My smart trepanning device has begun to malfunction

I hate these thoughts, just hate them, so I figure I just need to puncture the back of my head with a hole the size of a ten cent coin and the pesky imps will come spilling out.

Art by Khanh Tran.

My smart trepanning device has begun to malfunction. This is a terrible shame to me, because for one thing, I only just bought the device and haven’t had a chance to use it yet, and for another thing, I desperately need trepanning. All sorts of malicious spirits and miasma have been forming inside my skull for the past several weeks now, pestering me with all sorts of naughty, nasty thoughts. I hate these thoughts, just hate them, they give me a horrid migraine and make everything seem unfamiliar so when I walk down my street I just stop and stare at the orange tree outside my house in terror wondering who put that there until I remember that I planted it for my son on his tenth birthday. So I figured I just needed to puncture the back of my head with a hole the size of a ten cent coin and the pesky imps would come spilling out, leaving my skull empty and my mind settled. 

All the trepanning clinics have closed on account of the modern era that we live in, so I went down to Harvey Norman and asked a staff member what sort of trepanning implements Mr Norman had. The staff member told me that the digital revolution had finally hit the trepanning industry and they were glad to offer me a Trefine™ Smart Trepanning device. 

I asked the staff member what functionality the smart trepanning device offered and they explained that it had full app connectivity and allowed users to join the TrepaNation™ online community. I asked if there were any cheaper trepanning devices, as app connectivity and the TrepaNation™ online community were not high on my list of priorities, but the staff member just told me that due to a series of mergers, Trefine™ held a functional monopoly on the trepanning implements market.

Anyway, once I got home with my smart trepanning device I set it up, connected it to my phone with bluetooth, and got ready to crack open my skull and let the unsettling spirits slide out of me like yolk out of an egg. When I had finally attached the brace to my head, however, I turned the smart screen on to see an error: ERROR CODE 3994. CONTACT TREFINE SUPPORT.

I flipped through the user manual, which had no mention of Error Code 3994. I scrolled through the Help section of the app, which said nothing of Error Code 3994. In desperation, I even opened up TrepaNation™ and made a post asking if anyone had solutions for Error Code 3994, but a moderator flagged it for being in the wrong forum (‘Help’ rather than ‘Support’) and I was banned. I was just about ready to give up on this whole trepanning business – just let me rot, I thought; just let an old man rot. Let the spirits cook his brain inside his skull like a baked potato, and leave his body to fester until the neighbours notice the smell.

It then occurred to me that Trefine™ had a support hotline, so I quickly moved on from the rotting business. I rang the hotline and after a good hour or two’s wait I was connected to a helpdesk employee.

“Hello,” the helpdesk employee said. “My name is Paul, how may I assist you today?”

“Hello Paul,” I said. “My name’s also Paul.”

“Oh,” said Paul. We both sat in silence for a moment.

“Paul?” I asked.

“Yes, Paul?” said Paul.

“I’ve got an Error Code. Error Code 3994. On my Trefine™ Smart Trepanner.”

“Ah I see – one moment sir. Yes, it appears you’ll have to install a firmware update.”

“I see, and how do I do that?”

“We’ll have to send a download link to your device. Could you read me the serial number, please?”

I read him the serial number and he typed for a moment or two. “Ah,” he said.


“I’m very sorry Paul, but your model is no longer being serviced by Trefine™ support. I’m afraid you’ll have to buy a newer model.”

“Well will I be able to get a refund on this model?”

“Unfortunately Paul, under the license agreement you signed when you registered your TrepaNation™ account, you’ve ceded your rights to a refund.”

“Well I can’t afford a new one.”

We were both silent for a moment. I spoke again. “I’m not going to be able to get a trepanning, am I?”

“It would seem so.” We were quiet a little longer. “I’m sorry, Paul.”

The line went dead, and I looked at my reflection in a nearby window. For a moment, I felt a brief and absurd pity for the man I saw, a fleeting terror at the sheer unfamiliarity of his old, worn face, and thought to myself who put him there? And then I spotted the trepanning brace on his head and realised it was me.