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October 17, 2016: Part 1

Published onOct 17, 2016
October 17, 2016: Part 1

They were in the car when it happened for the first time. The vehicle came to a slow stop in the middle of the deserted road. It was technically a drive zone, so the car reverted to offline mode and crawled over to the side of the road, its warning lights blinking, before it abruptly shut down its engine.

They sat in confused silence for a few long moments.

“Where are we?” he asked.

“I don’t know, exactly,” she replied. “My map views are all down. But I have some historical data. We were on 9. Uh, I think we’re probably not far from Hyde Park.”

“Okay. Well this is weird. I’m down, too. It’s not just Comcast.”

“That is weird. It’s like the old days, when neither of us had service out here. Remember that?”

“Mmm.”

They fell silent again. There were no lights except for the blinkers of their car reflecting on frosted over windows, no network response at all from their overlays. No sound except for their breathing.

“Caleb?”

“Mari?”

“I don’t like ‘mmm.’ What are you thinking, my dear?”

“Well…”

He confirmed the worst of her fears. They subscribed to different networks for redundancy. If both were down, it meant something non-localized had happened. They guessed that they were in range of microwave generators in Kingston, New Paltz and Poughkeepsie. If it was power, it was effecting the entire Hudson Valley.

“So what do you think it is?” asked Mari.

“Hold on,” he said. “Ping the power directly.”

“How? Oh. Through the local swarm?”

“Yeah. I can trace it all the way back to New Paltz. And look, on through to New York.”

She instructed her overlay to locate nearby localizers. There weren’t many so far upstate, but there were enough. Tiny specks glowed gold in her vision as the local versions reported in. She pinged New York City out of habit, expecting her viewpoint to swing upward into the drone net, and then up to satellites. But of course, they were down, too. Instead, her vision raced south from local camera to local camera, almost fast enough to make her dizzy. She cut it off and watched a simulated view instead. A fuzzy map swung into view, a golden line racing downward towards the city.

“That’s it!” she said aloud.

“What?” asked Caleb.

“Wait a second.”

She asked the swarm to display local messages. There weren’t as many as she would have expected, but a few people had left some on the swarm itself. Reports were already spreading across the localizers from as far as Boston. The global network was down there, too. She reached even farther, searching not just for network messages, but broadcasts over the seldom-used radio antennas.

“Um, Caleb?” she said.

“Yeah. I hear it.”

“The global net isn’t down locally.”

“I know,” he said. “I’m listening to the old HAM frequencies. It’s kind of incredible that so many people even remember to fall back to them!”

“Caleb. Forget the frequencies they’re using.”

“Sorry.”

“The whole world is down.”

By Gabriel Stein on October 18, 2016.

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Exported from Medium on October 22, 2020.


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