Chapter 11 - Test # 1
"Five?" said Wiz. "Five tests, when you'd already been picked?"
"Yup!" said Mr Mouse. "Five! And I can tell you, they weren't easy."
"Wait a minute" said Dot. "Why did you have to do all these tests? I mean, didn't Brian Mallow just want to know who'd look good in the esure TV ads?"
"Yeah, he did" said Mr Mouse. "But he also wanted to know whether you were the best kinda person to do it - whether you had the right character to deal with all the hassle... 'cos believe me, filming is a hassle!" He suddenly looked fierce and sad again. "I COULDA done it!" he said, almost like he was talking to himself.
Dot really didn't want her friend to get sad again. So quickly, she said: "Doesn't sound worse than my tests at school" (she was only trying to take his mind off feeling bad really.) "I mean, I have to do at least that many sometimes!"
"Oh yeah?" said Mr Mouse, forgetting all about feeling sorry for himself. "Well, I betcha you never have to go through a wormhole!"
" 'Course not!" said Wizzie, giggling. "Dot tried to go through one of those in the garden once but she didn't fit, did you Dot?"
"I mean a computer wormhole, stoopid" said Mr Mouse angrily (it's just so easy to wind him up sometimes!) "This is a real bad guy of the internet - see, a computer virus needs a programme in your P.C. to mess up, to infect like... so it kind of needs something to ride piggyback on. But your computer worm now, he just sits in your computer and makes more and more copies of himself till everything's all jammed up and nothing works - kinda like the cupboard in your bedroom was before your Mum made you tidy up, Dot!"
Dot blushed. It had been a terrible mess, she had to admit it!
"So what's the wormhole?" she asked.
"That's how the worm gets in" said Mr Mouse. He shivered. "And... it's really small and narrow and it's all dark and you don't know if you're gonna make it out the other end till you get there."
"Where were these wormholes?" asked Wizzie.
"Oh we went straight to 'em" said Mr Mouse. "Right after old Mallow "cleaned house" we suddenly all zoomed off together in our flying saucers - he was controlling all of us, it was like he was towing us along. He didn't say anything - as usual. We went shooting off through the Internet sky, like rockets!"
"Was it busy?" asked Wizzie.
"Oh yeah just amazing, there were all these URL's, internet addresses, flying past us - they look like those big streamers you see on Chinese dragons when those folks have their new festival. There were e-mails too - mostly carrier pigeons they were, like Elinor e-mail - remember her? * Data packets - all bundled up like Christmas presents. All zooming all round us all the time - but never hitting us - not once!"
"So what happened next?" asked Dot.
"Well, real sudden. Mallow points us all down - we dive down through these clouds, they're gold and white and silver, all sparkly - and we land. And it's quiet. Really quiet. And where we land - " He stopped.
"What?" said Wizzie.
"It's... it's the wormholes. Sticking up out of Net plain. Nothing else around for miles and miles. And they... they really were like wormholes, like those ones you can see on a sandy beach sometimes when the tide is out. But bigger. Just big enough for each of us to get into. Five of them - one for each of us."
It was Dot's turn to shiver now. They sounded horrible. Mr Mouse looked at her and nodded, his face very serious. Then he went on.
"And then... Mallow goes: "There's your first test, my dears. You must each go down one of those wormholes - to the very end. But one of you won't be coming back!"
* - see 'Dot and The Grimbles', Chapter 3.
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