Medical Transcription from home is just about as interesting as staring at your own face in the mirror for four hours, or watching a football game where the score is sixty to nothing in the first quarter. It’s well paid, though, so in that way it’s kind of like the post office: The workers have great health care, a fairly comfortable wage, and all the dreams that don’t include sorting mail are pigeonholed, so to speak. It useful to note that “going postal” became quite a phrase back in the nineties and was used for anyone who cracked under the strain of a tedious or nasty job and killed a bunch of co-workers. This was not to be my fate, however, since I didn’t have any co-workers and I appeared to be able to withstand almost unlimited amounts of drudgery and boredom. Or so I thought.
That’s how they snared me.
You’d think a grown man would be smarter and stay out of chat rooms. But maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. They (that they everyone is afraid of) would have found me anyway because they knew about my family. So, why didn’t they try to get at me directly? Because they wanted my full cooperation, which meant their research was excellent. They must have known that I was one of the most uncooperative people of all time with institutions, governments, and authority of all kinds. I didn’t even like the line leader in grammar school. It’s like an allergy: politicians, bureaucrats, bossy people and bullies lead me to hives, runny noses, and force me to string together obscene invectives.
So, anyway, they tried to get to me through my favorite chat room.
I like science fiction, but not most of the new stuff. I try to find old Heinleins at tag sales, or Zelazneys. I have the complete collection of the nutcase Philip K. Dick in paperback, yellowed pages with the sweet scent of mildew and all. He thought that a cascade of energies met where he placed his desk at his Berkeley condo. Some of his books don’t even make any sense, but I’ve read them all, and nothing beats Ubik for sheer invention. So, it was natural that I headed for a science fiction chat room.
Unfortunately, they were all interested in Daniel Patrick Kelly, Dan Simmons, online role games, old Star Trek trivia, and something called Death Realms. They took names like Star Trooper, Ultra Spock, Hyperion and others. And I couldn’t read a lot of their messages at first or second glance. There is something called L33K, which translates to a language called Leek, where symbols are very imaginative. In other, simpler cyber-jargon U meant you and R meant are. 2 was for all kinds of toos and 4 for for and four and BFF and RFL and on and on until any true English speaker became confused.
I had almost given up trying to talk to these kids when a new alias appeared in the chat room: THIS IMMORTAL. That meant he’d read classic Zelazny or at least read the title. So I keyed a message. I kept it too, and that’s how it started.