What Happened to Participants of “Shitstorm Arnold” Ten Minutes After They Commented


[ed. note: on March 4, 2011, Blake Butler, editor of HTMLGIANT, published “Some Thoughts Re Muumuu House” by Jordan Castro. The result, within 48 hours, during which 396 comments were posted, was “Shitstorm Arnold,” a category 5 shitstorm, more powerful than last year’s “Shitstorm Alberto.”]

_Trappedinmyroom_ mysteriously found himself in a dark goth club, where it really felt like all he wanted to do was scream “Fresh trance beats motherfucker” at the bartender, but to his disappointment, he was only able to mentally replay the scenario and sort of eke out a staccato noise from his vocal chords while forming the word “motherfucker” with his lips.

_John Sakkis_ pressured himself to perfectly reconstruct a quote from “Arrested Development” from memory, which he did and would never be able to do again.

_Adam_ walked downstairs, knowing he wouldn’t find chicken nuggets in his freezer but that there was a small chance he could persuade them into appearing. When the freezer was in sight, his eyebrows lowered and he imagined John Wayne. He felt his steps become deliberate and heavy, though something fragile inside him quivered. He hoped that wasn’t noticeable.

No one around him heard, but _richard chiem_ used a cowboy accent to say “Netflix.”

Ten minutes after typing “a day or so, son,” _david davidson_ finally accepted that his brain would allow him to think of nothing else but how the words “a,” “day,” “or,” “so,” and “son” structurally aligned with “david davidson” and began to sense a screensaver repeating the words “David,” “day,” “a,” “or,” “so,” son,” “Davidson” had somehow installed itself onto his brain—though would remain an unconscious thought for nearly 30 more seconds—until hearing a stern female voice say “Hammertime” on the television behind him.

Mostly unaware of the effort it had been taking to ignore what he now believed was definitely some kind of radioactivity coming from his hall closet (though aware that something about his morning had felt slightly more difficult) _Blake Butler_ walked quickly past the closet to stand in his kitchen where he experienced a fleeting sensation of nonspecific obligation that was strong enough to urge him to pull his T-shirt tight to inspect it for something he was 88% sure wasn’t there.

_Gene Morgan_ wasn’t sure how long he had been sitting in his lawn chair.

Nine minutes after his final comments, _M. Kitchell_ received a phone call. Nine minutes and 15 seconds into the phone call, he walked to his window. Nine minutes and 24 seconds into the phone call, he decided even though he didn’t recognize it, he liked the person’s voice talking to him. Nine minutes and 36 seconds into the phone call, he felt oddly aroused by the voice. Nine minutes and 48 seconds into the phone call, his eyes were focused on the metal Halal food cart on the street. Nine minutes and 55 seconds into the phone call he stopped paying attention to the phone call. Ten minutes into the phone call, he wanted to hang up and get a falafel.

_ph madore_ moved his eyes to the right but didn’t turn his head.

_Cantsleepinmyroom_, actually an experiment in fusion cuisine that gained consciousness, bounced off its plate at the Baja Sun restaurant and started sexually grinding on the ankle of the person who would’ve eaten it but instead became its Forever Companion.

_Johnjohnson_ came to the reasonable conclusion that there is nothing wrong with never going a day without thinking the word “surfbabe,” that most people probably have something like that.

_Jordan Castro_ stood inside his pantry, delicately handling boxes of wheat-based food products and reading the packaging more as something to focus his eyes on so he wouldn’t have to think about looking at anything, decided he felt like the babysitter of his eyes and that was sort of an interesting comparison but he probably wouldn’t ever use it for his writing, except maybe in a tweet like “stood inside pantry and thought ‘thought about how I’d never use ‘felt like a babysitter to my eyes’ as a tweet.” When his father asked what he was doing, Castro said “Just grazing, Dad,” surprised by the way he had just casually used the term “grazing,” and then thought it must be because “grazing” sounds like something rappers do to their cars. He pogo-ed out of the pantry and thought about sending a mass text message that said “MAFIA!!!!!!”

After he peed, _shaun gannon_ felt panicked when he sat in the most rewarding position on his couch and knew it wouldn’t be possible to ever quite find the same seat again, but then considered he would never be the same person he was in this moment either—even the best moment of his life wouldn’t necessarily be the definitive best moment unless he decided to qualify it as such, he was capable of experiencing any number of best moments or most comfortable couch positions in his life—and felt calmed. He then checked his Twitter, saw that he had lost four followers, but willfully moved his mind away from disappointed thoughts and instead chose to focus on how less followers meant less pressure.

Confused, _marshall_ signed for room service and lifted the metal lid over his omelet which seemed to be staring back at him. He didn’t remember ordering room service. As a precaution (though a precaution for what, he wasn’t sure), he checked his pants for his wallet, found it, opened it, and couldn’t believe he had forgotten even for a few seconds that he had been on this cruise ship for three days.

_Julian Tully Alexander_ thought it had been way too long since he last enjoyed a nice, big fountain Sprite, then felt the Sprite-activated areas of his nose and mouth reflexively tingle.

The woman who would become _goner_’s pizza delivery woman in six years passed his table at the cafe, held eye contact with him and adjusted her pants suggestively, by the belt loops.

_deadgod_’s dog, Ed, moved from his lap to the floor, where deadgod watched him scratch behind his ear and slowly started feeling like he was also being scratched by Ed, though neither of them would ever admit this to anyone.

“It’s a big fucking deal, alright? It’s not my television, it’s not my, I don’t know, my math homework—this is what he was actually holding in his hands, the very coffee cup that made him decide the ‘Avatars’ would be blue…No, it wasn’t because of the Blue Man Group…No…Well I don’t know where you heard that…Interesting…Uh, eBay…” said _rawbbie_ into his cell phone, ten minutes after commenting.

_chet_, considered already by some to be a mirage, looked at the tips of his fingers which were becoming nearly transparent.

Without knowing anyone named Frank nor having any experience in the auto industry, _Splinterydick_ had a premonition that he would become the C.E.O. of Frank’s Auto Resale and 17 seconds later heard his landline ring and saw “Frank Aut Res” on his caller ID.

_Daniel Bailey_ heard some kind of moaning noise coming from his ceiling that he attributed to “the wind, probably,” then stared at his ceiling, unsure of where he should be looking and what “looking” at the noise would do anyway.

_alex crowley_’s B.M.I. raised two points, but not as a consequence of anything he did.

_Stephen Tully Dierks_, at this point in his life almost totally consumed by thoughts about the rubber ball collection in his basement (would he ever tell anyone about it? who could he trust? do they need to know how the balls have to be fed?) and functioning using a masterfully executed persona, heard a soft crying noise coming from his basement, ran to tend to the ball box, dipped his hands into it as he usually does, though this time feeling somehow heavier—yes, a physical weight was actually settling onto his shoulders—and for the the first time in years, he grieved for himself.

_Ryan Call_ gladly resumed his construction of “Feet Sweeps: the Shoe that Polishes as you Walk,” a product which will reach “Snuggie” levels of success.

Now convinced that the man sitting two booths down from him was definitely Michael Stipe,_Jimmy Chen_ tried not to glance up from his laptop anymore, but couldn’t resist one last peek after he heard the waitress say “Your five pieces of toast, hon” to Michael Stipe, and the two men made eye contact. Four minutes later, in an annoying moment of perfect timing, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” played on the radio and Jimmy Chen, unable to stop himself, said “I know all the words to this song.” Michael Stipe picked up a piece of toast and said “Great, me too.”

_Malwhit_, a normally docile Arctic land-shrimp, made a massive bellowing noise that, had physicists been around to record it, would be known as the “lowest pitch ever emitted by an organism on Earth.” A clan of eight polar bears planning on eating Malwhit (along with the dozens of other land-shrimp in her clan), actually shrank two whole sizes after hearing the noise.

_alan_ used large gobs of actual butter instead of peanut butter on his “peanut butter” and jelly sandwich, then took 48 PhotoBooth pictures of himself posing with the sandwich. 75% of the photos involved alan pointing at the sandwich.

_megan boyle_ heard her dad snoring really loudly and thought he was trying to go viral.

_victoria trott_ sustained a seven-minute conversation about classwork and plans for the future while privately fixated on wondering what olives were, exactly.

_Charles Dodd White_ somehow became engaged in yet another impossible discussion about the right way to ask a sales clerk where the bathroom is with his mother, who didn’t want to argue, she thinks she only called to tell him a story about something that happened at Target–though admittedly, these days she can’t be too sure of anything.

In a gigantic bowl, _tao_ layered week-old white rice with two Amy’s Black Bean burritos, placed it in the microwave, and felt an extreme sensation of despair upon the task of deciding how long to microwave it.

An echoing, ghostly version of the line “I never thought I’d be on a boat…” from the SNL Digital Short “I’m on a Boat (feat. T-Pain)” sung by a female voice played in _saramcgrath_’s head and she thought she might start crying, but then felt inspired.

_2011 POET LAUREATE_ used a Sharpie to write the word “chicken” on his empty water bottle, not knowing why he did it, though in 40,000 years MX44-ian scientists (the cyborg race which would carry the only traits left of humanity) would use what could be most easily explained as “light-travel cognition sticks” to determine that he wrote it because a microscopic inter-dimensional being named Viiiiin had gotten lost in him and was only starting to learn English and how to control his “host body.” Writing “chicken” was the first of many successful tasks he trained _2011 POET LAUREATE_ to happily complete, though it was also, unknown to both, the first domino knocked in a series of events which would lead to the 3016 Intergalactic War in which planet Earth would be destroyed.

_Mindfreak (R.I.P.)_, now largely (yet unofficially) considered to be the patron saint of failed joke usernames, sadly never came into being, though its half-presence will serve as a noble memorial and cautionary tale to commenters everywhere. “Ten minutes after you commented, you were already gone. Our angel was taken too soon.”

_Darconville_ watched the YouTube video for “Ava Adore” four times in a row while feeling some kind of weird pleasure from barely moving at all.

_“poster”_ wrote his comment while sitting in a boat with his father, whose lip-smacking noises had become intolerable, which is why “poster” retreated to his iPhone to check HTMLGIANT. Ten minutes after commenting, “poster” concluded that the lip-smacking annoyed him because it was symbolic of the tiny differences that had been forging a larger and larger rift in their relationship, and most annoyances caused by his family could be traced back to hurt feelings. He remembered the story of the horse his father bought his mother, but couldn’t remember why they didn’t have it anymore. It always felt odd to him that they had a horse for a while. It seems like it never happened. That was twenty years ago, it must be dead by now.

_Cassandra Troyan_ looked in disbelief at her dishwasher knob and thought there were too many options in the world.

_buttercup mcgillicuddy_ successfully, but barely, resisted trying to do a somersault through his computer, knowing he would inevitably try to do it within three to six days.

At the ticket counter, _Aaron_ felt embarrassed about saying the name of the movie he was seeing,“Sanctum.”

As she stepped into the too-hot bath she had started filling before commenting, _brittany wallace_ felt tricked into having an emotional connection to the water and knew that she would only be consoled by watching “The Empire Strikes Back.”

_lorian_ sat on her roommate’s lap and said “It’s your turn to buy cucumbers,” thinking it would be funny for some reason.

Precisely ten minutes to the nanosecond after his comments, _Justin Taylor_ received an email from B’ai Ho-Tan, the former president of the island nation of Nauru, inviting him to serve as a “trial president.” Taylor, pretty sure this was some kind of joke, intended to forward the email to three close friends for confirmation, but somehow the message was re-sent three times to Ho-Tan, who then indicated to Taylor that he was aware of the American “Three E-mail Re-send” custom, and he was grateful for the good fortune bestowed upon him by his new president.

Lost in a galactic loophole, _Wtf kind of name is MADORE_ materialized near five tiger-like creatures who trotted over to him and licked his head in a way he would note in his journal as “ceremonious.”

There would be nothing to do to convince _Joseph Ernest Harper_ that he wasn’t having a distinct memory of being a child, standing in his family’s garden and looking at his knuckles. However, what he thought he was remembering was actually a secret trial of Memory Suggestion Technology, believed to be the next big thing in advertising. The leading MST research company paid Joseph Ernest Harper’s landlord to allow them to pump certain hormones through the building which created in everyone the “memory” of standing in their family’s garden as a child, looking at their knuckles.

_Gene Morgan_ wasn’t sure how long he had been sitting in his lawn chair. He looked behind him at the porch and narrowed his eyes. He must have had a childhood in a place that wasn’t the lawn chair. He nodded his head at something. The sun was setting and it was really nice and warm outside. Everything looked a little pink.

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