CHAPTER 1; Down the
From:       "Blackhawk" <>
Message-ID: <>


"Ah cruel Peeps! In such an hour,
   Beneath such dreamy weather,
 To beg a tale of hooks too weak
   To stir the tiniest feather!
 Yet what can one poor troll avail
   Against three tongues together?

                                 Imperious Lisa flashes forth
                                   Her edict "to begin it":
                                 In gentler tones WWS hopes
                                  'There will be nonsense in it!'
                                 While Cronan interrupts the tale
                                   Not more than once a minute"


Down the

Blackhawk was beginning to get very tired of sitting by Captain Infinity 
in the Moderated group, and of having nothing to do: once or twice he 
had peeped into the post Captain Infinity was writing, but it had no 
Science Fiction or jokes in it, `and what is the use of a post,' thought 
Blackhawk `without Science Fiction or jokes?'

So he was considering in his own mind (as well as he could, for the 
flames from the Claudia Christian controversy he was reading made him 
feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of writing up a troll 
would be worth the trouble of sneaking it past the mods, when suddenly a 
large telepathic yellow Peep with carnuba wax for eyes, wearing a 
waistcoat, ran close by him.

There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Blackhawk think it 
so very much out of the way to hear the Peep say to itself, `Oh dear! Oh 
dear! I have arrived to close to the beginning of the story! I'm 
early!!' (when he thought it over afterwards, it occurred to him that he 
ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite 
natural); but when the Peep actually took out a copy of the script for 
all 12 chapters of "Blackhawks' Adventures In Servoland" out of its 
waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Blackhawk 
started to his feet, for it flashed across his mind that he had never 
before seen so large a Peep with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a script 
to take out of it, and since he'd missed all the rehearsals, he ran 
across the Internet after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it 
pop down a large under the bridge.

[Image] Large telepathic yellow Peep checking script

               .- -.
             .'   _ \_
          _ .|   /9 )_\   *PEEP* I'm early!!I'm early!!*PEEP*
     _.-''   \      /_/ ____________ 
  <`'     ..._\   <'  _|Blackhawks ||
   `._ .-'    `.  /'"/_|adventures || 
    ; `.    .-'o\/'",_ |    in     ||
     \  `~~' \_.'"'    | Servoland ||
      `"..."'% _       |___________||
        \__  |`.   BH   \__________))

In another moment down went Blackhawk after it, never once considering 
how in the world he was to get out again.

The went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then 
dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Blackhawk had not a moment to 
think about who he was stepping into before he found himself falling 
down the Usenet hierarchy.

Either the hierarchy was very deep, or he fell very slowly, for he had 
plenty of time as he went down to look about him and to wonder what was 
going to happen next. First, he tried to look down and make out what he 
was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything; then he looked at 
the sides of the hierarchy, and noticed that they were filled with 
Usenet posts and .sig lines; here and there he saw binaries and ASCII 
pictures hung upon pegs.  He began reading the names of hierarchies off 
a series of giant tabs that hung from the walls;

3b.*              and
    3com.*              he 
          3dfx.*             drifted
                3do.*                   on 
                    5col.* 5org.*             down the 
                       Intel.* LocalAccess.*           Usenet...
                                   a21.* aaa.* ab.* abg.* abq.*

He took down a post from one of the boards as he passed; it was labelled 
`***I LOVE MY FRIENDS AT ALT.TV.REAL-WORLD!!@!#****', but to his great 
disappointment it was empty: he did not like to drop the post for fear 
of killing somebody, so managed to put it into one of the boards labeled 
'DEV NUL' as he fell past it.

`Well!' thought Blackhawk to himself,`after such a fall as this, I shall 
think nothing of the trolls in alt.alien.vampires.flonk.flonk.flonk! How 
brave they'll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn't say anything about 
it, even if I fell for a troll by Herbert W**T!' (Which was very likely 

Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end! 

acs.*          `I 
  acsworld.*       wonder 
       adass.*           how 
            ads.*            many
               adsp.*            newsgroups
                          afj.*          I've 
                              africa.*       fallen 
                                      ahn.*      through    
                                 ailab.*            by  
                           air.*              this  
                   airmail.*            time?'     
                    *  *            he  
                   *  *         
             alt.*           said aloud. 

`I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the 'alt' hierarchy. Let 
me see: that would be forty-thousand bytes down, I think--' (for, you 
see, Blackhawk had learnt several things of this sort in his lessons at 
the, and though this was not a very good opportunity for 
showing off his knowledge, as there was no one to listen to him, still 
it was good practice to say it over) `--yes, that's about the right 
distance--but then I wonder what the philtrum on fucking epitomes of 
whimsy I'm up to?' (Blackhawk had no idea what a philtrum was, or a 
fucking epitome of whimsy either, but thought they were nice grand words 
to say.)

Presently he began again. `I wonder if I shall fall right through into 
the WorldWideWeb! How funny it'll seem to come out among the people that 
walk with their heads downward! The WebTv'ers, I think--' (he was rather 
glad there was no one listening, this time, as it didn't sound at all 
the right word) `--but I shall have to ask them what the name of the ISP 
is, you know. Please, Ma'am, is this WebTv or AOL?' (and he tried to bow 
as he spoke--fancy bowing as you're falling through the air! Do you 
think you could manage it?) `And what an ignorant little fellow they'll 
think me for asking! No, it'll never do to ask: perhaps I shall see a 
<title/>You are here</title> up somewhere.'

Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, so Blackhawk soon began 
talking again. `Heck'll miss me very much to-night, I should think!' 
(Heck was the meme.) `I hope they'll remember his saucer of milk at 
tea-time. Heck my dear! I wish you were down here with me! There is no 
veracity in the air, I'm afraid, but you might catch a peep, and that's 
very like a psychiatrist (being psychic and all), you know. But do memes 
eat peeps, I wonder?' And here Blackhawk began to get rather sleepy, and 
went on saying to himself, in a dreamy sort of way, `Do memes eat peeps? 
Do memes eat peeps?' and sometimes, `Do peeps eat memes?' for, you see, 
as he couldn't answer either question, it didn't much matter which way 
he put it. He felt that he was dozing off, and had just begun to dream 
that he was walking hand in hand with Heck, and saying to him very 
earnestly, `Now, Heck, tell me the truth: did you ever eat a peep?' when 
suddenly, thump! thump! down he came upon a heap of statistics and dry 
posts, and the fall was over.

Blackhawk was not a bit hurt, and he jumped up on to his feet in a 
moment: he looked up, but it was all dark overhead; before him was 
another long passage, and the Large Peep was still in sight, hurrying 
down it. There was not a moment to be lost: away went Blackhawk like the 
wind, and was just in time to hear it say, as it turned a corner, `Oh my 
wax eyes and marshmallow, I'm sooo bloody early!' He was close behind it 
when he turned the corner, but the Peep was no longer to be seen: he 
found himself in a long, low hierarchy, which was lit up by a row of 
post-mortems hanging from the roof.

There were doors all round the hierarchy, but they were all locked; and 
when Blackhawk had been all the way down one side and up the other, 
trying every door, he walked sadly down the middle, wondering how he was 
ever to post to JMS again.

Suddenly he came upon a little three-legged table, all made of Lots42's 
diary entries; there was nothing on it except a tiny golden Kibo, and 
Blackhawk's first thought was that it might belong to one of the doors 
of the hall; but, alas! either the locks were too large, or the Kibo was 
too small, but at any rate it would not open any of them. However, on 
the second time round, he came upon a low curtain he had not noticed 
before, and behind it was a little door about fifteen inches high: he 
tried the little golden Kibo in the lock, and to his great delight it 

[Image]  Blackhawk finding tiny door behind curtain
                . . . . . . . . . . .
               / \/\/\________\/\/\/\
              / /  /.|        |" . \ \
             / .  .  |Kibology|  . .  \
            /   .    |Wannbees|    .   \
           /   / /   |Abandon |   \ \   \
         .' / / /    |Hope   O|    '.'.  '.
     _.-'    / /     |Ye Who .|      ' '-. '-._
 _.-'    /  | |      |Enter   |       '-. '-.  '-.
(____(______\_\      |________|          )___)____) BH

Blackhawk opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, 
not much larger than an Odeus follow-up. He knelt down and looked along 
the passage into the loveliest newsgroup you ever saw. How he longed to 
get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright 
wackylaces and those cool parodies, but he could not even get his head 
though the doorway; `and even if my head would go through,' thought poor 
Blackhawk, `it would be of very little use without my brane. Oh, how I 
wish I could shut up like a killfile! I think I could, if I only know 
how to get flamed.' For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had 
happened lately, that Blackhawk had begun to think that very few things 
indeed were really impossible.

There seemed to be no use in waiting by the little door, so he went back 
to the table, half hoping he might find another Kibo on it, or at any 
rate a FAQ for shutting people up like killfiles: this time he found a 
little bottle on it, (`which certainly was not here before,' said 
Blackhawk,) and round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the 
words `SUCK MW' beautifully printed on it in large letters.

[Image]  Blackhawk taking the "SUCK MW" bottle
   \____/_      ..
   33  (.       || 
   3"    >    .-||-.
    \__ o     |____|
    / \\      |SUCK|
   /\  \|     | MW |
   | \  '--._/|____|
   |  \______  ==._|
   |____|    `''_______________________ 
   |___(|      (       6.21.2001       )
   | __ |       I'm writing this update 
   |/  \|       through a haze of pain 
                and dizziness. The last

It was all very well to say `SUCK MW,' but the wise little Blackhawk was 
not going to do that in a hurry. `No, I'll look first,' he said, `and 
see whether it's marked "YHBT" or not'; for he had read several nice 
little histories about newbies who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild 
trolls and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember 
the simple rules that news.groups had taught them: such as, that a 
red-hot poster will burn you if you troll them too long; and that if you 
cut your ego very deeply with a typo, it usually bleeds; and he had 
never forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle marked `YHBT,' it 
is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.

However, this bottle was not marked `YHBT,' so Blackhawk ventured to 
taste it, and finding it very nice, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed 
flavour of butter-tart, mustard, kiwi, roast Krab, coffee, and hot 
buttered tofu,) he very soon finished it off.

        _____________                 _____________               
         `-._    ..::|                 `-._    ..::|       .      
             `.  ..::|                     `.  ..::|      /|      
              |  ..::|                      |  ..::|     /.|      
              |  ..::|   _____              |  ..::|    / :|      
    .--------.|  ..::|.-'  ..::-.--. .------|  ..::|   / .:|      
    | /\    .::. ..:.'       ..::`. '       |  ..::|  / .::| /\   
    |/  \    .::\../           ..::\        |  ..::| / ..::|/  \  
.---'    '---..::bd        _    ..::b.._    |  ..::|/ ..---'    '---.
 `-.      .-' .::PI     .:(_)   ..::m   )   |       ..::`-.      .-'
   /      \  ..:/.q             ..::w  /   .|       .:'   /      \
  /_.-``-._\..:' ..\           ..::/  /   .:|       ''---/_.-``-._\
  ' |  ..:.`  |  ..:`.       ..::,'  /   .::|            ..:.     `
    |  ..:|   |  ..::|`-.__..::-':| /  .::' |  ..:::|`.   ..:\
    |  ..:J  ,'  ..:::.   ,'   ..::/ ..:'  ,'  ..::::. )   .::b
    | ..:/  /____..::::\ /____...:/ .:'   /____..:::::/   ..::P
    |.:,'                        /.:'                /  ..:::' 
    |,'                         /.'                 / ..:-'    
    '                          '                   /,-'     
                                                  '   BW

`What a curious feeling!' said Blackhawk; `I must be shutting up like a 

And so it was indeed: he was now only ten inches high, and his face 
brightened up at the thought that he was now the right size for going 
through the little door into that lovely newsgroup. First, however, he 
waited for a few minutes to see if he was going to shrink any further: 
he felt a little nervous about this; `for my ego might never recover and 
could result, you know,' said Blackhawk to himself, `in my coming out 
altogether, like Franklin. I wonder what I should be like then?' And he 
tried to fancy what the flame of a poster is like after the poster has 
come out, for he could not remember ever having seen such a thing.

After a while, finding that nothing more happened, he decided on going 
into the newsgroup at once; but, alas for poor Blackhawk! When he got to 
the door, he found he had forgotten the little golden Kibo, and when he 
went back to the table for it, he found he could not possibly reach it: 
he could see it quite plainly through Lots42's blather, and he tried his 
best to climb up one of the legs of the diary, but it was too slippery; 
and when he had tired himself out with trying, the poor little thing sat 
down and cried.

`Come, there's no use in crying like that!' said Blackhawk to himself, 
rather sharply; `I advise you to leave off this minute!' He generally 
gave himself very good advice, (though he very seldom followed it with 
medication), and sometimes he scolded himself so severely as to bring 
tears into his eyes; and once he remembered trying to box his own ears 
for having cheated himself in a game of "troll the Stinson" he was 
playing against himself, for this curious child was very fond of 
pretending to be two or more people. `But it's no use now,' thought poor 
Blackhawk, `to pretend to be two people! Why, there's hardly enough of 
me left to make one respectable post!'

Soon his eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the diarys: 
he opened it, and found in it a very small Krabcake, on which the words 
`BITE MW' were beautifully marked in marshmallows. `Well, I'll bite it,' 
said Blackhawk, `and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the Kibo; 
and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the Mode^r^a^door; so 
either way I'll get into the newsgroup, and I don't care which happens!' 

He ate a little bit, and said anxiously to himself, `doidy, doidy!', 
holding his hand on the top of his head to feel which way it was 
growing, and he was quite surprised to find that he remained the same 
size: to be sure, this generally happens when one eats Krabcake, but 
Blackhawk had got so much into the way of expecting nothing but 
out-of-the-way things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and stupid 
for life to go on in the common way.

So he set to work, and very soon finished off the Krabcake.

     *       *       *       *       *       *       *

         *       *       *       *       *       *

     *       *       *       *       *       *       *

Next chapter: The Pool of Trolls



Author's Notes for this chapter

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