Maintenance Day

I wake up alone on Maintenance Day. Blinking like crazy at that thin blue slash in the corner of my eye. It’s spooky quiet out and the prompt just sits there—so I just sit there, lost in the haunt of my living space. It’s kind of driving me crazy.

I sit up and wipe my face, cover my ears as the hum of appliances rattle my disjointed brain. I’m not completely unprepared. Just bummed. Last week at work we even staged a dry run, like twenty minutes after lunch. Everyone freaked out.

The government’s been flooding the network with bulletins about the lifework being down for twelve hours. So much so that even President Zuckerberg himself had to make a plea to the public so that everyone would follow the upgrade plans. For those of you playing dumb Maintenance Day is a global effort to wipe clean. To sweep up the clutter and swipe out all that porn and advertisements and click bait from the feed. But in order to get things straight, you have to shut down the system.

And therein lies the problem.

Recommended is hibernating. Removing backup drives and chips and logging off. Shutting down for the day. I’m too young to remember the first MD but we learned about the disastrous effects of incompatibility of the new patches in the system and the mass crime spree that followed. Safe to say that things didn’t go over too well and it’s no small wonder, I find the coffee pot empty and this freaking silence is enough to make me shed my skin.

Of course we’re not to leave our space unless it is absolutely necessary. But if I reach for my Oculus one more time I’m going to scream. So it’s simple. I have to get to work. We have an auxiliary network. Rudimentary for sure, but it beats the alternative.

Outside. And people have beat me to the screaming. It’s ape out here as I sit in the car, for like; ten breaths feeling like an invalid as I wait for the car to power up and do something. Greet me. Drive. Take me to work.

Duh, I insert my manual overdrive card. I start to post this dunce move of mine just for a laugh, but again, my screen sits there, frozen, a blue slash in the corner of my eye. Shit.

I remember Beckman, my boss, saying something about a shutdown at work to coincide. A few guys had stayed on last night, wired into the company’s source just to keep their wits about them. They thought I was crazy when I said I was going home. But I’d been chatting with a GinaBot and thought there was a chance I was going to, you know, get through all this with her. But she’d been unchipped early in lieu of MD. Sucks to be me.

Okay, hands on the wheel, feet on the accelerator. Don’t ask how I know to do that. But what I don’t know is where to go. I’m usually drinking my latte and watching my news feed on my commute so I how am I supposed to know where Pittman Data is physically located. Downtown maybe? Okay, so that way.

Not much in the way of traffic. Or anything really. The city is shutdown, like a big void. A wasteland.

Then it gets weird.

I can’t explain it, like, how I hear my father. Only it’s not a video or media, because we’re shutdown, you now, so it’s just like, there. I know, I know, but seriously, I hear him, all stern and formal talk, like after me to reconfig the router. I’m a kid and there’s something familiar about the clip.

I shake it off and take the bypass.

A few government dispatches. Not much else. The billboard lights are down and it’s like they don’t even know me. But the trees, they’re like, wiggling, dancing around like they find something hilarious. Shit’s freaking me out. I take the exit and almost drift right off the ramp.

People. Like zombies. Outside, heads aimed up at the sky. It’s creepy shit because nobody has on their Oculus and their eyes are bugging out of their brains like freaks. I stop and look up, and nearly blind myself.

Why someone would choose to look at the sun is beyond me. I blink out the tears and see the towers.

Pittman Data.

It’s a site for my naked, tired eyes. My brain hurts something royal but it’s nice. I mean, no network and I’ve managed to find my way to work. I get my clearance and get inside, begin to log in to the auxiliary network but then I stop before I route. I hear Dad again, from places unknown, and get this strange feeling in my chest. I look up and see the prompt, still waiting. Network still down. But he’s here. He’s with me.

Like he’s been logged in this whole time.



–Pete Fanning/2016


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