Panic in the Lab

by Banned Library in


"Can you help me on the computer?"

    He was a little man with thick glasses and a tweed coat. His voice carried him, this deep rumble from a low place, like well-oiled farm equipment.

    I said sure and followed him to the lab. We snaked in and out, around other patrons to the computer around the back. He pointed to the screen. The screen was a bright green, the color of a tree frog.

    "What's happening?" I asked.

    That deep rumble voice said, "It's all green. I don't want it green like that."

    I leaned over the desk and hit a key. Moved the mouse around a little. Still green. I had seen this before. Sometimes computers go a little weird, lock up on strange screens. When videos go off, they can turn various colors. It seemed that he had maximized some internet picture show and it glitched, freezing the computer.

    "I might have to restart it. Were you working on anything important?" I said.

    He gave his little shoulders a lift. "Nothing too good."

    "You can pick another one. It should let you log in."

    "I'll wait."

    I pushed the power button and held it down. Ten seconds and the machine should shut down, a hard reboot. Ten seconds came and went. I counted another ten and still the green.

    "Huh," I said and explained.

    "Weird," said the little man. He took off his glasses and produced a handkerchief. He began to wipe at the thick glasses. His eyes shone bright, a vivid green that reminded me of the screen.

    "I got a few more tricks," I said. I reached behind the computer and found the thick black cable. I pulled, cutting power from the device.

    The green screen continued.

    "Huh," I said. I reached back again to the base of the monitor. The video cable was screwed in with two thick knobs. I twisted them both, lefty loosey, and the cable came free. The green continued. I pulled the power cable from the monitor. Amazon tree frog still go.

    "You know, I've seen this before," the little man said. His eyes caught the green, doubling the color. He held those glasses in one hand. The handkerchief had gone back into this pocket. Those green eyes held mine.

    "Where about?" I said. In the man's eyes I saw the color of the wild, the brightness of sunlight through leaves, the undulation of snakes wrapping around victims. I saw the world as it was, a forest of brightness and darkness. I saw things die and rot green and things live with a moldy stench all around them.

    "Well, that would be telling," the man said and put his glasses back on. "There now, seems to have done the trick."

    I heard a whirl and the computer came to life. The screen blinked, that horrible green replaced by the backlit black and a logo appeared to hover in space. The man said excuse me and sat, punching in his login. Confused, I apologized and leaned over him. The cables, the power cables for the computer and the monitor, the video cable with the knob, they all were back in place.

    As I walked away, I felt my hand shake as I ran it through my hair. The color green swam in my vision, bouncing from random books and a painting and a million other sources. So much green in the world. So much it made me sick.

    "Librarian?" came the deep voice. When I turned, the little man had his glasses in one hand and those eyes on display. He winked and placed a finger to his lips and let out a laugh that reminded me of a goat in a field.