Originally Published June 13, 2002
The cruise ship throngs were only recently gone when the Soupster stepped in to the art gallery to see if Gwendoline has survived the latest human deluge.
“I’ll be with you in a minute,” said a voice from the back room. Although the voice sounded like Gwen’s, its timber contained notes of urgency and annoyance, things the Soupster knew Gwen to be free of.
Gwen was the slowest to anger person the Soupster had ever encountered. But once truly angry, she was extremely tough to cool down.
The Soupster stuck his head into the gallery’s rear lair, where some of the stock was kept and computers were programmed to keep all the records of shipping, billing and to keep track of the inventory. In front of a computer monitor was where Gwen sat, her head sunk deeply in her hands. “The only thing more stressful than computer problems was checking for floating log deadheads at night, when I had the boat,” she moaned.
“What’s going on?” the Soupster asked innocently, only to be confronted by a red-faced Gwen who leaped up from her seat and grabbed him by the lapels.
“Whosoever creates these computer viruses are an abomination,” Gwen thundered. “If there was something worse than capital punishment…”
“You have a computer virus?”
“The Klooze!” she shouted. “The insidious, terrible, rotten and really, really bad Klooze virus!”
“Goodness,” said the Soupster. He had read about the Klooze How this computer program entered systems as an ordinary e-mail attachment. Klooze then disabled the anti-virus programs on the computer in order to do its evil work in peace. Then and only then, Klooze devoured the computer’s entire hard drive and everything on it. Byte by byte.
“I don’t what to do,” Gwen wailed pitifully.
“Perhaps I can help,” said someone with a high voice. A young boy came into the room, holding an armful of the daily newspapers he had been selling to passers by just before entering the store. In fact, he had entered in the first place to sell papers.
“Klooze sucks,” commiserated the kid. “But I got it out of Dad’s computer and I know how to do it now.” He pointed at the chair in front of the computer. “May I?” he asked.
Gwen nodded mightily and said sputtered several dozen versions of “Yes.”
“This is an awesome gallery,” the kid said, as his fingers flew over the keyboard. A long, long list of program files scrolled across the screen and then suddenly stopped. “See – here’s Klooze,” said the kid. “Bye, bad, bad virus.”
The kid swivelled the chair. “The virus is gone, but you’re going to have to let the diagnostics run for about an hour. Then the computer will tell you if you need to reformat or not. Have you ever re-formatted your hard drive and re-installed the operating system?”
“Yes,” said a still shocked Gwen, looking at the small figure at her desk with wonder and admiration. The Soupster squeezed her arm. “Re-installing everything took forever,” Gwen said to the kid. “But I can do it.”
“Good,” said the kid, rising from the swivel chair. “Tomorrow I have Little League after I sell my papers, but I’ll try to stop by in between and see how you are doing. Want a paper?”
“I’ll take five… uh, seven!” said Gwen. When the kid left, Gwen turned smiling to the Soupster.
“Who was that masked man?” the Soupster asked her.