Connection Lost (ix)

Maybe nothing bad would happen. Maybe nothing had happened. Maybe the world’s telecommunication network had been ripped to shreds – and still it would probably be up and running well before dawn arrived. Maybe it would take a day to sort itself. Maybe this was a big problem, a huge catastrophe, and it would take all of two days to get itself fixed. Alan wasn’t worried about the internet. What he was worried about was people.

Alan had lived through a few little panics in his life. He’d made it through a few hurricanes, most of which proved to be little more than free carwashes. He’d been through blizzards of both the is-there-school-today? and the I-can’t-get-my-front-door-open varieties. He’d made it through a National Convention and all the fun that occasioned. He’d made it through 9/11 and the huddled days that followed. Visiting family in Taiwan he’d made it through a political crisis that he’d done his very best to totally ignore. He’d even managed to survive the Stanley Cup.

What all these events had in common was that they caused panic. People used the impending descent of snow or rain or partiers or protesters as an opportunity to get out all their little suburban insecurities. They went nutty. They seemed to enjoy the opportuity, the release. Then, when the danger passed, they all had a nice little laugh over how silly they’d been – and now what were they going to do with six flashlights and a year’s supply of potatoes?

Alan wasn’t worried about the international flow of data. Alan was worried about his neighbors, and just how silly they could get if they felt it was warranted – that is to say, if they felt they could get away with it.

He didn’t know what was going on. He knew just enough to know that something was and that it might, just might, be big. But above that he knew he was one of probably very few people in the country in a position to appreciate this. He’d love to spread the word, but – well, the internet was down. So for the moment, all he could do was take care of himself.

In doing so he was doing little more than panicing. He knew this. He saw it clear as day. He was getting scared over things outside of his control in a desperate attempt to bring them within his control. He was that which he hated. He was a mass hysteria of one. The salient difference was that he was in a unique position to get his panicing done in calm and quiet before anyone else so much as realized there was a problem. He could panic like a man of leisure. He could panic to his heart’s content.

He didn’t know how bad things might get, or how, or for how long. All he knew was that, in a world even temporarily disconnected from the internet, weird shit was gonna come. Moreover, in a world without internet, he couldn’t work on his thesis. Couldn’t do much of anything, point in fact. He’d basically have nothing to do but sit in his apartment and play video games all day. Couldn’t even play them on-line. Fucking lame.

And if things got bad, he might have plenty of reason to want to hole up in his apartment. An activity for which he required some preparation.

His apartment was about halfway between the T stops. Sometimes he’d take the T to Harvard and walk north, sometimes to Porter and walk south. It was four o’clock in the morning, he could see his breath, and here was Alan walking right past his apartment and up towards Porter. A fastidiously boring intersection, its sole charm was its 24-hour grocery store.

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~ by davekov on 4 November 2011.

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