A Scenish Tale
Written by Adok
He rang the bell once. A second time. A third time. Then he finally heard footsteps coming nearer. A few seconds later, the door was opened, and the shape of Matt appeared in front of him. "Hi Phil", said Matt, "come on in."
Phil entered the house while Matt closed the door carefully. He looked around himself. The place was quite roomy and looked attractively styled with its bright blue wallpapers. "Follow me to my empire", Matt said and led Phil to an inconspicuous door at the end of the floor.
The room was not that small and messy at all as Phil had imagined. Phil estimated that its size was about 30 qm, and it was quite well furnished: bookshelf and desk on the right, cupboard and bed on the left, and in front of it the telly. However, what attracted him most was the sight of an apparently well-equipped PC on the desk. "Wow... cool! Whatcha got in this box!?" asked Phil. Matt answered, "It's a Pentium II 400, with a 12 gig hard drive, Vesa-3-compatible video card, 64 bit sound card, 128 megs ram, a 32 speed cd-rom, and a 21 inch monitor, as well as ..." He continued listing minute details. It seemed as if he knew every detail of his system. Finally he ended, "and I'm running Linux, Windows 98, OS/2 Merlin, BeOS 4.0, and good old MS-DOS 6.22." "I am impressed", was the only thing Phil managed to say.
Actually he and Matt had known each other for more than six years, as they attended the same school class. However, as they both were introverted persons, they had never really said much more than "Hi!", "How are you?", and "Fine" to eachother. Only a few days ago, when they discussed different operating systems and code portability in their computer science class, they learned that each of them was a fanatic computer freak. Phil realized that Matt knew even more about programming and system architecture than he did, but since programming was not his main activity on the PC, he did not get depressed because of this. Phil and Matt had actually begun to become friends after that, and now Matt had invited Phil to his place to show him his computer skills. And also Phil used this opportunity to take some programs on disks with him, which he wanted to show to his new friend.
"Have you actually got other systems, too?" Phil wanted to know. "Yeah, of course I do", Matt replied, stepped towards his cupboard and opened it. Phil spot a few computer screens, keyboard, disk drives, and other equipment. Matt pointed to a brownish combination of keyboard and screen. "This, for example, is my old C64, the computer I started with, and that" - he pointed to another system - "is my Amiga 500, where I discovered the great capabilities of my drawing programs. And that thingy on the right is my first PC, a 386. There are also a few more components, such as a 286 mainboard, but I've never used it. If you want to use some of the complete systems in this cupboard, I can take 'em out and build 'em right now." "Well", Phil said, " It would be great if you could build up your 386. I have some programs with me that run fast on a 386... and I'd like to show them to you on such a machine." "Fast programs on a 386? I'd be interested in seeing them", said Matt as he started setting up the 386.
While Matt was setting up his 386 on his desk next to the Pentium II, Phil said: "You'll certainly be impressed by the program I am going to show you. It is a masterpiece. A great work of art. It might even change your life. At least it did to me when I discovered it two years ago."
Matt kept silent until he had finished setting up the computer. "Okay", he said, "let's start this thingy... gosh, it still works fine!" With excitement, Phil cried, "Cool", and, holding back his emotions again, continued, "Okay, turn the light's off and keep you eyes closed till I tell you to open them...?" Surprised, Matt asked half in jest: "What are you planning to do? Hopefully not make love to me?" "No, no", Phil answered, laughing, "I'm now going to show you a wonderful program, a new experience." "Well, okay", said Matt, switched off the light and closed his eyes. "But you won't install a virus or make some other mess with my good old 386, will you?" Phil laughed again. "No, of course not. Just wait and see."
Phil inserted the first disk in the drive, grabbed the keyboard, made the computer copy the disk's contents to the hard disk drive, then he did the same with the second disk, unpacked the files, and started the program. The sound setup menu appeared. "Hmmmm", Phil murmured quietly, so that Matt could not hear it, "I doubt he has a GUS. Why should he? Probably he has a Sound Blaster ... but I don't know. Maybe he has no sound card at all. That would be a pity, though, because then it might not affect him as much. But perhaps the graphic effects will be enough to impress him... and likewise they might not impress him at all. Well... Oh yes, he must have a sound card in the 386. Otherwise he wouldn't have connected these speakers to his PC. Anyway, I guess I'll have to ask him." Loud, he said: "Matt, what sound card do you have in this PC?" "Gravis Ultrasound with 512 K of internal RAM", was the answer. Phil was astonished. How could it be that Matt had this sound card? Was it more widespread than he had thought, after all? He decided to ask his friend this question later, after showing him the program.
Phil pressed the Enter key. At the same moment the screen faded black. Music started playing in a low voice. "You can open your eyes now", said Phil, quietly so that it would not drown out the music the PC produced, and stood up so that Matt could directly see at the screen.
Matt opened his eyes slowly. Then he stared at the black screen. Something in his look was strange, Phil thought. But he did not dare to say anything.
After a few moments, a rather loud, high sound was played. On the screen, the following text appeared in a big white font:
Music continued playing. Phil took a glance at his friend's face. Somehow the expression had slightly changed. It looked as if Matt was going to smile or to say something.
A few seconds later, there was again a high sound in the music. The screen now displayed:
at Assembly 93
Suddenly Matt burst out, "Damn! I already know it! It's Future Crew's legendary demo Second Reality, the winner of the demo competition Assembly 1993." And in a lower voice, he added: "I already know this old hat."
Phil was shocked. His friend already knew Second Reality. And probably not only Second Reality, but more demos! Maybe Matt was even actively involved in the making of demos. Maybe he, Phil, had been going to school with a fellow demoscener without knowing it!
"You have to know", Matt started and paused. Then he said, "I have been involved in this business for a longer time than you. Four years. And..." He hesistated again. The logo of Second Reality had just appeared on the screen, and music had stopped, only to prepare the start of a new tune. Then he said, "I am Protoplasma/Impulse. I coded some effects for Moonflower, our winning demo at last Assembly. And at the same party I won the GFX competiton with my pixel-graphic Laser."
Phil was hesistant to answer. Was he dreaming? Or was he really speaking with one of the charts-leading sceners he had always wanted to meet face to face? And that was his old school-mate Matt, the silent guy who usually sat in the last row in the classroom?
He could not believe it. But Matt sounded so honest.
First he did not dare to speak. But finally, Phil decided he had to reveal his second identity, too: "And I... I am Big Kim of Asgaroth..." Matt stared at him with an astounded expression in his face. "Right... I'm the guy who made the first place mod for the music competition at last year's The Party."
Thanks go to Phinn for making Phil and Matt sound like real young Americans.