The First Whiff
Sometime in March 1999
Last year, I knew someone that kept an online journal. Not a friend, but an acquaintance that I admired for her design sensibility and writing. She left the world of online journalling last year and I haven't heard from her since. I tried on several occasions to email her and send her little "hello" notes and "just checking up on you" tidbits to try and coax her out of her quiet shell.
No such luck. The line on her end remains deathly silent. My only guess for her distance is that one of my new friends is a "rival" of hers. I'm disappointed that my new friendship made her feel that we could not be friends, especially without explaining such to me. But such is human nature and I must be content with a one-way conversation.
Every once in a while, I will stop by her domain and see what she's up to, read what the next stage in her academic career is or check out the newest graphics that she's developed.
One day, I was greeted by a nearly blank, all black page.
Embedded in the middle of the page was a quicktime movie. I waited patiently for it to download.
Once it was done, I turned up the volume of my speakers (which are typically sent on "low" since I don't like hearing it ding loudly) and pressed play.
It was completely unexpected.
I don't know exactly what I should have expected, although I had a feeling it might be a qucktime movie of her or some other imagery that would be instantly recognizable. Instead, I didn't get it at all. It was dark. Very dark. The camera was constantly shaking, since its operator was running through the dark. I could make out shapes in the darkness of the camera. Moving shapes that suggested the camera operator was following someone.
The sound on the movie was even more suprising.
It was the sound of frantic rustling. Twigs breaking.
The camera being whipped back and forth, looking at dark shapes up in the trees.
It was only a few seconds but it made my heart race. And a multitude of questions leaped at once into my mind.
Did she make this recording? Is that her running through the woods?
Why are they running? Why is the recording so dark? What were those shapes?
What's going on?
At the bottom of the page was a link to a question. It was something like "Need to know what this is?" The link would allow me to write email to her and ask her.
I chose not to. I figured that when the time comes and my curiosity was peaked, I would ask her.
Maybe that would draw her out of her shell. Who knows. I was tired talking to silence, hearing my own voice.
I decided to remove it from my mind.
But I didn't. I just shuffled it away for safekeeping. It's hard to forget such vague, dark images with so many questions.