Ada, Deirdre, John P, Paulo, and I were crossing the Nullarbor plain when the internet’s voracious cables rose from the underworld and embroiled us in serpentine data. Episode one is here.
I cleared my throat.
I’m okay, Paulo said.
Deirdre swatted at a social media invite.
This gloomy internet knows that it’s alive,
but it doesn’t understand the counterweight
of living: the partial sum of life, its passing.
It needs to know then.
Ada snatched a Bluetooth mike from a gaggle
of peripherals pecking at her head,
and messaged in a whisper, speech-to-text.
She spoke of thermodynamics, of death’s unbalance
and the decrement of time, of the unavoidable
aftermath of maths, when every demi-truth
would face the furnace flames.
Close to Ada, an insignificant network node was listening.
It was little more than a knee-jerk midnight post,
with a trilobite of static memory in a used-to-be-smart
device. But it understood, and knew that it was
neither more nor less than a two-times table
discarded by a child long ago.
Thanks to the ancient manuscripts,
the apocryphal user agreements soul-signed for the devil,
Ada’s private message radiated at the speed
of confidentiality to every crevice
of the multiplicitous undernet.
I’m okay, Paulo repeated, nothing touches me,
I’m made of steam and vapor.
With undeniable knowledge of its own mortality,
the internet’s tentacles shattered into data fragments
that, in succession, shattered—a geometric sequence
with exponent less than one, until they were
no longer nouns but insubstantial stand-ins,
melancholy adjectives, adverbs clinging
to the motion of their emptiness.
And the sorry remnants of the web were gone.
I was always fine, Paulo commented,
an unnecessary iteration that left no doubt
of his insincerity.
trilobite: unit of storage used in the Cambrian Period.
Adventurous tourists often wish to travel between the realms. The how-to video above shows leaving Diurnia, the Land of Light, to travel to Nocturnia, the Land of Night. Another video shows how to make the journey in the reverse direction.