The first time it happened she was coding
late at night and was half awake
. She saw the screen change from blue to orange and the lines of code become a wave, moving left to right. Then white light
, then a single word-
She shook her head, sat up and the screen was blue again, save her lines of white code and the single blinking square in the corner. She rubbed her eyes a few times, logged off and went to bed.
The second time she was wide awake. It was about four in the afternoon and this time she was proofing some templates for a new website. The same wave, then white, then a single word-
She jammed the space bar, nothing. Looked through the history list-nothing. Then the web page was back, unblemished.
She started calling friends and sending out evasive emails- "Come on, fess up- how did you do that?"
(She wasn't on a network and the old server she used to use had died about 6 months before)
That night, in bed, she rolled over to set the alarm, and the red numbers jumped out at her, now orange, set in these letters:
DAMN she shouted, and fell off the side of the mattress. She sat up, looked at the clock again only to see the quiet little numbers (10:46) staring back at her.
(Gotta cut back on the caffeine, she said to herself- checking the clock one more time before rolling over)
In the morning, setting some water in the microwave to boil, she set the time for 1:25 and turned away to get teabags, when the bell chimed the second time, the machine paused, and the green numerals were frozen:
OH SHIT!! She hit the machine with the back of her hand and it slammed the back of the wall. The water inside filled the interior and boiling, poured out the front. She jumped out of the way, got a towel and tried to minimize the mess. She looked back at the square space to see "DONE" blinking. Like it was supposed to be.
Then three days, and nothing. She was jumpy and nervous, sucking down herbal tea and downing Tylenol like Tic-Tacs to deal with caffeine withdrawal.
The night of the third day, she went to the bathroom before bed, brushed her teeth and checked out her hair, before cutting out the light. And there it was.. in the mirror in front of her, blinking in neon blues letters ...
She slammed her fists against the glass and it shattered in and around her. Pieces of it (sharp and clean) flying around the room and into her, directionless. When she realized the extent of the damage, she called her neighbor and got a ride to the emergency room. Five stitches and one tetanus shot later, home. A double Decaf latte helped a little.
She called in sick, but woke to a feeling of dread. Her life was that machine but the thought of even turning it on shook her. Like the days after a bad car accident, she could not imagine jumping back into the danger. She walked in and around the desk, looking at, then deciding against it.
She went for a run instead and felt cleansed as the sweat built up and her lungs burned. Her legs ached, but the farther she went, the clearer her mind was. She never saw the cab, which ran the red light and plowed into her.
When the Ambulance came to take her, needlessly, to the hospital one of the EMT staff paused to notice the crosswalk light frozen above the intersection: