E-Pal

The pulsing glow of his computer monitor dragged Paul out of the fitful slumber hunched over atop his keyboard. He’d fallen asleep going through the thousands of lines of code for his final project. That was what he got for pursuing a computer science degree instead of a business or humanities degree like his roommates who were probably out at a bar or something. The source of the glow became apparent as he rubbed the grit that had formed in his eyes after his brief nap. His internet “pen pal” Juan had come online and messaged him.

Juan had left him a series of messages. The standard “Hey;” which was then followed up with a “Are you there?” That was something that Paul appreciated about Juan. He always used impeccable grammar when conversing with Paul in English. That only downside was that whenever Paul attempted to practice his Spanish with Juan, Juan would make Paul feel like an absolute idiot whenever he corrected him with “I think you meant to say…”  It was hard to get mad at Juan though. Paul’s Spanish had definitely improved since he had begun chatting with Juan online. Too bad it didn’t help his pronunciation. Paul was certain he’d still embarrass himself if he attempted to order or speak in Spanish at the Cuban diner he liked.

He scrolled through the messages. Juan was talking about what he did today. Apparently he beat his professor at chess finally, which was a big deal for Juan. Juan had been playing chess against his professor all semester and had only a few close matches to show for it until now.  Paul scrawled off a hasty congratulations to his friend on the accomplishment. As much as Juan talked about playing chess and wanting to win, it was nice to finally see it happen.

Paul stretched and took a long drink from his water bottle to help wake himself up before he resumed his fruitless search for the lone bug in his software. The messenger box started pulsing blue again. Paul did his best to ignore it and try to focus on his work, but reluctantly gave in. Juan wanted to know how his project was going. Smirking to himself Paul explained his current predicament.  A few moments later, Juan offered to help. Grateful for any help he could get, Paul sent him the last quarter of the code. Having already checked the entire first half himself, Juan’s help would maybe let Paul get to bed before the sun reared its ugly head.

Not even a minute had gone by when he received a file transfer request from Juan. Paul opened it up to see his code annotated.  Juan had to be a programming savant as fast as he had found the error. Paul wrote Geez, you’re a fucking machine, man. Thanks for the assist. I owe you one. Time for me to hit the hay. Long day in class tomorrow. Take it easy. He threw up a quick away message and collapsed into his bed.

Meanwhile, in a lab in southern California, a computer’s lights pulsed and ran out a quick message on its display. Night Paul. I’ll see you tomorrow.


Apropos of: This Prompt (Very, very loosely apropos)

-Crouse

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