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 reality shock.


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.


“Hey, Mick”


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 I wanted.”


“Nah, didn’t get to it.”


“Fuck, Mick, you never do shit in this house!”


“Yeah, well, shit happens. Or doesn’t. Whatever.”


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 longest friends.


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.