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[–] WindrunnerTales 0 points 7 points (+7|-0) ago 

At least, that's what they told us.

Our modems had dimmed out and we'd unplugged them eventually. We'd put ours in the mess of a kitchen drawer that everyone has, where everything that might be useful "one day" ends up.

It started with the filters, the censoring, the restrictions for our safety. The speeds slowly dipped to unusable. The tech savvy among us retreated to their VPNs and hid in the dark recesses of their internet.

When the news first broke, most people assumed it was a joke, a mistake.

The politicians emerged on TV, screaming at us with red faces and empty threats about terror.

It only took a week, after the first of the politicians, before they shut it down. Still not quite believing, we'd been looking something up. Not something that warranted remembering as our last connection to the outer world. Something dumb.

Our TVs informed us it wasn't just us, a reboot wouldn't fix it, and this was the new order of things. As they'd warned.

This was our protection from terror.

Slowly, we adjusted. It was strange, being disconnected from the rest of the country, the world. All we knew was what the TV and newspapers told us. There were no more unofficial, on the ground reports from everyday people. We were told what the officials wanted, and we had no choice but to believe them.

It's been about seven months. I thought I'd adjusted, that we were all kind of used to it, but last night, something threw me. I was cycling home in the dark, through the back streets, my mind on the shitty day I'd just had at work.

Hoping there might be a movie on TV later, something to distract me. Maybe I could get a book...

I stopped outside the library, where the bike racks were, underneath a window that was slightly ajar.

I tapped my watch, illuminating the display.

19:09.

I was too late for the library, they closed at -

In the middle of this thought was when I heard it.

Anyone who grew up when I did, who was a teenager in the early 2000s, knows the noise. The sound of dialling, then the shrill beeps and quiet static as the line sought - and eventually got - a connection.

I stood underneath the window, inching on to the tips of my toes, trying to peer inside. The room was lit only by the monitor in the opposite corner of the room, its back to the window.

I could vaguely make out the reflection of the monitor in someone's glasses as they shifted in their seat.

Panicked, I dropped back down, and backed away from the window.

Whoever it was, they'd just connected to the internet.

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[–] escape 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago  (edited ago)

I sat there, scratching my chin, looking at the display on my monitor: http://i.imgur.com/VkSH4wC.png

I wasn't sure what was wrong. I had reset my router and modem, and even cleared my DNS cache. I pulled out my cell phone to look up possible solutions. All I could see was this: http://i.imgur.com/B3kUJTV.png

"Well that's odd" I said to myself. "Oh duh, let me make sure it's not trying to use Wi-Fi."

I disabled Wi-Fi. Same error message. I thought that perhaps there was an issue in my area. I wondered how to find the phone number for Comcast to troubleshoot the issue. I rummaged through my junk drawer until I found an old account statement. It had a customer service number on it. I dialed the number on my phone and hit 'send'. Nothing. After a moment of silence the call automatically disconnected.

Now I was getting frustrated. I looked at the time. 10:54am. Comcast should already be open. Well, perhaps I should go see AT&T as well. I got into my car and headed down to the Comcast customer service center. As I rounded the corner I said "Holy shit." There was a line of about 200 people waiting to get in. I slowed down as I approached. I asked a man standing on the sidewalk, smoking a cigarette, what the issue was.

"No net. Nobody's got net right now." he said.
"No one at all? Is it city-wide?" I asked.
"Yep. In fact my sister in Sacramento says it's the same there too." Said a woman standing nearby.
"Who-wait how did you get ahold of her? My cell phone hasn't been getting through?"
"Landline" said the woman as she shrugged.

I look down at my phone, which was devoid of activity. I thanked the man and woman and decided to head home. No sense waiting in line to hear what I already heard.

I arrived back home and turned on the TV, to see if I could get any news about what had happened. The cable box was dead. No signal. I sat there staring at a blinking LED light on it, thinking of how I could find out what is happening. That's when I heard a loudspeaker outside.

"Citizens, there has been a nation-wide emergency involving all forms of digital communication. Please stay in your homes and do not panic."

A police car drove by projecting that message. I saw AT&T vans down the street and noticed they were stringing cable along the sidewalk. Further down the road there was a small booth set up on the lawn of a park. I walked down there to find out what it was for. As I approached, I noticed a sign "Free Phone Calls". A wave of relief rushed over me. I ran over and found rows of telephones set up, connected to the copper land lines, which seemed to still operate fine.

I called my wife who was staying with her parents for a while. Things were difficult between us. We thought space might help. She was okay, and so were the girls. No one seemed to know what the cause was nor if there were any injuries or deaths related.

Groups were forming around the phone tents in the neighborhood, as they had radios set up to get the news. Not much news was available yet. Lots of speculation went around but no hard facts. An old Christian couple in the neighborhood passed out hot chocolate and coffee to those huddled around our tent. They were talking about the wrath of God and end times. I chuckled at the irony of the comfort and fear they were distributing at once.

Finally it came in. The news.

"It was the sun!" shouted a man who had been listening intently to the radio.
"What?! What the hell are you talking about?!" I exclaimed.
"It was the sun! A solar flare! It knocked out our satellites and global communications!" He replied.

He turned up the radio and we all fell silent, listening in.

"At 5:41pm Universal Coordinated Time, the planet earth was struck with an extreme amount of high energy electromagnetic radiation from the largest solar flare ever witnessed. All satellites in the Eastern hemisphere were immediately disabled as were many on the edges of the blast. Europe, Africa, and much of Asia have experienced total loss of all electronics. Airborne vehicles lost power and plummeted from the sky. Cities went dark. Much of the world is in chaos now. The estimated death toll is 354 million. We have reason to believe the effects of the solar flare will spread outward from ground zero and will begin affecting the western hemisphere. The rotation of the earth and the continued barrage from the solar flare is the cause. We will keep you updated on the quarter hour as long as we have a connection. May God be with us on this very dark night."

I sat back into my seat, shocked by the horror of what I had just heard. People were crying. There was shouting and only a few of us remained motionless. Others rushed back to their homes. I'm not sure what they thought they could run from.

A sound pierced the air. A loud wailing siren. Something I hadn't heard before. It continued on for nearly a half hour. It was then abruptly silenced, just as the power snapped off in the neighborhood. Transformers exploded on the power lines. There was a great groaning sound. I can't explain what it was. Then there was silence. And darkness.