In honor of Halloween, Salon Technology brings you our top 10 list of things that really terrify us. Forget ghosts, goblins and ghouls -- in the darkest hours of midnight, far more horrifying specters haunt our dot-com dreams and send chills up and down our spines.
1) George W. Bush becomes president and in an attempt to counter the trumped-up claim that Gore "invented the Internet," decides to destroy his former opponent's evil creation. "That darn thing's filled with subliminable messages about sex," he says, defending the move. "I don't want none of it."
2) The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals shuts down Napster. Napster founder Shawn Fanning falls into a deep depression; then he starts a rock band with Hole lead singer Courtney Love. Their first single -- downloadable for only $4.99 -- is called "Smells Like a Crushed Teen Spirit."
3) ICANN decides to release only one new top-level domain name, .sex, causing thousands to protest the nonprofit's November meeting in Marina Del Rey, Calif. In the meantime, Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner battle for control of oldbutstillupfor.sex and republicanshate.sex.
4) SETI@Home users finally discover and decode signals from outer space, only to discover that the messages they've been intercepting are desperate warnings from concerned aliens who live on a planet that's on a collision course with our own. The geek population panics, refusing to write any more code.
5) Yahoo, Amazon and eBay all suddenly go bankrupt, because of a complicated series of accounting errors and unpaid advertising bills. Investors panic, and the NASDAQ plummets to 300. The Second Great Depression starts. The Internet becomes a ghost town where all you can do is visit bankrupt Web zines and navel-gazing online diaries.
6) Microsoft is broken into three parts. But thanks to a passel of well-paid scientists, Bill Gates clones himself so that each new Baby Microsoft has its very own Mr. Bill at the helm. The three companies promptly grow to be monopolies in not one industry but three.
7) The dot-com backlash in San Francisco, New York, Seattle and other Net-centric cities grows at a phenomenal pace, as activists and artists proselytize against greedy dot-commies and the virtuousness of the unwired. Net workers are exiled to live in gated (and DSL-wired) ghettos, their homes are spray-painted with graffiti and their children are mocked in schools. Ludditism prevails.
8) Armed with the new industrial strength laws protecting copyright, Disney starts targeting not just online pirates but also small children who dress up as Mickey Mouse for Halloween. Disney lawyers chase terrified children through the streets, declaring that homemade costumes are a violation of Disney's copyrights.
9) America Online buys all the other ISPs in the world and becomes the only way to connect to the Internet. Pop-up ads become mandatory.
10) A study finds that cellphones do in fact cause cancer.