Cyber Café F.F.I.
(Djibouti City, Djibouti)

“As far as can be remembered—or can be described—in regard to the winter hours leading up to the melancholic dusk found on most of the streets near the harbor, and presiding over the miniscule beaches of Djibouti City, these last hours of warming sun light, in combination with strong desert winds from the west, generate an atmosphere that can—at least to the average citizen, perhaps (?)—create a disorienting sense of confusion and panic: a feeling mixed as well with a calming sensation of faded well-being, a common state of mind found either in long-term inhabitants of remote desert villages, or, by those few fortunate (?) souls who have returned to describe the tale of the seconds leading up to death.”

During the final months of 2011, at the central Djibouti City internet café known casually as Cyber Café FFI, these were the words found locked on the PC monitor of the café's Work Station #3. Due to a technical screen error that no one in the city could fix, this mystical statement remained locked in place, as a digitized white text on a black background, in DOS format, for nearly 3 months.

In the first days after this sedentary sentence was noticed, there were numerous efforts made to power down the faulty machine at Work Station #3. However, even after multiple unsuccessful attempts were made to unplug & re-plug the monitor and tower drive, consensus was reached that this frozen digitized statement was pretty much the truth, and since it offended none of the customers and staff, it should possibly just remain as a digital monument of sorts.

In the 3 months to follow, the broken monitor—contrary to staff expectation—did not draw much of a crowd of onlookers and was eventually half covered by a hand-made "Out of Order" sign. In January of the new year, with pressure mounting from a growing number of new customers, Work Station #3 finally received a complete overhaul and was replaced by a new HP Pavilion 23-b040xt All-in-One Desktop PC. This new update has proven to be a giant hit with all of the younger customers, yet remains a nuisance to most older users of the more vintage style IBM PCs found at the other work stations of the café. Foul play has not been ruled out by a few of the frustrated older patrons; however, a lack of proof to back up such allegations, along with general excitement found amongst all staff members for this new purchase, make any type of investigation highly unlikely.

On closing it should be noted that after much deliberation amongst the staff of FFI—in conjunction with café regulars and sponsors—it was agreed upon by all parties that the frozen DOS phrase, written in an eloquent yet insecure mode of description, was not the work of any of the local patrons of the café and must have been the work of an outsider—perhaps a traveling technical worker in the area; or possibly, at best bet, one of the last mementos left behind by one of the members of the recently withdrawn military personnel from the 13e Demi-Brigade de Légion Étrangère (DBLE).


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