HP and the Programmer's Printer: Chapter 2

By Gary McGath
Copyright 2008 by Gary McGath. All rights reserved.

This is a work of fan fiction. All trademarks, references to published works of fiction, and allusions to familiar characters are for purposes of entertainment or satire only. This is not a commercial work and is not offered for sale.

Chapter 2

Grid took Hugh Packard on a shopping trip in Orthogon Alley, which Mundanes couldn't find because it was in the imaginary plane. It was an astonishing place. Computer stores, technical bookstores, science fiction shops, 24-hour Internet cafes. The first stop was the Bank of Zurich. Hugh was startled to see that all the employees were gnomes. "Your parents left you a good amount of money," Grid explained as he signed for a withdrawal. "They had a nice little startup business."

"But what happened to my parents?" asked Hugh when they left. "You said you were going to tell me."

"You do deserve to know," said Grid grimly. "Ten years ago, the forces of darkness tried to monopolize the whole computing industry. The man behind it wouldn't stop at anything, not even murder. But nothing could ever be proven. Your parents wouldn't sell their startup to him. He killed them."

"What?" Hugh gasped. "They were murdered?"

Grid nodded. "And he tried to kill you too, because somehow he knew that you were something special, a threat to him in some way. But his death ray bounced off you and knocked him out. Everyone still talks about it. After that happened, he had to go into hiding. But they say he's still alive."

"Who was it? Who killed my parents?"

"We don't like to say his name ... All right, you have to know." He whispered, "He was called Lord Petitmol. And his followers are still around. They call themselves DEC Eaters."

They continued shopping in Orthogon Alley, getting Hugh all the necessary books and supplies for his first year. The most important stop was at Load and Run, where he picked out his laptop. The owner, Mr. Clickanenter, was surprised to learn he'd never even held a laptop computer before, and patiently helped him as he looked at the different models. He looked at one after another, unable to make much sense of them. He started to wonder if he really had as much innate computer skill as Grid thought.

Finally Mr. Clickanenter took a dusty laptop out of a corner and said, "Maybe I should show you this one. It's not the kind beginners can make much sense of, though."

Hugh looked at the screen and clicked a few controls. He brought up a browser and, in a few minutes, had a freshly downloaded movie playing on it.

"That's the one for you!" said Clickanenter. "This one has the latest version of Debian, and the hardware is a dual-core Phoenix processor. It's a rare student who takes to one of these instead of Windows, but we've always expected great things of you, Hugh."

Soon Hugh had everything a new student needed: regulation T-shirt, textbooks, laptop, and a supply of corn chips. Finally, Grid handed Hugh a ticket. "You'll take the Bugwarts Express at Del Cross Station. It's just for students and has its own Wi-Fi. It leaves on Track 3.14159."

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