LinkjuiceSOME HAVE ASKED, and rightly so, how I first came to acquire the Linkjuice.

It’s an excellent question since the whereabouts of the Linkjuice are little known—for instance, many would like to know:  where are its haunts, its territories? Even its general location would be a boon to most. For it shifts and flashes about like a nervous chameleon.

I can only say that I first found it on the dark, bittersweet edge of the cyberscape. Past the hardcore fetishes, past the hate groups, the marginalized misfits of modern society, past dark, transitory forums where our enemies plot those unspeakable acts of their terrorism.

Yes—still beneath all this was where I first found it. The website barely had one discernable symbol from languages extant or antique. And yet there, in the middle of the screen, was the unmistakable message, “Linkjuice:  Buy Here Now.” So I did. I’m not at liberty to divulge fully what it cost me.  Suffice it to say, I bartered with everything.

It arrived one week later at my doorstep by Fed-ex courier, packaged in a small bubble-envelope. The medicine dropper bottle seemed to contain approximately two ounces of pure, unadulterated Linkjuice. The generic white on black label which bore its name seemed to have been hastily prepared on an old-fashioned typewriter.

On its back the instructions were written microscopically in several languages and so I had to get out a magnifying glass to read: Directions:  Apply a judicious amount on the affected areas of the Internet. Warnings: Do not use Linkjuice for Evil. The precise fabric and balance of the Universe if upset could spell out CERTAIN DOOM in capital letters. Do not use if you have known allergies to Wealth, Fame or Power. Keep out of the reach of children or adults of low maturity, avarice or questionable moral fiber. Please reference the list of names included with this package. This chain must not be broken. You must send the next participant the remaining Linkjuice after your needs have been met. If you get yourself into trouble… Yadda, yadda, yadda. You get the idea.

I tossed the list of names and the packing slip in the trashcan before unscrewing the top and giving it a whiff. It smelled antiseptic, as if brimming with the stuff to cure the world of its ills.

I’d never thought of my Internet failures as affected areas in need of medicinal treatment and perhaps this was the necessary reframing, the turning of the steel blade off its broadside that my thoughts needed, the magical thought that gave the Linkjuice its power.

Being an unemployed writer—a novelist of no importance—I didn’t have Internet at my apartment. I got in my car and headed for the Spicewood Springs Library Branch to use their WiFi. My first novel—my baby—Website Memories, that gem languishing in unfair obscurity, was about to go viral. And not through means natural.

Once at the library, I sat at one of their grey tables in a row along a back wall of windows and unscrewed the cap to reveal its grey, sponge applicator. I wetted the screen of my laptop precisely over the link on my blog to the Website Memories’ Kindle page.

“LINKJUICE!” I shouted, without thinking, neck veins no doubt bulging as if calling down thunderbolts through the upheld sword of He-Man. Several patrons leered and I apologized absently.

Linkjuice…” I whispered to myself—this time in solemn prayer.

I clicked around several websites, checked my Amazon Publisher account. It wasn’t working. But perhaps it takes time. Perhaps a mystical manifestation like this takes—

“WEBSITE MEMORIES!” an eighteen year old boy on his laptop exclaimed.

It was working!

I checked my email:  Four hundred messages! I scanned to the message from my ex-girlfriend: “Website Memories,” she said, “is brilliant! A novel nearly entirely about men’s relationships to Internet and cell phone technologies! A triumph! A stunning, deftly-plotted, tour-de-force exposé of our selfish society. Please take me back! I was a fool to ever doubt your abilities.”

“It’s the Linkjuice she really wants,” I explained to a four year old enjoying his coloring books, “but we—the Linkjuice and I—shall enjoy her together.”

“Website Memories…Website Memories,” I could hear the crowd of the library murmuring and chattering. No doubt patrons were lining up at reference desks to demand they stock it immediately.

I checked my publishers account. I had sold two thousand—wait, three—it was to difficult to tell, I couldn’t hit the refresh button fast enough. Still I wanted more. With this sudden success an old desire awakened:  Emanuel Hackne! My old enemy. My more successful contemporary from high school whose literary accomplishments had so greatly outmatched mine that his name as it appeared on the spines of all seven of his most recent literary smash hits emblazoned itself on my nightmares: Hackne, Emanuel—Hackne, Emanuel, Fic. Lit.! The thickness of those published manuscripts, the heft of those thriving, promiscuous memes. I navigated to his blog and applied an ample smattering of Linkjuice to the Dr. Shoals foot inserts advertized in his lower left widget. “No more internet sales for you, Hackne, Emanuel, Fic. Lit.! Now the credit goes to Dr. Shoals.”—

“Website Memories—Website Memories,” they murmured.

Still I was not appeased. The vital Linkjuice boiled in my very veins. “Child,” I said, noticing the child still coloring and not swept up in the artificial panic of my novel. I stood and opened my laptop wider. The remnants of a Burger King meal lay spread over his table. I motioned to a drinking straw. “May I take this?”

He nodded.

“With this ordinary drinking straw and this random website,” I explained. “We shall choose one word with which to redefine the common reality of humanity. Are you ready? Do you understand this awesome responsibility I have given you?”

The child nodded as if it were all a silly game.

“Which word do you choose?” I asked.

He pondered for a moment then struck out with a pink finger, “That one!”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

He nodded.

“A trifling article,” I commented. “But perhaps, in these modern times, there is some Providence in it. Wait,” I said. “Can you even read?”

He shook his head.

“It’s probably for the best. You may not want to be a part of this new world.”

I placed the straw over the word and poured out the remainder of the bottle. “If my understanding of fluids is correct,” I stated, “the height of this Linkjuice column will be commensurate with its fluid pressure on the screen and with its collective, psychic redefinition of our neurolinguistic realities!”

“Mommy!” the child cried out, no doubt searching about to show his mother what we had achieved.

The straw glowed red, the screen smoked before the Pop! that sent it spinning on the table like a wobbly top. It clamored to rest with a glowing red hole burned straight through the monitor.

“MOMMY! MOMMY! HELP! COME QUICK!” he screamed as he bawled with tears of true joy.

“The,” a woman said and walked past us entranced. “The, the, the…”

It was working! I clung to the back windows like a spider that eyed my prey. “Linkjuice,” I said, though not in a prayer. Not in a boast or a whisper. I said it as if a cry to a long lost friend and felt myself wishing to join them in their repetitious outcries.

“The…” they said, “the, the, the…” They took to the shelves and tore, riffled pages; flung books to the floor, searching out with their eager fingers for the word which they craved: “the, the, the…”

The child cried and his mother rushed to rescue him in her arms. “The, the,” she cooed. “The, the…THE!” she said with mounting alarm as the child squirmed to escape.

About davidwallacefleming

David Wallace Fleming is a U.S. writer, living in Austin, Texas. He is the author of the coming-of-age, social media novel GROWING UP WIRED, and the satirical science fiction audiobook, NOT FROM CONCENTRATE.
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