10:56pm. Tonight is a special night. My wife is caught in a mystery. It is spinning her around in all directions. The secret dork gland in the inside back of her head is about twenty times its normal size, depriving her brain of so much blood that she can hardly think. The caterwauling of the feral alley cats around here have reached thunderous levels, and it's not helping things that Pinch’s ISP has gone into a fugue state and crashes without warning as she tries to unravel the identity of one of her readers “Marta”, whose link she inadvertently clicked on about an hour ago.
ANSWER ANSWER PRAY ANSWER TELL.
My role in all this is mainly to watch my wife as she gets pulled into a hypnotic other-world where human reason has died and the laws of physics fail to exist anymore. I’ve seen her like this before, and tonight I will take you there with me, because if you’re like me, it’s something you won’t encounter much on your own.
The first indication that my poor wife was going to have an episode, was when I heard some sounds coming from the other room while I worked. Weirdo sounds. Sort of electronica “I’m creating avant-garde music for a 1950’s science fiction film” kind of sounds. Then silence. A few minutes later I hear the same thing again, and then some more silence. I start wandering down the hallway saying to her “I like that music” (I used to play in a zombie/surf/dork-music band called HUSK, so it was kinda nostalgic I guess), but I got no response. When I got to the computer room, Pinch was staring at her computer mesmerized, with a kind of frozen “what have I done” look on her face. Her monitor was black, and some commands started appear in white as if someone was typing on one of those old monochromatic monitors early PCs used to have. We watched as that person logged into a UNIX shell account. Then a cryptic “what’s your move?” appears at the bottom. Pinch hesitantly made a mouse click. Windows pop up with surreal movies, and stream of consioucness images.
At this point my wife became simultaneously filled with curiousity and terror, completely absorbed in this crazy site she had bumbled onto. She is taken by the idea that she had uncovered some secret message meant only for her eyes. She started speculating on what it could all mean. Her very first conclusion is that this secret passageway had sat long dormant all this time. Her occasional reader Marta, was not just another reader, BUT THE ULTIMATE READER. Pinch is suddenly filled with remorse, convinced she had frittered aways years hacking out diary entries, when all along she might have been investigating the doorway to another world.
I try to tell her that it’s just a nicely done creative web site, by someone who is (or was) probably an art student. Having worked with several people from The School of the Art Institute here in Chicago, I’ve seen sites like this before. This explanation she accepts in a “yes you must be right, NOW GET THE OUT OF HERE AND LET ME WORK ON THIS” kind of manner. She spends the next several hours furiously typing and typing. Log in after painful log in. It appears that Earthlink is getting hack attacked every three minutes. Rather than discouraging my wife into giving up for the evening, this only raises the urgency of her mission. She is convinced that it’s all connected somehow, like some kind of smoking gun conspiracy from the X-Files which Mulder and Skully must relentlessly investigate. Earthlink is trying to block Pinch from finding the truth about this chick Marta, who has some planted cryptic messages that must be decoded.
It’s pretty weird that she thinks like this, I know. But as my wife dislikes remembering, she once did a Tarot card reading for a friend back in high school. She told him “I smell a burning” and a few days later the kid gets hit by lightning. Unlucky him—that much is certain, but unlucky her too, because now whenever something unlikely happens she has to contend with a headful of stuff most people don’t think about much. Tonight is one of those occasions. Dark spooky weather, wailing cats, freaky web sites, a wildly intermitant ISP all collude to freak my wife out. Any one of these things by themselves would have allowed Pinch to continue along her normal rational way, but all of them in combination bump her into a non-linear world where alien encounters are probably, unearthly possession is an ever-looming threat, and where Houdini’s last secret ANSWER ANSWER PRAY ANSWER TELL is coming over a UNIX server to my wife’s PC.