I must’ve dreamed a thousand dreams
Been haunted by a million screams
But I can hear the marching feet
They’re moving into the street
Well this is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in
Ooh, Superman where are you now
When everything’s gone wrong somehow?
The men of steel, the men of power
Are losing control by the hour
I remember long ago when the sun was shining
Yes, and the stars were bright all through the night
And wake up this madness as I held you tight, so long ago
This is the time, this is the place
So we look for the future
But there’s not much love to go round
Tell me why, this is a land of confusion
– Disturbed, “Land of Confusion”
Madison and I along with our daughter lived in the roach infested apartments for three years before deciding we were ready to move on to something better. She was working as an administrative assistant at one of the local textile mills and I was still working as a warehouse supervisor. Neither of us really liked our jobs but there was security in them and we thought that would be enough. We found a small house in one of the neighboring towns that wasn’t much to look at but it was clean and free of cockroaches and after doing the math, we decided we could afford it and moved in.
I had an old word processor that I used to write stories on in college and upgraded to a real computer. It was a beast of a machine complete with Windows 95, a 4 GB HDD, 32 MB of RAM, a 28.8 bps modem and a 233 MHz processor with MMX technology. It was top of the line at the time and only set me back a mere $3000.00 with the addition of a printer. I found another computer just like it on Ebay several years back with a starting bid of $15.00 and nobody wanted it.
I had bought the computer to continue working on a tabletop strategy game that I had been designing. It was a post-apocalyptic setting where multiple alien races invaded our world and brought their wars down upon us. Mankind was all but destroyed until the world united with the Guardian Project. The plan was to acquire the alien technology, modify it for humanity and turn the aliens’ own weapons against them. There were also a number of rebel factions that operated outside of the strictly regulated newly formed world government and played by their own rules of survival. My friends and I play tested the game and it was a huge hit but I never seemed to have enough money to do anything with it.
Madison and I also got our first real taste of the internet using the only 14.4 bps dial-up connection that was available in the middle of nowhere and just as most people did during the infancy of the internet, American Online was the service of choice. Free discs to install the internet service were everywhere from the counter of the local convenience store to your mailbox as the discs were being mailed out almost as frequently as credit card and cellular service offers are today. But it wasn’t the internet we all know it to be now so much as a glorified chat window where sending a 50 Kb file took nearly thirty minutes to complete while we sat there watching and waiting for the transfer to finish. People would get up in the middle of the night to take a piss and turn on the computer just to see if any new e-mails had arrived. There was even a Top 10 list for symptoms of being addicted to the internet and the midnight pisses and e-mail checks made the cut.
Then a new darkness befell our home. Madison and I stopped talking to each other and started spending more and more time on the internet chatting with strangers. If I am to be honest, I have to admit that it was me that fell first. I remember some brief arguments where Madison would want me off the computer so we could spend time together but that gave way to our fighting over the computer itself because we each wanted more time with our newfound internet friends.
I think back to those early days and late night chats with faceless friends and as hard as I have tried, I cannot recall a single conversation that deserved priority over my relationship with Madison. But there it was; two people that had loved each other for years unconditionally, suddenly fighting for time to sit in a room alone and chat with strangers through a $3000.00 telephone.
It’s ironic knowing that I purchased the computer to create a futuristic post-apocalyptic warzone and inadvertently created one in my own home.