I finally met up with the pirate in late spring 2042. Just when I was beginning to think he didn’t exist, he suddenly appeared before me, his 6′6″ frame towering over my cubicle on the 56th floor where I was second in charge of shipping and receiving in Shipping and Receiving.
“They tell me I’ve got something you want,” said the pirate.
He did indeed. In the year 2000, after the Y2K bug barely made a glitch in the system, the momentum that had begun with the fax machine, the cell phone and the Internet hit hyper-speed. By 2002, downloading files was instantaneous. By 2025 the personal computer became as personal as it could get, as everyone with a social security number had a hard drive installed in his or her left retina. Like the IRS scanner tattoos of 2012, the hardwiring was compulsory. Nobody made much of a stink about it, though. We were all too busy being efficient.
In 2038 we went to the seven-day workweek after Japan went to six and a half. In 2039 we went to the 24-hour workday when China-Italy-Sweden went to 22. You get the idea.
Of course, it wasn’t all work and no play for the Most Productive Democracy on Earth. Not when we had instant Internet access to 5,000 satellite channels inside our eyelids. Tons of video games including Classic Space Invaders in our frontal lobe. Even remote control with DVD Plus in our small intestines.
Star Wars 44: Another New Beginning was number one at the box office. The Lakers had won their fifth virtual championship in a row. The stock market topped 10,000,000,000. Life was good.
Yet, for some reason, I felt lousy. I was exercising and eating right. I was taking my hourly breaks for sleep and oxygen. Nothing was helping.
I searched on the Net under “empty,” “dejected” and “gloomy,” but I kept getting sites for travel agents and cola drinks. Then, when looking up how much was left in the ozone layer, a banner ad flashed inside my eyelid: Empty? Dejected? Gloomy? The pirate has the software to change your life. Click here. When I clicked, nothing happened. I thought it was just another hacker’s prank.
Then I began hearing things about the pirate and his forbidden software. Crazy, beautiful things. What he had could change everything. Bring life back to my lifeless cubicle. So I searched and I faxed and I sent e-mails and I waited. Then suddenly he was there, in the flesh, with a dime-sized CD-ROM in his outstretched hand.
“How much?” I asked.
“For something this priceless? Nothing.”
Before I could argue, he was gone.
I waited until just before sunset and downloaded the disc. I was filled with an instant sense of joy and relief. For the first time in 32 years, the phone stopped ringing. My fax stopped faxing. 5,000 screens shut down and went blank. In the candlelight I marveled at the infinite peace, the stunning silence. The smell of fresh baked bread tantalized my nose. The sound of angelic singing filled my ears. The touch of my daughter caressed my soul.
Twenty-five hours later I removed the CD-ROM, already looking forward to the next time I’d use it.
I gazed down at the disc and reread the hand-written label: Shabbat 1.0.