About the Writer
Matt Rowan lives in Chicago, IL, with a talented female writer and two talented chihuahuas. He also co-edits Untoward Magazine and serves as fiction editor of ACM: Another Chicago Magazine. He’s author of two story collections, one forthcoming from CCLaP (July 2015) and Why God Why (Love Symbol Press, 2013). More at
We found out that our computer ran on magic.
Mom and Dad had said it was supposed to be electricity that computers ran on, before we’d bought it and brought it home.
But that day the computer started running before we could plug it in. It opened up a word file and typed its thoughts to us. Good news for our magic computer was, we’re pretty avid readers in this household.
The computer wasn’t sold to us by anybody magical. The guy at the Best Buy was not a magical guy. He was just a guy who kind of knew about computers and other electronics and had needed a job, and so he got a job selling computers at Best Buy.
He never planned to sell us a magic one. That just happened.
The computer, once it proved to be powered by magic, kept not working properly, which maybe shouldn’t surprise since it was a lot more autonomous than a normal computer would be. If you wanted to use it for something it didn’t want to be used for, it dared you to smash it and then shut itself down. It only started up again when it wanted to. It was not a very practical computer.
It also kept ordering pizzas from a nearby Domino’s. We’d get all these deliveries from them. We couldn’t not pay for the pizza and certainly couldn’t explain what had happened, not to the delivery guy who was just doing his job, after all.
I think our magic computer ordered the pizzas mostly to cheer on the employees. It sent them weird messages beyond the pre-written ones you can normally send them via the Domino’s website. “Hey pizza people,” it messaged. “I’m a magic computer, able to communicate with you via magic and the power of modern electronic devices! You’re doing great! Seriously, look at that pepperoni!”
Domino’s sent some lawyers to speak to us, after tracking our magic computer’s I.P. address (which was not magic, evidently). They worried we were preparing to bring down their website. But Dad told them, “It’s like the computer says, gentlemen. It’s magic.” The lawyers and some tech guys asked to see our magic computer, so we showed it to them.
We think Domino’s sent people after our magic computer because of this weird meeting.
Our magic computer warned us, though, having access to some kind of sensitive knowledge of this plot via its ability to communicate with other computers, and its ability to upload various operation details that Domino’s probably shouldn’t have kept in some database our magic computer could access. So when their mercenaries shot up our house with their impressive machine guns, they shot up an empty house. We were miles away, trying to take our magic computer “home” -- sort of like in E.T. but with a dash of Short Circuit.
And, same as the climactic endings of a lot those types of movies, we shared a heartfelt goodbye with our magic computer just as the Domino’s people were closing in. I kissed its screen and told it I would never forget it. We left it out in the desert.
But nobody was coming. Of its own kind, I mean. No ambassador and retinue of magic computers from another world.
And it’s not as though it could move. It wasn’t magic like that.
The Domino’s people apparently lost our trail after we headed out into the desert, or it’s possible they just didn’t care enough to chase us. They weren’t interested in the magic computer for technology purposes, just to keep their corporate pizza sauce secrets safe.
Come to think of it, our magic computer is probably right where we left it, out there in the desert someplace. It’s probably trying to order pizzas.