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Press any key

Pressed on June 24, 2007.

My CPU running at 80%, disk drives spinning, I pressed the any key and awaited further instructions. Beyond a new message, “Press F14 to continue” in elegant twelve-point FixedSys, none were forthcoming.

“That’s not right,” I intoned quietly while a single garden gnome darted across the linoleum. Puzzlement.

I looked for the aforementioned key and was unable to find it. On a hunch, I prised a few keycaps off, ate them, and looked around under them for the elusive fourteenth function key. I found none, so I began methodically disassembling the keyboard from left to right.

A hundred and five keys later, I was still no closer to F14—although my belly was full of chewed plastic and I felt like outbelching even the burpiest goat in the goatburping park. Puzzlement and befuzzlement.

“Okay,” I murmured to myself, obviously having bungled something up crummily, “Perhaps the key can be found inside the computer!” I went to work with a screwdriver and pair of pliers, quickly reducing the computer to a pile of useless plastic and silicon. I quickly devoured the parts that weren’t outright poisonous, and then proceeded to slowly consume the remaining chunks of heavy metal–laden circuitry.

The bitter taste of PCBs and coltan still in my mouth, I then proceeded to disassemble the CRT, first ripping out the lead and copper components and devouring them with the same gusto I had bestowed upon the motherboard. Still, no F14 key was forthcoming, and I was now developing a raging stomach ache and audiovisual hallucinations involving four gorillas and five Spice Girls in a king-sized bed together.

“…Must …find …fourteenth …function …key,” I drawled, frothing at the mouth and swaying from side to side as my stomach tried in vain to digest five pounds of plastic and rare earth metals. Lead, tantalum, and cadmium coursed through my veins, slaying the lithe porcupines normally taking up residence therein. Spots appeared before my eyes, most of which then paraded about mocking me and calling me names. One amorphous spot even morphed into Strahazazhia Kalamazoo-Kintaki-Meeps, insect goddess, and displayed Her six-legged delights before my very eyes.

It was only moments later that I keeled over, died, and for a short while joined my old pal Mr. Wilson in northern California.

It was incredibly boring listening to him go on and on and on about proper cat-canning methodology and planning, so I resolved to continue my search for the elusive F14 key—thus, I quickly devoured his head while he spoke. He barely noticed.

Reconstituting myself in corporeal form, I slogged down to the nearest computer store and demanded a model with an F14 key. The proprietor, Sam (I hear he’s Pam’s sister—Pam from Pam & Meg’s!), let out a guffaw the size of an open-source gnu and told me no computer had been manufactured since 1834 with an F14 key. I grumped and burbled and demanded he find me one at once, lest his delicate-toed sister suddenly find herself sans one brother. He quickly produced a keyboard with an F14 key.

“A forgery!” I shouted and rubbed off the clumsily written “F14”, revealing the true label: Scroll lock. I gasped at him and demanded to know how dare he produce such a bumsy forgery. He sputtered and gulped like a fish out of gasoline for a few moments while he tried to compose an answer that would save himself from my razor-edged triangular briefcase.

“Well, I did just produce it right now!” he whined. I would hear none of it—I lopped his head off with the edge of my deadly valise, right then and there. It fell to the floor with a soft plop, rolled across the tiles not unlike a bowling ball with hair and a nose, and came to rest next to an iPod display. His body still stood there dumbly trying to show me keyboards and sell me warranties on hardware I wasn’t even trying to buy. I took a quick look around, then swallowed the keyboard whole, cranched a few times, spat out a few stray keycaps, and waddled out of the store. I sure hope Pam won’t be mad at me.