The wire was the first to go. Cut
in a moment, the pulsing LEDS on a billion consoles blinking and fading like a
dying blue ember, the wire was the first to go. The traditionalists had no
problem, of course – they were prepared, and when the wire cut, it was just an
inconvenience. The gamers fared relatively well. Having built their estate on a
virtual world, they had nothing in the real world waiting for them, but also
nothing to lose. Absolute worst were the true hackers, the Deus ex Machina. The
sudden withdrawal sent half of them into immediate fatal heart attacks from
For Mick Mono, things were slightly
less bad, which meant they were only disastrous. Mono was a hacker, but only as
a temporary diversion. He was smart enough to know the wire would cut. The
scientists were warning them for years – total EM overload was affecting the
Earth’s natural whatever it was, and the ensuing polarity switch or whatever
was enough to blank all the waves. Mono limited himself to low entry just in
case, and that’s what saved him.
All of that was months ago. Mono
had adapted, he was good at that. For weeks governments went into overdrive,
spouting the scientists’ line and blaming each other to try and better their
positions, happily ignoring the signs that the world was going to end soon. Not
the doomsday cult crap about the second coming and the mark of the beast, mind.
Just the destruction of the Earth itself.
Mono didn’t do the details, he wasn’t a scientist. Hell, he was just as
guilty as everyone else in contributing to its downfall. He could have gone
traditionalist any day, but stuff that for a joke. Not like one less signal
would have made a difference.
It was hard without the wire. Mono
had adapted, sure, but it was like adapting to leaving home. You can never go
back. Even if you go back to the same
house, the same family, things look the same, but it’s not home anymore,
because you’ve changed. Mono’s thoughts turned to his own home – a beachside
three bedroom he had shared with just his mother. He didn’t go to the beach,
but that was the first house he had lived that could take wire. It was an
amazing experience, his first times. He had found a world where he truly had a
place, where he had belonged. Mono had built a home for himself, invited others
in, made a reputation. He had found his people, and he’d never see them again.
He couldn’t go home.
Mono’s thoughts faded suddenly. He
had arrived home, a dilapidated idol to what the bourgeoisie valued. After the wire went, people had settled into
self-sufficient conclaves. It was a type of socialism or totalitarianism or
something, but he wasn’t paying attention. No wire meant no anarchy debate
channel, and that meant politics was dead to him. They had martial law, but the
authorities provided food and water and shelter in abandoned suburban houses
and little else mattered. There wasn’t long enough to go. He had been placed
with a group of others his age – nice enough people, but not his people.
Katie, the only housemate who wasn’t always
either out getting pissed, or at home getting pissed. She was sometimes at home
having sex instead of getting pissed. In fact, once she was at home having sex
AND getting pissed at the same time. Mono was pretty impressed with that, it
had to have been some kind of record. Lowest form of wit, sure, but he didn’t
care. Katie was pretty enough, he guessed, but she was the typical extroverted
blonde and annoying as hell.
“Dave is in the garage. He was
looking for you.”
Dave. Alpha Male. Always working
trying to adapt his car to work on some alternative fuel, seeing as petrol was
non-existent now. He still felt the need to play shitty music with the
subwoofer on eleven, though. Katie didn’t look up from the TV, some crappy –
well, all TV was crap. She was pretty, damnit. She was hot. She was hot and he
wanted her and she would never give him the time of day and…
Purge it. Those sort of thoughts
were bad news.
Mono stuck his head in the garage.
“Oi, mate, did ya pick up the tool
“Nah, didn’t get to it.”
“Fuck, Mick, you never do shit in
“Yeah, well, shit happens. Or
Mono absented himself to the
bedroom and fell on his bed. Three fucking months without the wire! Three
fucking months of no people he liked, of no news, of no games or discussions or
debates or anything worthwhile.
Three fucking months of no fucking porn.
Mono began to imagine Katie. He’d
heard her in the next room. Truth was, he liked to listen, liked to imagine her
slender body, her cute face framed by that fringe, her breasts, her whole body
crawling on top of him saying…
Overactive imagination. Moment she
speaks, its some inane thing that destroys it all. Mono would never write
erotic fiction, that’s for sure.
It was only a week more of that he
had to put up with. The natural disasters struck – an Earthquake taking out the
west coast of the US for good, cyclones taking out Brisbane. Tsunamis destroyed
the pacific islands. Russia went essentially into an ice age, and Antarctica
went hot so suddenly that it only took a single day to melt. The equator
started getting snow. Mono had seen it coming, and he was nonchalant. Actually,
he wondered what would get him. This city seemed unaffected so far, save for
rioters, but the military were shooting to kill at the first sign of trouble.
That probably made it worse, in thought.
This was it, the end of the world.
Dave had got his car going on some sort of cocktail of synthed alcohol. It made
a lot of noise and more smoke, but he hightailed it to who knows where. Mono
wondered for a moment what had happened to Zak and E and Bioflux. The first
three to welcome him into their home domains, hold backups for him, and his
Maybe I should find a whore, he
thought, non-sequentially. No point dying a virgin, and the money was useless
to him. Didn’t feel right, though. Not like anyone was left working anyway. He
went for a walk instead.
The streets were chaos by now –
rioters, panicking civilians, military shooting them and even each other. The
sky was beautiful – some kind of Aurora flashing in the sky. Perhaps this was
Terra walking towards the light. Journalists ran back and forth, trying to get
footage, but the gale of a wind and the torrential rain was making it
impossible. The big city television screen was showing the Prime Minster making
a final message, in front of parliament house, flags flying fully dressed.
Telling everyone to remain calm, to stay with the people they love in the final
moments. It was a looping and pre-recorded message. No doubt the PM had
retreated to some bunker. Futile.
Mono’s had been a long shot. He had
digitised himself and left backups all across the wire, beamed it at high
strength out. Turned the very essence of his being into ones and zeroes. Maybe
some other culture would someday reconstruct it. Maybe some of the Deus ex
Machina were able to withstand bodily death, even the collapse of the wire and
rebuild somehow. Slim chance, but better than any of these poor bastards had.
He was going to die, they all were. Shame.
His music player still worked. He
plugged it in, and put on his favourite playlist. Songs to remind him of home.
The lights were really pretty – and he knew just the spot to see them from. He
walked towards the headland. It’d take him ten minutes, but there would be at
least an hour left. It was Mono’s gut feeling, and he was sure of this one.
It was quiet and dark along the
path. Up at the headland he skirted round the trees and to the edge proper. He
wasn’t alone up here. He was lonely, he had always been lonely even with the
wire, but there was someone else here.
She was sitting, and at his
interruption turned away from the sky and towards him, tears in her eyes.
“I came here to be alone.”
He sat beside her, taking her hand
in his, looking in unison at the Aurora.
“So did I.”
9.8 meters per second per second. At least that still worked. Mono shrugged, looking away from his watch. Her golden hair reflected the aurora as it bobbed in the water, dancing with the music in his earpiece.