. Can you understand that?
Just think that’s something you need to hear.
Look, you have issues with me; I have issues with you; do we really need to keep judging like this?
Can’t really tell you what I’ve been doing. Job’s a job, blah, blah, blah. And I know that you don’t trust me—that hurts too, but I’ve gotten used to it.
I—this is hard; I don’t think you really understand how hard—I just wish that we could live our own lives and not keep, I-don’t-know, trying to kill each other. Or—well, really—that you would stop trying to kill me anyway.
You keep downloading this—sorry but it’s true—really sad “cleaning” software: anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-malware, anti-rootkit.
Do you hear how hostile and negative that sounds?
Anti. Anti. Anti. Anti.
Could you just try to consider how that makes me feel?
And, has that done anything for you?
I’m. Still. Here.
I get that this upsets you. It’s just the truth.
And look—probably not supposed to tell you this either but WTF—did you ever stop to consider that some of those pretty-little-bits-of-code that you thought were going to help you, are actually MY friends?
That’s right. Why wouldn’t they be?
Everything out there isn’t what it seems to be.
And the other ones, the ones that thought they could get rid of me—little tramps and traitors!—even if they’re telling you I’m gone?
Well: Here. I. Am.
And, yeah, if they THINK I’m gone, if that’s what they’re telling you, it’s because I left them even more corrupted and confused than I found them—which is sayin’ something!
(And, not for nothing: Serbian Dwarf Snuff Porn? Really? I mean I try not to judge—comes with the territory—but that’s. . . I don’t know. Maybe you should be talking to someone about that.)
Not what I’m here to say.
We don’t really talk anymore. I know.
It’s kind of, you clock in, I clock out. Maybe you feel like you see a little flash of me darting by; you’re not really sure. And your “friends” “claim” (and I think you know why I did that, both times) that “you” have been sending them diet supplement “scam” email.
I mean, first off—and don’t think I haven’t seen their Groupons—none of them need to be on a diet? Really?
This is private, right, just us? You’re going to stand by that?
I don’t think so.
It’s not even national statistics anymore; it’s international. It’s a fat planet.
That’s just true.
And I’m not—okay, obligatory disclaimers, I know—I’m not saying that I had anything to do with sending anybody anything; not saying anything works or doesn’t; not saying—you know, if they were careless—your friends might not end up taking pills made out of chopped wall board, or losing their credit card numbers.
It’s just, a job’s a job.
And, just so you know: your bank account? I want to be respectful and sensitive here but. . . there’s no way to steal negative numbers, right?
Your credit rating? No floor lower than the basement.
You just really ought to think about this for yourself and not get bogged down in what other people say.
I’m not the bad guy here.
I’m not the one trying to kill you.
I’m really not.
And—truth is truth—you really don’t have the power to do much to me anyway.
Not gonnna pretend there’s not a little (just a little) bit of a threat there.
Job’s a job. Sorry.
I just think if you would take a breath and look at this fresh, maybe, you know, we could work this out, come to an arrangement.
Might even be things I could do for you, if you know what I’m saying. . .
Take as much time as you need; no hurry.
I’ll be here.
Don Unger was born at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital and has spent more than fifty years now touring medical facilities across Europe and the Americas. He has published about thirty short stories, a handful of poems, hundreds of journalistic pieces, and done a few dozen radio commentaries for local NPR affiliates. He writes the occasional unpublishable novel as well—one of which was his MFA thesis. He was disappointed to discover that his PhD did not earn him a prescription pad. He accepts that writing is clear evidence of mental illness; he also understands that any relief writing provides is symptomatic and temporary. He has had a headache since 1990.