Part 3Space Beacon
It was Monday evening before I started up Amy again, after dinner and TV. There was lots of Wesley that week, so I was happy. When I talked about my computer, I just kept wanting to type "Amy" instead of "Amie", and once I let it happen, it was easy enough to see that that wasn't just a description of a machine, it was a name.
Message to: *Blue Sky
Thousands of people all talking at once?
That's amazing...but how would I ever hear anyone?
Still nothing from my sister. I mentioned e-mail to her on the Sunday call, but she said she didn't really understand how it worked. I made her promise to try, though; and with nothing better to do, I was back on Lake City Local.
I made a note to find out more about viruses. Who would create something like that? What kind of person would it take? Did they just create themselves? Surely not. It was a computer, after all. Uncle Paul had sent me an e-mail with some words of wisdom. I still remember his fourth paragraph, too. "Computers are very clever idiots. It's the beauty of them. They do exactly what they're told, but they don't have a mind of their own, like some people yell at them for. If something's not happening how you expect, you can always get it to tell you why. The trick is knowing what question to ask it..."
Illegal stuff? I disconnected right away, almost without thinking about it.
I pulled out my sketchbook and started frantically sketching my lampshade - something, anything that wasn't to do with computers. Just then, a siren went screaming past outside, and for a few moments I let myself believe it was coming for me. A jailbird at my age! It would be a grand tragedy, in all the newspapers.
I looked apologetically at Amy, and kept sketching. I lost myself in the lampshade's contours, its textures, its personality, for a while. The sketch was okay. It was a picture, and a picture paints a thousand words, doesn't it?
They didn't seem like the right ones. I flipped pages, thought hard about loneliness, and began writing.
Next evening I dialled the number. I couldn't help myself. I was achingly curious. I couldn't just leave Amy sitting there alone, and I couldn't just mooch around the discussions on Lake City Local. Maybe if I'd had someone to talk to...but it was obvious that Sam didn't care about computer stuff, and Taylor, well, Taylor barely knew what a computer was.
I read those words down at the bottom over and over. The cadence was familiar from a dozen different readings at church, but the message...well, was it so different? God's plan had to include computers as well, right?
I was surprised for a moment how similar to Lake City Local it looked once I was past the front porch. But then I looked closer...it might have been a similar room, but the people in it were very different, and they might as well have been speaking another language.
What the? VRAM overflow?
I often find it hard to explain why swearing can still really shock me. Usually people think they know - small town, church every Sunday, they conjure up a comforting mental image of some screaming firebrand at the pulpit, yelling at us about hellfire and damnation. Where do they think my small town *is*, anyway?
It's just...we never swore. Nobody in my family swears. Or at least, never where I could hear it. Those words just aren't in our vocabulary. It's not necessarily offensive to hear swearing, though. That's what people don't get. I'm just surprised that anyone would ever use those words, because I don't ever think to.
Well. Not very often.
I used the same password. I tore a square out of my sketchbook, and I started writing numbers and passwords all together on it; and then I hid it safely in my secret diary that I never wrote anything in. I mean, just because I couldn't talk to my sister, or Taylor, or Sam, about a few things, doesn't mean I couldn't talk to them about *most* things, right? Most important things, at least. Most things that I'd want to tell to a diary if I couldn't tell someone. I still don't get why someone would talk to a diary instead of people.
It took me a while to get to sleep that night. I was thinking about poets.