Flash Fiction: The Password

Charles sat down at his computer, ready to tackle the tasks of his early morning routine. While he wasn’t exactly keen on starting another day of work, he was rather excited about how little work he expected to have to do that day, and was ready for allowing himself to leave a little early so that he might be able to enjoy some time outside for the first time in weeks.

It had been a busy period in his life, and he was excited for the opportunity to have an easy day, without complications. He pushed the power button on his laptop and took a sip of coffee as he waited for it to boot up. He pulled out his phone to check a notification, only to find that his phone thought he’d be interested in knowing about the latest celebrity hookup at 8am. He was unable to resist the urge to click on the notification, although he had very little actual interest, and learned that two people he didn’t know by name or by picture were now dating.

By this point, his computer had finally reached the login screen. He pressed the spacebar twice and the prompt for his password appeared. He typed in his password quickly, hit ENTER and the blue screen gave way to his background picture of himself petting a donkey during a recent visit to Oatman, Arizona. He loved having this picture on his desktop for whenever he had to screen share so that he could share his favorite joke about it just being a couple of asses hanging out.

As he computer finished the login process, a prompt appeared.

“Your password will expire tomorrow. To change your password, press CTRL+ALT+DELETE and then click ‘Change a Password’.”

Charles groaned inwardly. He had been ignoring this prompt for the last two weeks, deciding that the longer he waited to change his password, the longer his password wouldn’t need to be changed again later. But his procrastination had finally reached its tipping point.

He had to change his password.

He pressed CTRL+ALT+DELETE and clicked on ‘Change a Password’, just as the prompt had told him. He grumbled to himself about the idea of needing to remember yet another password. He barely remembered the password he had now, how did Microsoft think he was possibly going to remember an entirely new one. Besides, hadn’t he just changed this password a month ago? How regularly did you need to change a password anyway? Couldn’t they just do away with passwords? It’s not like they ever did any good, right?

Charlie thought back to an article he had read not too long ago about how passwords were easily crackable, which is why so many companies were moving to multi-factor or biometric authorization. While he didn’t exactly like the idea of having to pull out his phone every time he had to log in, or for Bill Gates to have his biometrics on file, he also didn’t like that he had to constantly keep space in his mind for countless passwords, especially if they were proven to not work.

The prompt stared at him asking for his Old Password. He typed in the characters he had entered just moments prior. Then, realizing he may have typed them incorrectly, he backspaced through all of them and started over. This reminded him of yet another article which commented in a derogatory manner about how such a large percentage of people would completely start over when mistyping a password instead of simply correcting the wrong character. How in the world would you know which character was wrong? We’ve only got a limited amount of mistypes we can use before we get locked out of our own machines, surely we want to be absolutely certain that we typed it correctly instead of merely correcting the letter we think we did wrong.

He was realizing he was already getting frustrated at this whole process, which was completely against the point of what he was going for this morning, so he took a deep breath, and considered his options for a new password. Hey, he thought to himself, that might work. He typed in ‘NewPassword’. Then he typed it in again in the next box which required him to verify the password he had just typed. He hit ENTER.

A new dialog box appeared stating that his password required numerals as well as letters.

Charles growled outwardly. “Okay, fine,” he said as he typed ‘N3wP4ssword’ angrily on the keyboard twice. He hit enter again and was given yet another dialog box telling him that he also needed to use special characters.

Charles responded slightly more subdued this time, realizing he had an easy answer to this one. ‘N3wP4ssword!’ he typed twice. Hitting ENTER he was greeted with yet another message from the demons who ran his computer.

“You cannot use any of your previous ten passwords,” the dialog read.

And at this point, Charles started seeing red. “I can use whatever damned passwords I fucking want!” he screamed at the screen.

He hit enter three times in succession, causing his computer to ding loudly at him. He knew this wasn’t doing any good, but he thought that if he was going to be frustrated at the act of changing his password, his computer may as well join him.

“You know what, you stupid computer, I know exactly what password I’m using today,” he said to his machine. He typed in ‘Stup!dC0mputer’ twice and then hit enter.

The dialog disappeared and he was returned to his background screen of himself and the donkey.

You know what, Charles thought to himself, there are actually three asses on this screen. Stupid computer!

Published by Adam Oster, Adventure Novelist

Husband, Father, Creator/Destroyer of Worlds

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