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Against the Future

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Chapter 2

Andrew rolled out of bed after hitting the snooze button twice. The bathroom door was closed, and he could hear running water. Andrew got dressed. He was glad the power is still on. Another random thought. “I’ll got breakfast started Emily.” He hoped to have a bagel and catch up on world news, like a normal morning.

Downstairs, Andrew paused long enough to check cable news. The cable was out. He turned on the stereo instead. The unexpected blast of Stone Temple Pilots music shocked him a little. He turned it down and switches to NPR.

In the kitchen he popped a bagel in the toaster and started the coffee. NPR was covering routine stuff, about the new school year, horrible traffic, violent crime over the weekend. Nothing about martial law or rioters or UFOs.

Andrew went to the fridge and grabbed a half-empty bottle of milk. He took a long drink from the carton. He heard footsteps coming down the stairs. He put the milk away.

“Good morning babe! Cable’s out but the world appears to be holding together.”

Emily barely seemed to notice that he was talking. Just a casual nod. “Coffee.”

The coffee was almost done. They make a small pot, 6 cups every morning. He hands her a mug and fishes a second one out of the cupboard.

NPR had moved on. This story was about a judge in some nearby town soliciting sex from women who had cases before him – a rerun Andrew thought. Andrew grabbed a banana off the counter.

Andrew went to the window. All looks normal in the yard and the apartments he can see looking straight out the window. “Everything looks normal out there.” A siren sounded, not too far away.

Emily joined him at the window, holding a bagel topped in cream cheese in one hand, coffee mug in the other. “Maybe we should both stay home.”

“I need to go to the institute at least for a little while. But, I would like to stay here.” He pinches Emily’s butt. “You also have a class, if memory serves”

“Two classes.” She took a big bite of her bagel. They were both staring out the window across the yard. The back door of a town house opened. A young man came out. Without any hesitation or delay, he tossed a tablet computer into the into the trash can.

“Why are people mad at smart phones and computers. I mean I kind of sympathize, but not enough to toss a $700 computer.” He looked at Emily, who was nodding.

“Let’s hope things don’t get any worse.”

They went out early to do their shopping. It was Andrew’s idea. They got a few things at the Hello Fresh store and headed to campus. It was an uneventful day, aside from Wi-Fi service at the school going down. Andrew asked a couple of people, but neither one knew what had happened. Andrew decided it was sabotage then went back to work.

While in the car heading to Andrew’s place, Emily called her parents. “Hey Mom. How are things up there?” Andrew knew she wasn’t just asking about her health.”

“Hello Margaret!” Andrew spoke up.

“Blackouts? “Well, are you guys ready in case the next one lasts a long time?

He glanced over at her – Emily was frowning.

“Don’t cancel your Internet and mobile service Mom.” Emily shook her head.

“Andrew and I looking forward to seeing you guys in October.” That would be their first out-of-state trip as a couple of years. Emily was silent for almost a minute. He could faintly hear some chatter on the other end, but couldn’t make out any words.

“Love you too Mom.”

“Did you get that Andrew?” He could only nod. He had to slowed down and take the turned leading to Emily’s apartment building. The neighborhood was dark.

“Do you want to stay at my place?”

The saw a couple of guys in bandanas holding guns. Andrew and Emily looked at each other for a second. Both of the men were looking at their car.

“That sounds like a good idea.”

The two men with guns had looked away. No one else was out, that Andrew saw. After a couple of minutes navigating side streets they came back to an area with power, a neighborhood just a few blocks from Andrew’s apartment complex. Just before leaving the darkened streets Emily patted his arm and pointed.

Two figures shrouded in darkness were there near the base of a concrete power pole working on it with electric drills, or what looked like electric drills.

One of the people, a scruffy man of about 50 looked them over and mouthed something. Andrew didn’t care what he said. Then the car passed them and there was nothing else. It was almost as if they had traveled from the developing world to an average American suburb on a late summer evening. A young couple was even on their porch drinking beer and watching the sky.

They had to stop at an intersection. Emily was looking out the window up at the sky. Andrew decided to see if there was anything interesting up there.

Andrew only had a second to look before the light changed. In that second, he saw a shape, maybe triangular move from one cloud to another. There was no time and not enough light to make out any details.


Captain Blake felt like his big day might be here. It was his weekend of guard service and he pulled up to the National Guard base 20 minutes before he was required to report, at 6:30. He almost missed the two bright dots traveling through the sky above the clouds. He stopped just outside the guard shack to watch. It was the second time had seen something like this. The objects passed behind or through a cloud and came out the other side. In the no-nonsense world of police detective work and National Guard business, several colleagues had seen this sort of thing. No one would say outright what they must have been thinking. Those are aircraft or spacecraft. That must be what they are.

“Excuse me sir, you can’t park here.” One of the two guards had stepped out of the shack to take a closer look at the inside of his vehicle. It was still about half an hour before the sun officially rose.

“I’m Captain Blake.” He showed the guard his identification. While he put it away and put the SUV back in drive he made a mental note to check for other reports of lights in the sky. If he had time; it promised to be a super busy day and week.


Andrew and Emily were making out in the living room – an unscheduled break from studying – when muffled sounds of two male voices started coming from the hall. They both paused to listen but there was nothing to here. Just indistinct mumbling…then it hit Andrew. Andrew turned his attention from Emily to the door. He heard phones, and fields, and computers mentioned. Then he realized the two voices were the same person.

Emily mouthed a question. “Is he talking to himself?”

Things got quiet outside. After a few seconds, Andrew kissed Emily again and went back to the living room. When he looked at the TV, which he had forgotten was on, there was a “No Signal” message at the top of the screen.

That was when Andrew looked away from Emily and noticed the cable was out – the ‘No Signal’ sign drifted across the screen where a show on the history of horses had been running. Emily sighed and pressed the power button on the remote.

Andrew kissed Emily again. There was banging and shouting out in the hall. “What in the hell is going on?”

He got up and went to the door, mostly to confirm that both locks were locked. They were. Then he looked outside through the peephole. The loud commotion resumed, this time on both sides of the door. He couldn’t see anything at first. Then, there it was – someone had smashed a laptop computer.

“Did you see anything?”

“It looks like one of our neighbors lost his temper and smashed his laptop on the floor.”

“What? Right there in the hall?”

A gun went off somewhere nearby, outside. Andrew and Emily both jumped a little.

“I’m calling the police.” Emily walked over to the phone and picked it up.
“I think that gunshot was out in the courtyard.”

He walked to the window. No more gunfire, or any other noise came from outside. He pushed the curtain aside. Outside, though a gap in the curtains he saw the remains of a cookout from earlier in the day. Four folding chairs were still clustered around the fire pit. There was a tablet PC and a smart phone out there.

He could hear that Emily was on the phone with the police or swearing at the voice-activated menus. Andrew was more interested in the outdoors. He thought about opening the window and screen so he could lean out and look. Instead he just pressed his face against the glass and took a quick look down the rows of apartments. He saw one person on the ground level sitting behind their apartment. There were no porches or patios or back doors on the units, so that was odd. Who sits on a plastic chair in the grass behind someone’s apartment. Still, no sign of a gun or blood there. He stood up straight again and closed the curtain.

Things remained quiet for the rest of the evening. The power went out, only for a minute. Andrew felt a sense of relief to know that normal things just went wrong, like normal. He went to bed hoping things would be normal to a bit odd in the morning. That would be a big improvement.


Andrew went out to his car, hoping for a reasonably normal day of work and studying. Traffic was light on the way into town. The short drive from dropping Emily at the far side of the University only took two minutes. He’d decided against sharing that odd dream with Emily, or anyone else. Like before, there were lots of people on city streets, but most were walking or riding bikes. Good for the environment he guessed, but odd. The only thing at all strange was the boarded-up Boost Mobile storefront.

Things seemed okay until he pulled into the little two-row parking lot. The lights were off inside. The front door was propped open with a brick. A white van was parked next to the door in the one handicapped spot. “What in the world?” He thought about calling the police.

He parked in the half-empty lot. That’s unusual. Not as unusual as the white van in the handicapped spot. Andrew decided not to got out of the car right away. In a few seconds, two people with bandanas over their faces come out carrying laptop computers. They went right to the van. If they saw Andrew, they didn’t care. Andrew saw other items stacked inside when the one guy opened the door.

Andrew decided to call the police. As he did so, a third man came out. Andrew took a second to recognize the building’s security guard, Stewart or Seward or something. He now sported a few days’ growth of whiskers, and was in civilian clothes.

A fourth man carrying a fire ax came out. This man had a bandana covering his face. He saw Andrew and pointed at him. The two guys who were out first were about to go back inside. They stopped.

Andrew dialed 911. He had time to be relieved there was a 911 operator. “What is your emergency?” The three guys still outside with the van were watching him. They had to know he was on the phone. This immediately felt like a big mistake.

“There’s a burglary in progress.” The 911 operator put him on hold as soon as she said there was a burglary in progress. He hung up and set the phone in the passenger seat.

He looked at the glove box. The pistol was in there. He’s not about to escalate things by getting out of the car. The four looters seemed to be discussing what to do. They were standing in a little circle not really looking at him, as best he could tell.

Andrew exhaled and closed the glove box. As soon as the van drove past him, Andrew got out of the car to look inside. From just outside he could see someone moving in the darkened interior. The person disappeared into a room before Andrew could say anything.

Police sirens sounded from behind him, way in the distance. He looked back over his shoulder. Either the cops weren’t coming this way, or they were far away because Andrew can’t see them. Then he heard another siren, further away. Listening for a few seconds made it pretty clear the police were heading his way. He decided to get back in his car and disappear. The gun in the glove box and the general weirdness in the air made discretion the right move.

He eased off the gas in a couple of seconds after turning around. A glance in the rear-view mirror told him that he wasn’t about to be shot at and wasn’t being chased. He pulled into the street, taking it easy on the gas. A police car cruised by in the opposite direction. The driver glanced at Andrew, who held his breath.


Emily took out her mobile phone. “I know you’ve never seen anything like this.”

Andrew expected a photo of a cat riding on a motorcycle with his owner; two of Emily’s favorite things.

Emily fiddled with the phone for several seconds and started a video clip. The night sky, clear as can be and very dark. “So it got dark one night?”

She looked like she was going to hit him. “Don’t play, watch.” As she spoke a tiny oval shaped object entered from the upper left of the screen. Before Andrew had time to think about it, it dropped six tiny dots of light. The oval stayed unchanged as it slipped out of view. “I recorded it last night Andrew.”

“And…?” Andrew looks at her, not sure what to expect. It is a UFO, at least to him.

“I don’t know what it is? Satellite re-entering and breaking up?’

Andrew nodded. “Sounds like it. But that’s a cool video clip. Did you?”

“Posted on Facebook and YouTube.”

“I was going to ask if you looked for any news yet.”

“This could be my big break.”

“Big break? Are you trying to get interviewed by Ancient Aliens?”

“What if we go online now and look for UFO stories?”

Andrew looked over at the TV. The dust was a bit distracting. “Sure. Fire up the laptop. I’m checking CNN.” He turned on the TV. It was already tuned to CNN.

“…massive anti-nuclear demonstration in Montreal. The Nuclear-Free Quebec rally planned for this weekend has erupted into violence.” Andrew had to step closer so he could read the crawl.


NASDAQ suffers historic loss and recovery

King Hussein of Jordan in the Hospital.

“Jean-Marie Chirac, spokesmen for Nuclear Free Canada, disavows the actions of massed individuals who broke into an electronics store and attacked a CBC radio team early this afternoon.” The screen shows cops in black riot gear wielding nightsticks and holding black shields as they approach a large group of rock throwers and masked demonstrators. It could really be an image of almost any big demonstration anywhere on earth.

“No UFO reports.”

“Come here Andrew. I found something like my video.”

He came over and stood by her shoulder. The video looks somewhat like Emily’s. He saw a faint muttering voice-over that he couldn’t understand. He thought the language might be Russian though. Unfortunately, the video description was only “UFOs outside parents apartment block last night.” The upload date was 14 days ago. This video lasted just over one minute and showed two lights, one slightly ahead of and “above” the other from the videographer’s perspective. They both seemed to come apart into tiny dots of light. At least a dozen pieces each.

This must have been filmed about the same time I caught my clip.” She pointed at the date.

“Well, two videos don’t really make for solid proof. Maybe you guys got two different views of an old space station burning up. The media seems distracted by riots in Quebec now.”

“I hope we hear something tomorrow Andrew.”


The day after the excitement at the institute, Andrew decided to work from home. Emily moved in, because power had been out for over two days. No one at the power company was taking calls. They had both tried a few times. While the riots died down, they decided to work from home, using the Web to get things done while they had it.

The doorbell rang about an hour into Andrew’s note taking. It was a text message.

- Some of us are heading to Samford U. Things were good yesterday.

Andrew texted back – And then what?

- Really? We need to do something.

Andrew decided he might agree – So is this the plan we talked about?

- Yes. Are you going to join us?

- How many people are going? Andrew thought there was strength in numbers.

- Only 11 or 12 that I know of. Others from UAB and Samford. I’m sending the location.

He did send the location. Emily was looking over his shoulder and running the fingers of her right hand through his hair. He quickly lost interest in the address, thinking to maybe write it down…later.


Andrew beat Emily home. He texted her and got a response that work was normal, but the Boost Mobile store was closed. Andrew texted back about that small riot. Another one. He hadn’t been counting but it was probably the 11th or 12th in the past two weeks.

Immediately after Emily got home, Andrew decided they needed to compare notes on events of the day. “Do we really have to go over this stuff in detail? Again?

“This is really fascinating stuff Emily.” He reached for his notebook and pen without waiting for a response. He wanted to add more data points to several categories of events he thought about the night before.

She sighed. He senses he as won, at least for now. “The mobile phone store was closed for no reason. That riot was directed at an electronics store. We’ve both seen people trashing their smart phones, laptops, and e-readers how many times?”

Emily shrugged as she chewed a bite of pasta and meat sauce. He paused for a bite, kind of hoping Emily would volunteer more information. Andrew thought about the apocalypse survival plan from the night before. It seemed a bit paranoid, yesterday. And the day had been mostly normal. It wasn’t time to give up on work and school and hide out. Emily agreed.

“Should we still go to Arrowhead? I think so.”

“Of course. We earned a break.” They had worked all summer, full-time in his case.

“I guess two days away won’t see too much change.” She nodded her head, to affirm that she got it. “Let’s get out of here.”

Andrew nodded in agreement, glad to be persuaded and glad Emily was thinking the same way. He started thinking about what to pack for their little vacation.


Captain Blake sat back and listened to the city council members talk and talk, and talk some more. The Acting Mayor, a portly Black man named Jarvis had been talking about forcing people to stay at home. The real mayor, a slippery career politician, and a woman, was AWOL. Three other civilians were there, along with the police chief. He seemed like a solid guy, a veteran of the Gulf War and about as White and Christian as they come. He complained that tighter security was impossible with the police because most of his people either weren’t showing up or weren’t using their cars. He seemed pained at saying that word, Blake noted. This was also the first sign that people were mad at cars, mad at cars! Things were getting worse.

“If I may interrupt,” he waited a second to see if anyone objected, “Why is the National Guard not already out in the streets to maintain order? I realize the Governor has to declare martial law at least officially.”

“Has anyone heard from the governor’s staff?” That was Herman Callum, Chair of the City Council. “Lieutenant Governor Smith went on vacation yesterday.”

‘Sure he did’, thought Blake. “Some of my fellow National Guard officers have been trying to communicate with the Governor but there’s no big decision yet. He told someone I am not supposed to name that this situation might be impossible to control. That’s what the Governor told him, but he wasn’t going to let on because of the next thoughts that Blake had. And I said I feared he was right.

“So, Captain Blake, what can you do absent a declaration of emergency?

“Very little officially.” He might have to take some unofficial actions but wanted to save that for later, if things really did get worse. “I’ve contacted a couple of fellow officers and asked them to contact their subordinates. I tried to contact more but they haven’t responded at all. At this point I assume they won’t.”

“How many more people did you try to contact? The Mayor again.

“Three, one Captain and two lieutenants. That’s two responses out of nine people I directly contacted in the past week.

Someone knocked and entered. It was Chief Bailey, acting Chief of Police, the actual Chief having been taken to the hospital after a suicide attempt two days ago. Maybe that man had the right idea.

“Mr. Bailey, what’s news in law enforcement.”

“Numerous people calling in. Normal for the past week though. But there’s something else.”

Blake’s disaster sense lit up, even before Bailey could go on. It was a long story. The key point was that someone firebombed a storage area where they kept some radios and body cameras. Someone else, who they arrested, had attacked a bank of computer monitors with his baton. The other attack was still unknown, probably another cop infected with anti-technology mania.

Blake decided he needed to gather information from outside the area, on how bad things were getting elsewhere. It might also be a good time to take inventory of local resources. Stockpiles of food and fuel at least. He thought there were other steps to take, maybe select a site or two that would make good shelters for displaced residents.


The next morning, Emily’s car refused to start, so he went to pick her up. Andrew could drop her off and loop around to the near side of campus where he worked and studied. The morning began with the cable being out. That was the first time in almost a year at that apartment; Andrew thought it might be a record for a cable company.

Andrew and Emily were in one of the few cars. Many people had resorted to bikes, feet, a couple of horses, and buses. Bus service seemed about normal, as far as Andrew could tell. Even though it was a Thursday morning during rush hour. There were some disabled cars here and there. That was odd. It was almost like an ice storm had forced some people to abandon right by the road, except for the lack of a storm.

“What in the hell is going on?”

“Language Emily!” She scowled at him, as she did when she thought she was being played with. “Anyway, we don’t have any idea. Things are strange though. I’ll give you that.”

They proceeded to campus with nothing strange to see but the cars, and some broken electronics out with the trash. A few phones and one laptop had been abandoned in the streets. Andrew thought he counted eighteen cars that seemed to be abandoned. That was in a 3.1-mile drive.

“Was the power out in the one neighborhood back there, because it looked like it? He had been counting cars and watching the light traffic and wasn’t sure if a prominent stop light were working or not.

“I think so. And one set of stop lights had gone out.”


The parking lot was about half empty, at 7:47 am. “Is it a holiday? Or are people going crazy.”

“It looks like the power’s out.” Emily looked around and nodded in agreement.


This power failure lasted about two hours. Andrew saw lights on when he drove around to his own part of campus two minutes later. The College of Social Sciences building also had power. There were a couple more bikes out front than usual. The bulletin board hosted a few new fliers. Three were normal boring stuff but one stood out: “OUT OF YOUR CARS! Learn how to save yourself and the planet by being car-free! It is a moral imperative!!”

Up in the graduate students’ shared office space, he ended up being alone. There were some books and papers at a couple of the five desks. One was his. The other high achiever must have been in the bathroom or teaching a class. He thought one of the other Masters-level students had a class at 8:00 and it was just after 8:00 am.

He went back to grading papers. He was scheduled to guest lecture at 1:30 and had a class to attend at 3:00, so there was little time to waste.

The guest lecture was on tools for studying the spread of conspiracy theories. Attendance was pretty good in the Social Movements class he was addressing – 16 out of 22 students were there. He noticed that none of them had smart phones or digital recorders. He was too busy to think about this at length, but it did seem odd. After his 3:00 theory class – six of seven in attendance – he want back home as fast as he could. Emily was coming over at 6.

He thought about the phone, and decided to check it. There was no signal. “Mobile phones are shit anyway.” He looked around to make sure no one heard him. No one was around. Then, he wondered why he said that.


Andrew decided that more power lines were down and more roads had been blocked off. He saw more lights out and more electronics in the trash. He doesn’t know when he started looking for that but he did. The Boost Mobile store was dark, not because it was late. The windows were boarded up and the exterior lights at the strip mall where off. The traffic lights ahead were off as well. Black out.

Darkness was closing in on he and Emily. It felt like that. To the north, then west, then east blackouts and road blocks were popping up. Electronic trash increasingly littered yards, sidewalks, even streets.

That’s when he had to stop and look up. Two tiny arrowhead shapes cruised high overhead. He couldn’t tell if they were airplanes or what. Was this his first UFO sighting? Second?

He drove on without thinking any more about it. Later, he asked Emily about her UFO sighting. It looked like an arrowhead that was lit or reflected light. She didn’t know. Andrew took a few seconds to imagine huge wedge-shaped alien ships in orbit above earth waiting for things to fall apart sufficiently. Then they would begin landing their troops.


This time Andrew beat Emily to his place. The power was off, again. He only had time to get home, take off his shoes, wash his hands, and check the pistol. He didn’t remember why it seemed like a good idea to buy the compact 9mm pistol, but now he was kind of glad it had it. He also had one loaded magazine, in the pistol with the safety off – he cursed himself for his clumsiness. He looked for the box of ammunition he thought he still had. Someone knocked and the door opened. After seven months of spending weekends at each others’ apartments, they both still knocked before coming in.

“What’s up Andrew?” She dropped her backpack and a Kroger shopping bag full. They kissed briefly.

“Hey, when did you buy a gun?”

He looked over his shoulder at the pistol and half-empty box of ammunition. “Just in case things get really out of control. I checked the ammo.”

She nodded. “I’ve never fired a gun before.”

“Well, I haven’t fired one in a couple of years. Maybe we both need some practice.”

“I don’t know Andrew.”

“One of us needs to get comfortable using it.”

“Do you really think things will get that bad?”

“Yes.” He put the gun in a drawer and closed it.

“Where did you get it?”

“My uncle David sold it to me just after I turned 21.”

“We’ve both got a shitload of work to do Emily. And not just school work.”


Andrew made a rolling stop at the intersection, worried that people were watching and planning something. There were no other motor vehicles moving, of course. A few bicycle riders were in the street, along with two kids play fighting with swords. She goes through the intersection and turned left at the next one. The road ahead was blocked by two cars. A man with a hunting rifle was sitting on the hood of one of the cars, drinking something from a bottle. Andrew knew better than to get within shouting distance or maintain eye contact, so he concentrated on pulling into a driveway and turning around at once. The house had a couple of lights on. Someone holding a kerosene lantern looks out the front picture window at her.

Emily waved at the man. He turned around without responding. She moved on, thinking about the road as much as the yards and the unnatural quiet.

The first road seemed to go nowhere, just endless houses and tiny apartment buildings. So, she continues to the next intersection. A police car blocked the road on her first choice of escape route. A police car! Two police officers stand next to the car. One of them motions for her to come their way. She has just enough room to pull her car around the corner and stop.

She leaned out the window. “What’s going on?”

“We’re closing the neighborhood to motor vehicles. The change is permanent.”

“What for?” Andrew noticed both men were staring at Emily. That made him nervous for a couple of seconds. Then he realized what they were looking at. From their position you could see her smart phone was turned on.

He shook his head. “You need to move along.”

Behind the cops, a couple of residents came out of a garage to watch the unfolding confrontation. Emily ended the discussion by backing up and driving off.

She looked back long enough to see the cop who talked to her on the radio. She wishes she knew what he was saying and to whom, but He saw no way.

The sun was getting low in the sky, and she doesn’t really want to be out here creeping around in the car wasting gas in another hour. She risks speeding up, assuming there won’t be any traffic cops around and not much traffic either. She notices open space around an elementary school being fenced off. A couple of women and an elderly man are pounding stakes into the ground. Are they making garden plots? She decides to ask Andrew if he’s seen anything like this today. Or, any cops closing off neighborhoods to people in cars. If so, she thinks are about to got even more dangerous.

Finally, she saw another familiar road. Without stopping at the intersection she goes around the corner, almost hitting an abandoned car. The car was probably supposed to be pulled up alongside the curb, but the driver couldn’t be bothered to got it right.

The next morning, Emily drove Andrew’s car. He sat in the passenger seat, scribbling notes in a notebook. The radio was playing a commercial for audio books. A song by a female country singer followed. Almost as soon as she started singing, an electronic sound like a printer interrupted the country music.

A female newsreader started talking. “We are sorry to interrupt your morning music marathon, but we have some important breaking news to share. A single-engine aircraft has apparently crashed into the WKSA building in North Nashville.”

Andrew turned off the radio. Emily turned it back on. The announcement continues…” Emergency personnel are on the scene.”

Ahead, several men stand on the overpass holding a hand-painted banner - “GOT OUT OF YOUR CARS” A smaller sign claims that smart phones kill.

”What the hell?”

Emily took the next exit. The bum at the end of the exit ramp holds up a brick, muttering.

Emily stepped on the gas and points the car. The bum tosses the brick, with little force and no apparent effort to aim. It bounces off the front quarter panel. She can hear him say something about getting out of the car.

The streets were mostly free of cars, even though it is rush hour. She notes that lots of people are out on foot or on bicycles. She passes a bus on the right. It looks crowded. The bus stop just ahead has a few people at it. One man was sitting on a bike.

At the next red light, she checked her phone. No service says the screen. She looks up and around. The businesses she can see into appear to have their lights on. The light turned green. She hesitates when she saw a man inside a restaurant unscrewing a light bulb. He drops it and starts remove another. A horn honked behind her. She hits the gas a bit harder than necessary and turned toward the university.

Everything seems relatively normal for a weekday morning, until she prepares to took another turned. From her position, she can see the parking garage is blocked off, Not by a roadblock. Barrels and tires are stacked at the entrance and exit. A campus cop is standing in the grass near the exit, chatting with two young men in matching track suits.

She stopped near them and rolls down her window. One of the young men pointed at her. “This is a car-free zone. Keep moving. You’ll have to park somewhere else.”


The power had come back on. Andrew hoped it would last but the previous blackout had lasted almost a day. There was no news about the state of the city’s electrical grid, but Andrew had seen an electrical substation on fire. It wasn’t one that served their area or power would be out, he thought.

“I don’t know Andrew. It was just an idea.”

“I know. It might be a necessary step.”

“Let’s hope things don’t got that bad.”

“I’m going to figure out what to download and how.”

“We need an external hard drive or something. I mean we only have the laptops and one or two dinky thumb drives.”

“Your right, But first things first. How do we decide what to got?”

“I don’t know Emily. We need to concentrate on useful knowledge I guess.”

“I agree. But, first let’s see if we can some informed opinion about what might be going on here.”

“I’m going to at least propose my idea somewhere.” She resumed typing with a furrowed brow. He’d never seen her type so intently when she was on a tight deadline at school.

“Wait! I have an idea!” Emily started typing furiously before she completed the sentence.

“What? Are you going to finish your thesis this week?”

She turned her laptop screen, so Andrew can see it. “I’m going to ask people to find and print useful, practical knowledge.” She was on Facebook.

“Crowdsourcing! I love it. Why didn’t I think of that?”

He logged on to Facebook. “You still on LinkedIn?” Emily nodded. “Post a note there. That’s what I’m doing.”

“We need to encourage people to make multiple copies as well.”

Emily looks up from the screen briefly. “Excellent point!” She hardly stopped typing. .

“Hmm… This is odd.”

Emily paused briefly to look over at him. “I’m down about two dozen Facebook friends.”

“Your posts are a little boring Andrew.”

“Yeah, check your own posts babe. And, seriously, see if you lost people. I’m jumping over to LinkedIn now.”

“My feed is loaded with anti-technology nonsense. Wow! Some of the stuff is hardly rational.”

Emily scrolled through her feed. “My LinkedIn is sort of like that. Everyone wants to get away from their computers, roll the cars into the ocean. Jesus Christ.”

“Sounds familiar. Even my connections in the UK and Canada have the bug.”

“No surprise there.” His Facebook feed included a few normal memes and an appeal to share some prayer request for a guy with cancer, from a relative Andrew barely knew. He scrolled down, and saw the first truly interesting post - Getting off social media. Advise everyone to do the same. Turn your backs on technology.

Emily looked over at him. “Done. Two quick posts.”

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed.” He hit “Post” at the same time.

“But my posts were pretty vague.” Andrew looked over at Emily, who was intent on something on her screen. He could see her Facebook feed from there.

“You should probably keep them vague. I’ve also lost a few friends, like while we’ve been online.”

“Why do I have to keep them vague Andrew?”

“I don’t know. My imagination is getting a little overheated maybe.”



“I could swear I had more than 49 LinkedIn connections yesterday/”

Emily sighed and started typing. “I’m checking my profile.” After a couple of seconds, “I swear I had more too.”

Before Andrew could do any more looking around, their Internet connection went down. He cursed under his breath and closed the laptop.

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