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I don’t know how to break this to you.

I guess it’s best if I just come right out and say it. I have no idea what the heck you’re looking for. I want to say it’s not you, it’s me, but, well…

You see, the way the web works is that there are these computers everywhere, and some of them are listening for digital phone calls of sorts. You type in “lah-dee-dah, Fred & Fun, contact, blah blah blah” and then this computer, it listens. You launch a thousand ships that set out across the binary seas, searching deeply for paydirt.

And then you knock on my door here. My walls, tall and sturdy, trying to keep the bots and riffraff at bay.

“Who’s there?” cries my guard.

And then your messenger, they just stand there, looking up, and they say, “I need the ‘contact’ page or whatever.”

It confuses my guard. “The ‘contact’ page? What in the world…” thinks the guard. “One minute,” they reply politely, and your messenger just stands there. Those black, beady eyes just stare.

Through a complex series of hand-signals powered by muscle memory, a deep and thorough training of how to handle such situations, and a general interest in sending this messenger away, the guard alerts the central authority to dig into the archives to find such a page. They dig, they scour, and they come up empty.

This all happens in a couple blinks of an eye, mind you.

“It’s not here, Captain,” shouts some lower-ranked peon from down in the caves, “there’s nothing.”

The Captain curses. “I knew this day would come,” he says, mostly to himself, but maybe also half to some higher power.

He looks over to the guard, whose head now swivels back and forth between the questionable messenger that you’ve sent and the Captain. Their eyes meet only briefly, but them it feels like millenia. The Captain gives a solemn but firm shake of his head. The guard nods in the same way.

They have an understanding. The guard hopes that they can find that same understanding in this messenger.

The guard turns their attention back to the messenger, who has not moved a muscle. They stand there, not quite at attention, but not slouched over either. Like a respect-casual posture.

“You there!” calls the guard as the messenger looks up, “we hereby declare 404!” The messenger continues to look up, eyes locked with the guards. They stare at head other, two people, trappen in some mental chess game — pawns and queens fly tensely over the board while bishops clobber knights and rooks trip up kings.

And then just like that, the spell breaks. The messenger stops, and then nods, just as the guard did to the Captain. And the guard returns the nod.

They, too, now have an understanding.

The return trip is always easier than the trek out. Your messenger returns, having flown on the secret eagles that they had access to this whole time but, you know, narraitve-wise, that’s a bit of a cop out.

They return, bad news in hand, as it’s also painted all over their tired but stalwart face. “No,” they say with a deep and empathetic sigh. “I’m afraid it’s gone all 404 on us.”

And so here we are. You, sitting there, disappointed, experiencing this crude approximation of how the Internet might work. Me, not sitting here because this is a static document, not a live chat. And you’re lost.

How do we carry forward from here? It’s really hard to say.

Oh, I know!
Do you like card games?