The Unknown: The Red Line.
  He had sent his former colleagues from ISU an email asking if he could be in the hypertext of the Unknown with them. He had been real nice about it, too, considering that he knew how to use computers and they didn’t. Their response had been unsatisfactory.

Enough was enough. He wrote a two-line, web-client PERL script that read the hypertext and edited all the scenes together so that they were linear and the plot made sense, and authors of color were represented in proportion to Caucasian experimentalists, and replaced the words “Scott,” “William,” “Dirk,” and “Frank” with the word “Will.”

Norton had already made him an offer on the manuscript.

He had spent countless hours reading the works of Thomas Pynchon, six times through. The gravity of it, over and over, he read Rainbow six times. He had copious notes. There was an expanse of paper spread about the filth of his apartment floor, devoted exclusively to his loneliness, and the projects he manufactured to combat it. Bleakley followed obscure facts, even casual mentions, to their antecedents, and he followed them from there again to their own, and deeper. He had reason to believe that the thing should be his. He had milk crates full of books. He had vodka. He had ambition and resentments. He knew that there were paths that he could follow, and he did, indeed, he did indeed follow those paths.

Now he turned to the language of Java, a language as eloquent as any damn French, and wrote the code that would visit the Unknown’s server, break in by trying every possible username and password, from a vocabulary selected first from The Unknown itself, and then from the Oxford English Dictionary. They’re literate boys, he reasoned, they would never use a password like 56HK32?, not even William. The program would then write Will Bleakley into every scene on the Red Line, in a style much funnier than William’s and more earnest than Frank’s and more concise than Scott’s and more verbose than Dirk’s, and in the scenes he would meet every famous author mentioned in the hypertext.

And then he, too, would win the Mr. Amerika Hypertext Novelist Bodybuilding Competition.

Because Bleakely was pumped, ripped, and cut. He had beaten Mark Leyner in a 20-round arm wrestling match. Bleakely’s biceps were as taut as the cables on the Golden Gate Bridge, and far surpassed the cables in tensile strength. His pecs were like two 1968 Volkswagon Beetles.

He had beaten Krass-Mueller in tennis and arm wrestling at the same time, and had also won the rights to all of Krass-Mueller’s works, in what had proven to be an extremely bizarre and weirdly successful thesis defense.

Bleakely had found his voice. He was ready.

Unknown, I’m your daddy now.


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