RANGE: From the vast stillness of the concrete-lined underground computer complex where the nuclear decisions are made, to the easy-tooperate home terminal of your neighborhood Asteroids-addict, Glitches are flashing down line, surging in among the diode chips, and wrecking the program. They hum and buzz amidst the flopsy files where your credit rating, medical history, high school civics grades, and the FBI-gleaned details of your love life are all stored for easy access by total strangers with a keyboard, telephone, and code number. They tick and blink behind each teller’s wicket, reservation desk, and checkout counter; they can be found wherever a data retrieval system is in the process of misplacing your money and replacing you.
HABITS: The primary function of a Glitch is to encourage the universal use of computers. Naturally enough, this temptation often takes the form of an Apple. No sooner are we On Line than the Glitches make us a function of the machine—and, within microseconds, have seen to it that the machine no longer functions. A Glitch will print out static from a screwie doobie faster than you can punch in READY. He unplugs your hardware, declares your software illegal, and resets your wetwear to zero. Unlike most Fairies, who are willing to learn the rudiments of human language, Glitches insist that we communicate with them exclusively by means of their own incomprehensible lingo. Lured by the promise of arcane knowledge and unlimited power (not to mention morbid curiosity), many mortals have pawned their souls to learn the harsh, unspeakable grammar of the Glitches. After these latter-day Fausts study fat dense tomes of Glitch lore, they perform the ritual invocation (Glitches appear in answer to such secret names as BASIC or FORTRAN). Hunched before the flickering screen, the apprentice-initiates proceed to pursue the Answer to the Mystery . . . and, after log off, emerge folded, bent, and mutilated, as the Glitches bleep 16K of their mocking giggle, and bid them BYE.
HISTORY: The Glitches are Oriental, as is evidenced by their fondness for long scrolls that read right to left, top to bottom, or any damn way but left to right. It is acknowledged among historians that the Japanese were passing the time with symbolic logic riddles when Europeans were still living in ditches, and this fact suggests that Glitches emigrated from the Floating World to the New one, where they first inspired and then infested the Computer; the better to remind all round-eyes what boneheads they all still are. Glitches made their first insidious inroads into the American Way of Life at the turn of the century by mating with Team Spirits and helping to make baseball and football popular. (Both games are better played by computers than people and have encouraged the national obsession with statistics and averages.) The next step was easy: the Glitches merged with the Pentagorgon, the Tax Burden, the Post Monster General, and the Mugwump and converted the Federal Government into an enormous data storage and retrieval bank, responding to citizens by means of incomprehensible graphs, curves, numbers, projections, and other hypnotic gobbledygook. This very field guide, which was typeset by computer, nevertheless dares to reveal the answer to the omnipresent Glitch threat. What we must all do, right now, is @#$%C &*”?:¼)&*%$#.
SPOTTER’S TIPS: For those of us not busy frying our minds over handydandy home video games and portable data retrieval units, Glitches can most often be sighted leering out the window of the envelope containing a utility bill for seventy-five million dollars, past due.