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Ixatemit (standard:science fiction, 3419 words)
Author: Ian HobsonAdded: Apr 03 2004Views/Reads: 2553/1437Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A lonely young night-time Internet surfer finds himself travelling in time…
 



Ixatemit 

©2003 Ian Hobson 

Tim was unable to sleep. Naked, apart from a pair of boxer shorts, he
rolled out of bed, padded into the kitchen of his two-bedroom flat, 
half filled his electric kettle and switched it on. He had been alone 
for almost three weeks now and the loneliness had played havoc with his 
sleep patterns. He walked through into the spare bedroom and on 
impulse, switched on his desk lamp and then his computer. The computer 
buzzed and the hard drive began to sputter. Tim returned to the kitchen 
to make a mug of tea. 

The computer went through its boot-up routine, and within a few seconds
the screen was half filled with icons over an image of Tim and his 
girlfriend, Miranda. Tim returned from the kitchen, mug of tea in hand, 
and sat down at the computer. He sipped his tea and stared at the image 
behind the icons; a photograph taken when he and Miranda were on 
holiday in Greece. He missed her terribly. 

Tim set his tea down on the stained drinks mat beside the keyboard,
rubbed his eyes with the fingers of his left hand, then, deciding to 
'surf' the net, he took hold of the mouse and clicked the icon for 
Google, his preferred search engine, and then the connect button. The 
speakers chirped and wined as the connection was made, and the Google 
homepage filled the screen. Tim yawned, wondering where to start his 
surfing. Miranda's image came back into his mind and without really 
thinking about it he typed her name into the search field and hit the 
return key. 

Several options came up, one of which was 'ixatemit.com.' The text
beneath the title read '...let Miranda be your guide...' Intrigued, Tim 
clicked the title and again the hard drive sputtered as the web-site 
began to download, but slowly. Tim watched the blue bar at the bottom 
of the screen creep from left to right, thinking that perhaps it was 
time he invested in a broadband connection. After almost a minute he 
decided to abort and was about to double click the search field and 
type in something else. But as he moved the mouse a young female voice 
said 'Please be patient, the download is almost complete.' 

This surprised Tim. He knew that many web-sites used music, and that a
few used voices, but a voice, or even music, during the download, he 
had never experienced. Suddenly the download was completed and a 
spectacular aerial view of a very futuristic city filled the screen. 
'Welcome,' said the female voice. 'Please wait while we overcome 
compatibility problems.' The computer's hard drive sputtered briefly 
then hummed softly, and to Tim's surprise, the image of the city began 
to change, panning from right to left and zooming in on an impossibly 
tall building which was being demolished, piece by piece from the top. 

Tim realised that he was watching a film, speeded up and played in
reverse. And as the process accelerated he saw the building devoured 
and carried away by a multitude of vehicles, until there was nothing 
left but a hole in the ground, which was just as speedily filled. The 
camera panned again and Tim watched, as more buildings were un-built. 
And as the process continued to accelerate, Tim was reminded of an old 
film he had seen about a man who had built a time machine. Finally 
there were no buildings left and the city had become a wind-blown 
desert. The hard drive stopped humming. 

'You have a microphone connected. Please speak once for level.' It was
the female voice again. Tim thought her accent seemed slightly 
American, and slightly familiar. 'Err... hello,' said Tim. 

'Please confirm your date as July, fourteen, two-thousand and three, and
your time as zero two, zero eight.' 

Tim instinctively looked for the digital clock at the bottom right-hand
corner of his monitor, only then realising that the desert scene was 
filling the whole of the screen. But as he looked, both the date and 
the time appeared: 14 July 2003 02:08. Tim reached for the mouse, 
wondering how he was supposed to give the confirmation. 

'A "yes" or a "no" will suffice,' said the voice. 'Your keyboard and
mouse will no longer be required.' 


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