Last night, I was happily visiting some dodgy sites on the internet, and I’d just noticed a few pop-up windows appear, and it was in my mind that I should probably do something about them, when a virus protection programme started telling me that something was trying to attack my computer and set off trying to track it down, and I thought to myself, “That’s odd, I don’t have a virus protection programme”. I was a bit bemused to be honest, believing it might be some atavistic defence mechanism of the computer’s (like the early warning system in Magrathea (sp?)), but then I saw that it had created a highly realistic and inconspicious, but nonetheless new, shortcut item on the desktop, which was something of a foolish mistake.
So I decided immediately I’d seize upon the most frightening weapon ever developed against viruses, the System Restore Facility, but was prevented for a while from finding it because the evil Microsoft had hidden it at the centre of the labyrinth of Windows 7, whose every byway is unsignposted and unfamiliar. Finally having tracked it down, I found the worm had already cast its curious spell over it and denuded it of its magical power. (A small pop-up message even had the arrogance to tell me it had done so).
So I thought, Ok, then I must at least save my novels and other crucial documents*. So I plugged in the flash drive and smuggled my documents away to a dimension which the worm couldn’t enter. And none too soon, for the worm’s next act was to disable the E-drive to prevent further migration from its wrath.
The worm was busy rapidly disabling any programs it could find, while I was searching for any other curious facilities my computer might have that would vanquish it. I discovered in the program menu another weapon I’d never heard of, the Packard Bell Recovery Management program. In its folly, the worm had overlooked it so I opened it up. Suddenly I had the worm at my mercy and I set it running. It was when it rebooted the computer and gave me some options, however, that I made my own tragic error. One option said it would throw a forcefield around everything in My Documents, back it up and then transport everything to a time before the worm existed. It couldn’t sound more perfect, but for one thing: I wasn’t sure everything I wanted to save from the worm was in My Documents. I figured, however, I could cancel the recovery program, sneak back in to my hard drive, switch the files around and re-run the recovery program before the worm would know what was going on. Unfortunately the worm had foreseen all this, and when I tried to re-run the recovery program, it told me with a devilish laugh that it had now disabled it.
Everything, I noticed, was becoming disabled: internet browsers, word processors, Windows Media Player. I needed to take drastic measures. Perhaps I could simply wipe the hard drive and install that old copy of Windows 98 I had lying around. (The equivalent of giving up fighting the alien, getting into your spaceship, going into orbit around the planet and then nuking it until it’s a dead world). Unfortunately, the worm had disabled the Command Prompt facility, and I couldn’t think how else to access DOS.
I was becoming disheartened. The worm was triumphing. I had the files I really needed to keep. Why not give in, allow the worm its victory and go out and buy a new computer? So I turned everything off and gave up.
But then, thinking about it for a while as I sat there with nothing to do but read books (an utterly loathsome activity which I avoid as much as I can), it struck me that perhaps I could turn the computer on in Safe Mode. So I gave it go, and sure enough, within that strange cocoon there was no sign of the worm and programs seemed to be working normally. So I ran the Packard Bell Management Recovery program, eradicated all trace of the worm (along with all the many useless programs I’ve never needed anyway) and restored all that was worthwhile to restore. The End. (A bit of a Deus ex Machina ending, I admit – but that’s life for you).
*Obviously, I’m not mad and my novels are all backed up anyway. This latest novel has passed through the innards of five computers now, surviving one burglary and two complete system collapses. But I’m never so diligent about backing-it up that it’s ever up to date.