Friday, December 10, 2004


Whaling and Gnashing of Teeth

POW, the blog says, and bocka bocka bocka bocka.

"Shit," Bill says. "We got a fucking flat. I'm gonna pull over."

"That wasn't a fucking flat," I say. "That was a pop-up blocker."

"Those things never work on my computer," Bill says.

"Well," I say, "count your blessings. So far they aren't working on us, either."

The landscape outside our windows is weird. Sort of grayish, almost foggy, but with thick pinkish-charcoal viscosities shot all through it. It looks sort of like South Dakota at dusk in a sandstorm, after Mt. St. Helens erupted a million squid into the air. We navigate through it like an infection.

POW: another pop-up blocker explodes just off our left front fender.

And then they're all over us: antivirus drones, spam grinders, pop-up blockers like the Fourth of July. Bill steers through it all with two fingers on the wheel, smoking, stroking his beard, his eyes lit up like a little kid's. Mullah Billdoug seems to have some tricks up his sleeve too: he keeps jettisoning packing-peanut chaff, fine black sprays of printer ink, synthetic spam, phony urls.

Through the din, then, gradually, we begin to hear a keening, like a fax whine, or a garbage truck in reverse.

"You hear that?" Bill says, cocking his head to one side.

"Slow down," I say. "Whatever it is, it's getting closer. We don't want to plow smack dab into it."

"Whaddya mean, slow down?" Bill smiles over at me, taking a deep pull on his cigarette. "I haven't touched the pedals in hours. If we crash into something, we crash into something."


"Being a virus means never having to say you're sorry."

"We're not--"

"Virality cubed," Bill says.

"I hate it when you--" I start. Then:

"What the fuck," Bill breathes, "is that?"

That is, but can't be, yet certainly unmistakably appears to be, a whale. A huge motherfucking whale. Dead ahead of us, swimming lazily toward us. Mullah Billdoug begins running hex code down his passenger-side monitor. Digitized whalesong?

I'm so engrossed in the battalions of figures trooping across the screen that I hardly even notice it getting darker outside our windows.

"Doug," Bill says softly.

I look up to see the whale's maw upon us, opening wide to swallow us up. As we plunge into the darkness, with only the flickering light of the monitor casting a pale greenish pallor over the interior of the blog, I read out Mullah Billdoug's translation of the whale's mournful song:

Release the banana and go free!

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