They drove back to the house in Eddie’s car. Valorie knew Charley didn’t have a car – in fact, he didn’t much bother with modern technology at all.
Eddie’s car came as a bit of a surprise, as it was bright yellow, and quite extraordinarily ugly.
‘It was the only one I could afford,’ she said sheepishly to Valorie as they got in. ‘This guy with a moustache sold it to me really cheap – and it works OK.’
‘It’s extraordinarily ugly.’
‘Yes. Try and see past that to the car’s inner beauty.’
Valorie made a face. ‘I’ll try.’
‘Seatbelt on, Valorie,’ Charley said from the front.
Everyone buckled up, and they took a short drive back to Charley’s house.
Once inside, Eddie went to make some sandwiches – curiously, she seemed to know her way around the kitchen rather well – and Charley started showing off about his computer.
‘Are you impressed?’
The laptop had a smooth black screen, and still smelt of the box it had come from. It was a very new computer.
Valorie turned it on, and started expertly navigating around.
‘How do you do that?’ Charley asked.
‘I’ll maybe teach you one day. OK, earlier today I got a message on Thoughts.com. Someone who knows how to talk to computers.’
‘Excellent,’ was Charley’s only reaction.
Valorie logged into Thoughts, showed Charley the message.
‘Do you think he’s still there?’ he asked.
‘I don’t know. Maybe.’
She began to type a message in reply.
Hello Cakeordeath100. I’m WaffleSneeze, the creator of the Wizards Unite group. I’d be interested to know how you talk to computers.
They waited. Nothing for about ten minutes, and then –
My technopathy works quite simply, WaffleSneeze. First I am introduced to the computer, we talk in machine language for a little while, and then I can interface with its data, ask it to perform certain commands, and it complies.
Excited, Valorie typed back.
How long does this process normally take? Does it have guaranteed success?
A reply –
The entire process normally takes 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the command. If a task is too large for the computer to handle, it can take power from me, which is quite consuming. It nearly always works, though.
Valorie looked at Charley, who gave her the thumbs up.
Eddie re-entered the room with plates of sandwiches. Valorie grunted her thanks and put the sandwiches to one side, too caught up in the conversation to be hungry.
We need someone with your capabilities to sort out the Wizards Unite group, so that Mortals cannot view the page. Can you do this?
Eddie drew up a chair and sat close behind Valorie, reading along with the messages now. Charley stood by the desk, keeping very still.
I think I could do it, yes. I would have to have access to your Thoughts.com account, however.
‘Hang on,’ Eddie said. ‘What if he’s not genuine? You could give him your account details and he’ll use it to spam you forever.’
Valorie thought about this.
‘What if we got him to agree to do it in person? We meet in a public place, come back here.’
Charley considered. ‘Three against one is pretty safe. OK.’
Would you be willing to meet face to face to carry out this operation?
There was no reply for a while. Valorie nervously reached over, took a sandwich and bit into it.
‘It’s nice,’ she said to Eddie.
I suppose so. Come to my house, I can carry it out there. I’ll put on some chips and dips.
‘Is that OK?’
Charley and Eddie nodded uncertainly. ‘I don’t see why not, as long as we all go together.’
That’s fine. Where do you live?
Valorie rocked back on her chair while she waited for an answer.
‘Do you two like chips and dips?’
Eddie replied first. ‘I like some chips, like those cheap salty ones you get in the corner shop.’
‘I’m not a huge fan of snack food,’ Charley said. ‘I don’t mind dipping things like carrots, celery, chopped peppers.’
‘Yes,’ Charley said. ‘Chopped green pepper with sour cream and chive, it’s quite nice.’
‘You eat raw pepper?’ Eddie said incredulously.
‘Got a message back,’ Valorie said, opening it up.
‘Do you want me to write down the address?’ Charley asked, reaching for a little stripy notebook.
Valorie froze as she read. Her jaw dropped and her pupils narrowed.
‘What’s wrong?’ Eddie said, peering at the message.
Valorie gaped for a few more seconds.
‘That’s my address,’ she said.
Charley put a hand over his mouth.
‘That’s my Dad.’