Wednesday, September 23, 2020

#ShortStory - The Day Dave Broke the Internet - 11

    

Dave didn't know he was lonely until his friends pointed it out. But when he gives in and tries an online dating site, something catastrophic happens - talk about a bad omen.

The Day Dave Broke the Internet
by Tara Tyler

RECAP 10:
As she stood there in that sleek, black outfit with her hands on her hips, she looked like a super hero. Fantasies threatened to invade his mind, but Dave reigned them in. He had to stay focused and not think like a love-struck stalker.

11

Nathan went inside. "Come on. The brains are in the basement. Our server should be protected from an EMP blast, and our emergency lines are reinforced. That's why I was able to hotwire the lock. We can see what works and if we can connect with someone from the processor room."

With a flashlight in front, Nathan led them to the stairwell, and they went down. Dave had only been in the processor room a couple of times to deliver some paperwork. Hearing the hum of the fans, Dave was relieved that it was working. When they entered, the huge room full of giant server towers still awed him. The blinking lights made him think of Christmas time. A beautiful sight.

"How long will the backup generator keep it running?" Sharon asked.

Before he could answer, something made a loud thump overhead.

Dave looked at the ceiling. "What was that?" They weren't alone.

Nathan answered. "I wonder if it's looters. We're under the cafeteria. Maybe they're looking for food."

"Already? And how did they get in?"

Sharon pulled out a handgun from a holster inside her vest and headed back to the stairs.

"I'll go check it out."

Dave's jaw dropped. He was impressed and intimidated at the same time. He couldn't decide if he should stay and help Nathan or go upstairs with Sharon. He'd be more useful downstairs, but didn't want to look like a coward letting her go up alone.

"Want me to come with you?"

She shrugged. Great. That probably meant yes. Dave had no experience interpreting women's body language, never mind aiding a damsel in distress, though Sharon wasn't the one in distress.

Dave turned to Nathan who was typing up a storm on the access computer.

"I'm going up with Sharon."

Nathan answered without looking at him. "Okay."

As he jogged to catch up to his pistol-toting mama, Dave pictured two burly guys with bazookas tearing through the large kitchen pantry. He tried to shake the image and wished he had a gun of his own. Not that he would know what to do with it. He was more of a target than a protector. Maybe he could help by being a distraction.

Peeking into the hallway, Sharon waved for Dave to follow her as she stepped out. She paused and raised her eyebrows at Dave. It took him a few seconds, but he finally realized she probably wanted to know where to go so he pointed down the hall. She nodded, and they scooted that way.

When they reached the cafeteria, Sharon pointed at the door and widened her eyes at Dave. He nodded, hoping he wouldn't trip and lose the element of surprise.

When she slipped under the door's window to the other side, she put a finger to her lips. Then she eased up and peered inside. Lowering back down, she made some hand signals, pointing to the cafeteria and showing two fingers. He figured that meant two guys were in there. Just as he thought.

Dave didn't know what to do so he nodded again, letting her lead. He tried to keep his cool, but inside he was freaking out. He'd never confronted anyone before, and he didn't want to start by disrupting a couple of possibly armed intruders.

Sharon smiled encouragingly and pointed for him to look.

His whole body shook and shivered as if he was standing out in a blizzard in his pajamas. Dave could hear the ransackers moving around in there breaking things as they rummaged. He feared they'd catch him peeking and shoot him between the eyes. Trying to soak up some of Sharon's confidence, Dave steadied his nerves, reigning in his terror. He was sure his face was twisted, exposing his fear as he searched for the gumption to even look in the window.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

#ShortStory Series - The Day Dave Broke the Internet - 10

   

Dave didn't know he was lonely until his friends pointed it out. But when he gives in and tries an online dating site, something catastrophic happens - talk about a bad omen.

The Day Dave Broke the Internet
by Tara Tyler

RECAP 9:
Dave would get it out of him. "Spill, Nathan. This could be the end of the world, right? Secrets turn friends into enemies."

"Geez. Fine. She's pregnant."

10

Leaning back in his seat, Dave put a hand to his forehead as his jaw dropped to the floor taking in the sudden shock and its ramifications. A little Nathan? Nathan a daddy? The world was ending all right.

Once Dave pulled himself together, he slowly responded. "Wow. Congratulations. That's, uh, terrific."

Sharon seemed to think it was exciting news. "Yes, congratulations, Nathan. You two are ahead of the game." She laughed and the sound was like wind chimes on a summer night's breeze.

"Thanks, you guys. I've been holding that in for three months."

While Sharon asked for more details, Dave tried to deal with all that was happening. His world was truly changing. Their electronic society was in jeopardy, his best friend was going to be a daddy, and he just met a girl who made him want to puke and perform stupid heroic deeds at the same time. Chaos had arrived in a stampede.

The funny thing was, Dave dealt with putting out fires at work all the time. He was always a calming voice of reason in a digital emergency. But this? This was like putting out a fire in a volcano on the sun. If he was a computer, his processor would be fried. He chuckled to himself because that could be taken literally too from the EMP.

"Everything okay back there?" Sharon was smirking at him again. He probably looked insane.

He shook off a chill from her playful gaze. He felt the need to look tough and smart. Too bad he really felt weak and stupid.

"Sure. Just trying to process it all. Uh, Sharon? I was wondering what made you decide to come with us." It was another thing in all the madness that didn't compute.

"Well, when I first started going to the meetings, I saw you there and…"

Nathan, with his impeccable timing, interrupted. "Look."

As they reached civilization, the sun started to rise, and activity increased on the streets. Dave, Sharon, and Nathan peered out the windows at the strange new world they'd been thrust into. Groups of people gathered and pointed at the power lines as they talked. Some shook their heads, others waved their arms. They looked more bewildered than riotous. Every so often, a police car cruised past them. A few families packed up their cars. Where were they going? Wouldn't the power be back on soon? Dave was starting to get a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach.

What if the power didn't come back on and the internet was unfixable indefinitely? Society would be thrust back in time two hundred years without electricity! Yet, worse than no or extremely slow communication would be the lack of refrigeration for food and running water. There might be a shift in the population. People might have to abandon their homes which were completely run by electricity and move to where they could find sustenance. Not to mention away from those desperate enough to steal or harm others to survive. Phase Two was starting to look less crazy.

Dave still wasn't ready to think about dealing with such extreme consequences just yet. One phase at a time.

When they reached their office building, Nathan parked in the back lot. Two other cars were there.

Dave glanced at Nathan who shrugged as he got his duffle bag from the back seat. They went to a side door.

"I already tried my key card," Dave said.

Nathan smiled. "I got it."

He took out a little tool kit, unscrewed the electrical lock pad on the door, and did some finagling until it opened. He grinned over his shoulder at Dave.

Dave raised his eyebrows at him. "Is that what they teach you at those meetings?"

"Maybe."

Sharon nodded. "Nice job."

As she stood there in that sleek, black outfit with her hands on her hips, she looked like a super hero. Fantasies threatened to invade his mind, but Dave reigned them in. He had to stay focused and not think like a love-struck stalker.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

#ShortStory Series - The Day Dave Broke the Internet - 9

  

Dave didn't know he was lonely until his friends pointed it out. But when he gives in and tries an online dating site, something catastrophic happens - talk about a bad omen.

The Day Dave Broke the Internet
by Tara Tyler

RECAP 8:
Dave wondered if having Nathan behind him would help him overcome his unfounded trepidation. He had no idea what caused his body to behave so unreasonably around Sharon. And with such a negative physical reaction, he also couldn't understand why he was so drawn to her. His scientific curiosity drove him to continue his original directive. Surely he could use mind over matter. He swallowed his fear, determined to discover if all his bodily agonizing and concern was worth it.

But when he exited the basement, she was nowhere to be found.

9

Nathan tugged on Dave's sleeve. "So where to, superman?"

"Superman?"

"Yeah, you're going to save the world, right?"

"Uh, I guess. At least I'm gonna try."

Disappointed at losing the girl he hoped would change his life, Dave's shoulders dropped. But he had to keep going despite his sudden, unfounded depression. Her face would probably haunt him for all eternity. And then he would kick himself for being so dramatic. What was wrong with him?

They stepped out of the house and headed for Nathan's car.

"How are you going to save the world?"

Her voice played a poetic melody like a finely tuned harp. Could it be her?

Before Dave turned around, his stomach flip-flopped again. His outlook leapt from deepest despair to outright optimism. But this time he squelched the nausea and coached himself: Head over foolish heart. You can do this. It's just words.

He faced her. Sharon Baker's closeness and sparkling gaze almost made him falter, but he took a deep breath and held firm.

"Hi. I'm Dave." He was all business, no smile. He'd have to work on that later. He didn't want to scare her off, but he had to keep his woozy stomach under control.

Sharon smirked, giving Dave a chill. It was an energizing, tingley chill.

"I'm Sharon."

Nathan adjusted his glasses and cleared his throat.

"Hi, Sharon. This is my friend from work."

"Oh. Hello. Nathan, right? Are you guys leaving?"

"Well, we can't save the world if we're hiding in a basement." Dave knew that might be a little harsh if she was a believer, but he had to speak his mind. No games. Truth from the start. He felt a little better, despite his goosebumps.

Sharon nodded. "Good point."

Good answer. Another chill.

"Want to join us?"

Nathan stared at them with his mouth hanging open.

"Dave?"

"What?"

"What are you doing?"

"Hey, I'll take all the brainpower I can find."

Sharon smiled again. "I'd love to help you save the world."

Now Dave couldn't stop grinning. As he watched Sharon wave bye to her friends, his heart was beating out of his chest. He felt like he was about to cross the Grand Canyon on a high wire. And he'd probably do it if she asked him to.

Nathan scrunched his brow at Dave then shrugged. "Whatever."

They piled into Nathan's car. Dave felt compelled to let Sharon have the coveted shotgun, and sat in the back. He had to shove a heavy, black duffle bag over as he slid in.

"Nathan, what's in this thing?"

"Oh, that's my emergency bag. Two-way radios, an AM/FM radio, a couple of extra cell phones, a bull horn, batteries, protein snacks, water bottles, a flashlight, flares, blankets, an old lap top. Just a few things."

"So only the necessities."

"Right."

Sharon smirked at Dave, and he smiled back, feeling his cheeks warm up. Every time she paid attention to him, his brain got a jolt of electricity, and he had to remember how to think and speak.

Luckily, she switched her focus to Nathan. "Where's your wife? I thought she came with you to the meetings."

Nathan squirmed and frowned. "Kitty? Yeah. I'd rather not say."

Dave had a feeling he knew.

"What? Is she in a secret bunker?"

"Well, of course.  But only because I wouldn't leave until she went in."

Sharon tilted her head. "Why?"

"Um."

Dave would get it out of him. "Spill, Nathan. This could be the end of the world, right? Secrets turn friends into enemies."

"Geez. Fine. She's pregnant."

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