Press Any Key To Continue
by Rebecca Tanner

"Natalie? Are you in here?" There was no answer and Nick
wasn't sure whether to go in or not. He could hear a confused
muttering that was progressively growing louder.

"Stupid computer. Press any key to continue. Ha. Liar!
I'll show you press any key to continue."

Nick smiled a little at the frustration in her voice.

His smile disappeared though when she started to laugh.
This wasn't the laughter of joy. This was the kind of laughter
one hears in a B-grade horror movie when the mad scientist is
about to push the button that will destroy the world.

Nick pushed open the door to the morgue and rushed in.
"Nat!" He exclaimed, grabbing the hand which held the knife
she was about to plunge into the keyboard. "What do you think
you are doing?!"

Nat turned around slowly. "What do I think I'm doing?"
She asked in a voice that would have made his blood run cold
if it wasn't already well below human norm. "Pressing any key
to continue, that's what I'm doing. Do you have a problem with
that?" Her tone suggested that if he did, she would be more
than happy to fix that and any other problem he might have.

Nick started to back up as Natalie stalked closer. This
was a side of her that he hadn't seen very often. It was
kind of scary. Nick's backward progress was stopped by the
wall. "Nat?" Nick licked his lips and tried again. "Is
there something I can do to help?"

Natalie sighed and seemed to deflate slightly. "I'm sorry
Nick. This new software has me so frustrated I can't think
straight. I shouldn't have taken it out on you." She walked
slowly back to her desk and plopped down. "I've been trying
for 3 hours and I still can't get this upgrade to work."

Nick picked up the papers and disks that had come in the
brightly colored package. The brochure for other products
manufactured by the same company extolled the Plug and Play
capabilities that made them so easy to use. Nick snorted as
he read the claims that the entire program could be updated
in as little as 10 minutes.

"Can you believe this garbage?" Nick shook his head in
disbelief. "'Our products have been carefully designed for
ease of use and our helpful and courteous technical support
staff are ready to assist you with any problems that may
occur. Yeah right.'"

Nat snatched the booklet from his hand and looked at the
tech support number.

"Hey!" Nick examined his hand. "It's a good thing I'm not
mortal yet or I'd have one major nasty papercut." Nick held his
wound up for examination and with his very best puppy dog look
asked, "Will you kiss it better?"

Nat looked at him in exasperation, but complied with a
gentle touch of her lips to his finger. "Better?" She asked.

Nick looked at his hand and raised his eyebrows in feigned
surprise. "Why doctor, it's a miracle! The cut has completely
disappeared. Maybe you should give out more of those miracle
kisses." He said with a wide eyed look of innocence.

Natalie laughed, but she was touched by the genuine warmth
she sensed in his teasing statement. She continued flipping
through the pages of the manual until she found the toll-free
tech support number. She looked at it in distaste. She hated
to deal with these people. They always made her feel like she
was a complete idiot for not getting their software to work.

She stared at the telephone with dislike, maybe... She
looked at Nick and cleared her throat. "Nick?"

"Hmmm?" Nick was still staring at his finger with a
bemused look.

"Could you.. I mean, I'd really like.. Uh.. I *hate* calling
technical support."

Nick finally looked up, a question in his eye.

"What I mean is, I really wish that *you* would call for
me. They always make me feel like such an idiot."

"What makes you think that they'd be any better for me?"

"Well, if they start getting snotty you can pull out that
hypno thingy and make them behave."

Nick stared at her in astonishment. She didn't ask him
to do things like that very often. She must be even more
frustrated than he had thought. "Sorry Nat, but that doesn't
work very well over the phone." He paused and then said,
"Hypno thingy?"

"Yeah. I suppose the technical name for it is 'whammy',
right? So are you going to help me or not?"

"Hmm. I'm not exactly the world's biggest computer guru
you know."

Natalie looked at him with a raised brow.

"Hey, my parents never let me have a computer while I was
growing up, but if you are willing to take the risk I will
try to help." Nick said.

Natalie didn't say anything. She just shoved the entire
pile of computer related stuff into his hands.

As Nick sorted through the disks, manuals, license
agreements, advertisments, and Very Important Notices he
realized that the instructions that Nat had tried to follow
were actually for a different platform than she was using.
He started to chuckle at the thought. Using these
instructions on Nat's computer would be like trying to use
a map of Chicago to get around Toronto.

"What are you laughing at?" Natalie glared at him.

"Uh, these instructions are not the correct ones for
what you are trying to do." Nick replied as he got his
laughter under control.

"WHAT!? WHY NOT?!" She shrieked.

Nick's ears were ringing in the aftermath of that scream.
He reached up and rubbed them, hoping the ringing would go
away. "Sorry Nat, but you've been using the wrong

"The wrong instructions?! Those lousy, no good, rotten,
lying... No wonder I couldn't find that stupid suitcase icon.
What kind of people would include instructions for the wrong

"Well they aren't really for the wrong program, it's just
for a different version."

"So why didn't they mention that somewhere? If it was
actually an upgrade for a different program then why didn't
they say that on the box?"

"Actually, if you look carefully you can see that they did
say that right here, in the small print."

"Sheesh. Well, silly me. I just *assumed* that the manual
that came in the box would be for the program that was mentioned
in large letters on the front of the box. Whatever could I have
been thinking?"

"It'll be all right. There must be some good instructions
around here somewhere."

They did eventually find them, hidden in a readme file in a
subdirectory of the installation disk. And it did in fact only
take 10 munutes to upgrade, not counting the time spent finding
the instructions.

The End.