Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Episode Twelve: Lines

One person’s craziness is another person’s reality.
-Tim Burton

Rain hammered against Esther’s bedroom window and distant thunder crackled. Esther snuggled down into her comforter, draped over her desk chair and folded in origami fashion back over her. The bright white of the search engine filled her screen. She stared, biting her lip. Bending over the keys she typed:

shadow monsters

The search engine blinked and a column of links popped up. A movie, a game strategy and even less promising would-be answers. She clicked on the search field again and typed:

smoke demons

Disturbing imagery from 9/11, some reference to a monster movie and…smoking. She sighed and glanced around her room, searching for some kind of inspiration. Feeling hopeless, she tried:

computer eating monster

TV show Muppet, card game monster, and what to do if the computer’s power supply stops working. Nothing that resembled the pools of darkness that moved like liquid through the air or anything that attacked computers. Nothing that doesn’t belong in the real world in some way. She minimized the screen and sat staring at the lily desktop wallpaper. The flowers curved around the neat rows of program icons and the open IM screen showing her as Available. Her eyes unfocused; the screen blurred.

A crack of thunder jolted her upright. The wind rattled the window, driving rain into the glass. After a moment of hesitation she double-clicked an icon.

Ublog loaded with a wash of blues, updates, and notice boxes. Esther scanned the top and cursored over “Find Friends.” The box changed to a negative of itself with a click and the site blinked. The search box appeared with a companion drop down labeled: school.

She typed in Delia Ng, picked Westin Academy and hit enter. Three little stars, the middles a blank white, appeared mid-screen. “Fetching Friends” blinked in blue above them as golden color filled the empty centers.

A list of names appeared with avatars beside each name. She picked the photo of the Asian girl throwing a peace sign at the camera. Delia’s page loaded with swirls of pinks and golds. Esther clicked on the photos tab and picked on PC Xplod. The same three photos loaded. She waited, checking the top bar to see if the browser had stuttered. FireFox read: Done. Nothing else loaded.

Esther leaned back in her chair, the hinges squeaking. Could the whole site have been hacked? Did anyone else take pictures? Who else had a camera phone? She glanced at her phone. Practically everyone…She’d begged Monica for a smart phone like Ro’s; able to search the web and take pictures. Instead, she’d gotten her aunt’s hand-me-down Razor as a birthday present. She flicked the end of the cat charm, the edge of the comforter slipping off her shoulder.

She started at the IM’s ding. The phone clattered to the floor.

7:30 paintingtheROsesred heyas girl

Esther took a breath and touched the keys.

7:30 Little_Dove hey

7:31 paintingtheROsesred whats up

Esther resisted shutting down Delia’s Ublog in a spasm of guilt.

7:31 Little_Dove just doing some hmework. messing around on Ublog

7:32 Little_Dove *homework

7:32 paintingtheROesred gonna start writing a blog?

7:33 Little_Dove i already do.

7:34 paintingtheROsesred oh yeah? What site?

7: 38 Little_Dove

7:38 paintingtheROsesred the link doesn’t work

7:40 Little_Dove lol its just a notebook. i was trying to be clever
7:40 paintingtheROsesred ha ha ha. is it helpful?

Esther typed: i guess. its kinda mandated…Then backspaced and hit enter.

7:42 Little_Dove I guess.

7:46 Little_Dove so…you said you saw something weird on Dalia’s Ublog

7:46 paintingtheROesred where?

7:47 Little_Dove in her pictures

7:48 paintingtheROesred this again, eh

7:49 Little_Dove did you or not?

Ester waited, fingers tapping the desk. Her mouth twisted as she scanned another Delia filled album. She glanced at the inactive IM box.

7:51 Little_Dove you still there?

7:53 paintingtheROesred yeah. im here. just thinking.

7:54 Little_Dove about what?

7:57 paintingtheROesred es, I don’t remember telling you that.

Esther rested her chin on her knee.

7:59 paintingtheROesred im sorry, es. its not that I don’t believe you. i just don’t remember.
Esther pushed the balls of her feet into her desk, gently rocking the computer chair and gazed at the ceiling, waiting for a sentence to solidify. The IM dinged. Esther closed her eyes a moment
then glanced at the screen. A new window flashed gold.

Mss from new contact: Muninn

Esther blinked, her feet loosing purchase on the edge of her desk. They clattered to the floor.

8:05 paintingtheROesred you did counseling before you moved in with Mo, right?

8:08 Little_Dove yeah, but

8:09 Little_Dove idk. sometimes i just think there’s still something wrong with me. things get so messed up.

Staring at the new message box, her fingers sprayed across the keys, hitting the enter key. The message center became a negative of itself, vanished, and was replaced with the new message.

8:10 Muninn Good evening.
Weird…Esther lifted her hands from the keys and leaned back in her chair. She stared at Ro's message box, then leaning forward, she typed to Ro.

8:14 Little_Dove do you know who has the IM handle Muninn?
A soft ding as the Muninn’s message box blinked yellow.

8:14 Muninn You shouldn’t be afraid.
Esther's eyes teared as she stared unblinking at the message. "What...what do you mean...who…" The ding and yellow glow of Ro's message startled her into a gasp.

8:16 PaintingtheROsesred no idea...why?
8:16 Muninn Don’t give up.

8:25 paintingtheROsesred hey, I said why

8:33 paintingtheROsesred es hello? whats going on?

8:33 Muninn There are those that will protect you. But you have to protect yourself, too.
Esther looked from one IM to the other. Her fingers slid cautiously to the key board. She typed:

Who are you? She hesitated, then pressed enter. Immediately the screen went gray and a new message appeared.

Muninn is offline and did not receive your message

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