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
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."
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?"
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.