-by Brian McCurdy
anybody listening to me?
DON’T KNOW WHAT LIFE IS. I DON’T CARE EITHER.
great attitude, techy
What’s everyone talking about?
Techy…How can U live your life if you don’t understand it?
G? You still their?
anybody get that new DEATHMASTER game?
It’s soooo cool!!!
I’m right here baby
by I want it—BAD!
I haven’t heard from you in forever. I was starting to get worried.
Just been busy with work. I’m still here.
DEATHMASTER, BIG DEAL!
In fact, I’ve got something to ask you.
haven’t been here for awhile, have you?
Whatever, Techy. Your just jealus cause you don’t have a life.
is it, hon. Sounds important.
Your all stupid!
You know how much I care about you MNS. So I just want to ask you…will U marry
and all the lights around him went dark. Greg stared at it for a moment and
seemed not to be thinking. His eyes moved from the dormant computer screen and
he saw nothing but darkness around him. All the power in his room seem to have
shouted Greg. He was just about to propose to MNS after weeks of debate.
Everything was almost perfect, and a power failure had to ruin it all. He has no
way of knowing her answer now.
out his window at the twilight. The houses lining the city street seemed dead.
They’re usually alive with the flickering of computer screens and the chatter
of televisions, he thought. It must just be a local power failure.
Greg.” His roommate said, entering the darkness of the apartment. “Guess you
know by now. The power’s out all over Philly. Guess I’d better find a
that’s just fabulous. I was just about to do it, Mark.”
to MNS,” Greg whined. “ I finally found her on the Internet, and the power
went out just after I asked her. Now I won’t know her answer. Damn!”
sucks,” Mark said. “Well, you
could just call her.”
if I had her phone number. I only have her E-mail number and that isn’t
working. I can’t fax her or voice mail her either, “ Greg said.
didn’t you ever get her phone number?”
needed it. The Internet was always just easier,” said Greg.
what you mean,” Mark said.
“Well, where does she live? You could go see her.”
in the Northeast. But I have her address on disk. That’s where they all are. I
think I remember the street, but there’s no way to check.”
her real name, anyway?” Mark asked.
don’t know. I never needed to know. But now I need to find her.”
do,” Mark said. “Tell you what: we’ll go up to her neighborhood and look
around till we find her.”
Someone has to keep you out of trouble.”
after searching their darkened apartment for coats, wallets and keys, Greg and
Mark were waiting at the nearest bus-stop.
wish one of us had a car at times like these,” Greg said.
they aren’t very practical in our area. Here comes the bus now.”
Greg got on
the bus and gave the driver two dollars. The driver seemed to scowl at Greg. His
electronic register was broken and he’d had to make change in his head all
35 cents change, right?” the driver asked.
see. It’s $1.25, so…” Greg’s lips half moved, signifying his strenuous
thinking. “I think I should get 27 cents back.”
and Greg both sighed. Mark checked his watch and the other passengers grumbled
as the driver added the amount up, using the change as an abacus. Greg sat down
in his seat with 25 pennies jingling in his pocket.
hope they fix this power failure soon,” Mark said as the bus stumbled along
the streets. “I don’t know what I’ll do without the computer.”
anyone ever live before they were invented?” Greg said, with his eyes glazed
over. “I mean, how did we amuse ourselves before?”
“I don’t know. Probably reading.”
driver honked the horn as the bus drove through an intersection with blacked-out
traffic lights. The bus nearly hit a van, and the van’s driver gestured at the
bus driver. In city street, after city street, no one could be seen. Everyone
was staying inside, staring at their sleeping computers and TVs. Silent
Philadelphians stared at deserted streets as the bus crept sporadically through
the darkness. Greg and Mark got off at Montague Street.
her street,” Greg said. “Now, we’ve just got to find her house.”
see,” Mark mumbled. He stared at the addresses on the row homes. “What short
addresses. No dots or slashes in them. Just numbers.”
this isn’t E-mail.”
keep forgetting. Well, I guess we’ll just start knocking on doors.”
woman answered the first door the two knocked on. “Yes, she asked
may sound weird, but is there anyone there who goes by the code name MNS on the
Internet?” asked Greg.
the woman asked. “No, there’s no such person here.”
ma’am,” said Mark as the woman quickly closed the door.
know what the Internet is?” Greg asked incredulously. “What rock does she
she’s just old. She probably still uses paper.”
No one answered the doors of the next two darkened homes the men knocked on.
help you?” asked a woman who answered the third door.
hi,” Greg said and smiled. “We’re looking for a woman who goes by the code
name MNSon the Internet. Would you by chance know her?”
“Actually, I do. I’m good friends with her. Talk to her all the time. She lives at 319, up the street. Do you know her, too?"
say that.” Greg smiled. “I proposed to her. I need to get her answer and
what with the power failure, this is the only way I can.”
God!” said the woman, whose eyes lit up. “This is wonderful! She’s been
waiting for this.”
has?” Greg asked.
She’ll be so happy!”
we’d better get going,” Mark said to her. “Thanks for all you time!”
Mark almost ran down Montague Street, looking for 319. They found it, and saw it
was lit from inside by a faint glow of candles. She was home. Greg knocked on
the door. “Honey, it’s me. MNS, are you home? I need your answer.”No one
be home.” Mark said.
again. “MNS? I know you’re home. It’s me, baby. I need to talk to you!”
answer. Maybe you should just go in. She might be asleep.”
It’ll be a nice surprise for her, “Greg said.
Mark entered the house through the unlocked door. Several candles scattered
around the living room barely made a dent in the unnatural darkness. Things were
scattered around as if someone had just been in the room.
have been here,” Mark said. “No one would just leave all these candles
Greg called out. “I know you’re home, hon. I need to talk to you. I need
upstairs, taking one of the candles with them. The second floor was much darker
than the first. It was less obvious someone had been upstairs, but the two men
heard the distinct sound of restrained breathing behind one of the doors.
Greg asked again, with no response. He knocked on the door and got no answer,
and then went in.
only gotten a few steps into the bedroom when they heard a gunshot. The bullet
just grazed Greg’s shoulder and he cried out.
Mark yelled in the alarm. He saw by the light of his candle that Greg wasn’t
seriously hurt, but was bleeding and slumped over the bed.
Greg G?” Oh my God! I didn’t know!” screamed a woman
who emerged into the light holding a shotgun. She bent over Greg, nearly
said the wounded man, weakly.
Greg,” she said. “Oh, I’m sorry! I thought you were a burglar, honey.”
“You are MNS?” Mark said, aghast.
I feel terrible. If I’d known it was you, I never would have…”
it’s alright, MNS” said Greg. “I’ll be fine. Just a flesh wound. By the
way…what’s your real name, anyway?”
Go to Original Stories Table Of Contents
Go to Original Stories Archives