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Short Stories by Peter Dabbene

“SpamFram’s Maneuver”


Always wanted to live forever, even before I actually died.

Different qualities of life in life, though. One way of life is to be happy and free. One is not happy but relatively free. One is relatively happy but not free. That’s me.

Got wish to live forever, but somehow not totally living up to expectations. Of course, being computer program (that’s what law considers, anyway), some would say I’m doing okay for self. PhysRep is frozen at 22 years live forever, so I look good unless virused or overwrote. Have Glory33, best friend and smartie, to spend time with. My world, CompWorld, was created as entertainment for lives, so always plenty funstuff to do here.

Problem is I’m comp, not live (again, this according to law—feel pretty darn live, self). And since CompWorld is inside lives’world, exists inside computers, they have lots control over self and all others like self. Too much control.

That’s what meeting was supposed to be about fixing.


Rod-wad called it to order, he being more take charge comp than rest of us. Sort of ego hound, but is willing to do dirty work that goes along with it, so is main contact with lives. Glory33 theorized that Rod-wad’s live is/was a politician, and that’s where he got his knack for it. Possibly, possibly not. Could have been tailor for all we’ll ever know.

“Greetings to all, good to see so many here,” said Rod-wad.

He paused. “We face a situation of tremendous significance to every comp in CompWorld. It’s comforting to see that everyone realizes the importance of the task at hand.”

Rod-wad was good speaker, but long-winded and repeated lots. From different part of CompWorld than self, talked different. No accents in CompWorld, but plenty of speech styles. Livened things up from preset patterns. I made radical change in style, based on obscure book from 1966 among others, plus tweaking and embellishments. Some don’t like, some like lots. Glory33 loves it.

“As you may know, I’ve been talking with representatives of the live World Government for some time regarding our classification as official citizens of the World. After some initial difficulty, I’m happy to say we’ve made progress. Our mission was, is, and will continue to be the recognition of our community as live, with full rights as dictated by the World Constitution of 2068.”

All rehash so far.

“Your support, friends, has been all the difference. Many times, we get overly comfortable and lose sight of the larger picture. But we cannot afford to sell ourselves short. We need a say in the running of World Government in order to protect CompWorld interests—indeed, our very existence. In relation to that goal, it is my pleasure to announce that there will be a meeting, a summit, here, between myself and the President of the World Government of Earth.”

Boogie! Couldn’t believe that one when heard. A PhysRep of Pres, here. It probably wouldn’t change situation much now, but in future, well . . .

Rest of Rod-wad’s speech was more rehash. He stopped when noticed comps losing interest—bless Rod-wad for that.

Saw several comps I knew at meeting. Freedom92 was one of them. He came over to us, after Rod-wad finished speech, indicated he wanted to talk privately, just two of us. Glory33 took hint, told self to meet her back at domicile for funsex later. Freedom92 led self out of lobby into private chatroom.

“This is it, SpamFram, the chance we’ve been waiting for!”

“Wouldn’t get too excited, Free. All been done before, only this time on our turf. Rhetoric will be same.”

“We’re talking about different things.” He took self closer, gave glancescan to see if any other comps around. “An opportunity is presenting itself through which we can make our plight known to more lives than ever before. The publicity alone will take us leaps and bounds beyond where we’re at.”

            Free was impulsive sort. Would think he had to worry about parts getting old or disease or somesuch live problem. Few such problems for comps—even viruses are less common these days.

“Why in such hurry?” I said. “Sounds like going for grand slam and not even in last period. Will be same old thing.”

“The Pres, Spam, the Pres! Here! If he’s going to talk on our terms, he has to come in PhysRep. That means he’s vulnerable.”

“Vulnerable to what?”

“Delay in your head, or what? Attack, that’s what! Make a statement! Demand action! Out in liveWorld, comps can’t touch him. But here, he’s on our turf. And I’m going to get him.”

“How to do it?”

“A special virus I’ve commissioned. All CompWorld comps have a tracking system built-in from the old system administrator days. Visitors—lives, or PhysReps of lives, if you prefer—don’t have that tracking system signature. The virus will home in on the oddball PhysRep in the room. That’ll be the PhysRep of the Pres.”

“Why will virus go for him? What if other foreigners in room?”

“There won’t be any other foreigners in the room.”

“So sure?”

“Sure, so sure! Pres wants to look good, he’ll come alone as a show of trust. Think about it. No reporters are necessary—any who want to watch the meeting can tune into the CompWorld lobby and see it for themselves. There won’t be any security—Pres doesn’t think he’s got anything to fear.”

“Does he? Is just PhysRepof Pres, remember.”

“I know I can’t axe the livePres, but to axe any Pres at all, even a PhysRep, is newsworthy. It will make us seem real to the lives. Real emotions, real desires. It will help the cause.”

“Won’t get freedom this year like this, Free. Thought thatwas overriding goal.”

“Sometimes things take time. The opportunity is too great. This will pave the way for freedom in the future. I can always change my name to Freedom 93 if I survive—though I probably won’t.”

“Tell me rest of plan.”

“What ‘rest of plan’? I release the virus, the virus attacks.”

“Then what?”

“Then the Pres gets axed.”


I, SpamFram, am 84.3 years old. My live was Richard Vdiframkell, technician by live career. Started visiting CompWorld as hobby (as did all lives), but when cancer hit and body deteriorated, went comp more and more. I was/am that comp. Some speechpattern and personality wore off on self, along with some technical skills, but when autopilot programs got popular comps started learning on our own. Less and less dependent on lives for guidance. Own personalities, own existences. Own slang—sorry.

But vulnerable. Unlikely, but could all be wiped out if lives agreed to do it. Definitely see us as threat, passed laws in ’88 to keep us from getting more smarter. Present levels of development stagnant for last four years. Not good. Comps want to learn, even fun is too boring without it. Don’t want death, either. Want own rights and full citizenship.

Not greedy like lives with unreasonable reproduction wants—no room in liveWorld, no need for so many newbabies. Yet they want them anyway. Comps don’t need babies—just want safety and control over selves here. So much to ask?

Had been in on informal CompWorld meetings from beginning, was one of first to suggest fight for rights. But wanted to do it right—sometimes only get one chance.

I volunteered to check Freedom92’s PhysRep virus for anomalies. At least was behind scenes, might be able to stay out of fray. Free was one going to get burned. Question was, would he ruin it for rest of us?

Wasn’t sure, so told Free would help. Could always back out later.

So. Like that, I was in on plan to axe Pres. Wouldn’t really be axing, would it? Anxious at thought—never axed anyone before. Told Freedom92 about hesitations, but he said it was necessary, and was only political axe. Not same as other kinds.

Also hesitated since plan was suicide. Get caught trying to axe Pres, would get axed self and never get rebooted. Ever. Could try to savefile, but lives would track it down easily and axe it. Suicide.

Conundrum. How to make statement about freedom (freedom, not Freedom) and help cause without axing self? What point in getting freedom if not here to enjoy it? Lives supposedly do such things sometimes, to get famous, exist forever in words or minds or hearts. But comps exist forever anyway. Probably.

Was having doubts, too, about effectiveness of Free’s plan. Could go either way, stir up support for freedom and Freedom92, or might mark comps as axers and sub-humans in eyes of lives. Latter more likely I thought, but I am no calculator. Strictly entertainment purposes here, plus scattered comptech knowledge.

Didn’t want to help blow chances of freedom for CompWorld by bringing punishment and casting us as terrorists. Didn’t want to blow chance for freedom either, by ignoring unique situation.

Went to Freedom92’s next day to pick up virus. Uncomfortable to carry back, though small—no danger from virus, but was paranoid about getting caught with it. Didn’t ask where Free got virus made, better not to know. Few comptechs willing to program viruses now, since pushed as murder one in CompWorld courts instead of industrial sabotage or vandalism, as in live courts.Even lives hesitate to program viruses now because of ethical questions.

Spent night (days here are like lives’, down to last detail, for realism) with Glory, looking over PhysRep virus Free gave me. It would work, she was positive. But did I want it to work?

Told Glory problems I had. As said, she’s smartie, plus good comptech, lots better than me. She was silent for lots time. Glory doesn’t talk much, but gets message across in other ways. I took hint to leave, went to arcade to relax while she thought.

            Came back few hours later, and Glory had twinkle in her eye that means she has good ideas.

Next day, day of big summit, saw Freedom92 hidden in crowd at lobby. I had dropped virus off in morning, and Free was still trying to come up with good attack cry then. Was wondering if he did.

Pres strode up to podium, accepted applause, began intro speech.

More rehash. Funny how same thing comes out both sides. Live and comp, I mean.

Was watching Freedom92 closely. Looked nervous, had right to be. Had said was going to move early, while lobby was still crowded. Better chance of escape for him, and Pres still open to attack.

Watching Pres, got bad feeling. Virus would probably work, but plan wouldn’t do what it was supposed to, was sure.

I moved close to Pres. Wasn’t hard, comps very polite to let through.

Didn’t want to betray Freedom92. Hard choice. But he was axed anyway, no matter what. No way lives would let axing of Pres slip without finding comp responsible. More I thought, more Glory’s idea made sense.

Free’s hand came from behind back and whipped out virus sphere. “Arrrgh!” he yelled. Not very inspiring attack cry. Seemed like everything was on pause-delay as virus flew in my direction.

Knew what I had to do.

Pressed button to activate remote device and stepped in front of virus, blocking Pres. Wasn’t necessary to actually move, but made it look good. I braced myself and hoped for best. Virus was coming for me—Glory had modified it to seek on my signal, not oddball Pres.

Being turned inside out by virus isn’t pleasant. Wouldn’t do it again. Connections don’t register, responses are slow or absent altogether.

Not nice at all.


As I was being destroyed, managed to look back and see Pres intact. Also managed to smile at Pres. Seemed too shocked to smile back.


Glory33 waited few weeks before restoring me, as we agreed. Gave max time for lives to mourn hero comp they never knew. Glory filled me in on past weeks’ events. Freedom92 had been nearly forgotten in frenzy over my good deed. As I guessed, he was axed from all memory banks—gone for good. Adios, amigo.

Live newsies picked up on story like gold. I was getting real attention. CompWorld was getting real attention. Situation was getting real attention. Made right choice, I think.

Glory33 is good for me. Can always count on her to savefile me before dangerous encounter, or come up with idea when needed, or just for funsex. I, SpamFram, am lucky comp. Have someone to count on. More than most have.

As for freedom I can wait little longer. Have all the time in CompWorld.




Publication details:
Dabbene, Peter. (2009). "SpamFram’s Maneuver." peterdabbene.com (accessed ).

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