It was a cloudy and bittercold morning when I climbed into my Jeep for the ride to work at the GeoCities complex. As miserable as it was, this was a day to be looked forward to--the weekly Hate Day that was the high point of most of the Geos' employment. I arrived at work to find most of my comrades already in the conference room, seated before the projection screen and waiting for Hate Day to begin.
The screen faded from its customary black to a deep blue. The Geo Collective sat forward, on the very edges of their seats in anticipation. At once the screen filled with a face, and a tinny male voice (presumably spoken by the same face) began, as it appeared, to hurl insults at the collective to rile them up.
YOU GOD-DAMNED NO-GOOD MISERABLE EXCUSES FOR
Loud cheering ensued and the crowd throbbed. They were practically drooling
with emotion and anticipation. The face faded out and was soon replaced
by another. The Hate had begun.
There was an undeniable and irrepressable anger in that room. It seemed to pervade the air they breathed, lingering in the atmosphere like a thick smog. Hate poured from every mouth and added to the smog.
He began to speak the forbidden internal doctrine of GeoCities. "At the top of the pyramid lie the Inner Circle, sometimes known as the Advertisers...." As he spoke images were faded together, the bleating voice from the screen superimposed on the images of burning crosses, starving children in a nameless third-world country, a dead puppy.
The collective was frothing. The sheeplike but invasive voice from the screen could scarcely be heard over the cacophony and blood-red hatred that flared among the collective. The throng of enraged Geos was wailing, yelling, throwing empty bottles and rubbish at the screen. Clenched fists shook in unison as the Geo collective voiced their disdain for the face apparent on the screen.
The voice continued, denouncing the Inner Circle, denouncing GeoManagement, the GeoStapo, the unexpected visits to anti-Geo dissidents' homepages and houses, the mysterious disappearances of GeoCritics in the dark of the night... The collective roiled and stomped, and hurled obscenities at the face of Sandell. The fury continued to escalate until the entire floor shook from the throbbing throng of livid and swearing Geos whipped up into a writhing, almost hysterical frenzy against the subject on the screen before them.
"...Well ya know what? You are nothing. Your GeoStapo have no legal legs to stand on. Beware, farts, the can of Lysol."
A flash of the eyes of any Geo in that room could have turned to stone
anyone that dared gaze upon them. All of the sudden the face of Sandell
faded back into darkness and the 'face of GeoCities' replaced it. Just
as suddenly as it had started, the Two Minutes Hate had concluded.
* * *
Just walked into the server room to see how far the Techs were getting
on Starcraft (GeoTynan hasn't quite mastered the game) and saw my Bastard
Rookie In Training with that new guy again... BRIT says he's about ready
to retire to Cancun already, after a few short days of instructing a BRIT
of his own (let's call him BRIT2). BRIT2 is quite enthusiastic and diligent
in his work, more so even than my original BRIT himself. These thoughts
were interrupted by my hearing a noise that, due to my time as on-duty
BGFH, had become quite familiar to me--the distinct sound of sobbing on
the other end of a phone line.
* * *
The Bastard Geo From Hell pulled from his pocket a small copper medallion that had been given him when he began working for Geo, as a subtle reminder of his duties, and gazed at the face inscribed upon it. It was the same face that appeared to conclude the Hate, in posters throughout Geo and posted at various intervals on telephone posts-- a narrow, angular face set with dark and haunting eyes that seemed to follow you as you moved about, a thick black mustache obscuring most of the mouth. No-one dared say, exactly, whose face this was or what it signified. Only a simple caption, "Watching You", was there to hint at its meaning. Similarly no-one would speak of any association between these posters and the others, bearing a hand and accusingly pointing finger, and the same caption beneath.
He peered intently into the face of the medallion, recalling a line from a book he had read when he was younger. "The face gazed at him, heavy, calm, protecting, but what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark mustache?"
He was soon recalling another line, written by one of the early BxHFHs
by the name of Bill Webb. "I know there's something, something dark in
Our last hope lies with the 'steaders.
BGFH had written this on the back of his hand, with his back to the viewscreen so GeoManagement couldn't see. The homesteaders, he had determined, were the only hope of ending GeoCities' reign of terror and preserving the freedoms of lifestyle that the Internet currently enjoys...limited as they are.
Sadly and ever so faintly, the Bastard Geo From Hell could remember he himself being a 'steader at one time. No, not at GeoCities. But a 'steader nonetheless. He ran an HTTP server and BBS out of his basement on what was at the time blazingly fast--a 300bps modem connection--posted his numeric IP address on phone posts and the windows of abandoned buildings, and passed it on scrawled notes to his friends. He recalled the early, "good old days" of the Internet--no ads, no graphics, no Java, none of the commercialized and self-important fluff that littered the Web of today. He remembered starting out in Web design, remembered how free he was--If he wanted to bash Coca-Cola, he could; if he wanted to cuss a blue streak in the texts he served from that basement server, he could; if he wanted to explain in great detail what he thought of politics, or Big Business, or The Government, by God he could--none of the strong-armed force and control of today, where if one uttered so much as a syllable of discontent against a large corporation or anyone important, they would bring him up on everything from slander to trademark infringement, and probably put him, penniless, in a jailcell for a very long time. He remembered not having a lawyer to comb over every update to his pages before he uploaded them; not needing one. He looked back to a time of direct email and guestbooks and free thought and uncensored opinion--and sighed again.