Tech Horror Stories: A Distant Cry for Help


You love your job. Helping colleagues solve their tech issues is fun and rewarding, but boy has it been a rough week. One hour till the kids are home. Just enough time to clear the head of all the debris and maybe get a nap in. You step out into the fresh evening air, crack open a cold beer and climb into the hammock with a book of old horror stories. Yeah. This is nice.

Swaying hypnotically beneath the shuffling gold and red leaves of the big maple tree, you begin to lose yourself in the book. There’s something oddly cathartic about being scared out of your mind by hundred-year-old tales of cosmic horror about freaky pale pig beasts who walk on their hind legs and – DINGDINGDING!!! Your phone rings, giving you a jolt that nearly dumps you out of the hammock. It’s your Mom and she’s going to have to wait. You let it go to voicemail and dive back into your book. The awful pig beasts are emerging from a deep chasm and laying siege to – DINGDINGDING!!! Mom again. Hah, she always tries twice. Sorry Mom, maybe in a bit. But the second you begin reading again, the phone rings a third time. That’s unusual, something must be wrong. You answer.


“The dark web! Honey, I’m trapped in the dark web! I just saw a news story about this place. Oh, it’s every bit as awful as they said it was!”

“Wh-what? What does the, uh, dark web look like?”

“It’s terrible! Pitch black! Nothing but darkness.”

“You on the laptop?”


“The brightness buttons, Mom. Click the button with the sun on it, above the keyboard.”

“Oh? Oh… You’re right! You’re such a smarty pants. But wait a second, how did the brightness get turned down? I’m positive I didn’t push those buttons.”

“These things happen, Mom. It could have been done from the taskbar, or the cat may have–”

“Ah! Now the arrow’s moving… Boxes everywhere! Oh Honey, what’s going on?”

“Did you spill something on the keyboard? What are you seeing?”

In attempting to describe the problem, your Mom begins rattling off what sounds like lines from some twisted tech-themed slam poetry, detailing “multi-colored mouse movements” and “emails coming and going from all angles of the web”. She drops random tech-sounding nouns and verbs into her speech, bringing back memories of playing Mad Libs as a kid: “The megabytes are dialing into the mainframe!” she exclaims.

As hard as your projects at work have been this past week, picking apart your Mom’s panicked tech ramblings is proving to be even tougher. In any case, it’s safe to say that something is definitely wrong with her system. Probably Malware. But the kids just got home so this will have to wait.

“Mom, shut down the computer and keep it off for now. I’ll figure out the problem and call you back in a bit.” You hop onto Experts Exchange to consult the thousands of tech experts waiting to tackle any issue that comes their way. You quote your Mom verbatim, provide her laptop specs and get started making dinner.

After the table’s cleared, you check back to find that while you were eating, the experts – puzzle lovers that they are – managed to decipher your Mom’s words. They’ve picked up on the vernacular from their less tech-savvy clients, and in addition to identifying the type of Malware she’s infected with, they’ve linked you to a step-by-step removal process and a handy guide on how to communicate with the non-tech-savvy.

Time to call Mom and walk her through the removal process.

Just then, your daughter speeds past you toward the front door. “Heading out Dad!” she yells, “off to play Ubooly with Julie!”

“Play yagoolie with wholie!?” you reply.

She just rolls her eyes and yells “Google it!”

So you do. Some sort of hi-tech stuffed animal. “Someday I’ll be calling her for tech advice,” you mumble to yourself as you wait for your Mom to pick up the phone. Parents can be so clueless.

Read more tech horror stories:

The Unwelcome Guest

It Came From Inside the Office

The Creep

About Morgan Condict

I got my start doing QA in the San Francisco video game industry. Today, when I'm not writing or testing at Experts Exchange I'm likely reading, drawing, drumming, or out exploring San Luis Obispo with my wife and dog.