UNINVENTING THE INTERNET • by Kevin Shamel

Buck and Jimmy knew each other from Caltech. Buck worked in New Mexico, at a place called Groom Lake. Jimmy worked in Montauk, New York, at the Air Force Station.

They met up two times a year, when each of them took their mandatory vacations at an exclusive resort in St. Lucia. Paradise — the best place for emptying the mind of all but the most pleasurable distractions. Also the best place for idle conversation between two old friends.

Idle conversation between two genius scientists working together in different divisions of a government project involving the highest of high technology can be inspirational — especially on an empty mind.

A particular inspiration occurred in December of 1954, when Jimmy, after a long pull on the straw in his chocolaty rum drink, said, “We need a bigger computer.”

Buck watched the rolling waves. “Geez, really? Isn’t your computer as big as this island?”

Jimmy laughed. “I think so. But we need more computing power.”

Two islander girls in bikinis strolled by. One was an off-duty cocktail waitress. She waved.

Buck waved back. He said, “Too bad we can’t link our computers together and use both of ’em as one. We could always use more computing power, too.”

Jimmy snorted, “Yeah, we could hook ’em together with a cord stretching from New York to Nevada! Like a telephone line or something.”

They giggled and stared at the ocean.

“Hmm,” said Buck after about two minutes.

They looked at each other.

***

Jimmy and Buck worked on a project that allowed them access to technology that wouldn’t become public knowledge for twenty years or more, along with money, manpower, and scientific carte blanche.

One year after their chat on the beach, a fiber optic cable system linked their two computers together, along with two in Washington D.C.

From Paradise, the Internet was born.

***

One afternoon, a month after establishing their interconnected computer network, Buck realized that they could talk to each other on it. He called Jimmy and they set up an interface.

Cool, typed Jimmy.

Cool, typed back Buck.

This is like typing over the phone.

Yes. Our internet is like an electronic instant message system.

We can keep each other informed about the project from our workstations. We won’t even have to pick up the phone and dial. Internet?

You’re right! That’s brilliant. But we’ll have to type. It’s a little slow for me here. I didn’t want to type out interconnected network so I smooshed the words together.

Oh. It’s slow for me, too. My secretary would be good at it.

We should tell someone about this.

We should.

I have to go. I’ll be right back.

Okay.

And so it went. Buck and Jimmy talked to each other with their instant messages more than they’d ever talked before. Both improved their typing skills. They forgot to tell anyone about it.

One day, when he opened the instant message network and switched on his monitor, a bright light and a loud pop from the terminal sent Buck sprawling backward off his chair.

Standing, he saw his monitor displaying the impossible.

There was a photograph on the screen — a screen that had previously amazed Buck by visually representing a bicolored cube. Buck leaned close to get a look at the picture of a middle-aged woman with jet-black hair and too much makeup on her bright white skin. Under the photo was a title of sorts:
Hater Bait
Suck it if you can’t take a joke.

Buck read the writing in the column beside the photo of Hater Bait.

It was a journal entry. Or, a blog entry, as he learned later — after scrolling through months’ worth of such entries.

“How fast can you get here?” Buck asked Jimmy over the phone.

***

“I think it’s because of the accelerator,” Buck said after he showed Jimmy the blog. “It was running when I opened the network. I think it made some sort of electronic bridge to the future.”

Jimmy stared at Buck.

“Well, I don’t know, Jimmy. It’s just an idea.”

But Jimmy was stricken. He’d finished the latest blog entry. It was dated October 6th, 2008. The straggled writing of Hater Bait’s horror-ridden blather lay below the title, WTF? TV. GET YER HEAD OUT YER ASS!

It read in part: tv is my god but the internet kicks it’s ass allover. If TV doesn’t catch up with the internet soon it’s gonna be dead. like for instence, this. I love that show The Destructinator: Kara Sawyer’s Chronicle. omg I love that chick destructinator. She’s so hot. but then I think while i’m watchin it that maybe id like to see that chick in a bikin, or maybe i want to see her tits. I can’t just open a window on my tv. Thank god for the internet. i can pause the fuckin tv and go look up that chick;s name and find pics of her tits in like, two minutes. Fuckin Sweet Internet.

Without the intertent, we’d never see any famous chicks tits.

And all you pervy nerds out there wouldn’t get ta see mine. btw, got a new pushup and my webcams hooked back up–show soon.

I remember the detructinator movie when it came out was so scary. Robots killing people with nukes. i mean, in the 80’s were all scared of gettin blown upby russia or somethin. that was the scariest shit–robots or russia. Not so scary now, after 911. now we know we can get blown up at any second by any terrorist dick on the street. AIDS, global warming, stock market crashin. shit man, i read the news online every day. THATs scray.. Robots with nukes aren’t scary anymore.

But man that chick has great tits

“Jimmy?”

“We have to dismantle our network. And never tell anyone about electronic messaging. And never use the word internet again.”

“I know.”

“I don’t know what half of that gibberish says.”

“But it’s bad.”

“Yeah.”


Kevin Shamel is in his thirties, married, has two kids, a dog and a cat, and lives in an old haunted house in the Pacific Northwest. He spends his days playing with the aforementioned critters, practicing joyful oddness, and writing. You will rarely find him speaking (or writing) about himself in third person because it’s a very odd practice, even for him. Visit his blog at Shameless Stuff for links to more of his stories and whatever else is going on.


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