It looks like you're writing a letter, the little animated paperclip said, Would you like help?

"No!" Gary cried in exasperation as he clicked the 'No' button. He had been typing letters to his clients all morning long, and that damned MS Word widget wouldn't stop pestering him. Finally he decided to pull the plug on Clippy altogether and called up the Add/Remove Programs window. He picked the Microsoft Office Assistant title and clicked 'Uninstall'. Suddenly the screen blanked and became that familiar shade of blue and displayed the message Warning! The system has been halted. Operation currently in progress saved to memory!

"Dammit," Gary shouted, whacking his desk with his fists. The computer had been stubborn all morning and had finally given up. Frustrated, he cut the power to it and went to make lunch.

He pulled the bread from the cabinet and was reaching for the ham when he heard someone say "It looks like you're making a sandwich. Would you like help?"

Gary whirrled around to see who was in his house. He found nobody in sight. Concluding his mind was playing tricks, he returned to his sandwich. Moments later he heard "It looks like you're cutting your sandwich into fourths. Would you like help?"

Again Gary spun 'round to see who the voice was coming from. And again, nobody in sight. "Come out here!" he shouted, but nobody replied. He began rooting through closets and hallways in search of whoever was taunting him.

"It looks like you're looking for someone. Would you like help?"

"Show yourself!" Gary said. Again, nothing. "Must be a speaker hidden in here somewhere."

Gary began tearing through the rooms searching for the hidden speaker he assumed was imitating that damned paperclip. All the while the voice in his head continued...

"It looks like you're emptying your closet. Would you like help?"

"It looks like you're cutting open the wall. Would you like help?"

"It looks like you're tearing up the carpet. Would you like help?"

Finally Gary could take no more. This voice wasn't being projected or transmitted, it was in his mind. "The computer," he said, nearing madness, "It's got to be coming from the computer!"

He took his metal baseball bat and began beating at the computer.

"It looks like you're bashing your computer. Would you like help?"

Unfortunately for Gary he had forgotten to unplug the computer before he had begun whacking it. As the metal bat made contract with a live electrical connection, a powerful electric shock zapped through his body, throwing him back against the wall and knocking him unconscious.

"How is he, doctor?"

"Frankly, Mrs. Johnson, it's a good thing you called 911 when you did. Otherwise we wouldn't have been able to save him."

"I heard all this awful racket at his house, and when I came to check on him I found him... found him..."

"It's OK, ma'am. He'll live. It's just a question of if he'll ever come out of the coma."

A few feet away in a hospital bed Gary struggled to wake up. All the while he heard in his head:

"It looks like you're trying to wake up from a coma. Would you like help?"

"It looks like you're trying to wake up from a coma. Would you like help?"

"It looks like you're trying to wake up from a coma. Would you like help?"

An original story by me for the 2002 Everything Quests: Scary Stories contest.

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