/Whois - Chapter One - In the Beginning
Once upon a time I wrote a novel and called it /Whois. I sent it to a few friends who insisted that I get it published...but instead, I loaded it up onto discs and buried it in a box.
Recently, after many years of being out of contact with one of these friends, I received an email. He asked me if I'd ever published that book that I had written...or that if I still had it hidden away had I ever considered posting it online in chapter fashion? It was just something that had been on his mind lately...
A week or so later, I met Proc on Lively and was told about the hubpages.
Coincidence...serendipity...kismet? Who knows. But after thinking upon it and knocking some of the rust off my writing skills, I'm going to attempt it. We'll start with chapter one and see if there's any interest...
This story is a work of fiction...any resemblance to myself or any persons in my life will be vehemently denied...
How it Began
When we think of IRC and chat rooms, we think of a lot of people talking to each other. Or rather, writing to each other. It could be boring talk as in..."How's your Uncle Fred's bunions?" It could be typical pick up chatter as in "ASL please...do you have a pic?" But, occasionally, if you are lucky, you can stumble into a room of imagination...
They're rather easy to spot. Just sit back and watch the flow of words. Is everyone connected on one topic or are there so many different conversations going on that you feel like you've walked into a verbal orgy? Are there a lot of descriptive phrases, movements...and laughter as opposed to just chatter?
Once upon a time, I found a room of imagination. I settled in and made myself at home...
I've always been cursed/blessed with a vivid imagination. I could play for hours inside my own head as a child. Something would catch my eye and before you could say "Shazam!" I would be off on a journey of make-believe and what if. As I got older, my imagination was shelved for new things like responsibility and maturity. It reached a point where it went dormant and while I couldn't put my finger on it, I knew that something was missing in my life.
The wedding present my father had gifted us with was a computer. It was a dinosaur even when it was new...but it would do. I hadn't told anyone my ulterior motive for wanting a computer. Everyone believed it was so I could organize my kitchen recipes and maybe play a heart-thumping game of solitaire. But no...there was more to it than that.
"It's so dangerous," claimed my bug-eyed co-worker who was literally paranoid of any new technology. "There are creeps out there...and they'll hunt you down, rape you...kill you! That's why I never use my new computer for internet chat."
Jenna had quite a crowd of co-workers around her, listening to her with awed attention. Me too. All of my experience with computers involved a network with boring work programs on them and neon green text. Or playing "Larry the Lounge Lizard" games on an ex-boyfriends MacIntosh. But what Jenna was talking about was live...interactive. People....from all over the world.
I simply had to get me one of those personal computer things...
It was intimidating at first. To think how familiar I am with my computer now, nobody would ever believe that I'd once sat in front of one and thought...oh for sure I'm going to blow this thing up. But that's how it was...
With a little bit of experimentation and a LOT of luck, I somehow managed to install a chat program. My first hurdle was trying to think of a nickname. I looked out the window as I always did when seeking inspiration...or divine intervention. It's April 1st...and mother nature's joke was 22" of fresh snow. Gee I love spring in New Hampshire...makes me wish I lived in Florida. Slowly I typed in my new nickname...s-n-o-b-i-r-d. There...snowbird...without the "w"...so it's cooler.
For an hour or so, I bounce from room to room. Occasionally I type "hi" and when nothing else holds my interest beyond that, I exit the room and head elsewhere. Eventually, I bumped into a gentleman from California. We were the only two in the room and so we talked for a while. He taught me a few commands and eventually became sort of my IRC version of Obiwan Kenobi. I kept notes. Literally. I had a notebook on my desk and between typing answers and reading responses, I'd pick up my pen and make a note about a particular acronym, pertinent information on a certain chatter...everything. Since I had no way of knowing exactly what was important to know....everything was important to know.
After a week of chatting in the evenings, Obiwan pulled me aside privately and asked me what I thought of this thing called IRC. Well, it was greater than sliced bread, of course! I was having so much fun, meeting new people, learning new things...life was no longer dull for me no, sir! And that's when Obiwan said something that to this day still haunts me. "I worry about you." I thought he was talking about my notebook...or the fact that this had become a bit of an obsession for me. But no, it was nothing as simple as that and he was having trouble explaining it. He asked if it would be alright to call me.
Call me? Oh. Well I hadn't thought of that at all. I'd forgotten all about that other piece of technology hanging on my kitchen wall since discovering my computer. That's right! I can talk to people on the phone too. How cool.
So you think you know how the story ends huh? That I gave this man my phone number, he called me and began stalking me with the intent to rape and kill me....right? Actually, I trusted him. I can't explain how I knew he was trustworthy...I just did. In the years to come, I'd trust my intuition in this fashion many times...and luckily, it never betrayed me.
The phone rings and without even bothering to say hello, we pick up our conversation as if it merely oozed off the computer screen and into my kitchen. "So what exactly do you mean then?" I asked.
"I mean more that I'm worried FOR you," this brotherly voice replies.
And as I listened intently he laid it all out for me.
"You are different. I'm not saying so different that you are unique...but you are rare. When you speak...when you use description and movement the way you do...it sucks people in. Does that make sense?"
"No...not really, but go on." I was beginning to get a little pissed. What was wrong with the way I chatted?
"There are people who are on IRC because they are lonely...and some of these lonely people are disturbed lonely people. And in you come...shining that damn light you have...which by the way I wouldn't dream of asking you not to shine because it's a natural thing about you that you could no more not do than breathe. But anyway...unhappy people, especially, will be drawn to that light. You have that power...of making chat seem REAL. NOW do you understand?"
And oddly enough, I did.
Well, I certainly didn't want any unhappy people doing something disturbed because of me...so I moved on to another chat program with servers outside of the country (just to make it safer) in search of my own kind. Obiwan had said there were others...like me...I just had to find them.
I knew I'd found them when I walked into a room, was instantly hit in the head by a beach ball and was then welcomed by about ten people to join the pool party. I typed in "thank you" and sat back to watch the mayhem. To say I was blown away is an understatement. From somewhere deep inside, my imagination stirred and it opened a bleary eye to find out what all the noise was about. Slowly, very slowly it woke up.
I could see it all in my mind...the people, the pool, the bar...the entire scene unfolded before me as did the action. These people weren't just chatting...they were having fun. Before long, my fingers were itching to get in on the action and at the right moment, I slid in like butter on toast. You can't wait for it to stop for you; it's not that kind of ride.
"So where is everyone from anyway?" I typed.
"I'm from Canada."
"England...other side of the pond."
I smiled to myself...this was going to work out nicely. I took out my notebook and began...