At last, I had found it. My quest had been to find a working telephone, so I could call my best friend Tony and try to tell him about all of the strange shit that had been happening in the last few hours. My cell phone was fully charged, but I couldn't get a signal no matter what I tried. Now I had found a phone kiosk, and it was empty, so I dialed Tony's number and impatiently waited for him to pick it up. After what seemed like an age, he answered, and I heard his sweet tones over the whine of the long-distance call. We had been friends forever, and lovers too when whatever chick he was currently banging wasn't around. Tony was a player alright, Six feet tall and built with it. He had big deep brown eyes framed by dark lashes. He was also a top jock. Yea, my Tony was a babe magnet, alright. He always called me his Angie after The Rolling Stones song. I loved him but knew he would never be mine, but that never stopped me fucking him every chance I got. I was in the middle of telling my bestie a thousand different things at once like I usually did when the line went dead. I don't mean quiet or glitchy; we are talking dead like cemetery dead.
When you are from rural Kentucky, you kind of get used to power outages and disconnections, but this was different, man, so very different. I was twenty-one, home on spring break from my college, where I was studying pharmaceutical efficacy and medical intervention. I had gone to bed early after my long trip home and two hours of questioning by my parents about college life, my friends, and my general state of health. They meant well, but I found it exhausting just trying to measure how much I could tell them or how much I wanted them to know about my far away and very adult college life. As I slowly climbed the stairs to my attic bedroom, the last thing I heard was my mother calling after me, "we are not trying to interfere, Angela." Why couldn't she just call me Ang. or Angie like everyone else did? I slept ever so soundly, but when I awoke, it was to a different reality.
The first thing I do every morning when I wake up is to check on my constant companion and best friend, without whom my world is incomplete. "Oh, horror of all horrors" my cell phone had no signal, not even one bar. Panic quickly set in. Then it dawned on me, luckily my dear old mam and dad were the old-fashioned types who insisted on keeping a home landline in our home. It wasn't ideal as there would be no privacy on calls, but it was better than nothing. I dressed in a big hurry in whatever clothes were nearest to hand. All the time thanking my lucky stars for having such old fogies as parents.
That, my friends, is how I came to be dressed in my dad's old lumber shirt and my older brother Sean's cast-off jeans barefoot and talking to my mother in our cozy kitchen on that never-to-be-forgotten April morning. After the usual, "good morning mum, did you sleep okay?" "Yeah, I slept fine too." I inquired, "could I use the phone; please, my cell phone is on the bloody blink this morning?" "With the expected, mind your language, young lady, ringing in my ears, along with the ever-present, don't stay on too long, and run up the phone bill; I turned and picked up the receiver. Utter calamity, there was no dial tone. I went through the time-honored drill of replacing the receiver in its cradle several times and picking it back up. But all to no avail, the line was dead, so dead rigor mortis had set in.
Asking my mother "if she had remembered to pay the phone bill?" I got a "don't waste the good lords and my time with such ridiculous questions dear" in reply. My next go-to question for her was, "did dad or Sean cut the phone line by mistake?" To which I got much the same reply, but this time in a slightly more exasperated tone. If my mum was getting exasperated, I was quickly descending into my generation's concept of our deepest hell, disconnectedness. So, no phones then, it was time to return my haven of relative privacy my bedroom, and get my laptop into action. Phones were so last year anyway. I opened my laptop bag and removed the precious item from its holder, and plugged it in. So far, so good, it went through its usual start-up routine without any hiccups; I sat on my bed transfixed by its quiet hums and whirrs until, at last, my home page was proudly and clearly displayed on its screen. With the customized welcome message "of hello again beautiful one." My day was already taking a turn decidedly for the better. I had even managed to redress myself in some of my own clothes that had been in the rucksack I had brought home from college.
Nothing fancy, I might add just an old sweatshirt, a pair of ancient but still treasured jeans, and an old pair of comfy sneakers with my favorite cotton socks. Now it was time for the litmus test of connectedness; I reached back into my laptop bag and fished around for my internet jack. Wi-Fi was still only a wished-for dream in my neck of the woods back then. I plugged in the internet jack into the back of my laptop and re-positioned it so as to be able to reach the power outlet on the wall by my bedside. The moment of ultimate truth had arrived, my friends, the show's grand finale; without further ado, I plugged my trusty old friend in and nothing. All my world came crashing down around me. I sat there on my bed, staring at the screen. I was numbed into shocked and incomprehensible silence.
Then the rage hit. The air turned blue as I vented that rage. After fifteen minutes, I ran out of people, places, and things to blame my misfortune on and decided to start using my brainpower. I checked all of the connections to ensure everything was plugged in correctly. Unfortunately, everything was as it should be, that is everything, bar a working internet connection. Reality started to really hit home, and it was not a reality I wanted to have anything to do with. My eagerly awaited Spring-break holiday had turned into a ten-day nightmare that stretched out interminably and crushingly boring before me. Including long lectures from my parents about how they grew up without all this gadgetry and did fine without it all.
At this point, my dad knocked on my bedroom door and told me that the T.V. was on the same strike as the rest of the afore-mentioned gadgetry. So now, along with sitting through all the parental lectures, I was facing endless hours of Scrabble challenges from dearest brother Sean and listening to him boasting about beating the girl with the fancy college education on the very few occasions he might actually manage to beat me. Life was going to be a ball of fun this Spring break, all right.
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I have read a lot of scary stories on this site over the years but this 'no internet, no nothing' scenario chills me to the bone. Very fresh and witty writing.
Hi Karen, Thank you so much for your wonderful comment/compliment. I humbly and genuinely appreciate it. Liam