“A car just hit me.”

What?

“Are you okay?” I type out and hit enter.

Sending…

I hope she’s fine. She was only going to the store down the street to pick up toilet paper and juice. It’s a fifteen minute drive—eighteen if you get every single red light. How could she get in an accident in such a short amount of time? Maybe someone just bumped into her in a parking lot. I hope she wasn’t on foot.

After a couple of minutes, she hasn’t texted back. What’s going on?

When I look back down at my phone, it hasn’t changed.

Sending…

Seriously? My phone refuses to send a text now of all times? I cancel the message and type it out again.

“What happened? Are you okay?”

Send.

Sending…

I wait. After thirty seconds, it still hasn’t sent. I can’t believe this. I want to throw my phone across the room, but I need it, so I calmly switch from SMS to instant messaging, hoping that she’s in a location where her phone can pick up 3G.

“Are you okay?”

Sending…

It only takes ten seconds before the blood in my veins grows hot. After ten more seconds, I give up trying to get a message out. Screw this, I’m calling.

After opening up the dialer and clicking on her photo, I place the phone up to my ear and wait. Nothing happens. Unnerved, I pull the phone down and glance at the screen. Everything seems okay. I end the call and try again.

Still, nothing goes through. When I pull the phone away this time, it says the connection isn’t strong enough. This makes no sense. We live in the middle of the suburbs. The good suburbs, where the expensive stores and fancy malls are. We always have signal.

I toss the phone onto the coffee table and begin to walk away, only I double back, too afraid I’ll miss a call or text if I leave it out of sight. Sticking it in my pocket, I go searching for my laptop, which I apparently left tangled up in the comforter upstairs. When I open it up, nothing happens. I press the power button, and sure enough, the blasted thing is dead. Just my luck.

The charger isn’t in the outlet by the bed, nor do I see it in the one on the other side of the room. Great. I search the house until, ahah, I find it downstairs by the sofa. I plug it in, hit the power button, and wait for it to boot.

Once the thing is on, I ctrl+L my way to the URL bar, type g-m-a, and press enter.

Unable to connect to the Internet.

Wat.

What?

I hit enter again, and the message remains. The indicator in the corner says I’m still online, but the browser refuses to agree, and no matter how many times I press enter, it doesn’t change its mind.

I take out my phone, instinctively ready to fire up a hotspot, only to be reminded that I don’t have any bars. And wait, why isn’t it connected to the WiFi network? For whatever reason, nothing is working for me today, at the moment that my girlfriend could be injured, in trouble, or… anything.

But she texted me. That means she must be okay, right? Unless she sent that message while dangling upside down from the driver’s seat, and her next message would have been to dial 911. Only that doesn’t make any sense. She could have dialed the number herself. Unless she can’t speak, which would explain why she didn’t call.

I. Really. Need. Stuff. To. Work.

Yet instead of having a working phone, I’m stuck digging behind the entertainment stand looking for my router’s reset button. I find it, but I need something thin and small to poke it with. Great. Now I need a safety pin. And those are upstairs.

Fortunately there’s a thumbtack on the floor nearby, apparently haven fallen from the poster on the wall. I’ll deal with that later. At least something’s on my side at the moment. I use it to press the button and wait for the router’s lights to flicker off and on.

Then I’m back at the computer. Enter. Nope. Enter. Nope. Enter. Nope. I can’t believe this.

I jump up, unable to comprehend what is going on right now. Could the cell towers and the cable company both be down at the same time? And if that’s the case, maybe there’s really something awful going on. Did something blow up somewhere? Is that why she ran into someone, because the world outside is going to hell?

I rush to the window. Everything I see looks blissfully calm. Too calm. Annoying calm. Everything’s alright and not at the same time. How can everything outside be normal, while indoors everything is falling apart?

I search the house for my tablet and see if it’s able to pull anything down. When that turns into a dead end, I start to dig out an old laptop, but I stop before opening the plastic bin it’s packed away in, tucked against a couple old game consoles and an e-reader. She’s out there potentially hurt, and I’m in here digging through junk.

I’m going to go find her. Maybe on the way my phone will pick up signal again. Hopefully it’s nothing, and she’s just exchanging insurance information at the side of the road. But I need to know, and that’s not going to happen here. This isn’t a time for waiting.

I grab my keys and toss on my jacket, barely remembering to snatch my wallet as well. When I open the door, there she stands. There doesn’t appear to be a scratch anywhere on her body. I throw my arms around her, my heart thumping against her chest.

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“Meltdown” by Bertel King, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.