The Daily WTF Submission: “King Tutankhamun”

In September, the IT humor site The Daily WTF took applications for potential contributors. I submitted the following story, “King Tutankhamun,” to their editorial staff as part of my application. They enjoyed it. I’ll be contributing regularly to the site, starting around February 1st.

Here’s the original call for submissions, which includes the core WTF that inspired the story.

Steven’s legs wobbled as he leaned against the service counter at one of FruitTech’s premiere retail stores.  He glanced around the store, looking for his supervisor Brenda to relieve him for the union-mandated fifteen-minute break.  Just as he found her, he spotted an old man push open the glass doors, carrying a black trash bag under his arm.

“I have a warranty!” The old man shouted, anticipating what he thought would be his first question.  It wasn’t even Steven’s sixth.

“What’s in the–” he said, before the old man dumped the contents onto the wood countertop.  There lay the remains of a twenty-year-old computer, charred and warped from a house fire, the oldest FruitTech logo emblazoned on the side.

“It’s under warranty,” he said again, brandishing a yellowed sheet of paper.  A tabby kitten head stared with soulless eyes at Steven from the man’s oversized shirt.

Steven summoned his supervisor Brenda, thinking she could talk sense into the old man, but Brenda took one glance at the warranty and nodded.  “It’s still covered, believe it or not.”  She gave Steven a knowing smile.

“Can you just see if you can fix it?” The old man said.  “There’s twenty years of taxes on that thing!”

With a sigh, Steven got the toolbox from the back.  Attaching the Phillips head to the screwdriver, he took out the screws that weren’t melted into the case.  For the rest, he tapped through the melted slag with a chisel and hammer.  The top free, Steven pried open the case.

The ancient motherboard, like the mummified corpse of King Tutankhamun, sat undisturbed beneath the warped plastic and aluminum, as did the hard drive, an ancient beast born before IDA.

“I think we can fix it,” Steven said, breathless.  “It’ll take a few weeks to get replacement parts, but we can fix it.”

Four weeks later, Steven summoned the customer back to the store.  He handed the old man the restored computer, the salvaged motherboard and hard drive inside a pristine-condition computer case.  It had cost the store $2,500 to custom order every antique, overpriced part the fire had scorched. Steven had scoured popular online auction sites, local FruitTech enthusiasts, and shady flea market stalls for each part.  Steven knew Brenda would be taking heat from headquarters for the cost of replacing the antique.

“So, uh, just how did this happen?”  Steven asked, after booting the computer for the old man’s benefit.

“Oh, my cat,” the old man said.  “She likes to knock over my tall lamp.  Torched the living room before the fire department came  I’m just glad my taxes are all still on there!”

Steven wished the old man well, but not before asking him politely to bolt his lamp to the floor.