Plugs

Viruses, trojans, malware, spoofing websites–for the unsuspecting websurfer, the online world was fraught with dangers enough as it was, and now there’s the threat of goblins. There have been plenty of articles online lately with background information (who knew that so many leprechauns were so heavily leveraged or that the changeling futures market would tank so precipitously and have such a ripple effect throughout the economies of the fairy realms?) or tips for spotting an infestation (a flickering greenish glow behind your keyboard; your cooling fan begins to sound like it’s muttering in some consonant-rich unearthly language) but practical advice for solving the problem has been noticeably scarce. In the spirit of good net citizenship, we at the Daily Cabal offer some strategies we’ve found effective:

1. Iron
The oldest of anti-fairfolk remedies is still one of the most reliable. Many online retailers carry rusty iron USB flash drives, some with charmed silver circuit boards–which may or may not increase their potency. Take care, however, not to search on “thumb drives” when browsing the magitech online stores that carry such things, or you may wind up with something made from an actual thumb, on a principle similar to the black magic Hand of Glory. While these do wonders for extending battery life, they do nothing for your goblin problem, and may imperil your immortal soul.

2. Trolls
Just as it’s helpful to introduce ladybugs to a garden to control aphids, introducing hot-button political or religious issues to one’s blog can attract trolls, which will in turn cause most goblins to flee in panic. Unfortunately, your normal readership may flee in a similar manner, and you may need to purchase some alpha predator plug-in to return the natural balance, such as BaLrOGger.

3. Enya
Elves love the New Agey Irish songstress; goblins hate elves. Therefore, a continuous loop of Enya MP3s can be highly effective, at least in the short term. Some goblins develop a resistance, in which case you may notice your Enya collection transmogrifying first into some female-fronted Nordic opera metal band (e.g. Nightwish) before sliding all the way into superblackened death metal with song titles that will summon unspeakable horrors out of the abyss and onto your hard drive. In these situations, administer controlled doses of Loreena McKennitt or, in extreme circumstances, Björk, who, as is commonly known, actually is an elf.

I miss hearing my name, but not Dr. Helfinger’s elbow in my ribs. “Astrid! Get up!” he hisses in my ear.  I stand and smile and shuffle across the stage to the podium.  Without looking I pull my index cards from my lab coat pocket and launch into the speech.  One of Turner’s, some rousing claptrap about our eternal quest to push back the frontiers of science.  Even as I give it, I hear not a word.  I am too busy waiting for him.

They say every great thinker does his best work when he’s young and unrestricted by experience. And then in the next breath they say I am the exception that proves the rule.  Sixty-five years of work has brought me twenty-odd doctoral degrees in as many disciplines and five noble prizes, as well as enough research funding to buy me a medium-sized country (say, France). Not to mention an army of graduate students eager to run it for me.  They all look up to me.  Well, all but one.

As I finish, a sonic boom overwhelms the applause and a sudden whiff of ozone fills my nose.  I turn my head.  There he is, striding towards me, the applause changing to thunderous cheers.  A smile automatically comes to my face and our arms reach for each other.  Professor Astrid and Captain Formidable.  As of last year, Eugene Eng, my former student.  My greatest gift to the world, my greatest failure.

We hug, and every hair on my body stands up.

He was one of a hundred faceless students I had on the Project.  We had calculated the way to break into the Sidereal Plane, the proper procedure to infuse its energies into a human body, and the experiment eighteen years in the making to test it.  And then Eugene, distracted by a text, had stepped where he should not have when he shouldn’t have. The universe changed and he was remade.

Him.

The Dean awards him his honorary degree, the Ph.D. he had left incomplete.  He shakes my hand and thanks me, as he has every time he sees me, and then he is gone with a flash, into the sky.  And I am left like the rest.

Looking up.

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