Three short stories using characters from classic literary works in unlikely scenarios to illustrate a point.


Aureliano Segundo sighed as he leaned back in his chair. The day before, Fernanda had asked to borrow his computational machine and had not yet returned it. He initially hesitated, but eventually relented to her complaints and gave her the password to a machine he thought he had secured. But he would be surprised to realize, later in the day, that he had in fact given her account access to a very personal item - the directory within which he kept home daguerreotypes of his and Petra Cotes' bedroom escapades, among miscellaneous perversions of the human form he had downloaded through the banana company's wireless network (whose password had been cracked with the assistance of Jose Arcadio Segundo's research in the study of Melquiades). Aureliano Segundo's face twisted into a rare frown. Of all the people in Macondo who could have come across those files, Fernanda would probably be the least understanding - even Father Nicanor would admit that men needed their silent vices. At that point, Aureliano Segundo's anxiety for Fernanda to return his computational machine turned into dread, and no sooner had it done so than Fernanda opened the door with it in her arms.
"You can have this back now" was all she said before walking back into the hallway and closing the door gently with impenetrable porcelain expression, as was her style.
Aureliano Segundo hesitated to plug it into the wall socket and turn it on, but was eventually driven to do so, partly out of morbid curiosity and partly out of his initial desire to view the images contained on it. The operating system slowly churned to life, and he saw that his documents had the same directory structure as before. He opened the directory named "archivos de gastos de explotación administrativo", the sub-directory named "ganado" and the sub-sub-directory named "erótico". Within it, he was pleasantly surprised to find the same photos that had been there when he had lent it to Fernanda. When he locked his office door and opened one of the images, however, he found something revolting. Someone had taken the files into an image editor and placed discreet black squares over each objectionable organ to the extent that the images would not cause consternation even at Jose Arcadio's seminary. "Goddamn", Aureliano Segundo said quietly to himself.


I was sitting at my desk, you know, not really doing much of anything. I was supposed to be writing a research paper, but I just ended up playing Half-Life, which I guess is part of the reason I got thrown out of Pencey. So I wasn't really paying much attention when Stradlater came up all friendly and started talking to me. He gave me some bull about needing to copy a video for a class and asked if he could borrow my thumb drive. What I should have done was told him to get his own goddamn thumb drive and leave me alone, but I wasn't even listening so I just said "yeah" to get him to go away and grabbed it from the drawer and gave it to him. He said he'd have it back by the time he left the next morning. Then the phony bastard took it and walked away without even saying "thanks". But that wasn't even the part that got me, it was just that he walked away as soon as I gave the damn thing to him. Like the only reason he walked around and acted nice to people was so he could get something out of them. That was the kind of guy Stradlater was.
The next morning I got up late and Stradlater was already gone. It was just me and Ackley, except Ackley had class, so he was getting ready to go by the time I got up. For Ackley, getting ready to go meant putting on a new pair of shorts and dragging a comb across his head a couple times. He didn't even bother with the new shorts half the time, that's how much of a slob the guy was. Anyway, after a few minutes Ackley left and I figured I was too late to make it to class even if I left without taking a shower. So I decided to stay because nobody else was around and you never get to be alone these days anyway. I turned on the computer and I locked the door and I was just getting ready to take the top off the jar of Vaseline when I looked on my desk for my thumb drive and realized Stradlater had it. I'd forgotten about giving it to him because I thought I gave him the empty one I keep as a spare, but I must have screwed up and given him the one I kept my smut on. I wasn't worried about him looking at it - I put everything on there through 256 bits of AES - but it still drove me crazy because the Internet wasn't working that week, either, so that was the only smut I had.
Then during lunch hour, Stradlater waltzed in with a big phony grin on his face and told me about how his video got an A, like I would give a damn. He started to say something else, but I told him to get lost. So he threw the drive on my desk and walked out of the room. I got the drive and I plugged it into the computer, and his stupid file was still on there - stradlaters_grand_performance.avi. God, I hate the word "grand". Makes me sick. I deleted it and went into the only folder there - I didn't bother to give it a name so it was just "asdf". It was empty, except for a text file created the night before. It was a note from Stradlater saying his video was too big to fit and he had to delete my files, but they were all corrupted so he hoped I didn't mind. What a douche. Goddamn.


Winston restrained himself from tapping his feet impatiently - such behavior would easily be detected by the operators of the speakwrite. Even though he was reluctant to let Parsons use his desktop, he really had no choice but to answer "yes" when asked, lest he be accused of hiding something. Parsons' computer was clearly not broken, and any claim of such was a ruse designed to distract Winston from the fact that his workstation was being checked for illicit materials. And even the disgustingly trite photographs of cats with intentionally-misspelled Newspeak captions were, as unregulated information and perversion of written language, grounds for a performance review. As Parsons scanned through Winston's documents, his beady eyes flitting across the screen under the guise of retrieving an old version of the standard compiler, he would occasionally pause to ask Winston what a particular folder contained, to which Winston would respond with an honest lack of information - there was no old version of the compiler on Winston's computer, Winston's job didn't require the use of a compiler and he had only a vague idea of what such an application even did. Nevertheless, Parsons' gentle insistence that Winston had simply forgotten about the presence of such compilance led the latter to compliance in understanding of the given excuse's irrelevance. And at one point it was gently insisted that Winston leave the cubicle, so he did, and sat quietly on a stool near Ampleforth's office. The two exchanged a wordless glance and the latter continued his work. But to ease the general air of suspicion, Winston explained in neutral terms what was going on.
"Parsons is looking for his compiler on my computer, so I'm waiting for him to find it." The words in italic, of course, were marked not by a change in tone (which would have been detected by the speakwrites) but by a furtive cast of Winston's gaze to the side indicating that the intended meaning of the sentence contained completely different words. Ampleforth, of course, understood what this meant, as the search for a compiler was a recurring event for every cubicle in the office. And for him this carried a greater significance than most other searches, because he had previously advised Winston in a discreet exchange whose rampant euphemisms he hoped his conspirator would interpret correctly.
"Do you think you kept it in the right folder?" he asked with the same eye-casting air quotes Winston had used.
"I hope so, or else he's going to be there for a while."
The two men stood a carefully-measured distance apart, both trying desperately to sound like they were having a casual conversation. The general atmosphere of danger in the office was especially high in the last week, since Syme's persistent use of the non-Ingsoc-compliant Debian GNU/Linux had earned him an appointment with the Ministry of Love. And as Ampleforth said something innocuous about the state of the war in Eurasia, Parsons tapped Winston on the shoulder and the latter nearly shat himself.
"I looked everywhere but I didn't find the compiler," he said with a dissonantly profound relief. "Guess that was a waste of time."
Winston slowly returned to his own cubicle, carefully avoiding the gaze of any cameras as he sat in his chair and felt along the bottom of his desk drawer for a small floppy disk. It was still there, unmoved and unnoticed, between the sent faxes and the blank productivity reports. Life was good in Oceania that day.

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