The absolute original version of Ellen’s least tern video had probably been recorded on a removable sliver of flash ram in the back of some fiercesomely complicated piece of photon to electron translation device known as a camera. The light itself would have passed through a horrifically expensive and precisely made set of glass lenses, then impinged on a extremely minutely gridded piece of gussied up silicon known as a CCD which took incoming photons and expressed their presence as a stream of electrons. With fast enough computers, a program could read off the effects of those electrons and turn them into generic multi-purpose digital bits that could express almost any thought or image, but in this case, they would encode in their peculiar and particular way the visual image that Chip eventually saw on the screen of his laptop.
Those bits that had landed on that flash ram chip when Ellen had been outside filming were almost certainly not there anymore, although it may be worth asking. A woman who memorized all of the palindromic license plates that drove by her house might be one to wear the digital equivalent of a belt and suspenders and save both the original recording media as well as the magnetically encoded version stored on the bulk hard drives that Ellen kept on her shelves. He could ask, but it didn’t seem likely, given how hard Ellen had been taking the loss of her hard drives in a puff of smoke.
Chip just kept reviewing the to and fro motions of that particular configuration of bits as he walked up the stairs to his loft and started dropping electronics and clothing off of his person. From camera chip to flash drive to hard drive and onto the shelf. Then at some point, Ellen’s computer had been taken for ransom while that hard drive was plugged in. The bits would have been read from the hard drive into the memory of the computer and then sent over the network to, where exactly? Chip certainly didn’t know where they ended up, but he did know what they were doing while they were there, which was turning back into photons and shining into the eyeballs of some absolutely maddening creep who was smart enough to know what he (she?) was seeing and ruthless enough to zap those bits off of the hard drive where he had found them.
Chip found a box of Cheezits in the cupboard and munched absentmidedly while he noodled over the massive problem of how to get that file that he had promised to Allison. He began to fiddle with the little square crackers, standing them up like little houses of greasy cards on the granite countertop. He made an abstract representation of Ellen’s camera and her computer and he began sliding the little crackers from pile to pile before he would eat them, imagining that they were the bits of information traveling from place to place in his mind and then into his stomach.
In frustration, he began sliding the chips down the length of the counter, imagining them being slurped off down that network cable, past his own network taps and off into the wild blue yonder. He didn’t have any yonder in his apartment, but he did manage to send the chips spinning off the end of the counter in a very satisfying fashion, expressing some of his frustration with a kind of bizarre performance art. His art happening was cut short by the new frustration that gripped him when he found out that the box of crackers was empty. He had been slinging his metaphorical bits right off the end of the counter and so he was not nearly satiated when his fingers scraped uselessly against the translucent bag stuffed inside the cardboard box.
Chip shrugged resignedly and went to the cupboard where he had gotten the first box to look and see if there was another one. He wasn’t the type of person to buy two boxes of Cheezits at a time just to prepare for the certain eventuality that the first one would become empty, but he also wasn’t the type of person to be so predictable in his decision-making that he wouldn’t one time buy a whole stack of boxes if they were on sale or his cart looked too empty when he was in that aisle.
He was not quixotic enough in this instance to have bought more crackers than he needed or wanted at the time, so when he checked the cupboard, there were no more Cheezits in the house, although he checked all of the surrounding drawers and cupboards just in case his unpredictability had made him put them in some other storage location after he unpredictably bought so many. But alas, he had been just his own boring self and let his future self down from lack of Cheezits.
Frustrated again with a lack of junk food on top of his existing frustration with not being able to pull a digital rabbit out of a digital hat to impress the second pretty girl who had talked to him this week, Chip slouched his shoulders doubly forward and moped glacially out of the kitchen. On his way out, he walked by the end of the counter where he had been childishly flinging his Cheezits off and he expected the shattered orange debris on the floor to match his current shattered emotional state. But there were no Cheezits at all on the floor.
Instead, the wastebasket had been under the overhang at the end of the counter where people who owned bar stools would sit on them and all of the Cheezits that he had thrown down the line had flown through the air and then slid down the folds of the plastic trash can liner, which had amazingly been emptied and replaced with a clean one the day before. There, at the bottom of the bag was a neat and orderly stack of the Cheezits that he had thrown, reassembled on the far end of their travels back into an edible and graspable stack.
As Chip foolishly looked over his shoulder to make sure that no one was going to witness him eating out of the trashcan, he bent down to retrieve the rest of the snack he had been craving. His Cheezit frustration vanished as he began munching the retrieved morsels. His original frustration about how to get back the file that no longer existed also vanished, for now he knew just how to get what he had promised to Allison.