The Internet in the Occident

by: Caleb True


Untold millions, swallowed Themistocles. For a while he did not believe his runners. Then on Google Earth he zeroed in on the Hellespont and saw the double pontoon bridge. He scrolled up and saw the satellite image of the Persian hordes, a shadow against the brown landscape. The smoke from the Persian campfires covered many leagues.


Thunderstorm raging, Abraham Lincoln sat in his office nook, dejectedly Googling his own name and wishing that one day he might become famous. Outside, soggy Negroes slunk through the woods, moving through the Illinois wilderness toward freedom.


Pride got the best of them, despite rumors circulating among online Schutzstaffel message boards in late May that claimed a major invasion was being planned for the first week of June. One thread was titled “Calais.” A response thread with fifty-seven messages hollered “NEIN!—NORMANDIE.”


A skinny-armed boy in Darfur constantly refreshes the wifi receiver in his laptop as he meanders in circles. Finally he gets a signal. One bar, enough to check the weather. The boy plugs in his zip code. A five day forecast pops up. It is what he expects, mostly—then his heart drops. There is a tiny icon, next to the beating yellow sun, superimposed on the clear-blue sky. In two days, it will still be sunny, but with a chance of Janjaweed.


The Chinese factory worker’s hands peeled away shrink plastic revealing a refurbished iPhone. The worker’s primary interface with the device had been sorting its conflict minerals into piles. He turned it over, turned it over again. He unlocked the thing. No signal in the factory. He stepped outside. A whistle blew. He stepped back inside again. A bar of signal. No bars. One bar again. No bars again. The door closed. He got back to work.