--a brief digression: Tapestries MUCK claims to recycle characters who are inactive for a few months. While it might be severe to call this a blatant lie, let's just say that I haven't seen any sign of this. The character I originally intended to bring on I couldn't, because there's another character with the same name--who hasn't been connected since May 2000. There are friends of mine who've said "I used to have a character on Tapestries" who haven't been connected since the mid-90's. They're still there. (People occasionally say they prefer Tapestries to FurryMUCK because the FurryMUCK wizards are "too intrusive and fascist," a concept which is utterly absurd to anyone who understands the definition of intrusive, let alone of fascist. My observations from actually being on Tapestries now support my original thesis that what people mean is that they prefer Tapestries because the wizards are invisible. But, anyway--
--and took a ferry across a river to a different town, and found the home of a vixen named Zeb-chan, and the vixen herself. Zeb hadn't been connected since 1994.
Zeb-chan was played by an author named James Charles Lynn, who, in the early '90s, wrote a few anthropomorphic stories in his own far future setting, a world rebuilt after a catacylsmic war generations before. Some of James' stories featured a character named Arissa, a bat inspired by my own Revar--although Arissa was definitely her own character. He was actually a pretty damn good writer. We struck up a friendship online and in writing, and I'd intended to print one of his stories. (It'd been accepted for Mythagoras #4, the issue that never was.)
In the early '90s, though, he disappeared. A couple people have said he lost internet access, but eight years isn't a temporary a loss of connectivity. Some said he might have lost his home--he was having some serious financial problems. But, again, that was eight years ago.
I don't think any of the people on the west coast who knew him kept in touch with him--in fact, I'm not sure how well they knew him. Most of them are in California or Washington; he was (or is, perhaps) in Oregon. At some point after he disappeared I tried to use an online directory service to find an email address for him. I found a likely one on a FreeNet in Eugene, which certainly sounded plausible (he'd been a U of Oregon student); two emails sent there got no response, although they didn't bounce, either.
So was it something dire? Did James die? Is he in the Witness Protection Program? Or did he decide he had to turn his back on all his associations with fandom and with the Internet itself (at least under any name I can connect him to)? An early victim of furry's unsavory reputation--although at that time only (sadly prescient) fans were worried about it?
I know these might as well be rhetorical questions. Running across what amounts to Zeb-chan's preserved corpse makes me think of others I've lost contact with, in all sorts of places for all sorts of reasons. James Lilkendey, Bob Tempe, and Stan Porch, friends in high school. Vladislava Schwartz in college and others whose last names I don't remember now--Gene (Chip Unicorn's heavy metal fan first roommate), and Kurt, the cowboy from the midwest who thought of Sarasota as having "big city traffic." Friends and aquaintances from here in Tampa--Jo and Alice from my wretched job at Totaltape years ago, LeRoy and Julie from Kinko's. Erik and Dan, aspiring filmmakers who used to be friends with my ex-roommate David.
It also makes me think Tapestries needs to follow their own damn character recycling policy. I still want my first character choice, dammit.