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
When he entered, the vast, pitch black made him pause. It was an eerie dungeon, especially with the echo of his footsteps. He wasn't afraid of the dark, but bad things happened during blackouts. He clicked his key remote and nothing happened. So his car or the key fob was dead too. Then he remembered the electronic gate probably wouldn't work either. He'd have to walk. Good thing it was only a few blocks.
As he started to leave, more people came out of the stairwell.
"I did try the remote. It's dead. The car might be dead too."
"Well, try it anyway. This isn't right. We need to get the kids out of here."
Surely it was just a transformer or some other simple explanation. Some people panicked as if the world was ending when their electronics stopped working. Dave shook his head and walked down the sidewalk.
Living on the north side of town, he felt relatively safe, but anything could happen on the extra dark streets. Headlights flashed from around a corner. Dave wondered how their car worked when others didn't. When they turned down his street, he froze until he noticed it was a police car. He chided himself for overreacting as they pulled up beside him. Maybe they took surge protecting precautions on their vehicles.
"There's a curfew in place, sir. You need to go to your home."
"Okay. I'm on my way there now." Dave wasn't about to go sit and wait in the dark for the city to fix the problem, when he and Nathan could probably figure it out in half the time. Or at least get something local up and running.
The officers nodded and they rolled on. Dave wasn't sure if it was good or bad that the cops were patrolling. There was always a curfew for blackouts, but with police enforcing it, something was definitely wrong. Criminals usually took advantage of power outages to steal things, but only if it seemed like it would be for an extended amount of time. He picked up the pace.
What could have caused everything to go down all at once? Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) flashed in his head, but that was ridiculousness from the movies and one of Nathan's favorite scenarios.
When he got to the office building, he tried his keycard. Of course it didn't work. They'd need a metal key to get in. Now what?
Headlights rushed toward him from down the street. He didn't want the police to drag him home so he hid around the side of the building.
The car slowed down as it reached the entrance, and Dave peeked out at it.
It was Nathan's beater, not the police. Stepping into the open from his hiding spot, Dave waved.
Nathan rolled his passenger window down. "Oh good. I circled twice already. The cops are sending everyone home. Get in."
"I know. How did you get your car to work?"
"It's an older model, not as many electronics to fry, and it was in my garage."
Dave frowned. His car was in a garage, he just couldn't get into it because the locks were electronic and apparently fried.
"Where are we going?"
"To an emergency meeting. You really should check the important messages I send you more often. It might get you off your couch. I invite you every month."
"To what? Your apocalypse club?"
Nathan nodded. "Well, look around. Something big is going on."
"You don't think it's just an accident? Or a storm?"
"Not a regular storm with the internet and phone services down. We think it's like this across the whole country. We're flying blind, man."
"Okay." Dave was doubtful. How would he know?
Nathan drove them out of town and down a few windy, country roads. He pulled into a dirt drive toward a large lake house. There were cars parked all over the front yard under the trees.
"We're gonna have to walk."
"How many members are there?"
"Not this many, but everyone and their brother hops onto the bandwagon when something finally happens. Like you."
"Gee, thanks," Dave said as they hiked up the long drive to the house.
"Hey, no offense. I'm happy you're here. I need you. Ya think I want to start over with these weirdos?"
They laughed and stopped at the door. Nathan made a goofy face at the peephole, then flipped it off. A buzz sounded.
Dave smiled. "Nice secret code."