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Author: Peter Devlin
System: Call of Cthulhu
The growth in the use of information technology in the 1990s has made dissemination of nformation very easy. However there is a price to pay for such easy access to information.
The growth in the use of information technology in the
1990s has made dissemination of information very easy. However
there is a price to pay for such easy access to information.
On the Internet there are a growing number of computer
users falling prey to a new computer virus called BURN. This virus
is so new that most anti-virus software companies do not yet know
of it. It is also unlikely that anyone will survive to tell the
story of its most unusual effects.
Astute students of Fortean lore may note an increasing
unusual death rate amongst Net surfers, and there are always going
to be upset parents. Media types, always hungry for a new angle on
the Internet, will also make much of the rising tide of bodies,
linking them to Internet pornography.
Eventually the BURN virus can be traced (via assembly
language code headers) to a compiler belonging to the Arkham
Howard Barker is a deranged hebephrenic psychology
postgraduate from Miskatonic Uni who works as a ward assistant.
Lately he has been spending a lot of time with the computers in the
1 The two variants of the BURN virus target IBM-PC clones
or Apple Mac clones which can handle high resolution graphics
(i.e. 98% of all home computers sold since 1993). BURN infects PCs
either via affected floppy disk or Internet downloads.
BURN is a Trojan virus which hides itself inside other
applications then attaches itself to video card drivers. The next
time the computer is booted up the virus causes the VDU to pulse
and strobe at a rate which hypnotises unfortunate onlookers or
causes epileptic seizures.
Embedded into the strobing is the subliminal text message
KILL - ENJOY. After 15 seconds the virus shuts down and is deleted
the next time the computer is booted. Victims immediately become
mindless killing machines and end up dead, either shot by police
as they stroll through a shopping mall armed to the teeth, or take
their own lives after cheerily slaughtering their family and
Howard Barker is currently preparing his doctorial thesis
on human psychological impulses and is testing a few of his
assumptions before he submits his final paper.
2 The two BURN variants target sound card drivers, not video
drivers. It causes the computer to produce an odd agglutinous
chanting from the attached speakers. If the timing is correct
(i.e. night and Fomalhaut is visible) the user will suddenly feel
cold and tired, and a glowing ball will appear from the smoking
remains of the computer.
The chant is a summoning spell for a Fire Vampire and the
user has just lost the requisite magical energy to summon the
beast. There are a large number of recent cases of people burnt
to a cinder alongside their melted computers, causing the major
PC companies to suspect hardware faults; none have been found so
The Fire Vampires, being balls of plasma, then run around
the electrical circuits in the building causing major fires. In
big computer installations the sprinklers/halon/CO2 extinguishers
go off and the Fire Vampires usually get snuffed. Surviving
security video footage from a nearby college campus may prove
Howard Barker is a mad genius who got a number of such
spells piecemeal from one of the inmates. Said inmate is John
Doe #23 and has an unusual case history.
3 The BURN virus is slow and insidious. It subliminally
flashes unpronouncable text messages on screen, essentially a
Contact Nyarlathotep spell. It also adds a bookmark Internet
address to Web browsers (www.starry-wisdom/welcome.html). The
address is that of the home page of the Starry Wisdom Brotherhood,
a quasi-religious group who hold all kinds of odd beliefs.
Nyarlathotep contacts the unfortunate victim via dreams or
e-mail messages from DARKHAUNTER@AOL.COM an apparently non-existent
mail address. The net result is that the victim is seduced by the
Mythos and joins the Brotherhood. Eventually the sendings (dream
or electronic) command the victim to prepare for a journey to the
throne of the Ruler of the Universe and to prepare offerings.
Howard Barker maintains the Web site and there is much
circumstantial evidence pointing to him as the leader of the
Brotherhood. Actually he is a front man and scapegoat for Dr.
Eloise Whateley, a recent addition to the staff roster at the
Copyright (c) 1997 Peter Devlin