This summer, I'm sharing a short story that made it into an anthology that never was... I'll be posting segments from it every other week. I hope you enjoy it!
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 carefully selected the freshest looking meatloaf plate. The food in his office building's cafeteria left something to be desired, but it was better than packing a sack lunch. He sighed and headed over to his friends' regular table. Life after college hadn't changed much. Even though Rapid Technologies consisted mostly of nerdy types like Dave, there were still sub-divisions with a definite hierarchy of rule-makers, rule-followers, rule-breakers, and grunts.
But Dave was okay being a rule-follower. His life was satisfactory. Why make waves?
As he sat down, his buddy Nathan seemed to be in a particularly good mood.
"Guess what, Dave?"
Looking over Dave's shoulder, Nathan changed his mind and poked at his lunch.
"Never mind, I'll let her tell you."
Sunni plunked down next to Dave. The short, spunky girl wore a white lab coat and round glasses.
"Hey, Sunni. Tell me what?"
"Oh, nothing." Sunni posed her hand on Dave's arm. That was strange. But Sunni, like most women, did weird, inexplicable things that went over his head.
He lifted an eyebrow at her. "Okay."
Sunni pouted. "Dave."
"What?" He didn't like silly games. He ignored her and stuck a fork into his meatloaf. While he chewed a piece, he judged it as marginal and dumped some ketchup on it.
“Daa-aave.” Sunni put her hand under her chin and wiggled her fingers at him.
He finally noticed the engagement ring, but decided to give her a hard time. She started the game, it was only fair.
"You got a manicure? How nice."
She swatted him. "Kyle and I are engaged."
Speaking of Kyle, the tall, gangly guy dawdled over and sat across from her, completing their foursome.
"Oh. Congratulations, Kyle."
Sunni cleared her throat.
"And Sunni." That's what she got for working with a bunch of nerds. She should know better. But it didn't keep her from spouting with excitement.
"We'll be getting married in six months."
"You're both invited."
"And Dave, you should bring a date."
Dave coughed into his iced tea.
Nathan laughed. "That's right, bro. You're the only single guy left at the table."
Sunni and Nathan had been trying to fix Dave up for years. He refused to go on any more blind dates and was perfectly happy at the prospect of living the rest of his days as a bachelor.
Sunni put her hand on Dave's arm again.
"Don't worry. We aren't going to set you up."
"We're going about it scientifically this time," Nathan added.
Instead of a light bulb, a thunder cloud flashed over Dave's head as he realized they wanted him to enter the horrific scene of online dating.