The Invention

A man invented a method of turning the content of web sites into data-filled jelly. The gelly absorbed new content as it was added via wireless feeds. He also invented a capsule that would transport the data into space where it would emit that content into vacuum in a form of an ever-growing and ever-altering symphony.

One day he entered his office and found the capsule missing and his papers scattered about the room, some of them torn, some of them sliced up, some of them violently turned into wads.

In the hall, he tore at his hair.

“The capsule,” he yelled. “The capsule’s gone.”

He shoved Professor Johnson against the wall of his lab and said, “Where’s my fucking capsule, the capsule.”

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Professor Johnson insisted.

He explained the situation to the campus police. The Dean studied the door. “This was a very clever thief,” the Dean said.

“Clever? I’m out of my mind. The web is out there. Out there. The guts of our brains. I have to find it.”

The campus police were stumped. The FBI began an investigation.

Days later, citizens began to notice the Internet grow lighter in weight. Whole spaces of information began to disappear. Where once were pages, empty space appeared, flat blank rectangles of light. Empty archives. Governments slowly faded from the web. The chains that linked followers and friends broke. Armies of coders were deployed into the field. Engineers found all their tapes erased, drives wiped, code erased. Inventories piled to the ceilings. People typed faster. Empty spaces to the left or right moved fast to follow.

Molly wept at the emptiness of light on the monitor, as if the very circuits had grown sad.

TV commentators grew mute, forgetting their questions.

In the park, a boy let go of an orange balloon. It rose swiftly, clipped the branches of an elm. Its string jumped in the wind.

People in the park stopped to watch. Whole crowds pointed their eyes at the balloon, rising and rising. They watched that balloon with great attention. If it drifted from their field of vision, they might die, fall into the water and die. Even as their eyes grew sore and as the balloon grew tiny in the sky, they watched.

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