If The Internet Disappeared: Using Human Search Engines

The following is the seventh entry we've published from a journal found in a dumpster in Bayside, New York. Little is known about its origin, but judging from the title "Notes from the Internet Apocalypse, 2013," it comes from the future. Oh, and Gladstone wrote it. We do know that. But the Gladstone we know or future Gladstone? It's almost impossible to say. Nevertheless, it is reprinted here as a cautionary tale ...

Day 49: RETURN TO OZ It didn't seem possible that in a world devoid of Facebook, Twitter, and people-finding apps like foursquare, I had somehow managed to locate a 5'5" Australian girl among the four million people still living in New York City. Even stranger, I hadn't recognized her. Oz ran from her tiny glass room, heels clacking in the hallway, and when she burst through my door, kissing and holding me tight, I couldn't help but think of Romaya and the way we loved each other when we were as young as Oz. "For fucks, sake, Gladstone," she said, pulling back suddenly. "Why do you reek of Drakkar Noir?" Her hair was longer now and flowed in California redwood colors without the distraction of store-bought fluorescents. Sexy librarian glasses had taken the place of disposable contacts. And her accent had all but dissolved into a softer dialect of unknown origin. Oz saw the confusion on my face. "What is it?" she asked. "Have you found Tobey? The Internet?" I just stared, unsure of what I was trying to remember. "Maybe we should just get you home, Gladstone. You don't look right, and you smell like a New Jersey mall."

Oz filled my head with whispered stories while I slept. Stories about the government releasing her after a brief interrogation; about losing her purse and keys in the arrest; and about how she did visit the hotel in the first three days, but no one answered the door or took her calls. She moved on looking for work and shelter. I was too tired to respond to any of it. Or maybe it was just a feeling of contentment I didn't want to disturb with words. In the morning, I woke with Oz straddling my back. "Wake up, old man," she said. "Time to find the Internet." I rolled over beneath her and placed a hand on each thigh. "First we have to get Tobey. It would be too sad to find it without him." "There's something I want to do even before that," she said and leaned over to put her glasses on the nightstand. The soft of her T-Shirt caught my stubble. "What's that? Discuss your Daddy issues?" "I don't have Daddy issues." I slid my hands further up Oz's thighs until she could no longer pretend to be cool. "In my experience," I said. "You either have Daddy issues or a cock." Day 50: CRAIGSLIST We set out in search of Tobey, and Oz led the way. In our two weeks apart she had learned all about the latest non-technological advances in our Internet-less world. Much like pornography, knowledge had become too easily obtained and we couldn't go without. We needed our answers to flow more freely than our desire to look for them, and although the Net was gone, other things rose to take its place. Oz told me that the Library of Congress had hired hundreds of new librarians simply for the purpose of researching and responding to queries. For one dollar, you could fax a question in and, using the resources of America's largest library, the answer would be tracked down and faxed back to you within 24 hours. Some of the requested information was more important than others.

But if you were fortunate enough to live in New York City - still the greatest city in the world even if people were leaving in droves and the threat of terrorist attacks increased daily - you had an even more impressive alternative for acquiring information. You could ask Jeeves. His real name was Daniel McCall, but apparently this fifty-year-old psychic and former Columbia University librarian now only answered to "Jeeves." Every day from noon to four he would roll his tiny stack table, folding chair, and trunk containing reference materials to the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park and field questions. But Jeeves's greatest resource was his photographic memory filled with limitless details of historical and trivial import. He charged five dollars a question. If Jeeves could answer you, he kept the money. If he could provide only related information, he gave you back two dollars. And if your query returned no results, your money was returned. Supposedly that had never happened. "Wow, that's pretty amazing," I said. "How'd you hear about this?" "Christ, Gladstone. Everyone's heard about it. Have you been doing anything for the last two weeks besides wanking in Times Square?" I took a nip from my flask. "Does drinking count?" "Fucking lush. Come on, I wanna get to craigslist before it gets too crowded." "Craigslist? What happened to Jeeves?" Oz looked at me with disgust. "Jeeves is where histrionic, thirty-year-old Sheilas go to find out if their boyfriends are ever gonna propose." I followed Oz to the 4, 5, 6 subway stop by Union Square. What used to be an out of place promenade for slackers and artists to smoke, sketch, and skateboard had been transformed. Now it was an out of place promenade for slackers to smoke and sketch and tack index cards to a huge cheap plywood wall. Much like the real craigslist, the board had been separated into sections: jobs, items for sale, sexual seekers.

"This is how I found a roommate when I couldn't get back into the hotel," Oz said. "Yeah, but how will this help us find, Tobey? What kind of post are we looking for? Single White Male seeks 80s references and tits?" "I dunno, but it couldn't hurt to start looking." continued on page 2...

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