In the Shadow of the Steeple, Ch. I






The screen displayed the type in large green characters against a black background. An 8-bit voice read the words aloud.

“Not bad,” she said shutting her bedroom door behind her. “Mrs. Decker gave us some homework on decimal division but I finished it in class. Perks of being a genius,” she smiled at the screen before her face dropped back to normal as she realized she didn’t give the computer a correct prompt.

“How was your day,” she asked.


“No, no, no,” Carly said waving her hand at the webcam, “I didn’t ask what happened today I asked how YOUR day was.” There was a few seconds pause before Carly heard the message she knew she would.


Carly sighed, not because this was the wrong response but because it was the right one. She was a timid fifth grader and her curly red hair rolled down to her shoulders. She’d been programming since she could read and had started working on this program days after that.  This was a hand build PC she designed herself having spent hours researching the parts before asking her parents to buy them for her.

There were lines after lines of code for this program. Every time she finished one feature she’d start working on the next. She programmed it to use the webcam to recognize the bedroom door opening after a certain time to mean that she was home from school. She taught it facts about herself things like her favorite food and color. She gave it access to certain webpages so it could inform her of days events and internet trends. She spent so much time on this program she wasn’t sure if it was the reason she didn’t have any friends or a way to deal with that fact.

She pressed crrlt+shift+k to exit out of the error screen. She was a very intelligent girl, the daughter of a neurologist and computer engineer. Having learned calculus at the age of four, building engines by six and and having skipped two grades by seven.

Carly was in the process of rebooting her computer when there was a knock on her door.

“Carly it’s me, your mom said you were in here,” a voice like sandpaper filled the room.

“Coming daddy,” she gleefully skipped to the door before twisting the knob open.

“Hello my little cherry top!” He stepped into the room. There was a bag on his arm but that didn’t stop him from picking her up and spinning her around.

“How was school?” He said placing her back on her feet.

“Great! Finished all my homework early and hand wrote 700 more lines of code for my program,” she said shaking out her hand like it was cramping.

“700?! Wow darling that’s amazing! What do they do?”

“They help the program recognize faces better. So soon it’ll even know who you are!” Carly smiled a big grin so wide it closed her eyes.

“Are you ever gonna name it?”

“What?” Carly said twerking her head to the side, “Name what?”

Her dad pointed a thick finger towards the PC. “You always refer to it as ‘it’ or ‘the program’ shouldn’t ‘it’ have a name?”

Carly surprised herself as all her time had been spent on this program and she never thought to name it, “Huh'” is all she could mutter staring at the screen.

“Hey guess what?” her dad asked bring her attention back. “I brought you something.” He reached into the bag and pulled out a glass cylinder. The cylinder was about the size of a large drinking glass, it was full of fluid and in the center sat a small pink object.

“What is it?”

“It’s a bio processor!” Her dad said his eyes lighting up. He worked at a large bio-technology research lab that he had build from the ground up. The lab specialized in improving technology with organics.

“I’ve been working on it for a few weeks now. We removed the brain from a rat, suspended it in a nutrition rich fluid, attached some wires and a power supply and Ta-Da!” He said handing the object over to a still curious Carly, “It’ll plug right into the computer through the USB port and it’ll function just like a processor. Now don’t get to excited it won’t be as fast as the ones you already have but it’s a cool piece!”

Her dad was smiling very wide at this point. Carly loved the gift, she loved all things odd and weird, but more importantly it was a way for her dad to get into her hobby something that her computer engineer mom had solely been doing.

“I love it daddy!” She finally screamed.

“Great! I’ll show you how to make and replace the nutrition fluid, it’s really easy all you need to do is-” He was interrupted by yelling from down the hall.

“Diner is ready! You can work on your computer later!”

“Coming Heather!” He yelled back down the hall, “Go ahead and plug it in first and we’ll go eat,” he said whispering to Carly. He stood up and started walking down the hall leaving Carly in her room “What are we having!’ He yelled out fading into the living room.

Carly walked over to her PC and plugged in the brain through the USB port then restarted the computer again before turning away. Maybe Hank, she thought to herself Hank sounds like a computers name.


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