Those Fewls Insist I Abandon the Glove and the Dark Feedback-forcing Arts It Embodies
When you find yourself in possession of A peripheral as powerful as The Glove, you can tell in an instant who your real friends are. Let’s take that old coot at the used Videogame place, for instance. He’s always into funky occult stuff so I thought I’d take my glove in to get it appraised and maybe casually mention that it thrives on the taste of human blood.
The old geezer was NOT impressed. First, he spritzed me with what he claimed was holy water but tasted like Mountain Dew. Then he refused to even touch the glove of power, which for some reason – even though it was unplugged – suddenly made the finger-sign of the devil. Or of the rock band KISS, I’m not sure which came first.
“This so-called peripheral is merely a thinly veiled instrument of diabolicism!” he cried, pointing a bony finger at me. I agreed that I had, in fact, used it while playing Diablo, but the old man pretended not to hear. “You say that this is a Saitek peripheral, eh? And I ask you, what does Saitek stand for? That’s right. TECHNOLOGY OF SATAN!” His gnarled fists bashed against his glass counter like great heavy tree roots. He cried out: “Satan! Satan! Satan!”
He turned behind him and – from amidst a pile of used Atari 2600 games – he unfurled a map of the cosmos, depicting the Earth perched precariously in a tiny pocket between the awesome light of heaven and the powerful black maw of hell. To the latter he pointed. “Your glove, henceforth known as the Devil’s paw, was forged in high tech laboratories nestled amidst the burning sulphur pits of the underworld. There, in jet-black cleanrooms, hoofed engineers in bright crimson-red bodysuits carve microscopic occult symbols into wafers of silicon like satanic Intel bunnymen. Only the purest malice of will could bring such a scourge out of its hideous underworld fabrication labs and into our humbly naive world of simplistic online action and RPG games.” I showed him the FedEx box that it came in. “Well, yes, either that or a shipping error.” He removed my driver and installation CD. “See? It requires DirectX to run. Microsoft has the Devil by the balls.”
On the other hand (no pun intended) you have my friend Tim, the kind of techno-whore who’s always looking to score hardware alphas. Tim couldn’t keep his hands off of my … hands. “This is phenomenal!” he said, cradling the Satanic peripheral as a mother would caress a child. At one point, he actually LICKED it.
“What we have here is a force-feedback device capable of independent motion as well as the sense of touch. However, its powers are but a fraction of what could be obtained were it given a full sensory array, such as you and I have! Imagine a gaming glove that could see! Or hear!” He scrambled to grab a USB webcam, shuffling through a mass of parts and wires littered about his cave-like bedroom. As he moved back and forth in front of his bare-bulbed desk lamp, his tall shadow grew and shrunk in deformed patterns across the blue and white microchip schematics that lined his walls.
“Would this improve my aim at Quake?” I asked. “This contract with the devil stuff is cool, but I’m all about the bottom line. And frankly, if it doesn’t improve my game, the technology – whether it comes from Japan, Silicon Valley, or the river Styx – is useless.” It’s like this force-feedback mouse I once had, which destroyed my aim whenever I fired the sniper rifle. It was tacked to the computer lab bulletin board with a “free” sign on it before the evening was through. Know what I’m saying?
But Tim already had a magnifying glass over his forehead and, chuckling gleefully, he duct-taped a webcam to the top of my gloved hand. The fingers twitched with anticipation of newfound power. In fact, before I even got a chance to tell him I was going to need my hand soon to scratch an itch, Tim had already rigged up both a microphone and a webcam to the peripheral. I took it off so that he could plug it into his Pentium V PC – a prototype so powerful yet unstable that he placed it on a stand near his third-story window in case it burst into flames and he had to kick it out. For this reason his PC had no case, and the exposed components hummed with intensity.
On his computer monitor we saw exactly what the glove saw with its new cycloptic webcam-eye. It reared up onto its tendril-like fingers of its own accord and swiveled around to take in its surroundings – and its masters – for the first time. Its network of fiber-optics glittered in the lamplight.
“Helllooo Mr. Hand,” Tim cooed, his face growing big and fish-eyed on his monitor as he moved to peer directly at the glove. I’m not completely convinced, but I’m fairly certain that it turned back to “look” at him. “Give us a sign! Can you hear us?”
Slowly, eerily, the peripheral rotated onto its side and gave the “thumbs up.”
Flushed with victory, Tim slumped down into his massive ragged-leather computer chair and raised both fists triumphantly. “It’s alive! It’s alliiive!” He beamed. Immediately he hunched forward and stared at the beady lens-eye of the Devil’s input device. “It can see and hear. We already established it’s got touch. Taste? Not sure. Smell? Hmmm, a controller that could smell, with contemporary technology? Doubtful, doubtful…” Tim was never happy until he’d hacked a piece of hardware to its illogical extreme. Slowly and with a barely audible squeak he rotated his chair to stare at his jumbled wall of computer hardware and electronics. His spiked hair cast jagged stripes across the mess of wires and circuit boards that filled his shelves. “But … not impossible…” As Tim thought, he drummed his fingers onto the arms of his chair.
After a few moments, the glove began drumming its fingers as well.
“That’s all good, Timmy, but I’m starved,” I said. “Feel free for you and fingers here get chummy, I’m headed to Burger Palace. I’ll grab something for you. When I get back we’ll fire up some Half-Life and put our five-finger-frag-discount here to work. Oh, don’t allow it to drink any human blood while I’m gone, okay? It gets all wiggidy-whack when it gets a taste, capice?”
Tim didn’t even bother to turn around, he was so deep in thought. He raised a hand dismissively, a gesture performed in unison by the glove on the desk. I shrugged and headed off.
When I next saw Tim half an hour later, he was slumped against what was left of a server rack, his tongue hanging limply from the side of his pale face. I mean, it wasn’t just that he was dead of strangulation by his own right hand (no doubt gloved at the time) – I was particularly disturbed by the fact that most of his blood had been drained. I verified that he had no pulse with one hand while holding a bag full of greasy burgers and fries with the other. I suspected he would now never pay me back for the burgers.
I turned to see if The Glove had returned to its perch on Tim’s cluttered desk, but it was nowhere to be seen. On Tim’s computer monitor I saw a fish-eye view of the top of someone’s head. …My head.
I dove aside just as The Glove descended from the ceiling, riding down on a tendril of USB cable as a spider would lower itself from a tree. Having missed its mark, it clattered to the floor with an angry rattle. I heard the tiny magnetic microfibres hiss and click as the terrifying disembodied appendage skittered about in a circle, seeking its prey. Along with a single beady glass eye and a small microphone, it also appeared to have some sort of horn-shaped apparatus attached to its middle finger.
That was the last glimpse I caught of The Glove before the lights went out – in my clumsy attempt to get out of the way I had backpedalled right into Tim’s workbench, which wobbled on its four unsteady mismatched legs and sent his single light whirling to the ground. In the instant before it crashed the shadows danced around the room – I glimpsed the computer by the window, Tim’s mangled corpse, and the hideous hand on the floor skittering toward me. Then the bulb burst onto the floor with a loud pop and a tinkle of glass before plunging us all into darkness.
I rolled aside and heard the scamper of fingers on the floor right where I had been. I huddled in the corner, motionless, terrified. On the computer monitor I could see nothing but darkness – The Glove was blind in this low light, but as my eyes adjusted I was just able to make out the pale glow of its fiberoptic nervous system winking in the blackness. I didn’t make a move or a sound.
Slowly it raised a finger and I heard a sharp scraping noise. Then again. I realized that the sound was a quick intake of air. The Glove … was sniffing. Tim had given it the ability to smell! Sniff. Snif sniff. The fingers clicked quietly on the floor and the Demon Claw slowly turned to face me. Sniff… sniff… It smelled me in the darkness.
Well, either that or the stank of Burger Palace. The Glove scurried toward me and I saw but one last-ditch chance for salvation – I chucked the bag of burgers as hard as I could at the exposed PC tower Tim had perched precariously on the window. When it hit the searing heat of his overclocked processor the whole thing burst into a blazing grease fire – the room lit up red, bright red, illuminating the wires and cables all around me like metallic snakes, bringing the schematics on the wall into sharp orange and black relief. For an instant it was just like the hellish cleanroom the old man described. But then the Pentium V prototype plummeted out the window.
The Glove, only inches from my face, clawed desperately at the floor as all of its cables were pulled through the window by the falling computer. Like fingernails on a chalkboard, it scraped across the ground, desperate to save itself. Helplessly it slammed into the wall, then in a final act of desperation it grabbed onto the window sill.
It held tight, but it couldn’t hold on for long. At the other end of its cables the flaming PC was still suspended above a bed of dry leaves. Its fate was sealed. The Glove, seething with malice, flipped me the middle finger. Then it disappeared into a fiery mass two stories below.
I think it was a driver issue.
On the monitor, just before it all turned black, I saw a grinning devil reach up from the underworld to reclaim his prize. Or maybe it was Stewie, Tim’s neighbor. He’s always ganking stuff.
Score: 9.17; Total Votes: 2725 as of 2009-12-09.