I was just sitting at my computer, checking e-mail at various screen names, acknowledging nominations and votes for a contest I administer and hoping for maybe one or two fan letters for the handful of stories I'd written.
Anyway, the bulk of the mail, as usual, consisted of the typical virus posts purporting to be from both strangers and names I recognized (even a few from my own screen names, hehhehheh), or insurance advertisements, Viagra without a prescription, offers to extend my penis 1-3 inches, miraculous weight loss, Nigerian government officials needing my bank account number - the usual wasted bandwidth. I very nearly deleted one from an old shipmate in California that had an attachment, but caught myself in time to check. The text was suspicious, all caps, but with just enough personal info to make me pause:
"GARY, YOU GOTTA CHECK THIS OUT! IT MAKES EVERYTHING WE DREAMT UP ON DORSAL LOOK LIKE AN ACCOUNTANT'S DAYDREAMS!!"
The attachment was named "Master.zip". I took a chance and downloaded it, a lengthy proposition at modem speeds. While that ran in the background, I checked my newsgroups and replied to a few posts.
Finally, the download was complete. I figured I might as well check out this 'Master' file. I ran Norton Anti Virus on it. It checked out clean. I opened the zip file and found Master.exe, but no 'ReadMe' files, instructions, or documentation. I suspected it was the equivalent of a self-extracting zip file, but it didn't appear to be in a format Winzip could open. I extracted it to my Temp directory, crossed my fingers, and double-clicked it.
The word "MASTER" flashed on the screen, followed by "MASTER PROGRAM RUN COMPLETE."
The desktop had a new Icon. I decided to run it. Another window popped up. The top was a standard pull-down menu with a series of buttons below labeled "Macro - 1" through "Macro - 10" and a pull-down field labeled "Subject Name." Below left was a featureless figure, rotating slowly. To the right of that was an area labeled "Statistics" that had all sorts of labels (Height, Measurements, Bust, etc... ) and a large button at the lower-right corner of that area that was labeled "SEND." At the bottom of the screen was a command prompt area showing:
Welcome to Master Command Center, your own personal command center. The Master allows you to become a virtual god to the people around you. You now possess the power to bend their reality to your specifications. You are the Master's representative.
Basically, it said that the program gave me full control of everyone within a 100-mile radius of my computer, and I mean full Control - Thoughts, Actions, Statistics, Personality, Nature - everything!
"Subject: Gary Jordan."
A second or two later, a high resolution model of me replaced the figure on the screen, and the stats area filled in with all the correct information. The hairs on my neck stood up. The figure was even in my current posture. I raised an arm. The figure on the screen raised an arm. As to whether or not the program could control it... me... I had to test it.
In the Command area, I entered "Correct hair length to Navy standards for 1980." (I was long overdue for a haircut, even by my current un-military standards, and this would provide a harmless but dramatic test. I clicked the "send" button.
Suddenly, I felt a bit of a tingle. I touched my beard - definitely shorter. I felt the back of my neck. That old, familiar military taper met my fingers and I ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror. I stared. It had looked better when I was twenty years younger and in the appropriate uniform, but there was no doubt that my hair would pass an inspection. I walked slowly back to the computer, thinking.
Whether he realized it or not, my old buddy had sent me a program conferring absolute power within its reach, and I knew the bromides about power and corruption. I was both elated and scared as I sat before my computer. Maybe I could limit myself. A friend had once related the tale of the Monkey's Paw
I typed. "Gary Jordan will never use Master Control to do to others what he would not have them do to him, and will never reverse this command." [Send] I felt another tingle. At least my conscience was soothed. I figured I'd better check out the help files and learn something about this amazing program.
I read for an hour, and learned that while the program could affect specific individuals quite profoundly, it could also treat people in batches, provided the subject field was empty and I specified the target group in the command line. Any area or group effect would tie up the computer for some time, though, as the program would individually target every individual in the area or group specified. I also learned that I could store individual or groups of commands in the ten Macros.
I decided it was time for some self-improvement. To share the benefits, I opened the macro editor and repeated some of the commands for later wide-area use. To prevent any problems with sudden changes in appearance, a number of my commands had a time delay.
Subject: Gary Jordan
Command: Eliminate all diseases, allergies, mental or physical addictions, tumors, warts, moles, scars not otherwise necessary for official identification, and genetic defects. [SEND] (This one went into the macro, with "For all human beings within the area of effect,")
Command: Restore all teeth, bones, tendons and ligaments to perfect color, condition, and health. [SEND] (Also in the macro.)
Command: Over the next six months, adjust body musculature and physique, dexterity and agility to optimum for humans, within the constraints of height at that time. [SEND] (I added this one to the macro, also.)
.... There is more of this story ...