Dr. Demetri Fuller sat in his home study. The glow off his large Dell monitor illuminated his face in the darkness. It was late, too late. He should be asleep, he had work tomorrow.
He should have made a lesson plan.
But there were just so many. Too many to record, too much data to be organized. He scrolled and the light of his computer flickered, casting blue shadows on his bookshelf. The numbers were all there, they just didn't add up. He tried a calculation. Another pop up of numbers. Nothing made sense. Again, he clacked numbers down the keyboard. Slowly equations popped up in black text over his screen. The numbers scrambled and filled his screen... darkness. As he passed out Demetri Fuller managed to unplug his computer with his falling body.
Take a step out of a mind for a moment.
Demetri Fuller was using the Internet. His student aide, Samantha Stock, had introduced him when she asked for his screen name.
"My 'es en?' I'm not entirely sure what that is, however if you are referring to the use of Sigma and Nu in different equations there are several..."
"No, no Professor. Your SN, your screen name."
A blank stare.
"For Instant Messaging?"
"On the computer?"
"Well, I don't own a computer actually Sam, I thought you'd've figured that out by now."
Let's take a step further back. Demetri Fuller is a man of numbers and equations. Functions and algorithms. They amaze and fascinate him, which is apparent in his constant memorization of mathematic equations. Anything with Greek letters and numbers in it is probably known by Professor Fuller, and taught, too. One of the few professors at the universities who does not use PowerPoint or slideshows for his lectures, preferring the old slate and chalk method, Demetri is considered an educational ludite. His students have mixed feelings about this. Some enjoy it, as it affects his enthusiasm and relations with his students, making his classes more human. Others... well let's take a look.
"No. Way! Mister Fuller, you can't not know what AIM is. Everyone talks with it. We're going to the computer lab to set up your account."
And so it was that Samantha Stock threw Demetri into the digital world. Over the following days it came up in conversation at the water cooler and in class. Everyone seemed to want to get naive Mr. Fuller into the World Wide Web.
"Jeeze, Fulller, I know ya didn't use it fer yer lesson plans but I didn't know you had no computer. Tell ya what, I'm gettin' Becky a brand new one for a gift, her's is outdated. You can have it!"
"Mr. F, you ain't been on AIM? That's a pity, you gotta keep it real, that's what's good. Hit me up at MCBrian1998. 'S my SN. Yo, everybody, sign in with your screen name today, that's what's good!"
And now Demetri had them, just because Brian had shouted that in class he had nearly a quarter of his lecture hall signing their screen name on the attendance sheet. It had become a little pet project. Get all his students, in the high four hundred, those that came to class, to sign in with their screen name. A little way to know his kids better. Until this weekend the information had seemed cute. Innocent. But now he was organizing it.
There were too many similarities for them not to be organized. Oh, sure, there was a level of individuality. A way to hide your name in the screen name, a 'boy' or 'grl' to define sex, maybe a hobby or movie character, but all had some sort of number.
The numbers, always at the end... They had to mean something. Not just to the kid, not just as a label. There were too many for it not to mean something. Something big, something relating to the grand scheme of things.
And so it was that Professor Fuller, with his doctorate in mathematics, specializing in ancient equations set to work of making sense of instant messaging screen names.
Time passes, flowers bloom, cocoons burst and bugs emerge, a sun rises and sets over a picturesque piece of campus seven times. One week is gone.
Mr. F is in the computer lab, a single screen flickering in the corner. His tie is loose and flung awkwardly. His shirt unbuttoned and his face unshaven he stares bleakly into the computer.
ç- ∑3 ≈ X
Nothing was working.
Again numbers and symbols and screen names flickered on the screen like flies, overlapping each other, discoloring the screen.
Soon the room was dark, the only light blacked out aside from the setting sun through the closed blinds.
That was the sound of surrender, the sound of a man giving up any semblance of society because of his failure. It was the sound of Mr. Fuller passing gas. He drooled as he stared at the glowing darkness.
Excuze you Lowle!!!!
The voice was like forks in electric sockets, like old, black and white TV robots, like Ronny the Robot. You could hear the exclamation points, too. It was disturbing.
U No us. We spent so much time together in the last week.
“I- I do?”
U been studiyn’ us for the past like year, son. WhaTaff! I thought we were friends!
It was at this point Demetri noticed that wires were. , not moving… slithering, yeah slithering together, monitors were connecting and crawling to each other, computers were connecting and clanking closer.
Monitors stacked on top of each other and created a large, blank screen in front of Demetri as other computer parts writhed and amassed themselves around the lab.
Mr. D we’re the #s
“The what? You’re static?”
No! we’re the numberz.
“The numbers?” The screen that was taller than him, now angled itself over Demetri Fuller, in front of him at a 45-degree angle. Wires strapped him down at his wrists, tipping his chair back so all he could see was the screen menagerie.
The screen flickered, Yeah da numberz, Numbers, symbols and screen names flashed full screen, sometimes larger than Fuller himself.
“Wha-what do you want from me!”
We wantz ya ta stop!
Plugs ripped out of sockets and snaked up to Demetri’s body, threatening to plug in through his skin.
“What … are you? I need to figure it out!”
A picture of Leonardo DaVinci popped on the screen and a midi file began to play. “Yes I, DaVinci, foresaw this mass communication anomaly. I knew that the younger generations, striplings. I knew that they would need to be controlled and therefore created mathematical theory to monitor their actions. I also created the security system current hold you. Quite impressive if I say so myself. Ahem. To whom it concerns X≈ mdy/t£ in which X is equal to… to…. toooooooooooo…
And the computer shut off. Wires loosened and dropped, the stack of computers and monitors slacked slightly as if no longer sentient. Dead technology.
“Mr. Fuller, are you alright?”