By on Jul 14, 2013 in Fiction

Flaming computer in ocean

See, you can’t just erase the information.  There’s no such thing anymore.  When you put her name into that search engine and hit ENTER, it got stored in (on?) the computer by all these — I don’t know — these little robots or something, and they filed it away with their segmented metal hands into secret compartments that you’ll never find.  It’s like the machine is designed to work against you, to pit you against yourself, so that you can’t trust yourself anymore.  And now the truth is out there, and you have to pray that it doesn’t find its way back to its miserable source.

Go ahead, clear the history.  That got rid of the XXX websites — or did it?  You don’t know, which is worse than knowing.  Seriously — you’d rather know that your medicine cabinet is actually a two-way mirror leading to a room filled with Stasi agents who study your files at chipped wooden tables.  Somehow, waving to the agents through the glass would be more comforting than not knowing.

So now what?  Can you destroy the hard drive?  Maybe, but you don’t really know how.  Don’t you remember when that American plane went down in China a few years ago, and they ordered the crew to start smashing all the floppy disks and hard drives, and then your friend who works at e-Bay told you that it wouldn’t matter anyway, that the Chinese would eventually piece together the information somehow?  It was there forever.  It’s not like when that guy in 1984 saw the other guy burn up a note and then said, all pathetic, “It still exists in my memory.”  No, it still exists for real.  So you can’t smash it.  And how much will you have to burn it so you don’t stay up at night worrying?  Plastic doesn’t just dissolve into ash.  It turns into nasty smoke and bubbly pudding, and you’re not sure what’s solid and what’s liquid and what’s in between.  You can’t bury the hard drive, either.  They can teach dogs to sniff for the computer.  And then you’ll look real dumb, standing in your mom’s backyard while the dogs are yipping and going crazy over the freshly turned dirt.  And then everyone will be like, Why didn’t he bury it somewhere else?  Didn’t he know that we’d find it here?

Let’s settle on dumping it in the ocean.  But that guy from 1984 was on to something, wasn’t he?  It does still exist in your memory.  There was this mummy movie you saw where the pharaoh killed all the guys who knew where the mummy was buried, and then the pharaoh killed the guys who killed the other guys.  So that’s what you have to do now.  You have to go, along with anyone who reads this, anyone who can see it in your face.  If you know, someone will find out, somehow.  This is all your fault.  But it can be fixed.


Robert Repino grew up in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. After serving in the Peace Corps, he earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Emerson College. His fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize among other awards, and has appeared in The Literary Review, Night Train, Hobart, Juked, Word Riot, The Furnace Review, The Coachella Review, JMWW, and the anthology Brevity and Echo (Rose Metal Press). His debut novel Mort(e), a science fiction story about a war between animals and humans, is forthcoming from Soho Press in 2014.

One Comment

  1. Good Writing! Question: Why did you write — “And then everyone will be like” instead of, “And then everyone will say” — Was it accidental or purposeful to add characterization. I’m just wondering because it stuck out to me. Also, how long did it take you to write/edit this?