Captain Crane, while on his way to meet the Admiral, spots a strange red door at the end of the corridor. He stops... not remembering the door there before, and slowly opens it and steps through... immediately realizing it was major mistake... as he's no longer on the Seaview. He is now on a street lined with tall old buildings... all similar to the quick glance, yet so different in details.
He continues down the street, looking at the street sign on the corner... The Avenue of Illusions and decides that this street is really aptly named. Each of the brickfront buildings has a strange person standing in the doorway. He has never seen anything like this before. As he passes each doorway he is beckoned to enter each establishment. He quickly realizes that each man and woman calling him into their own building are wearing the same T-shirt. Everyone is wearing a lavender shirt with the name WEBMASTER boldly emblazoned on the front.
Lee continues his way down the street, trying to ignore the lure of the "webmasters" but is finding it very difficult. He can see that beside each door is a huge picture window that looks very much like a computer screen. Each one is so very different. One had pictures of a strange spacecraft called the Enterprise and seeing the webmaster waving to him from the door has huge pointed ears... he decides to shake his head... no and move on.
Captain Crane, still looking for something familiar, moves a little faster down the street. He sees windows showing scenes from old movies he remembered from his past. He sees many other strange scenes on these large screens. Each of the webmasters trying their best to lure him into their domains. Lee can feel his resolve weakening... he is very tired now... he knows he must get back to the Seaview... but how?
He sees what looks like a phone booth at the next corner and goes to it to see if he can locate some answers to his problem. Instead of a phone, he finds a small computer screen with a telephone type keypad. The booth seems to have recognized his presence and a soothing computer voice calls out to him... "Welcome, Sir..."
Lee responds with a shaky voice, "Ah... Hello?"
"Yes, Sir... Hello... how can I help you, today?"
"I'm..... I'm..... lost"
The voice tried to reassure Lee, "No Sir, you're not really lost... I can help you..."
"But" Lee asked, "How? How can you help?"
"Because, I am the source of all knowledge. There is nothing I can't help you with." The female's voice continued, "Now, Sir, with the keypad please press one for AltaVista, press two for Excite, press three for Magellan, press four for WebSearch..."
Lee interrupted the computer... "Alta-- What? Web Search? Excite? What is this all about... where am I?
"These, Sir, are your choices of Search engines. You can find out anything you want by my accessing these engines for you..."
Beginning to get totally upset, Lee calls out to the computer voice... "I just want to get back where I was."
"That's easy... just hit the back button on your browser."
"Back Button? Browser? What are you talking about? I don't have any of those things. I "just" want to get back to the Seaview!"
"Oh," came the response, "now you've given my something to search for you... please stand by while I access the data bases."
Lee continued to look around at all the strange buildings... all with people still luring him. He now remembered that this all reminded him of a carnival's side shows with the people trying to wave him and his friends into their tents. He was thinking about the time when he and Chip were at the Santa Barbara annual carnival, when they allowed themselves to be lured into a strange tent at the end of the midway... He still can't believe that they actually saw ...
"Sir?" The voice called him away from his thoughts, "I may have something for you. I've located a reference to the Seaview in my data base. Can you confirm some things for me that will aid me in pointing you in the right direction for your search?"
Feeling a slight bit of hope, he responded... "You found the Seaview? Yes... what do you need too know?"
"I'm receiving further reference to the names of Nelson, Crane, Morton, Kowalski, Patterson and Sharkey. Do any of these name seem familiar to you? Are they related in any way to the "Seaview" you are looking for?"
"YES... YES..." Lee shouted back. "I'm Crane! Captain Lee Crane and Nelson is the Admiral of the Seaview. You've found it... how do I get there?"
"Very Good, Sir" the Computer voice answered. "Just follow the signs for the Avenue of Illusions and look for the brownstone numbered 698. Remember the number 698. Do not fall to temptation of visiting other buildings along the way."
"Building 698, yes, I'll remember that." Feeling a little more comfortable with the thought he could indeed find his way back to the Seaview, he asked, "But why? Why not go into the other buildings?"
"For your own safety, Sir. You seem new to all this and you may not be ready to handle all the unexpected things you may find in those buildings."
"My safety? I've been through a lot during my tour of duty on board the Seaview. I can handle most anything?"
"I understand, Captain, but as I said you are new here and if you were to accidentally allow yourself to be lured by a strange webmaster to enter his domain... and if you were to step on a hyperlink... you could be transported to any of millions of locations, some of which you may never find your way back"
Not totally realizing what a "hyperlink" was, but not liking the sound of it, he decided to do just as the Computer voice said. "I will do as you say. I will only enter at 698 Avenue of Illusions and no other locations."
"Very good, Captain... It's been a pleasure to be of assistance to you..."
Lee quickly asked, "Before you go... can I ask you something else?"
"Yes, Sir... anything?"
"Just exactly... where am I? What is this place?"
"That's an easy question... Captain. You are... I mean "were" lost... Lost on the "Information Highway"
"Information Highway? But..."
"No time for more questions... you must get to number 698... you must get there quickly. Just remember, Captain Crane... as you said, you may have been on many exciting voyages on the Submarine Seaview, but someday... when your more experienced... and have a "lot" more time... you may want to come back here to the World Wide Web and take a journey like no other... Till then... travel safely... Captain Crane."
With that, the screen went dark. Lee turned to read the numbers on the sides of the old brownstones. He could tell he had a long way to go... and it was getting late. He began to walk faster while glancing at the strange widow fronts. He kept checking the numbers...
He was now passing 680.... Then 690... 692... 694... he was feeling assured that this was going to work. As he passed 696, he could see the "webmaster" standing in the doorway to 698. This webmaster was wearing a shirt that had the words "The Captain's Log" on the front. Looking at the computer style screen front window, he saw a picture of the Seaview breaking through the surface of the water... seemingly reaching for the sky...
He knew it immediately... this had to be the place. The webmaster shouted out to him. "Quickly... Captain Crane... over here! Come in here!"
Lee was shocked. All the other webmasters tried to lure him into their domains, but "this" one knew his name. "You know who I am?"
"Yes. Captain... Indeed I do. I've known you for a long time. I've followed your adventures with Admiral Nelson and the others with a great interest."
"But how? I don't understand."
"You will, I'm sure of it. This was all new to me, not to long ago... but you find your way around pretty easily with time..." The webmaster added, "I'd love to have the time to show you around my place here, but I do know the Admiral is looking for you and I know the Admiral pretty well, also, you'd better not keep him waiting."
Remembering the Admiral's impatience at times, Lee agreed. "But how? Now that I'm here, how do I get back onto the Seaview?"
Pointing down the hall, the webmaster indicated the doorway... "End of the hall, Lee, you'll find a "red" door. Just open it and pass through. You'll be back aboard the Seaview."
"Just like that? Just walk through it? Right back to the Seaview?" Lee turned to go towards the red door, but turned back to the webmaster, "Thank you... thank you for your help."
"It was "my" pleasure!"
"If I may ask..." Lee said, "I don't even know your name? Who are you?"
The webmaster reached into his pocket and handed the Captain a card which had a pic of his Seaview on it and Lee read it out loud... "GRMILLE@aol.com" and he asked also, "and that is...?
"That's where you can reach me when you are ready to take your trip on the information highway... and I'd be glad to help you in any way I can!"
"Thank you, again." He said as he turned to go towards the red door, "But I didn't catch your name..."
"George.... George Miller," I said, reaching out to shake the Captain's hand. It's been a pleasure to meet you... be sure to stop back again! But for now the Admiral's got Sharkey and Kowalski searching the Seaview for you as we speak."
"Right. It's been... "different"... but also exciting. I will be back."
Lee turned back as he reached the red door and offered a quick salute... which was immediately returned... and he opened and passed through the door...
Closing the door behind him, he turned back to look at the red door that started this whole experience... but instead... he was looking at a gray steel door, marked storage locker two.
"Skipper!" called out Sharkey. "There you are! Where have you been, sir? The Admirals been looking for you for hours."
Lee started to speak, "I've... been.... Well, I've..."
Sharkey looked at his Captain with concern, "Is everything OK, Sir?"
Pulling himself together, he turned to the Chief, "Yes... Yes... I'm fine. I'd better get to the Admiral's cabin." He slapped Sharkey on the back... "Don't want to keep him waiting, Right?"
Lee started off towards the Admirals cabin, reaching in to his pocket and pulled out the card... reading to himself... "GRMILLE@aol.com" Lee made the decision right at that moment... he would indeed return someday to take that journey on the information highway...
In the story you've just finished reading, there was a mention of Captain Crane "remembering" a time that he was at a carnival with Chip Morton. He was just thinking about what he had seen when his thoughts were interupted by the operator. The following story was sent to me by Gail in an effort to pick up Lee's thoughts about that day in the past. I'd like to give my thanks to Gail for sending in this wonderful follow up story to the Red Door, entitled "Side Show"
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