Good morning. Today, still not so sunny but I didn’t slap my alarm clock down like it insulted my mother so I’m calling it progress. The gray skies do make me want to curl up with a good book somewhere out of the way instead of getting going on what I actually need to do today, but I suppose that can’t be helped. So let’s kickstart the day with a writing prompt. Hopefully once I get into motion Newton’s First Law of Productivity will kick in and I will actually be productive. So Timers set and off we go.
I am probably going to spend the rest of the day thinking about what objectionable bit of kit they were adding to the communications lines. I can think of a few things but it is leading me down a very dystopian path. I sort of like that.
Plus I am now in the mood to write. Happens every time with the writing prompts, good or bad, it is always consistent.
Friday, January 20th: It was hot.
It was hot. The kind of hot where sweat rolled down your spine and seeped into the waistband of your pants. It was the kind of hot where waves shimmered off the asphalt and made everything look like a mirage. It was the kind of hot where sensible people stayed indoors, cranked the air-conditioning and prayed that there were no power outages.
Unfortunately Charles Michael Reynolds was not allowed to be sensible. Charlie mouthed off to the wrong person one too many times and now he was out here supervising the instillation of the new cables. Charlie sighed heavily, the heat from his own breath feeling cool compared to the air around him.
The others were underground. While he knew that they were working hard and no doubt sweating from their exertions, he knew that the cool earth surrounding them had to be a relief. There was a sunshade stretched over the hole in the ground. There were ribbons of yellow tape stretched from one blinking saw horse to the other in a tight circle so no pedestrians would accidentally walk into the hole where the men were working.
Still it was company policy that if there was a crew working under ground then there had to be at least one man standing above ground. Charlie recognized the sense in the policy, especially after the last attack. While most viewed the upgrades to the cables and they system as a good thing, providing faster connectivity and a host of other benefits, there were parts of the system that people objected to.
In truth there were parts of the system that Charlie objected to, which was why he was out here standing guard outside of the hole sweating out what he was certain was half of his body weight. He tried to stay hydrated as he stood guard and made certain no one chucked an explosive device into the tunnel with the men working. The problem was the water in the tangs had grown warm. The insulated coolers did their best but by this time of day their best was simply not up to the task. The fluid was the same temperature as his body and Charlie found it strangely repugnant to drink.
‘Only a few more hours,’ he reminded himself. ‘And I’ll keep my mouth shut in the future,’ he decided.
As he stood there, he heard a muffled thump. He frowned but no one emerged from the tunnel. A second thump sounded and the ground rocked beneath his feet. It wasn’t a huge rocking sensation, just the sort he would get if a really large truck drove past.
‘But there are no trucks,’ he said looking around. ‘Besides it didn’t last that long. A truck would have to be moving really fast for it to have passed so quickly. I also would have seen it.’
The narrow roads and the fact that he didn’t see a truck meant that was probably not it. As he looked around, he heard another muffled thump and felt another rocking sensation. The thump was louder this time.
‘Closer?’ Charlie wondered. Then he saw it coming towards him. A motorcycle moving fast. ‘That couldn’t have made the noise,’ he thought.
Then all thought ceased. The motorcyclist tossed something small and metallic towards the hole in the ground. Charlie stepped forward as the motorcycle roared past. Without thinking he slapped the shiny bit of metal. The impact stung his hand but it sent the small object careening in the other direction, away from him, away from the hole. He looked at the departing motorcycle and saw part of the license plate. The shiny object exploded and Charlie was knocked to his feet. Darkness descended.