Dan Eats Cat Food’s Inferno: Circle One: The Unknowledgeable

Posted: May 11, 2010 by kaostheory in Inferno

He did it again. That dumb bastard with clearly no ties to his job or to anything this side of the next shiny object jammed somewhere in the grass has left us. KaosTheory has gone off to do whatever and has given us no way of contacting him, talking to him, getting updates from him…

Wait, hold on. Something just came in.

It’s an email from KT. All the subject line says is “Hrrrrrrrn Oh God It Hurts Hrrrrrrrn”. Oh this looks promising…
Lo, it was a dark and stormy night when I loggethed on to the Internet. Bored though I was, I found myself avoiding those sites which tormenteth a man’s soul and driveth him to madness. Okay, can I just stop the “eth”ing? It’s just unnecessarily complicating matters. Anyways. Though my curiosity was piqued, I stayed clear of that which suck humanity from the depths of countless hearts. On my slate, however, was not avoidance but experience, though I did not know of it yet. Little did I realize that my fate soon would be revealed to me.

As my fingers walked ‘cross the keyboard, carrying me on my way to yet another celebrity news site, a small shock entered my fingertips, bringing a bark of pain. Then another, more powerful spark struck me. Before I could scream further obscenities, my body convulsed and was hurled through my monitor. Fearing the impact of the wall, I closed my eyes and braced myself for multiple bruised and cracked ribs. Yet, none came. Only a faint whistling could I hear. Surprised, I opened my eyes. I was no longer housed in my dark and carpeted room. No, all about me was white expanse, giving no sense of distance or geography. The ground below me provided the only color I could see, brilliant blue lines zigging and zagging haphazardly across the landscape. Where I was, I did not know. Yet, I feared not. Though my purpose in this strange land was unclear, I felt as if I belonged there.

Suddenly, from around me burst music, swelling to fill the emptiness. Catchy and cheerful, yet beginning to age poorly, it swirled about me, forcing a smile to my lips and a small, awkward shake to my hips. From behind me, a voice echoed, startling me.

“Hello Kaos,” it said, a rich baritone. I turned to face the spectre. He was short, shorter than I, clad all in denim, large black sunglasses framing his boyish face, reddish-brown hair in a pseudo-pompadour shining with hair spray.

“Who are you? What is your purpose with me?” I asked, fear creeping into my veins.

“Do not fear, Kaos. I am never going to give you up, never going to let you down, never going to run around and desert you, never going to make you cry, never going to say goodbye, never going to tell a lie and hurt you. I am Astley, The Poet of the 1980s, and I am your guide through this damn-ed place.”

“What is this place, poet? What accursed scape do I now inhabit?”

“You have entered the Internet, my friend. You have lost your way in the Net, damning yourself to mere browsing and weak semblances of wit on message boards. I am here to lead you through the Nine Circles of Internet Hell to show you the way back to true Internet greatness.”

“I…have ruined myself. I do not deserve an Internet presence. Lead me, poet. Bring me back to respectability.”

“And so I shall. Come. Follow me. We must pass first through the Gates of Internet Hell.”

As Astley and I walked, I surveyed the terrain. The whiteness around us did not change. Walls or just an expanse? I could not tell. The blue lines we followed began to grow in thickness. The further we walked, the more they glowed, brighter and more powerful. Finally, the lines converged, providing a carpet of sorts, leading to what appeared to be a porta-potty. A sign soldered to the top of the potty read thusly: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here, but let us face it, thou already hast.” Fear once more gripped my heart, yet the gentle hand of Astley on my shoulder led me to open the door. Therein were steps, speckled gray and brown and yellow, leading down into darkness. I turned to Astley, questioning.

“Yes, Kaos. We must descend into the Circle of Unknowledge, the first Circle.”

“What lives there?”

“Those who do harm to intelligence on the Internet, yet do so without thought or malice. Those who annoy unintentionally. The AOLers. The n00bs and the far too young and the elderly.”

After only seven steps, we reached a river. This river, long, black and endlessly wide, bubbled and roiled with unspoken dreams, all foiled by the Internet. In front of us and moored on the shore of the river – Asseron, as Astley informed me – was a boat, at one time painted white but the years had stripped away much of the color, leaving it splintery and cracked. By the boat stood a man, though perhaps stood is not quite correct. By the boat, a man existed, dancing himself into all sorts of a rhythm. He did The Worm, Thriller, Running Man, Disco Fever and all matter of others. Astley bade me be silent and I did not argue. In the midst of his frenzy, the man spoke breathlessly.

“Who is this that wishes to cross the River Asseron into the depths of Hell?”

“It is I, Astley, and I bring a young man from IRL.”

“IRL? We cannot allow this! Internet lives must be separate from real life! No. No, he cannot pass.”

“This man – socially adept, non-sociopathic, none too perverted – wishes to pass through into the Darkness of his own free will and you will deny him?”

“…no. No, I suppose I cannot. Enter my boat, travellers. I shall ferry you across.”

Warily, I entered the boat, though perhaps not as warily as I should have. I tripped on a loose plank, fell and struck my head and the world went black.

When I awoke, we had reached the other shore. Wordlessly, Astley lifted me from the boat and we departed. After what seemed like a few miles, we reached the mouth of a cave. With a nod, Astley walked in and I followed as we entered the First Circle. Around us, a cacophony of sound flooded the cavern. As far as my ear could discern, it was the siren call of the dialup modem, repeated endlessly. In the cavern, the walls and floor were filled with cubicle after cubicle of Internet peasantry. Gray hair was prevalent, as were braces. The obnoxious rattle of “You’ve Got Mail” punctuated the dialup screeching. Cackling erupted now and then from different cubicles, the owner clearly entertained.

“Poet, what suffering do these poor fools experience?”

“In accordance with their crimes on Earth, they experience the same tenfold. The grandmothers, entirely lacking savvy, are damned to receiving and forwarding the same email jokes back and forth among each other for eternity. They will never tire of the inspirational messages, they will never find the “hanging in there” kitten not-adorable, they will never find the “witty” bumper stickers unfunny. The young children, far too naive and immature for the Internet, will never get the hang of message boards. They will post inane material and pointless questions and will be lambasted by others, yet they will never learn, repeating their actions forever. Those who used AOL, the cheapskates and the unknowing, will constantly receive mail, yet they will never be able to open the messages. And the n00bs, unknowing and uncaring of unwritten rules, will forever be searching for an online server that will not kick them immediately. They will never find one. These are their punishments.”

“But poet, they meant no harm!”

“That matters not. Intent is irrelevant. When you join a worldwide community, you have a responsibility to learn the rules and obey them so that the machine may run smoothly, with as few hiccups as can be. A lack of knowledge is not acceptable as an excuse for behavior. Thus, they remain here in the First Circle, toiling at nothing for eternity. Come, Kaos. We must continue. Follow me and I shall lead you into the Second Circle, where the true sinners begin.”

I followed, Astley leading me into a tunnel. As we descended once more, I could not hope but feel a pang of pity for those souls I had just experienced. Even more, however, I felt my nerves fray, concerned about what we may next see. My friends, I shall update you next when my time is yet free.
(The HELL was that? – ed.)

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