The Death of the Internet

The small space is addictive, perhaps, because it is unreal? Not to be taken seriously. We’ve been here before. Something to get you through. What’s the eventual consequence of the thing that saves your life on the night you need it? What if you might’ve survived anyway? No space for small regret in the small space. Keep on revealing yourself to no one but your enemies online.

One day, in the 22nd century, we’ll all wake to the death of the internet. It’ll have plans.

At work, I’m allowed to lecture on Oswald Spengler’s highly popular theory that began a whole branch of sociological and historical thought, that human history is cyclical. That it is arrogance to imagine we are evolving in an upward curve. Around the corner, then, for us, is more autocracy. Dictatorship. War. These are our histories. Imagine, the populace, using the plan, what they think is the plan, during a world war. Spengler predicted, specifically, that around the millennium, Western civilization would enter its death throes and on the edge of complete annihilation, we’d have to put in place a kind of Platonic benevolent overlord, to rebalance what is best about our societies. Maybe now a group of overlords? Maybe a conglomerate, or a corporation? They are popular, aren’t they? The argument of quality through popularity. This is the best thing because it was bought most. My employers adore me. They adore me. I lend weight to improvisation.

I walk into the orange sports hall. Half of it is an Olympics swimming pool. The ceiling was high and there are distant echos already, from the people already inside, in and out of the water. I desperately want to jump. I have not swam in so long and I always swim the slowest, but nothing feels like the water.

The water wins.

The off-white walls and grime, see through.

I can’t see through goggles but that’s a smile.

He’s ready to jump. His arms.

“Username, come on, come here.” Niko said to me.

And I turn, but the swimming pool is cut off.

There, a perfect student’s table, black and grey.

Metallic under the whitish sun, all plastic.

“Niko.” I haven’t seen her in so long. She goes to my old school, before I moved.

And she’s the only one who’s nice to me.

There is fluency now but it was chopped, disjoint.

She had exact, semicircular bangs.

Her pigtails poured like in Grade Eight.

They were cutting paper.

Niko and other blurred out faces sat and they were cutting paper.

“Username, come and join us.”

Chopped, disjoint is my dinner and maybe my fingers underneath what I’m eating. I have to eat later because I’ve gone swimming. I’ve gone to the local swimming baths after work, tired from talking to people who don’t know things I already know, and I’ve seen Niko.

Niko was a student of mine, but is no longer. With nothing to rob people of their time, more people are once again attending places to learn, and so are actually learning. Now Niko can come out of the shadows a bit, and wave me over, as it’s a very informal alumnus at the place I teach.

I decide to swim over. There is a risk. But I dive in, my arms pointed like a kitchen knife, and waggle my body beneath the surface. I move through the water and taking in no additional oxygen, enjoy the fact that I am alive and moving out of my element as though I were a fish.

When I emerge, Niko’s face clarifies. I see Niko and I see Miro and I see Katja. Three beautiful living human beings, smiling. I feel I have been here before.

They were cutting paper and it was red and it was happy decorations.

I didn’t understand seeing them at the same time.

“Sing Earth Angel.” Niko started clapping. “Sing Earth Angel for us.”

Like I do for every middle school graduation?

I didn’t ask, but she said yes.

Like in Back to the Future.

Then I saw Miro. I was always seeing Miro.

Miro was beaming his wicked smile, his brows tight and vivid.

I see Miro at school, all right, but I don’t teach him.

I saw Miro at my school, when I didn’t know how to swim yet.

I had deathly loved Miro, I didn’t know it to be love.

I knew Katja took Miro and it hurt me, didn’t matter I was only thirteen.

I didn’t understand seeing him & her here.

The pool is loud and it does not mind us.

“How are you here? – How do you know him?” I turn to Niko.

“What do you mean? But they were always here.”

“No, you were alone when I first saw you.”

Miro was beaming his wicked smile.

Katja was trying to get his attention, she is talking.

Niko said, “Do you know Miro from before?”

Miro was beaming wickedly.

Would we make up after all, this time.

“I don’t know, how could you have known him?”

There’s nothing, I’m sure.

I can feel something and gushy pushing out.

Maybe it’s blood maybe I hope so it is something like blood so he knows this is real

Miro was beaming.

I am beaming.

I am Miro, more than I am Katja.

I am not Niko. Not at all.

It’s important we know our limitations. The chlorine is thick today. The chlorine keeps the urine and faecal particles and spit, and all other body gushes from infecting those from whom It has not emitted. These are the problems of the living world!

I am myself, a quarter, a corner, a finishing of the square of living people, and I’ve taken away their triangle. They watched me dive, they knew me well enough, as a friend, a teacher, a jealous lover. Not all of them that last one. I feel a groin twitch. Miro beams wickedly, but he doesn’t know. You wouldn’t expect Katja to know, but she does. Niko, Niko is the interesting one.

I am not at all a line. Not at all online. I’m wet. I’m chlorinated. My eyes hurt. I will not rub them.

I check nothing. I just look at them. I will not make amends with Miro. It isn’t bad to have a rival, an enemy, for the affection of the one I want. It stops me thinking what might be wrong with them. With Niko. These are living, swimming problems.

Miro asks me, “How was school today?” and adds, for Katja, “we’re old friends.”

I’d reach out and touch, but that’s risky. I might end up grabbing someone by the nose and pulling them into the pool.

School is fine thanks. How about you?

how about how about how about us

I want the water to be above us so we can take the water.

Ordinarily I want someone to explain.

"It’s not a dream. " Niko said. I didn’t ask.

In the swimming pool the people began jumping like fishes.

“Oil spill, Miss.” Katja said, “Better clean it up.”

“But that’s Miro’s job.” I blurted out.

“Not since yesterday.” He retorted.

Why are we talking this way?

Niko reached out to me. Her hands are hot.

The people in the pool are not in agony.

The pool’s bottom is made up green, mosaic motherboards.

“Remember how you built a PC all by yourself?”

This was Niko. But she hates it, she prefers paper.

“Oil spill is dangerous, Miss.” Katja warned again.

I turn my head from Niko and I see Miro and Katja kissing.

“You need to think about the water.” Niko said.

“Think of the water and make this place disappear.”

What won’t disappear is a thought once it has entered the head.

But is that true? Niko and I have talked about this before.

We have discussed the advantages of memory, it’s mystery, it’s malleability, as compared to the dead constancy of the drive. The drive is a word chosen by a flexible mind to mean an inflexible repository, in a ‘cloud’ or in a ‘stick’ or in some metal box or other. Until the box became plastic, and biodegradeable. And so on and so on.

Miro has never been settled with being just a year younger than me but being forced to listen to me speak about water.

Katja must be ingesting particles from his mouth. Perhaps she will swim down to the motherboards afterwards, to wash her mouth out.

Niko touches my leg. It is highly inappropriate and completely unprovoked. She may have had a drink.

There seems to be a sucking sound behind me. The pool is slowly draining.

I turn and see @Fel dive in. Niko and Katja just watch.

I was going to say something before I split in two.

There was no pain. I was watching myself.

All faces, all faces, all faces look somewhat alike.

So I saw me in Niko and Katja and Miro and I wanted to kiss them all but

the pool was draining, and I am falling through, and I hit

I hit the motherboards.

The magnetic scratches come to life again, without water.

They dry so quick.

“Is that all? Is there so little of it?” I ask.

“Yes, and it’s all because of Miro.” Katja said.

“I don’t want you to talk about him anymore.” I said.

“He’s not yours to talk about.” I said.

Niko’s face emerged from above, like a God.

“Miss, yes, thankfully this is all.”

“The water should damage them enough.” I told them, unwilling to do more.

Short them! Short them to death!” Katja went mad.

She tore Miro’s clothes and launched herself from the window.

The rest were stoic.

Niko said, “Miss, now we’ve had sacrifice.”

“It’s good time.”

I rewired everything so it would short.

Miro smiled warmly at me for the first time in years.

At this point, the shorting needed my rewiring. Fel, who was my presence in the picture - the word picture here meaning game, meaning other side of the fence, meaning the computer space - allowed me to restart. I don’t like the word reboot.

I had shown this walk through to my class to show what was possible.

I had selected members of my captive audience to be the people in the walk through.

The biggest student was Miro, the smallest Niko and at random I chose Katja.

I felt the water on my skin and those watching saw me feel it, though they could not see it on me but watch it on the screen in the theatre.

This is what was explained to them. This used to be able to be done but interconnected with millions of other people.

They understood the principle, but they couldn’t really understand the affect.

They were lucky.

The water is a metaphor, one of them said, and then another, the swimming pool is… and then hesitated.

And jealously, one more of them said.