Quantum banana breaks internet

Submitted into Contest #200 in response to: Write a story about someone trying to track down the source of a rumor.... view prompt


Adventure Funny Science Fiction

The video that broke the internet was about bananas. It blindsided everyone.

The doomscrollers would later say they saw it coming, and the trolls would claim they did it.

But on the day that the internet fell they were all just watching videos like everyone else: videos that offered simple fixes, tips and tricks; videos of bloopers, body shots, traffic stops, dance-offs, and staged candid camera moments.

They were all watching, searching for traces of their ideal selves, watching and waiting to feel something.

But most didn't see the banana video—at least not on that day.

And that video broke the internet. Not in the sense of going viral. One day, there was information overload. And the next day, nothing. It wasn't just internet—most telecommunication networks went down: No smartphones, no GPS, no satellite TV… everything was gone except for radio.

So began the Great Disconnect.

Now, instead of scrolling through 50 cute cat videos, you had to go out and find a kitten then wait around for it to do something interesting. It was awful. There was nothing to keep the screaming thoughts at bay.

In year one of the Great Disconnect, UN peacekeepers set up shop in most major cities: It was the only way to keep wild accusations of internet stockpiling in check and avert another world war.

Two years on, and Bezos went belly up. Google dried up and died. But RadioShack rose from the dead. Everyone wanted to get their hands on the latest and greatest transistor radio.

Then, three years to the day since the Great Disconnect, Kansas City got its internet back. Or so they said. The rumor spread like wildfire from radio to radio: Kansas City was back online, and its new internet was better than ever before.

People said that at 11:59:59 on Sunday night, KC had been offline like everyone else, but when the clock struck 12:00, forgotten computer and smartphone screens in the city glowed to life.

Every screen asked the same simple question: Would you like to subscribe? The answer everyone invariably gave was yes.

And once you hit subscribe, you were taken to a video. It began the same way as every other video in the coming months would: "Hey guys, Mike Musa here."

At first, it wasn't clear that the video was about bananas because, after introducing himself, Mike Musa started his spiel about how we'd gotten the Fall from Eden wrong. Sure, the basic premise of Adam and Eve eating a fruit and paradise lost was correct, but we were blinding ourselves to the possibilities.

"Now, close your eyes," Mike said. "Come on, close your eyes, the video won't keep playing until you do."

And sure enough, the video would freeze until you closed your eyes.

"Okay, so imagine that forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. What do you see? All right, you can open your eyes."

Everyone saw the red glossy apple on their screen.

"And that's what I saw too until I looked past the red obfuscation, beyond the hopelessness of humans tasked with translating the divine." From there, Mike launched into a lecture that was part theology, part art history, and part linguistics.

By this point, most people's eyes had glazed over. They looked for a 'skip ad' button, but one didn't exist. Even worse, the video would stop if you weren't paying attention. Mike Musa somehow knew if you weren't watching.

The video was entirely too long and contained such gems as "Over 3,000 years ago, Alexander the Great ate a banana in India, and liked it—no, Alexander wept, not because he saw no more worlds to conquer, but because he had found it: The golden finger guiding destiny. He called it a 'fig' because the guy didn't know the word for banana. And Adam and Eve were said to cover themselves with fig leaves upon discovering their nakedness. Do you see where I'm going?"

"No really, do you see where I'm going?" Mike's voice took on a panicked edge. "Please nod if you see where I'm going."

Most people didn't, but they nodded anyway to keep the video going.

By minute 47, most realized that Mike Musa's central thesis seemed to be that bananas were truly the forbidden fruit. But not all bananas, he explained, before giving a miniature chemistry lesson about how your typical yellow banana will glow blue under a black light.

Then the video's climax, if you could call it that, was Mike Musa shining a black light on a bunch of ripe yellow bananas. All of the bananas glowed blue except one.

A hand reached for that pitch black crescent. Once the hand made contact, there was an inhuman shriek and the video zoomed out to show two silhouettes, a man and a woman, standing next to a banana plant illuminated by lightning.

And that was it. Back in the days of regular internet, the video had barely made a ripple. But, as boring and strange and strangely boring as the video was, people in Kansas City couldn't stop talking about it. That was because, after watching the video, you were in, with a new and improved internet at your fingertips.

All the old sites were there. At first, people reflexively checked their email and social media to see if anyone else was online and talking about the miracle of being back online, but they soon lost interest because there were much more wondrous things creeping in along the edges of their screens.

Like Mike Musa's banana video, this new internet knew where you were looking. More than that, it seemed to know what you were really searching for even if you didn't quite know yourself. And this new internet's capabilities were limited only by your imagination. You could travel the corridors of forgotten dreams and switch points of views seamlessly while watching your favorite movies.

Browsing this new internet was like being carried by an angel as you sped through the cosmos. And, somehow, after you stepped away from the screen, life seemed just a little bit better.

At least that's what the people in Kansas City were saying over the radio.

By Tuesday, the radio was saying Kansas City had no more rooms available, but despite it being the dead of winter, people were more than happy to camp outside. By Wednesday, the National Guard were said to have blocked all routes into the city.

All the while, KC residents were flooding the radio stations with personal testimonials.

A plasma physicist stuttered with excitement because Mike Musa had told her she would achieve cold fusion if she worked really hard and remembered to drink plenty of water for the next ten years.

A retired music teacher shared that Mike had revealed unto him that while adopting a Cocker Spaniel and refraining from naming the dog until it had done something truly memorable would not solve all of his problems, it would likely solve many of them. The man had adopted the dog on Tuesday and was already feeling much happier by Thursday. No, he had not named the dog yet, but he was thinking of calling it Mike if it did something truly Mike-like.

And so on. Everyone did what they could to make it to Kansas City.

Then, somewhere in that second between 11:59:59 Saturday night and 12:00 Sunday midnight, the new internet vanished. According to the radio, there were surprisingly few riots in Kansas City.

Maybe that was because Mike Musa had somehow found the time to deliver a personal message to everyone over those six glorious days. He had thanked each person for watching his banana video then given each something unique to look forward to, from Cocker Spaniels to cold fusion.

C.Lo, with her pearl pink radio cradled to her ear, knew that last part wasn't quite true: Mike Musa had neglected to send her a personal message.

He had overlooked her, Cecily Lopez, C.Lo, one of the hottest influencers out there before the Great Disconnect. She'd managed to sneak past the National Guard on Friday night and, after sitting through that stupid video, she'd gone straight to work, making her presence known and rebuilding her brand.

Three years ago, someone like Mike would've sold his soul just to have C.Lo mention his name in one of her videos. And now he was snubbing her, and only her, instead of the millions of nobodies who had been slumming around online?

At 12:00 AM Monday, Mike made his next appearance in Quebec, Canada.

The same sequence of boring banana video then awesome internet followed.

Mike Musa's French was flawless claimed the Quebecois, yet others watching the same video in that same city swore Mike still spoke in English.

Add to that that no one could quite agree what Mike Musa looked like. He was a young Black man who could levitate—no, he was more a cross between the god Odin and Santa Claus—wrong, he was simply an unsolvable Rubik's cube. No two people could give the same description, but most of them agreed on two things: Mike Musa was awesome, and he was lord of the new internet.

More than a few people had the presence of mind to try recording the banana video, but no matter the method, all they got was gibberish. Apparently, the video had to be watched direct in person, or not at all.

C.Lo didn't care about any of that. She had smashed her phone then her computer after she'd been stopped at the Canadian border while trying push through the masses and make her way to Quebec. It was only with the greatest restraint that she had managed to keep from smashing her radio as well.

When Sunday hit, Mike Musa left Quebec and took the internet with him.

Rumors within rumors now echoed across the radio. Some people in Kansas City and now in Quebec claimed to have seen the banana video once before. As a matter of fact, they had been watching the video right before the Great Disconnect hit.

It was only a small leap from there: The banana video had caused the Great Disconnect. Why else would it be shown to usher in the new temporary internet in Kansas City and now in Quebec?

C.Lo made it her personal mission to spread that particular rumor.

Money was no object to her. Back before she had found her niche of making videos of her watching other videos so as to let others know how to react at the right moments, she had agreed, against her better judgment, to wear a hat emblazoned with the company logo LongWave in one of her videos.

The cheap exec who had convinced her to do it ended up paying her in company stock. C.Lo had forgotten about that ill venture until the ascension of RadioShack after the Great Disonnect. It just so happened that LongWave made a crucial component that was featured in nearly every radio.

C.Lo could live off the dividends alone. So, she bought her own radio station and her own radio show that mostly involved paying voice actors to come in and tell tales of the "real" internet-thieving, international fraudster who was Mike Musa.

It didn't work. As Mike traveled from city to city, his influence grew week by week. Beijing, Moscow, Mexico City, and Los Angeles all started referring to themselves as the banana capital of the world in the hopes of tempting Mike to take up long-term residence in their fair cities.

Groceries stores began to include a backroom equipped with a black light so that customers could check whether the bananas they were purchasing contained the fabled black crescent that was the forbidden fruit.

As scientists continued to puzzle over the Great Disconnect, a new sub-field of physics that sought to explain the "quantum banana effect" took shape. People called it tele-quantum and it wasn't long before the term quantum banana found its way into common parlance and people started calling Mike Musa's video by the same name.

And when Mike arrived in Melbourne, his 51st city, the quantum banana video changed for some. If you really saw a banana after he told you could open your eyes, then then video ended right there. And so true believers were rewarded with extra internet time. And all around the world, a new movement took off: The blue banana cult was born.

C.Lo redoubled her efforts in the face of it all, until one morning she arrived at her radio station to find it firebombed with a giant blue banana spray painted on the one remaining wall.

She left town and decided upon a different approach. If she couldn't tear down Mike Musa in his absence, she'd just have to track him down in person.

When she'd seen the quantum banana video in Kansas City, Mike Musa had appeared to her as a tall white guy, handsome in a lopsided sort of way, with his black hair parted down the middle. But that didn't tell her anything as he looked different to everyone who had seen his stupid video.

Learning how to predict Mike's next city was the only real chance she had of catching him. Millions had tried with some lucky guesses, but no one had found a surefire method for tracking Musa's movements. Then again, C.Lo was sure that no one hated the guy quite like she did. So, she bought a multitude of maps and got to work.

When Mike was in Nairobi, his 65th city, she saw the pattern.

You couldn't look at the cities sequentially, but if you looked at the cities in groups of six and traced the paths just so, well, you got something that looked like a banana. Mike wasn't completing each banana all at once. Rather, he'd start with one point on one banana, leave it uncompleted, and move on to the next banana, before eventually returning to the previous one to complete the crescent.

C.Lo got out a fresh map and tested out her newfound method. She got the exact right order of Musa's cities to date.

It was crazy. It was bananas, but it worked.

The next city would be Cincinnati.

C.Lo got into Cincinnati on a Thursday while Mike was still in Nairobi. She hated the place already. Everyone here ate too much cheese and had a tendency to breath through their mouths.

She sat on her motel bed and stared at the room's dark, dusty flat screen TV while listening to a random radio station on her handheld radio.

A talk show host was interviewing a retired school teacher from Kansas City, the first place to witness the quantum banana video. C.Lo vaguely remembered him and the guy's Cocker Spaniel story.

"Have you named the dog yet?" asked the host.

"Yes, as a matter of fact, my dog has this weird habit of watching other dogs and only reacting when they do. Now, I don't know if you remember her, but there was this social media star before the GD who did the same thing with people."

"Yeah, it was C-something or other?"

"Right, so I named my dog—"

C.Lo screamed and threw her radio against the wall.

"Hi Cecily, Mike Musa here."

The motel room's TV flickered to life. And there he was on the screen, with his hair parted down the middle and his silly lopsided face.

"You look tired, Mike," C.Lo said, once she had recovered enough to speak.

"Yes, there's a time change between Cincinnati and Nairobi, so it's a bit of an effort for me to be here. But enough about me. How are you? By the way, sorry I didn't get the chance to thank you for watching my video."

"Don't give me that. You know what you did." C.Lo inspected the blurred scene behind Mike. Was he really still in Africa?

"What did I do?"

"You stole the internet."

"Sorry, should I give it back?"

Was it really that easy? Surely someone had asked. No, he was simply taunting her.

"You don't have to. I'll take it back because I know where you'll be and where you're going. Maybe I'll sell your tech, your brain, or both to the highest corporate bidder while I'm at it."

"Oh my, is that what you really w-w-what I saw too until I looked past the red obfuscation, beyond the hopelessness of humans tasked with translating the divine." The blurred scene behind Mike dimmed then went black.

"Uhhh, what?"

"Sorry, I've never tried to be in two cities at once."

C.Lo noticed for the first time that TV was unplugged. "What are you Mike?"

But Mike Musa had already been replaced on the screen by that simple question that billions hoped to one day see again: Would you like to subscribe?

Instead of answering, Cecily decided she was fine where she was at the moment.  

June 03, 2023 03:58

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Chris Miller
13:29 Jun 08, 2023

That is a really strange, but entertaining story. Lots of interesting questions raised. Thanks for sharing.


Robert Egan
01:00 Jun 12, 2023

Thanks for reading, Chris! I wish I'd given myself time for revision, but I'm happy you found the story strange and entertaining :)


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Joe Smallwood
13:58 Jun 07, 2023

Hello RE 45! Welcome to Reedsy. There is some excellent writing in this story! Your satire of the internet is spot on and I just felt I had to keep reading. Cheers!


Robert Egan
00:58 Jun 12, 2023

Thank you for the welcome, Joe!


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18:40 Jul 29, 2023

Great commentary on internet addiction.


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J. D. Lair
20:36 Jun 18, 2023

Oh man, this one was great too. What a ride! Haha You have quite the imagination and I’m curious to know more.


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