echoed through the dark isolated room Kalabar was confined in. Kalabar peered through the blinds and saw flashes of lightning light up the dreary sky. That’s it, he thought. I have had enough. I am visiting
Kalabar was a victim of the cyberwar that broke out once
became the sysop of a Bulletin Board System for FidoNet. It used to be that a sysop was a neutral moderator with technical skills and good leadership that ensured the network ran smoothly and everyone complied.
However, when Black Smoke came to power, that dynamic
Black Smoke became power hungry.
The “flame wars” of the BBS era were innocent. Users would simply make snide remarks to one another but it was never a huge problem. It was a sysop’s job to prevent these trivial arguments from going anywhere. Of course the anonymity helped diffuse the tension. Black Smoke didn’t like this. She thought everyone was a coward for hiding behind his or her real identity. This is why she took the initiative to create an FSC that would force every user of any BBS to scan a
which would automatically upload all of his or her personal information into an online database. This identity surrender would turn out to cause some serious implications. Rather than having flame wars come to a halt since one knew who he or she was dealing with, they became worse. Dubbed “the wildfire war,” and it was all virtual. If a user found him or herself in an online entanglement, he or she would be summoned to fight. When people lost a battle, they were deprived of any type of access to the online world. This ultimately set them up for failure in life since they had no technical expertise to keep up with the changing world.
Kalabar stepped back from the window sill as he thought back to how he lost his battle and now was excluded from society thanks to his technical inexperience. He lived in a secluded community among other “losers”
in which they were cut off from contact from people in the “real world”—the ones who were granted access to the internet. Kalabar was tired of hiding out like a recluse and living the same routine life. This is why today he decided to go visit—the online government headquarters for the “normal” people of society. He was going to protest and attempt to be integrated into society. Kalabar thought back to the days when he would get on his BBS and message friends. He had heard some rumors from other losers about all the new things people could do online and with technology. If he could prove himself worthy to ,then this would mean a rebirth of an identity in the real world and online. Kalabar grabbed his rain jacket and ran outside to the train station. He bought a ticket with the limited funds he had.
The train ride was roughly an hour. Kalabar kept his head ducked low and avoided eye contact with any passersby that could immediately tell from his aura that he was a loser.
headquarters was the product of Apple which had gained a lot of control during the 2020s and 30s. Kalabar silently chuckled to himself as he remembered how hobbyists used to refer to the Apple enthusiasts as “blockheads.” “They’re blockheads alright,” he mumbled to himself. Within moments, he found himself at the entrance and was not sure what to expect. He went in and immediately was overwhelmed by the amount of screens in the rooms. He had been out of touch for so long. As he was peering into one of the screens, a woman’s face popped up.
“What are you doing here,” questioned the woman with a tone of disgust in her voice.
“I-I-I’m here to reclaim my identity,” stammered Kalabar.
The woman laughed at him.
‘C’mon, you can’t mean to tell me that an isolated event that happened 15 years ago determines my future especially when I can prove myself that I am worthy to be a part of your society,”
She knows my name without even having to say anything, unbelievable, thought Kalabar.
“We don’t usually do this but if you really think you can put up another fight…” Before she could even finish, the screen shut off and opened to reveal a door.
Kalabar saw no other choice but to enter. He came to a small white room with nothing but a headset and small tablet.
He took a deep breath and connected himself. He was simulated into a virtual dimension very much similar to the one where he lost everything. A figure was approaching him and as it neared he realized it was Black Smoke.
He picked up a weapon that was lying on the ground next to him. The two began battling and Kalabar gave everything he had in him to fight.
Kalabar lost sight of his senses, he had no time to think. Suddenly everything went black.
Oh no, thought Kalabar as his heart sank. This is the end. Then his eyes went back into focus and he saw the figure of Black Smoke pixelated and fuzzy as it slowly It took Kalabar a second to process that he had just won. Kalabar took off the headset.
This was the start of rebranding himself—his acceptance into a new digital society.
Kalabar is grateful you listened to his story.
He wants you to check out other rad tales here.