Pixelated

by on February 17th, 2011
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Sienna vanished before their eyes. One minute she was dressed up as an ostrich, making pouty faces at the camera, the next she was gone.

Sienna was a high fashion model making more money than I’d care to say. Translucent, champagne skin, plush blonde hair and wide-set green eyes can be very persuasive in earning money. Eyes, skin and hair aside, what we are looking at is a nose, mouth and surly personality. Yes, Sienna Lincoln was a narcissistic pain and she had just disappeared.

“It’s no use. We’ve looked everywhere on this 20-acre farm and she simply isn’t here,” Danny the photographer said with a sigh.

The crew told reporters and police that they searched exhaustively for 20 minutes, but found not a trace of her. Not even a whiff of her pungent, Sultry Sienna perfume remained, which was for the best. The scent reeked of fruit punch and vanilla; it smelled like a candy-colored cocktail.

“Maybe she ran back to the city?” suggested Bambi, the makeup artist.

It was a valid suggestion. Sienna was always whining about her unshapely leg, saying how she wished she could muster up the strength to jog. It was possible that she decided today was the day to try something athletic. Alas, the thought of Sienna doing anything remotely exhilarating was enough for the crew to eliminate the jogging theory altogether.

Within hours, news of the missing supermodel flushed through the chilly, November streets of New York City. Because of her beauty, people were captivated by her disappearance. How could a beautiful, young woman just vanish? It was shocking. Many citizens of New York decided to start their own search for Sienna and they urged others to help. Her 3 million facebook followers, 5 million twitter followers and 300,000 blog subscribers posted messages with her photo and taglines like, “come back home Sienna, we miss you!” Months rolled by and Sienna never reappeared.

1,200 miles away, tucked into a sleepy suburb of Fort Myers, Florida, a 15-year old boy vanished. His name, or online moniker, was Ricki Rocco. Subscribers to his youtube page say they were tuned in for a live web-cam session of Ricki’s Rhymes – an improvisational show where Ricki rapped about his daily events. Viewers said that after Ricki rapped, “I came home from school, poured a glass of juice and I fed my dog Bruce,” he just disappeared.

A 13-year old witness named Deedee from Delaware said, “I thought it was, like, part of his rhyme, but after 30 minutes I had to turn it off and go play mancala with my younger brother. When I didn’t see any status updates that night, I knew something was really wrong.”

Another fan simply said, “Ricki rocks! Missing your jams.”

Non-fans scowled, “who cares?”

But things were about to get very strange for the young, web-hungry Ricki Rocco.

Ricki blinked. He scanned the room with limited, one-eyed tunnel vision. He concluded that he was in his bedroom. The problem was, he couldn’t move. He tried opening his mouth. He couldn’t speak. Directly in front of him rested his custom-designed UFC Champs laptop. A red light was blinking in the left corner of his screen – his webcam was still recording Ricki’s Rhyme’s. His eye scanned to the top of the page: 35,000 views. “Way to go bro,” he told himself, but the numbers were rapidly dropping. Ricki tried to say something, he tried to move something, but it was no use. He was a speck of himself, a pixel if you will, hanging in the air, small as a fragment of dust. All that remained, was a sliver of his right eyeball that allowed for a pinpoint of vision. In his head, Ricki made up a quick rhyme, “one lonely eyeball, tryin’ to see it all, wishin’ I could call…you uuuuuuup!” He made a mental note to remember that for his next broadcast. Sure it was a little rough, but his fans didn’t seem too concerned with quality. He heard more praise for his curly brown hair than for his artistic abilities.

“Ricki?” his mother Emily called from outside the door.

“Ricki, I need you to please exit your room and come downstairs for dinner”.

Mmph. Bwaaaah. Schwish. Ricki tried to move, to speak, to do anything, but it only made his eyeball throb with pain. He wondered if his mother could see him. He’d just have to wait and find out. Soon, there was a swoosh of warm air and he saw his mother peering into the monitor. It was clear now; Ricki was invisible.

“Hi everyone, has anybody seen were Ricki went?” Emily asked the pea-sized web cam imbedded in Ricki’s laptop.

A few responses tricked in, mainly stating that one minute Ricki was here, the next he was gone.

“Oh really? Well I warned him about this before, about disobeying me. I told him if he disrespects me again, he’d lose his web friends. I am closing all of his online accounts, so you guys won’t be seeing Ricki for awhile”.

With that Emily pulled out a little black book that contained all of Ricki’s username’s and passwords. One by one, Emily deactivated account after account as Ricki’s eyeball watched in horror. All the work he’d put into Ricki Rocco. Gone. Although truth be told, he was slightly more concerned about his non-existent physical presence at the moment.

Emily sighed as she plunged through each account, “my word Ricki, you really need to get out more”.

Within ten minutes, Ricki Rocco’s online presence had disappeared. Nobody knew it at the time, but Emily had just saved Ricki’s life.

Sienna Lincoln was raised Mary Johnson in Flat Plains, NE. Her childhood was idyllic, farmlike and sweeter than a sugar-packed pixie stick. It was the kind of breezy childhood people envied. Her house: a gorgeous, old-world style, red brick residence with a perfectly manicured, vast green lawn. Her parents: Tom and Sue, so smiley and nice you’d think they came store-bought at the precision factory. Her brother: John, an olive-skinned, athletic boy who had many friends. As a child, Mary loved everything: nature, art, people, animals. Her custard-yellow hair won her many friends, as custard-yellow hair tends to do and so, she brushed it daily with great care. Mary’s life moved along swimmingly in Flat Plains until she reached the tender age of sixteen.

To understand the change that happened to Mary at sixteen, we must learn about her caretaker. As a child, Mary and John had a babysitter named Carrie that they simply adored. Carrie was fun. Carrie was popular. Carrie was gorgeous. She let Mary and John do pretty much whatever they wanted. This was all great, but soon, kids grow up and babysitters are no longer required. Carrie remained, however, in Mary’s memory. To Mary, she was the perfect role model, the kind of person Mary wanted to become one day.

Years passed and Mary grew into a blissfully happy teenager (if ever there was one). Then one night at a Pep Fest Pep-Up after party at Tom Husk’s house in honor of the Prairie Dogs, the high school football team, her little world turned on its head. The evening was moving along perfectly, as everything in Mary’s world usually did. Mary was enjoying the attention of, at least four adolescent boys, when there was a loud crash in the kitchen. Wanting to give off the impression of sexy Nancy Drew-type sleuth, Mary gasped dramatically and said, “Oh my! What on earth was that sound?”

Her eyes widening in curiosity, Mary fluidly hopped off her stool and said with as much spunk as she could muster, “who would like to come with me on an adventure?”

All four of the boys wanted to come with her on an adventure, of course. Mary sashayed into the kitchen, glancing coyly behind her at the eager boys. When she turned the corner, her world began moving in slow motion.

There in the corner, a girl was slumped over on the floor. She was wearing a white cotton t-shirt, full of stains and baggy gray sweatpants. Her hair hung over her face in damp, shoestring-y clumps and her pale skin had a greenish hue, reminiscent of a pale green cabbage head. It was Carrie.

“What are you guys looking at?” a flannel swathed boy said to Mary.

Mary just shook her head, turned and ran out of the house, all the way home. And that was it. That was the moment that Mary decided she was getting out of this town. She didn’t want to end up like Carrie. She hated sweatpants and she certainly wouldn’t have been caught dead with her hair as snarly and un-brushed as Carrie’s appeared. She entered modeling contests at the local mall, she submitted photos of herself to modeling agencies all over the country, big and small and tirelessly learned all she could about the fashion industry. After 6 months her hard work paid off; she received a phone call from Freeze in New York City. Freeze was one of the top modeling agencies in the world and they wanted Mary. As they say, the rest is history.

Sienna became obsessed with her new life. Gigs were never turned down and every gig was heavily documented on her website: siennascene.com. Behind the scenes photos, makeup tips, videos, diary entries, diets; no topic was off limits. Sienna’s face oozed into every crack of the world. When she disappeared, her followers just became thirstier. Some say she was more famous after her disappearance. Sadly, this is the reason Sienna would never return to reality.

Ricki’s eyeball hovered in his room night after night, day after day. His parents had reported him missing and most days his mother sat in his room, weeping loudly. Living as an eyeball, or a pixel of reality, definitely did not have any perks, but things were about to change for Ricki Rocco. About a month after he up and vanished, he experienced a sensation. It felt as if he was moving his toe. A month after that, he felt as if his left pointer finger was moving. Sensations continued like this for about five months, until one day, his whole head and left leg existed in reality. As any grounded human being can tell you, if they saw a floating head and detached, mobile leg, they would probably faint and promptly conclude they had gone insane. This is what happened when Emily saw him this way.

“Ricki? Oh my, Ricki?!” and with that, Emily fainted.

Luckily, Ricki now had a mouth, so he was able to speak to Emily when she hazily pulled herself up from the carpet.

“Mom! Don’t be scared, it’s me, Ricki! I don’t know what happened to me, but I used to just be an eyeball, well a speck of dust really, but I could see, and now, now…..here I am. I think I’m going to be a whole person soon!”

“Ricki…..this isn’t real. I don’t know what is happening to me.”

“Mom, it is real. I don’t know how to explain it, but this is totally real.”

“What’s your favorite color?”

“Purple.”

“What did you name your laptop?”

“Zimbob.”

“Am I going crazy right now?”

“Yes.”

Emily let out a whimper.

“I’m just kidding Mom! I’m sorry, that wasn’t cool.”

“Ricki I don’t understand this.”

“I know. Let’s just wait and see what happens. I know I’ll be a whole boy again.”

And Ricki was right. Eleven months later, Ricki was a whole boy again. He never logged back in to his online accounts. Ricki Rocco was gone forever, but Ricki Smith was alive and well.


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