As soon as Mortimer gets home, he sprints to his study and locates his computer. He made one for himself at the age of nine. He had only then been introduced to computers, and had attempted to use a machine running Windows NT, but quickly found it insufficient for the task he had in mind–remotely detonating various Russian nuclear missiles. So he spend the next couple of days researching computers and, a couple of days after that, crafted ZERO.
“Hello, Dr. Hex,” says ZERO as his creator enters the office.
“Run the browser and bring up OkayMingle.” Mortimer’s mother had recommended the sight for finding a compatible mate. Perhaps it could help him find a compatible arch enemy as well.
“Really?” Most computer’s voices are incapable of expressing condescension.
Mortimer had not programmed ZERO’s AI until the angsty age of fifteen. Sometimes he regrets that. “I’m trying to find myself an intelligent adversary, if you must know. Now take me to the website.”
“Right away.” If ZERO had eyes to roll, it would.
Mortimer clicks a bright red Get Started! button, puts in various information, then finds he can’t be a man interested in men and women. This is stupid. For one thing, hasn’t OkayMingle heard of bisexuals? Also, how is he supposed to choose whether he wants a male or female nemesis? There could be worthy candidates in either category. Forced to pick one, he chooses women.
“Afraid I might think you’re sexist?” mocks ZERO.
“No,” lies Mortimer. “I just think it would be more, you know… poetic that way.” Clicks to the next page, which irritates him, because it consists solely of a friendly Let’s Get Started! button that he must click to continue. He sighs and clicks it.
“This site sucks,” remarks ZERO.
On the screen is the question: Tell us again, which are you? with two buttons, one for male and one for female.
“Did you not believe me the first time I told you?” Usually Mortimer is above talking to inanimate objects, but the repeat question, combined with the site’s obvious incapability of dealing with hermaphroditic, transgendered, or transexual people, has made him angry enough to anthropomorphize. His mouse hovers over the button to close the window, but he eventually decides to click on. This proves to be a mistake. What’s your birthday? asks the site, obnoxiously touting a cartoon cake.
Mortimer closes the window, determined to sulk awhile before trying again.
That was part 11 of Vile, a novel in progress. Care to read from the beginning?