Submarine by Bill Albertini

Ellen Zweig

Subject: The Lurker: Outline for a Murder Mystery

1. This one stays hidden, unobserved around one spot. This one is ready to spring out, to attack. Lying in ambush, living in concealment or retirement, this one is latent, moving furtively about the business of reading. This one could kill or be killed.

2. This reader is silent and passive. Imagines, constructs a life or a plot, alone. Facing a computer screen, in a room we cannot describe, this reader is actively creating a context for the written word. Taking it in, at each moment, in the process of reading. Without this reader, the writer's activity is silent and passive... Meanwhile, a conversation occurs. Many people are listening. So far there has been no body, but the plot thickens and murder is in the cards.

3. There is no pronoun by which we can refer to the lurker. This is the one without gender, without race or ethnic identity. All of the things that seem important, that define us, elude our definition of this creature. This one has no identifying marks, no definite characteristics. We know there's someone out there; we might even know where, how many. We know this one must have gender and race, ethnic identity, tastes and opinions, knowledge and hopes and fears: all of the things that define us. We might compute a statistical probability and create a typical lurker. But as an individual, this one is elusive. We resort to the deictic. There is this one, the unmarked, only with the potential to be marked. The chalk mark on the ground where the body once was.

4. This one is pure potential. That's why the words that describe lurking are ominous, filled with threat. This silent one might speak; this reader might suddenly become a writer. And if that one doesn't care anymore to stay hidden, what might spring forth?... opinions of all kinds, facts and embarrassing revelations. Here's where the body lies.

5. This one is the tree. Do we hear it falling? Will we find the body on the ground?

6. Profile of the lurker: this one frequently reads alt.aquaria, rec.aquaria, alt.bitterness, alt.cult-movies,, occasionally reads alt.paranormal,, is tempted to post on alt.angst. This one keeps fish.

7. Now we have a body and a killer in one place. A murder has been committed and the plot takes care of itself. Meanwhile, a conversation continues. Someone has taken on the case, but it will never be solved. The lurker intends to loom. Filled up with words, the lurker vomits them out. The spot on the rug will never get clean. The all in one, paradoxical lurker leaps about like the uncertainty principle gone haywire. To read is to alter, to kill and be killed. Someone has knocked over the aquarium and the fish lurch about on the rug. Where's that one who watches them, swimming in and out of their little rocks and castles? Gone elsewhere to murder and to die.