New #fridayflash for you all. Wordbunchings every Friday(ish).
The Internet isn’t working again.
This is worse than last month, when it started to slow down incrementally on each page you opened, until it reached the slowest of crawls, and when I hit refresh the whole thing just packed up and refused to load anything, even after a few hard reboots. At least that time, all I had to do was reset the hardware and leave off torrenting for a bit.
This is worse than last week, when the router started smoking, and a bubble of melting plastic was making its way down the Ethernet cable like a spark on a gunpowder fuse. All I had to do then was unplug it before the house caught fire, and plug in a new one. Also, apply some soothing cream to my scorched hands.
And, improbably, it’s worse than yesterday, when nothing would work at all. All the hardware was fine, the software up-to-date and functional, the cache was clear, the bills were paid, the phone lines were up, the power grid stable, and there was no Internet. Any browser on any device in the house (I even tested the fucking Wii) would not load any page at all (nor could you play Mario Kart online). Bizarrely, if you connected to my wifi outside of the grounds of my house, say at the neighbour’s or standing outside halfway down the road, you could connect perfectly. The grounds of my house seemed to be this technological black spot, a weird hostile zone through which no modern miracle could penetrate.
By this point, I was furious. I had been battling with tech problems ever since I moved into this house. I’d spent all my savings on new routers and cables and devices and ISPs and I was sick of it. The Internet is a basic right, I thought, like water and power, and I would make it work, no matter what. I resolved to try a new approach.
My neighbours keep some unusual pets. There’s snakes, exotic fish ponds, interesting toads, and god knows what in my neighbours’ gardens (I swear number 15 has an alligator). Number 7 is the most normal, since they merely have a chicken coop, and so it was number 7 I was interested in. I waited till night fell, when everyone would either be in bed or out drinking, and stole into number 7’s garden, removed one hen from its nesting and took it back to my garden. There, I inexpertly executed it with a kitchen knife. Then, I stripped naked, smeared myself with blood from its carcass, and started half-stomping, half dancing around my property. I chanted verses in schoolboy Latin and Greek, but soon in languages I didn’t know: Old English, Gaelic, Norse, in ancient languages, forgotten languages, hidden tongues, all unfolding from my lips, separate from my control.
Eventually, dawn broke, as did my trance. I showered the blood off my body, and tried the Internet again, and it worked. It worked better than it ever had before – quicker, easier, as if it was beaming to my screen faster than thought, faster than light. I spent the day going down YouTube holes and on Wikipedia journeys, into strange and esoteric corners of the web, and let myself be ensnared in it, submerged within the Internet. Then, just minutes ago, it disappeared.
I’ll have to find something bigger to kill.
Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2013)
Futurama, season 7-B (2013)
Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2005 Broadway Revival cast recording)