When my husband left me the house was in disarray. T-shirts, pairs of jeans and towels on the floor. Unwashed plates on the sink. And the nearby closet was yanked open, the fragrance of mothballs was even more apparent in the blistering heat of July. As I made my way across the cluttered kitchen I caught sight of the boxes of tools hauled out from the lower cabinets. Some of these boxes were either not labeled or mislabeled unlike the time when Janus would find time to write in his clear-cut, draftsman’s hand the words “shelf nail screws”, “LED flashlight batteries”, or “zinc plated bolts” and organized them as if our kitchen were a hardware store. Now somehow I pitied myself that out of ignorance I couldn’t even distinguish one screw bolt from other. He didn’t teach me these things. I shook my head, feeling a certain tinge of remorse. It’s all over now.
Jessica and Lennie, my working colleagues at CompWares, called this morning to ask if I needed some help with the cleaning. I chuckled at their excessive displays of concern about the state that I was in. “Oh no, I’m fine really,” I countered, holding the phone on my right hand and a strip of wire on the other. I was trying to disentangle the computer wires using my one hand. I need to finish the project software soon because the deadline is today.
“Are you sure?” Lennie asked me again, her voice bleak and unclear over the phone. Another voice butted in the conference call. It was Jessica. “You’re going to work today right? It’s not like the end of the world.” Her voice was consoling to my ears.
“Yeah, yeah definitely,” I said trying to muster the kind of determination that rooted nowhere in my gut. I couldn’t find the adaptor. Our conversation was beginning to bore me so I even consented to their pressing demands of coming over to my house later tonight. “Well then, see you at work,” I finally said to them and hung up the phone after I found the adaptor under the computer table. I crouched under and stretched my left hand to get it.
I turned the computer on to finally finish my working assignment for CompWares. I was surprised that all my desktop reminder notes were gone. In fact, I noticed that there seemed to be lots of changes on my computer. The songs from my iTunes were not organized according to genres. But what really ticked me off was there were strange folders present almost everywhere. All my documents, spreadsheets, and applications seemed to be infected with it.
I clicked my antivirus program, anxious of what happened to my computer overnight. Last night it seemed to be working fine. A red bar flashed on my monitor, bearing the words, Your computer security is at risk. I clicked the hyperlink Fix It Now.
In order to continue you must activate your software. Enter the activation code. I didn’t know any activation code so I decided to purchase ohne online. I was dumbfounded when the Internet Explorer flashed the words The Page Cannot Be Displayed. It was only then that I realized that my Internet connection was cut-off already. And my computer was swarmed with what looked like malicious threats and viruses. All my database status became obsolete and there was no way I could update them right at the moment. All my executable files for my prospect software programs for CompWares were all infected. Piece of shit.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck,” I began to mumble under my breath. Then I imagined Janus’ expression on my head. “Sheena!” he would probably snap at the foul words. “Dammit,” I said on the verge of knocking someone’s head against the wall. Who was he to say such things now?
I tried to run my previous software programs in the hope that they might work but in vain. There was no point trying to finish my projects now when all my .exe files were infected.
His full name was Janus Lucio Manicaw, a resident architect in a well-known architectural firm and my husband for five years. He was lean and handsome, and even more appealing when he wore the yellow hat and their standard navy blue uniform. His friends and colleagues called him Lucio, pronounced with a stress upon the ‘i’, but I prefer calling him Janus myself. I first met him at the CompWares when he came through the office’s swinging doors and I knew right at that moment that I was going to marry someone like him. Their firm was redesigning our building; not long after he began asking me for lunch, and by the time they were finished working out the building we were already engaged. It was fast and seemed almost perfect: I was twenty years old and deeply carried away by my feelings and he was seven years older than I was and was more than willing to settle with a good job, a good wife and a bunch of children. We invested money to buy our own house that he had designed himself and we moved there a month after our wedding.
Our house was located uphill with beautiful scenery unfolding from our bedroom window: crested hills and cumulus clouds billowing over the hurly-burly city. At dusk, white smoke emitted by the factories blended with the beams of saffron lights of the sunset. Mostly during weekend afternoons we would watch this as we lay in bed, shirts wrapped around our sweaty heads. We thought of the future names of our kids; Janus says he preferred them to be called after great architects like Jørn Utzon (“Did you know the Aussie government is thinking of redesigning the Sydney Opera House?”) or Horace Trumbauer (“One of the best, I say. Have you seen the Harvard’s main library?”). And I told him that they were horrible names and I thought of more sophisticated and unique ones like these two software designers Randice-Lisa Altschul (“We can call her ‘Randi’ for short!”) and Kristen Nygaard (“I always love the name Kristen, but Nygaard, do you know that he was actually a male?”). And we could spend the entire day just imagining what kinds of futures these children would lead as I lay there in my bed trying to house their unformed bodies, hoping that in many months’ time they would come through me. My bed was soothing to the touch and I wondered how many couples out there were making love right at this very moment and how many women out there were laboring as they tried to give birth to panting babies gasping for lungfuls of air. And Janus, Janus, lying beside me sound asleep, his hands intertwined with mine over my flat, heaving stomach. It has always been like this.
There’s no point. I might as well reformat this computer and ask my boss Edward instead that the project should be relayed to someone else because this might take a long time. I began imagining the viruses’ erroneous behavior – attacking my files and lurking in between my software applications. In the end it would infect my network file systems and my operating system will slow down.
I blamed those removable disks that Janus brought with him everytime he came home to check the soft copies of his new designs. I told him to buy his own computer or a laptop probably, and limit using my computer because that was where I kept all my important files from the office. I knew the viruses were coming – they came in battalions – but I never really minded them because I thought in the end the antivirus system would get rid of them. But the computer already broke down four times this week. Janus never told me the system was already obsolete, I thought my antivirus resident protection was high enough, but now all my files were slowly eaten by these viruses.
They infected the network file systems, my software designs, everything they could attach themselves upon, harming my computer’s hosted data. They destroyed all my projects, ruined what I thought was my high security user-defined folders. Even a boot time scan couldn’t do something about this. I wished they were just simple cases of malware or spyware or adware so they won’t have reproductive abilities like viruses, they won’t cling too much, they won’t come up with copies of their own selves, they won’t slow down the computer performance as horrible as a virus does.
Janus. His job required him frequent travels that left me alone in our house we both built and designed, where we housed our dreams of having a big family; dreams of children running and screaming around the house and making it alive. But I was not able to come up with our own copies of ourselves; I was not capable of giving him live, breathing children in the end. The house, built with the finest materials, remained lifeless, and so morose. Those clingy women! How easy it was for them to attach themselves to the pleasures of the host’s body, exploit it, and spit the awful truth in front of my face! It was very easy for them, almost seamless and effortless, easy, so easy, to exploit Janus’ and my security vulnerabilities surreptitiously.
The curtains billowing inwards sent a wave of coldness in the room. Soon enough, the rain outside was pouring real hard, wetting the windows and sending a pool of rainwater on the floor. I went to get a rug and wipe the floor. When I straightened myself up I saw my own reflection at the glass window. I combed my hair with my hands and pinched my cheeks meekly. The face staring at me is marred by rain streaks.
The world outside is different – images of blurred city lights and the smell of something like sea air drifting from nowhere. Down below, a man was carrying his boy on his shoulders and running across the street trying to shield his son from the rain. A couple of boys were playing tag, prodding each other with sticks.
After sitting in my bed slacking off for a couple of minutes, I stood up and faced my computer. There was only one more thing left to do. I thought about my own files from work and my legitimate application programs. I thought about Janus, our wedding pictures, the pictures of places we’ve traveled to and the buildings he designed. I never bothered to make back-up copies. Since the Task Manager was disabled, there was nothing left to do but to press that red button of the AVR. Tonight, I will turn this computer on, the same computer that I and Janus both bought, and do what I have to do: reformat and reload the operating system. Then I can bid the Trojan horses goodbye, and the viruses will be gone along with the memories of the old files, and all that’s left is an empty computer.
I looked at my dead computer one more time before I slipped out of the room. I still have time before Lennie and Jessica come, and my mind is filled with nothing but the prospect of meeting them with the house clean and orderly.