I now, in a way I can't describe, am somewhat bothered by the beginning of
this dream- it started out with me logged into a future version of E2 (perhaps,
by then, it was E4 or something like that. It left with the same, strange and
eerie sense that one gets when they dream in French for the first time after
having taken two semesters of the language).
I was looking through the Node Search feature to see if a particular title
had been taken yet- "Memory is best served when chilled." The color
scheme of entries showed yellow, blue, red, green, orange and gray-
perhaps other colors too. At the top of the catergory lists were Person, Place,
Thing, Idea, Story, Rant, Audio, and Video. No nodes with the title
I'd submitted were in existence, so I took that as a good sign and opened
my Dreamweaver 7 program to begin writing the WU.
I don't recall the body of the entry, but as soon as I completed it, I tried
to create the node "Memory is best served when chilled"-
and then Everything crashed. It was down for two hours and not even the Word
Bot was active. Someone had shoved a mean, dark, ceramic blade into the skull
of E4 and swirled it around to scramble the circuits,
I guess. That was the way Nate's son put it, who was now in control of E4, since
Nate had retired and was himself a casual noder in his textronic paradise.
When E4 was finally back up and running, an explanation of what caused the
crash stared coldly at me from the screen: "Sorry for the inconvenience,"
it said in bold text. "The law of averages finally caught up with us
here at Everything. Doubtless you've heard that saying, 'If you put 100 monkeys
in a room, each of them with a typewriter, and gave them enough time, they'd
eventually come up with Shakespeare's Hamlet, even though they don't know
a word of English.' Well, something like that finally happened here. Two people
came up with the same node title at the exact same time and it gave our very
delicate, sensitive database a heart attack.
"The node title in question is 'Memory is best served when chilled',
created in synchronicity by NightShadow (long-time user who still refuses
to let us promote him to Editor) and daddy_fleir, who has been with us longer
than NightShadow and isn't very keen on being in the limelight. While these
two gentlemen are indeed responsible for causing our system crash, we are
awarding both of them 100 XP on general principle; serendipity is something
we appreciate here at E4, and we do not punish it. We leave the
punishments to the EDB, whose AI shell is still hungry and has recently eaten
my father's avatar as a breakfast snack and has been making noises about going
after WonkoDSane next (Wonko has been unavailable for comment in this regard,
except to say that we were idiots to give the EDB free will in the first place).
Please accept our sincere apologies for not having been able to anticipate
how or when this strange conflux of two minds meeting in the exact same place
could occur. It did, we were caught flat footed, Dad has hired a team
of specialists to make sure it won't happen again. Thank you for your patience."
Well, needless to say, I was shocked. Mortified even. Many, many years ago, in my youth I'd always wondered
what would happen if I bumped, physically and literally, into someone muttering
the same exact words as me under their breath. It felt like someone had walked
on my grave, me still a warm-bodied meat-eater. I didn't bother to try chatting
this momentary doppleganger up in the Catbox as it seemed pointless to me
at the time, but I did go ahead and post my WU as quickly as possible.
I wanted first dibbs on that nodeshell, dammit.
E4 crashed again, almost immediately after I hit the "Submit" button.
After E4 got back up, for the second time, I was sent a curt and terse message
from Nate, Jr. It said that the same message was being sent to daddy_fleir
for the sake of synchronicity and that if it happened again, we were both in
danger of being evicted from E4 for a week as punishment. "Put the psionics
or whatever it is to rest, both of you, and use the Catbox for the next week
or so to ask if a nodeshell is being reserved by either of you and fight it
out there!" I merely shrugged, sent a reply back ("Okay.")
and was about to log out when I got another message sent through the E4 server-
it was my friend, who
is named after a car, but isn't, and prefers to remain unnamed. "Going
to Borders. Wanna a ride?"
My car had been dead for a month and I was immobile. Luckily I was still
living off the money from a book deal made last year, so I wasn't exactly
bothered by being carless- I just hadn't taken the time to go out and buy a
new one. Maybe one of those disposable Hondas that everyone keeps talking
about? Sure, they last only a couple years and there's no way to repair any
damage done to it because the body is all one part, but for $2,000 I'm willing
to take my chances. "Sure," I told her, "I'll go with you if
you'd like to come pick me up. Now?"
"Now. I'm in your parking lot." She was using her Net Phone to
access E4 from a parking place in front of my apartment. This meant she knows
me too well. She knew I'd leap at the chance to get outta the apartment.
"Be right down. Lemme put on some pants."
"Shorts. It's hot outside. Enjoy the weather. The park is next after
"*sigh* Okay, shorts it is. Be down in a minute."
I logged off. daddy_fleir was still logged on, but was still dutifully ignoring
me as much as I was ignoring him.
My friend and I walked into Borders, looking through the Sci-Fi section first
as we always do. William Gibson, that old powerhouse of Sci-Fi, was sitting
at a booth, alone and quiet with himself, surrounded by stacks of his newest
book, "Rational Code." Apparently he was there on a book signing.
My friend and I noticed him and looked at each other with surprise and also
concern. Here he was, our liteary hero, and he was sitting alone
at his own book signing. A crime had been committed. A travesty
was in our midst. The world toppled at odd angles. This should not be. We
approached him, the genuis that was William Gibson.
"Mister Gibson-?" my friend started, then clapped her mouth shut
in astonishment. Gibson had a laptop, one of those retro-fit jobs that looked
like it came out of the late 1990s but was packed to the gills with modern
goodies. We recognized him from the back covers of all his books. He was sitting
perpendicular to us and logged onto, of all things, E4. He was playing in
the kitty litter, or what she and I affectionately called it, otherwise known
as the Chatterbox. "Sir?" she said carefully, "You're a noder,
Gibson looked up from his screen, genuinely glad to be graced with the presence
of any human being whatsoever. "Yeah," he said with
a voice that suited him perfectly, deep and strong. "Have been for a long
time. You're noders? Name's 'daddy fleir.'" He held out his hand, expecting
one of us to shake it in greeting.
My friend missed the reference entirely, but I caught it like the words were
magically appearing in the air, dossed in Day-Glo. I slung my arm around her
shoulders quickly and started to turn us away. "Pleasure to meet you,
Mister Gibson. Sorry we can't stay, but something just came up. Have a pleasant
stay in our fair city. Bye." I rushed us away from him hurriedly.
As I carted my friend away, she protested, sputtering like an old Volkswagen.
"But-but... Jay! Are you insane? That was William
"I know," I muttered under my breath, out of the corner of my mouth,
through tight lips. "But he's also daddy fleir, the same
guy who... oh, hell. It's tough to explain." I reached into her jacket
pocket unceremoniously and yanked out her Net Phone, a move that completely
baffled her. "Here," I shoved it at her, "Log on and read Nate,
Jr's daylog. That'll explain everything."
"What?" It didn't make any sense to her.
"Just do it," I told her. "Trust me."
We stood outside, under the hot sun and degrading ozone layer, as she logged
in and began reading. A moment or two later she snapped the phone shut and just
looked at me with a strange expression. Finally, she said, "You never
cease to amaze me, Jay. All right. You stay here, but I'm going
to go meet the god of sci-fi. See you at the car." With that, she left
me standing there, outside Borders Books and Media (they changed only slightly
over the years).
I took a cigarette out and began smoking it, not caring that it was against
the law to smoke tobacco products in plain view of a store front. My nerves were wrecked.