Have You Tried Turning it Off and On Again?

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It’s Tuesday again.

After my alarm finished destroying my slumber, the routine began: Sit up. Feel that pain again in the base of my skull. Question existence.Jennifer and Deepthika continue their sleep. As the provider, though, I can no longer.

Coffee. Cream. Butter.

At last, with the HoloVision filling the soundless vacuum of the living room, I take my seat in front of my machine. The workers at the local TASC facility can now breathe an air of relief. Their IT guy is ready to hold their hands.

Wait.

A red “X” over my LAN indicator. The router is fine.The modem is not.

“…Hello and thank you for calling Omni-Qual Telecom, may I have your name please?”

“Yes, this is Weston Flynt and my modem is dead.”

“…Well I’m very sorry to hear that, could you please confirm your address?”

“Yes, it is 1347 Lloyd Gypsum Avenue, Oakland.”

“…Thank you for that. I see your modem is not communicating with our system… that’s odd…”

“What is?”

“Oh nothing. Sir could you please turn it off and on again?”

Why did his voice change after that ‘odd’ comment?

“I can’t believe I spaced on that…” I leaned over and unplugged the modem. When I did, the call dropped.

“Friggin’ ‘triple-play’ BS.” Then I remembered I was on my mobile.

My 27” LED flickered, then went out.

The newscaster on the HoloVision began spouting gibberish. From the large window that overlooked our garden I could see fresh and healthy leaves starting to sort of drift away from their branches. Like paper lanterns set free during a lunar festival, birds and other small animals began to ascend.

“Honeys…” I called to my loving wives, uncertainty and controlled panic in my voice.

The two came shuffling down the carpeted hallway.

“What is it, West?” Deepthika spoke first, rubbing her eyes and yawning. Her thick black hair was down and enveloping her pleasingly round figure.

“I… I’m not quite sure,” I said, pointing out of the window.

Jennifer’s crisp green eyes were first to take in the sauntering leaves.

“Wha…” was all the Welsh woman could muster.

“I came in, sat down to remote-in, and the internet was down. I called those idiots and told them, and they told me to reboot the modem. When I did…” I indicated the rising woodland creatures.

Deepthika rushed to the window that gave us all a voyeuristic glimpse of our neighbors. She quickly recoiled from the sight. Jennifer and I hustled the necessary three or four yards over to the same window.Jim and Carol Bunshafter were also floating, their faces lifeless and empty. Like parade balloons, the loving couple aimlessly bumped into each other and the several miscellaneous items in their orbit.

“…Weston… What has happened?” Deepthika clutched the two of us tightly.

A thud. Another thud.  The three of us bolted to the front room.

Some… thing like a giant disembodied foot was crashing into homes and then ceremoniously rising and moving on. The Warvey house was obliterated. The Warvey’s could be seen gently rising heavenward; their destination however did not involve the pearly gates. The girls and I craned our necks upward and could see a mouth on a cloud with perfect teeth and sparkling red lips. Everything that was rising had a plotted course that ended inside that mouth.

Frantic, I began looking around for something. I had no idea what, but I knew I wasn’t going to get eaten that day. As I began to rifle through our things, destroying Jennifer’s organizational system in the process, I saw one of the lights on the modem come on.

Power. The thuds were getting louder, closer. Receive came on solid. The mouth had begun chewing. Send was now on. The leaves were now flowing backward.

Online remained dark.

PC Activity started its flicker. My router had now begun to talk to the modem. Animals were returning to the Earth.

Online was still off.

The thuds and screams were now three doors away. Deepthika and Jennifer clung to me, and I to them. The neighbors were now dead. Through the skylight, I could see the foot-thing hover above us.

“I love you, Jennifer, I love you, Deepthika.”

“I love you Weston, I love you Jennifer.”

“I love you Deepthika, I love you Weston.”

Online was now solidly lit.

The foot was gone. Squirrels were fighting over nuts. The news was normal. The phone rang. In rapid Japanese, the voice spoke unceasingly.

<<Hello. It has come to our attention that you have been chosen as a Keeper. In the future, when your internet service is giving you trouble, please, do not foolishly call the other number. Instead, call this one. Your service is valued, and please, do not ever again turn it off and on again.>>

The line was dead. I understood every word with startling clarity, but I don’t even speak Japanese.

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