Episode 8: The NoS
Tif: I know we are not talking about millions of people here, but what the…. How can we have the same damn adulterated feelings and experiences, all i-dent-i-cal, down to the goddamn year, and no one will connect the dots except for us? Why can’t anyone see what is right in front of their goddamn faces.
Crispin was logged into the Blue Universe bulletin board for the fourth time that day. He normally checked in at least once, occasionally posting, mostly reading the thoughts of others. The amount of times he jumped on depended on his interest in the dialogue. The interest began with a genuine willingness to be included, and lately the interest was more cringeworthy like driving by the scene of a car accident and being unable to look away. He was committed to being there, in good and bad, if only to witness what was unfolding. Crispin wouldn’t have been able to explain it to anyone beyond the reaches of the website. There were real things at stake. He had skin in the game.
PaintedMe: I’m a freak, so what?
Sometimes, posts and back-and-forth exchanges were so engaging he wouldn’t log off and go into the early hours without his head ever touching the pillow. The most compelling posts were often from NoS in response to the banter, and interjecting to raise the interaction, and emotion of the users.
NoS: We are not like THEM, my friends. We don’t see like THEM. We don’t feel, like THEM. And there will come a day when THEY will notice, and look out. We are either predator or prey.
NoS was the supposed creator of Blue Universe and was moderator for the bulletin board, which was live 24/7, and NoS was always there. Crispin suspected the creator was more than one person, despite the representation. That and the username itself. There were posts that asked for what it meant without the question being answered, and still others that proposed meanings for the username, a popular one being that NoS, meant No Souls, because that was how some felt. Crispin thought of the Spanish word, nos, which meant us.
His mother was first generation Irish American, whose mother came to San Francisco for a summer job and never left. His father was California Chicano whose family had been rooted in the San Francisco area for generations. Crispin effortlessly switched from English whenever there were Spanish speakers around, whether he knew them or not, and often received a surprised look – with his reddish hair, fair skin and freckles on the one side of his nose.
Lost4When: Does anyone experience this? Automatic doors for grocery stores and malls, they don’t work for me, ever. I have to wait until someone else walks in and I follow. Same thing for automatic sinks, hand dryers. Anything that has a sensor.
Crispin, like the others, saw only blue. Like looking through a coated lens that re-imagined the visual, all things light and dark and in between were defined by the subtle gradation of hues in the single color scheme. Unlike most of them on the Bulletin Board, he had never seen the world any other way. Of the few hundred or so who frequented the website, Crispin was the only user who claimed to be born with the condition, as in he couldn’t recall ever feeling connected to anyone or anything around him, never saw the world in any other color. His mother and father were beautiful, loving people, he could see that, but he didn’t know them. They were strangers.
The rest of the users were older than Crispin. He was born in 1987, which made him not quite thirty.
Missy BlueSky: The last thing I remember, I was on a plane to Boston. I can’t even picture landing. Everything after that is one big blur. I need to understand how we ended, or started on that date.
The ages varied on the website, some remembered some semblance of normalcy until ten years old or so, others made it to high school, and still a few more who reached adulthood. Crispin imagined there were more out there, maybe even many more, who just hadn’t found Blue Universe. He wondered if that would have been better, never to have found the site, because what started as a place to discover common experience and community was becoming more and more about ‘us and them.’ It was getting very angry.
NoS: Everyone around you believes they know exactly what you are. Disconnected, unfeeling, claims about unnatural vision. You are a pariah. To them, you are dead inside – a zombie.
Theories about why and what abound on the site. The unsubstantiated but plausible, the dangerously conspiratorial, and the higher evolutional. The Blue Universe bulletin board explored it all. Undiagnosed neurological affliction, exposure to radiation, alien abduction, secret government testing, genetic anomalies. Of late, the theories became more and more paranoid. Us and them, reinforced by government documents that NoS obtained via The Freedom of Information Act and provided in the website’s archives, examples of taking facts and manipulating them to fit the paranoia. Crispin could see NoS’ intentions plain as day, no one else seemed to see that.
NoS: Perhaps we are only the beginning. Perhaps we are the start of a new humanity. Perhaps THEY have realized we are the next step. Perhaps we are capable of more than we realize. A next step in the evolution. Perhaps it is our turn.
NoS did not only fuel anger, the messages resonated for a group of people who were outcasts, unable to have meaningful relationships, hold down jobs, simply function in a world they were ill-fitted for. NoS provided comfort, Blue Universe provided a place to feel accepted.
Q: I can pretend. I got really good at it. Just go about it as if everything is normal. And I keep telling myself I will wake up one day and I will be back in ’87 driving home from the party. And all the years since then will be just a dream.
Crispin felt that comfort and acceptance too, at first. He eventually realized that whatever good could come out of bringing them all together was being corrupted by NoS. The Blue Universe creator was building a unique congregation of devoted followers and he feared they were becoming an army.