Frodo vs. the Laptop

by Auntkimby

What if there had been computers in Middle Earth?
Never mind the scenarios in which Sauron tries to become Lord of the Webrings…or Saruman buys Microsoft Orcs for Windows and creates an army of hackers…or Denethor finally cracks because he couldn’t master the Sims.
Instead, picture the well-meaning Elves giving Frodo the gift of a laptop when they stopped in Rivendell on their way home, and wisely (perhaps) entrusting Sam with the product manual…
My ‘humorous Sam’ tends to have a bit of an attitude problem, and my ‘humorous Frodo’ is a little whiny and self-involved, so bear with me.

Frodo carefully removed the small square laptop from its gilded leather case and caressed it reverently.
“My very own Dell Inspiron,” he said softly. “What a wonderful gift. It almost makes up for them sending me off with only a Plexiglas elf light and a kiss on the forehead. Of course, all Gimli got was three strands of hair, so I suppose what I got wasn’t too bad…”
A knock came at the door and Sam strode in, his arms piled high with firewood. I don’t know why Mr. Tightwad won’t just get propane, like the rest of the civilized world…
“Here’s the firewood, Mr. Frodo. Will you need anything else before I go home?”
Frodo was still petting the laptop. “No, Sam, I’ll be fine.”
Sam stacked the wood on the hearth and brushed off his sleeves. “I loaded Microsoft Publisher, an’ the Babblefish program that Gandalf sent you for your Elven translatin’.”
Frodo had a dreamy expression in his eyes. “I’ve already thought of a title, Sam.”
“You have, sir?” Sam asked politely, glancing at the clock.
“It’s called Concerning How I Acquired the Ring, Traveled First to Bree With Three Friends, Acquired a Ranger and a Skinny Pony, and Then Ran From Black Riders All the Way to Rivendell, Where I Picked Up the Ringbearer’s Job and Five More Companions, and Lost All But One of Them At Parth Galen, and Traveled with the Remaining Companion to Mount Doom, Picking Up a Whiny Sniveling Gray Companion on the Way, Tossed the Ring, One Finger, and the Whiny Sniveling Gray Companion into the Fire, and Beat the Bad One Once and For All, After Which The Ranger Becomes the King, They Threw a Huge Party for Me, and Gave Me this Wonderful Laptop as a Reward.”
Sam blinked. “If one of the kids chooses it for a book report, the title will take care of the ‘at least 500 words’ part,” he observed.
Frodo looked offended. “Well, what would YOU title it?” he asked.
Sam thought, How I Wouldn’t Have Gotten Past the Three-Farthing Stone Without My Gardener.“How about ‘The Lord of the Rings’, sir,” he suggested.
Frodo made a face. “But it’s about ME, not HIM!”
“You almost were him,” Sam reminded him.
“Oh, right,” Frodo mumbled. “Well, then, ‘Lord of the Rings’ it is. Good night, Sam. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Good night, sir.” The door clicked shut behind Sam.
“Goodness, I thought he’d never leave.” Frodo cracked his knuckles, opened the laptop, and pressed the ‘on’ button.
Nothing happened.
He frowned and pressed it again.
Still nothing happened.
He ran to the door and bellowed, “SAM!”
“WHAT?” Sam bellowed back.
“It won’t turn on!”
Sam trudged back up the hill. “Did you plug in the adapter, sir?” he asked wearily.
“The what?” Frodo blinked. “I thought it had a battery in it.”
“It does, sir, but the battery has t’charge first. You have to plug in the adapter so the computer has power while the battery is chargin’.”
Sam reached into the case, took the adapter and its cord out of the plastic wrapping, and plugged one end into the laptop and the other into the outlet by the door. The computer whirred to life.
“Thank you, Sam,” Frodo said gratefully.
“You’re welcome sir. Good night.” Sam walked out, hoping to be out of sight-and therefore pretend to be out of earshot-before the next problem cropped up.
Frodo plugged in the modem, in case he needed to consult the Arda website to make certain he spelled the various places correctly. He knew the Elven webmaster well, and he turned on Instant Messenger, in case he might be online. Unfortunately, someone else was online as well.
HOBBITPRINCE: Hiya, Frodo! I saw 9FNGRS pop up and knew it was you!
Frodo groaned. (blip): Hi yourself, Pippin. I’m doing important research right now.
HOBBITPRINCE: (blip) (sad face emoticon) Don’t you love me anymore?
Frodo: (blip) Of course I do, but I really can’t talk right now.
HOBBITPRINCE: (blip)Well, if you can’t talk right now, why do you have IM turned on? Were you waiting for someone you’d RATHER talk to?
Frodo: (blip) No, Pippin, that’s not…
HOBBITPRINCE: (blip) Fine, then! See if I care! (sound of door slamming shut)
HOBBITPRINCE is no longer signed on.
Frodo sighed. “Merry must have eaten the last treacle tart,” he said. He signed off IM to avoid any more unwelcome intrusions and opened Microsoft Word.
Frodo blinked. “There’s a difference?” He prided himself on his grasp of other languages and cultures, so he chose Microsoft Word for Humans.
Another prompt came up: NOW LOADING.
Frodo waited, his arms folded as he hummed a tune.
Frodo blinked again. “Reboot?”
He looked at the computer. It didn’t have feet. He looked down at his own feet. No boots there, either.
The computer waited implacably.
Frodo tried shaking it. Nothing happened.
“Mellon!” he said to it, hoping the word that had worked in Moria would work on the computer. It didn’t.
He went to the phone and tried calling Crickhollow. The line was busy. Of course it would be. His two cousins were either online, or talking to one of their many lady friends.
He found the number Sam had given him for technical support, and dialed the 800 number.
“Good evening, and welcome to Dell Technical Support! For Common Speech, press one. For Elvish, press two. For Orcish, press three. If you are calling from a rotary phone, then you are too technologically hopeless to own a computer. Please just hang up and buy a real phone.”
“Well, that’s rude,” Frodo muttered. “I happen to like my rotary phone.” He hung up. Well, that left only one source of technical support.
Sam groggily woke to the rap of knuckles at his window. He sat up, heart pounding hard. “I knew it. Rosie’s Da didn’t buy the story about her missin’ the last pony cart home an’ he’s come to beat me up.”
He hurried to the window and opened it. There was Frodo, wearing the white fluffy robe he’d pinched from the Holiday Inn Express in Minas Tirith and a sheepish grin on his face.
“Hullo, Sam. I’m, um, having trouble with my computer.”
Sam blinked. “But I gave you the number for technical support.”
“It won’t work if you don’t have a touch-tone phone.”
Sam made a mental note to log on to first thing in the morning and look for another job.
“What’s wrong with it, sir?”
“I loaded Microsoft Word for Humans, to test my language skills, and then it told me to ‘reboot my computer.’ How do I do that?”
Sam felt a migraine coming on.
“If you had loaded Microsoft Word for Hobbits, sir, it would have said, ‘Please restart your computer.’ That’s all reboot means, sir.”
“Will that work?”
“Yes, sir, just restart the computer. An’ if that doesn’t work, then give your mouse a little piece of cheese.”
“But mine has a touch pad, not a mouse.”
“GOOD NIGHT, SIR.” Sam shut the window.
“Touchy,” Frodo muttered, and went back up the hill.

PART TWO: How Food, Sam, merry, and Pippin Got to Brie, or, Adventures in Microsoft Word for Humans