I may as well give up any pretence at having these posts qualify for Linda G Hill’s regular Stream of Consciousness Saturday feature, because I never seem to get them in on time. This week’s
excuse reason for tardiness is my rapidly deteriorating internet signal, courtesy of my mobile phone “provider” (although they don’t seem to be providing very much at the moment) so let’s just hope I can post this, once I’ve written it.
This week’s prompt was “ready”.
Eric Kraus stared at the blinking yellow, “NOT READY” light on his internet modem for the fiftieth time in five minutes and swore under his breath.
Where the bloody hell was that sodding repairman? He’d called them nearly three hours ago, they were bloody useless.
He abruptly stood up and stamped into the kitchen of his tiny seventh floor apartment, banging cupboards and slamming drawers, taking out his frustration on inanimate objects while he waited for the kettle to boil.
Eric poured himself a cup from the brew of cheap, bitter coffee he’d been reduced to drinking lately, sipping it whilst gazing blankly into the mostly empty fridge, before closing the door and trudging back into the living room/bedroom/office, sitting down in front of his monitor and jiggling the mouse in that universal, impatient manner of computer users everywhere.
The screen saver materialised and he clicked on the cloud storage icon marked “Novel”, opening the manuscript he’d spent the previous six weeks editing, only now happy that the final draft could be sent to his publisher.
Then he stared some more, just to be sure.
The page was blank.
At the top, an innocuous little red banner said;
“Auto-refresh failed. Server session timed out, please check your internet connection and try again.”
“No! No no no no no No!”
No, this couldn’t be, he couldn’t have lost it.
Two years work! Six hellish weeks of rewrites and editing!
He frantically clicked the refresh button, willing his words to reappear on the empty expanse of white, but to no avail.
Eric felt the rage building up inside him.
He stood up, his chair toppling backwards onto the cluttered coffee table behind him, sending the accumulated pile of unwashed plates, take-out containers and beer cans in all directions, though he barely registered the sound of smashing crockery, so consumed was he with incandescent fury that his masterpiece had been wiped from existence in one split second by that…that, thing!
His enraged glare fell on the implacable, blinking yellow light, still silently proclaiming that the modem was NOT READY to connect him to the internet, then on his out of date, obsolete computer tower, not even capable of doing something as simple as saving his manuscript reliably, hence his initially hesitant decision to upload it to “The Cloud”, whatever the hell that was.
Eric looked down at his desk for a moment, then calmly picked up the unfinished cup of horrible coffee and, very deliberately, poured it into the back of his monitor, taking great satisfaction in the loud bang and acrid smoke that followed.
He ripped the cables from the tower unit, picked it up, marched across the room and unceremoniously dumped the whole thing out the window.
He didn’t even stop to watch, but was rewarded a few seconds later by the resounding crash as it smashed on the vacant lot next to his apartment block.
Eric stood in the middle of his trashed room for a minute or two, quietly sniveling, then he pulled himself together, shrugged into his leather jacket, grabbed his wallet and went out to get drunk, slamming the door behind him.
Remembering there was construction work in progress on the ground floor, he ignored the elevators and took the stairs, leaving through the rear door and making for the nearest bar.
Several hours and more than a few drinks later, Eric weaved his way back from whichever dive he’d finished his crawl in, returning via the front entrance now the workmen had left for the night.
He was standing, gently swaying, as he waited for the elevator, when he heard footsteps crossing the half-completed lobby.
When he turned, he saw two serious-looking policeman, one of whom held out his identification and said;
“Mr Kraus, Eric Kraus?” Eric nodded, a puzzled frown beginning to form on his already befuddled face, “Eric Kraus, I am arresting you for the murder of Michael Fleming, you do not have to say anything, but anything you do say….”
“What? What?!” Eric couldn’t deal with this, not today, of all days, “What the bloody hell are you on about? And who the hell is Michael Fleming?”
The afternoon traffic was terrible, the heat was horrible, the pollen count was making his head feel like it was stuffed with glue and cotton wool and then, to top it all off, he had to go and deal with ignorant shitheads like this – he glanced at the job sheet on the seat next to him – Eric fucking Kraus, some idiot customer who had already rung three times, each time ruder than the last, whining about his bloody modem not connecting. He was betting it was because the cheap bastard used some budget price provider with a crappy signal and there was nothing wrong with his computer at all.
Some people, thought Michael Fleming, I.T. genius and all round computer whizz-kid, some people need turning off and then not turning back on again.
He chuckled at his own joke as he inched forward another few yards and after ten minutes he finally pulled over outside the address on his clipboard and climbed out, retrieving his case and locking the van.
He walked up to the entrance, but there appeared to be work going on, a large hoarding with apologies from the building firm for any inconvenience and advice to use the rear entrance during work hours.
Michael took a step back, looked up at the front of the tall block and consulted his clipboard again, noticing for the first time that the shithead Kraus lived on the seventh floor.
“Oh great, that means bloody stairs I suppose,” he saw that there was an empty lot to the left of the building and started walking around that way, looking for the rear door, “why can’t all the fucking idiots live on the first floor…”
Michael Fleming had still been grumbling about moronic customers when he was struck by a computer tower, travelling at what forensic experts later calculated to be approximately eighty miles per hour.
That evening, in a badly disheveled room on the seventh floor, a small yellow light went out and was replaced by a green one that said “READY”.