|Y2K Gone Wrong
By Terri Ann Armstrong and Scott Wydra
She sits at her computer, trying to type a message to her mates. They want her well, told her to rest, but
won't leave her alone.
Everyone is commenting on her snot remark…‘Snot all over me, and I'm hacking up a lung.’ Yet, there she is,
trying to fulfill what they'd asked for...responses from her PC.
Screaming as if they could hear her, she says, “Are you happy now, people? I got a head full of phlegm that's
leaking out my nostrils like a drippy faucet in desperate need of a rubber washer and all you can do is bitch
because I talked about snot! Maybe if Cottonwood ripped my throat out, or Bloody Mary butchered me with
that axe of hers they'd be happy!”
Struggling, she tries to read the e-mails that come running into her PC's inbox like the dogs at Green
Mountain's race track chasing that blasted mechanical rabbit. Her eyes fill with gunk that constantly rolls down
her cheeks, dripping on her chest. She feels like she is under water and the chlorine is the culprit that stings
her eyes, turning them a fiery red.
Now, after she finishes her nasty e-mail, she sits quietly, surveying her work and laughing as she pushes ‘send’.
* * *
He sits in his uncomfortable chair reading his latest e-mail from a friend smoking a cigarette. Can she be okay?
He thinks. The plague that murdered this country of people who worked in gift shops, Pizza Huts and Sunoco
gas stations has left his friend alive. Surely that cannot be; it must be the second phase of the virus, the one
that snakes through our phone lines, satellites and DSL modems; taunting me, making me believe that all is well
with Terri. I know she said she was feeling better...but for the plague to reverse itself? Only a miracle of the
Lord can produce such fascinating results. Maybe I will hear from her again…maybe soon. But, well, my cough
is getting worse, you see. My fingers and toes are numb. But I’m hanging in there. Touching hurts…feeling
drowsy...I see blood spots in front of my eyes. Feeling like I’m tuning out like a fading radio wave…help me
* * *
A new day dawns and she finally finds the strength to make it to the PC to find if Scott has responded. She
worries he’s passed on, the virus is all-consuming, and although he doesn’t want her to know he’s sick, she
knows it still.
He wanted unselfishly to bring her soup, his magic potion to cure what ails her, but she said, ‘No, darling. You
are sick yourself. You must stay where you are and get well so I can see you again.’
Now, she sits alone in her dinky apartment wishing he were there so she could care for him. Even though her
lungs are as full as her skull, she wants him in perfect health. He needs to get back to the craft he loves...
writing a great novel.
Turning the pages of his last, she fingers them, wondering is he has survived the night...
* * *
aekjvn la aviubra;ljmf w09…He’s tired; he passed right out on the keyboard. Feeling a little better today, he
tells himself. He fishes a smoke out of the pack—only three left, but it doesn’t matter; with all the deaths he
can just mosey on over to the corner store and steal a pack. Hell, a whole damned carton. Maybe get some
beer, but it’s probably warm by now. That side of the street has had no power for a couple days.
Terri... He remembers his mailbox—if it’s still operating—and checks. Spam…spam. If most of the world’s
population is now rotting in the sun like post-Halloween pumpkins, how the hell am I getting spam? Ah, there
she is, still alive and capable of writing…at least for now.
He looks out of the window, watching the flakes of snow fall like diamonds dropped by angels. She's not that
far away...if I can find a way to her. I have to help!
Damn! He feels a pierce like a switchblade stab the center of his brain. He brings his right hand to his forehead
where the pain subsides as soon as it came. But, he thought he saw something; a vision…Terri, sitting at her
computer, shivering, typing…typing…typing. He thinks, maybe she could write us out of this; she might have
that gift. I don't know if I can.
* * *
Still, hours later, she sits, waiting, thinking…hoping. The words tickle her brain and she shivers as if the
alphabet is swirling about, preparing to explode from her ears.
She waits for him to write back. He is her only lifeline left in this mad, murdered world. Everyone, is gone...
almost everyone...he’s still there. She wonders if the “virus” caught hold of his frame and beat him to the
ground like a red-headed step-child as it has everyone else.
What is the virus really; certainly not a measly, little germ that can easily be eradicated by penicillin? In her
fevered-state she sees it; eight inch long claws, snaggled teeth covered in old flesh from former victims. Its
glowing yellow eyes beckon her to come hither so it can consume her body and soul. In a frenzied rage, she
fights it and wins...this time.
Shaking the visions from her mind she tries to write. No more books for her only messages being sent out on
empty airways hoping someone else can find them. If they find the messages, they can find Scott...and her.
In the nothingness that hangs in the air she lights her cigarette and pushes out a long stream of thick, gray
smoke. She knows if she keeps her cigarette lit the smoke will act as a warning system. She can see the
glowing, yellow eyes as they near her should they return for another attempt. The darkness is so intensely
black. She doesn’t see it until it is right on top of her...too late.
After putting out her smoke, she again attempts another message...“send”. Nothing. She is still alone. Lighting
another, she draws in a long drag. Before she can expel the smoke, it’s there. The yellow eyes are there, two
inches in front of her and the claws find her jugular!
As her throat is torn to ribbons and her neck snaps like an antiquated bone under a boot, all that can be seen
are wisps of smoke escaping the long slits in her flesh.
* * *
In another part of the city, he sits alone…another cigarette, another night of nothing, waiting, thinking and
hoping, but only for him.
Another ice pick through the forehead; a bad feeling; a nervous twist of his stomach; Scott wonders what has
happened to Terri. It's been five hours—five cold hours—now that the heater blew its guts—since he has heard
from her. Although he hasn’t received an email from her, he thinks—with that part of the brain that lies
dormant in most people their entire lives—that somehow, the virus from somewhere has taken a physical form.
He can’t know that, yet he does. How to fight such a thing? Terri was supposed to use her gift to write the
world right again. But, on some deep level, he thinks her writing days are over. He has tried to send her a
message, but the damn ‘Net won't accept it. Send, send, send. The message just keeps coming back from
something called a Mailer Daemon, or something like that. Unknown name, it says. I know her fucking name,
damn it! He shouts within his mind. Maybe Terri will hear him; maybe she will gather her strength about her and
fight! But what if she got caught by surprise? We can get caught, most certainly when we have our backs
turned to the night, to the world, to everything. Maybe it’s behind me now, slithering across the floor, looking
up at my defenseless back with murder and hunger in its eyes...
Scott can see the lights going off inside the houses down the street, on his side this time. It’ll be over soon,
for good or ill. I think we’re finished. But he can’t give the satisfaction to the thing that took Terri away from
him. No way, baby. He tries one more time to send a message to her…nothing.
He steps away from his PC, smoking his last cigarette; one last puff; one last sip of his warm Guinness. He
goes to his dresser where his Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol is. He grabs it, feeling the soft, rubbery grip. Next,
he slides the magazine in. Click! Scott goes to the window of his apartment and sees the snow falling heavier.
It covers the ground like a soothing funeral blanket. The church glows with its light for a brief second...then
blacks out. If that’s the last image I see on earth, so be it. Then, his lights go off; his monitor is blank. He
knows whatever killed Terri is coming for him. Let it come. He slides down into the corner of his room, waiting,
the gun feeling warm and deadly in his hand. Let that bastard come; I got something for ya. Fresh moonlight
beams through his window, casting a spotlight on the only door that leads out of his bedroom. Good…Scott will
see it coming.
Then comes a scratching at the door; he’s not surprised; only scared out of his wits. His palms sweat; his
scalp itches from perspiration. The safety gets thumbed down.
The door creaks open and there…there it is…the virus, the killer of Terri, the eater of the world! Eyes like light
bulbs from hell and a jaw drooping to the ground lined with cannibal teeth. Scott can hear its tail twitching on
the floor like a nervous appendage.
He cocks the slide, levels the gun and pulls the trigger until the magazine is empty; shooting for her, shooting
in the darkness of a world that has lived its last. He screams as the bullets fly. Click, click, click.
Then…there is blackness. Good blackness or bad blackness, I cannot say. For what is done, is done. Let’s hope
for him, shall we?
Let’s hope for world regeneration.
* * *
“It can’t end here, Scott! No!” she screams, falling to her knees, hoping he hears.
“It was some sort of alien made to look like me. It was she who was sending you those ‘fake’ messages of sort.
‘She’ wanted you to believe, to love her. It wasn’t me!”
Lying beside him, she weeps openly. She screams at the night, at the darkness, at whatever it is that has
taken Scott from her.
After hours of motionless sorrow she picks up her head from the floor. Looking at him she can see the darkness
in his sunken face. You fought valiantly, my sweet, I know you did, she thinks. Brushing her hand across his
soft brow, he feels oddly warm.
“He’s alive!” she screams, “He’s alive!” In a frenzied moment of sobriety, she thumps her head down hard on
his chest. “Please,” she begs his heart. “Please beat! For me!”
Waiting, hoping, thinking, can it be? Did I hear it beat? Again she listens close.
“Yes! Open your eyes, Scott,” she says, desperately slapping his face. “Open your eyes you son of a bitch!
Don’t let the bastard win!”
Again she listens. She knows he’s alive; her heart never lies to her. Lifting his head into her lap, she caresses
his cheek willing him to wake up.
Finally, he stirs, slowly, but he most assuredly moves.
“Yes, that’s it, baby, wake up,” she whispers.
Again she touches his face, waiting for his beautiful blue eyes to open. An eternity passes and all at once, life
She embraces him close to her, and weeps again. “Yes! It didn’t take you from me!”
Realizing she is holding him again, he pulls himself into her embrace and latches on. They hold each other, like
each is giving life to the other while trying to grasp what reality is.
Scott pulls away and looks deeply into her eyes, and asks, “Terri, is it really you?”
“Yes, I am safe, and you are alive.”
Holding her again, he sobs, “I was certain you had met with a fate only the virus could bestow. Yet here you
are, with me. How is that possible?”
“I don't know,” Terri says, touching his forehead where the creature tore a nice chunk out.
Blood dribbles over the right side of his bewildered face. How can she be alive? Hell, how am I still alive? He
looks down and sees the pistol. There are empty shell casings lying all over the carpeted floor like dead, brass
insects. He lifts the gun, feeling how light it is without the bullets. He knows he has half a box of them in his
closet. Should I go for them? He thinks. Yeah. He steps across the room, looking at Terri sitting on the floor;
her face is still streaked with her shed tears. But all is well…for now. How he loves her so…it hurts him and lifts
his spirit at the same time. She came all the way across the city for him. For him! Why a woman so caring
could love someone like him surprises the young writer.
That's a thought for another day; if there are any other days. He wants to go to her, and he will. But a loaded
gun is something someone just needs at times like this. After all, he emptied the damn thing into that virus-
turned-creature (at least, he thinks he did), but where’s the body? Where’s the thing with the sickle-claws
and burning eyes; eyes that probably see into the most disturbing parts of Hades?
He sees his closet door is ajar. No moonlight helps him here; not in this part of the room. But he can see the
slightly darker shadow between the door and the jam. He walks over, releasing the clip into the palm of his left
hand. His long brown hair is plastered to the back of his shirt. Although it must be fifty degrees in here, he still
sweats. After opening the door—making sure his monster isn't in there—with the gun cocked back like a
hammer he sees the ammunition. He reloads the clip, slips it back into the grip and frees the
Scott turns to Terri, the beautiful angel who has saved him.
“I think I might know where and when this virus started.”
He states it as flat as if he were telling his wife to pick up eggs and steaks at the market. He pulls the slide
“It all started with an e-mail I got,” Scott says. “It looked fucked up, but I opened it. God help me, I opened
He comes to her and she rises to meet him. He kisses her, quick and loving on her painted lips. He can’t believe
she actually found time to put her lipstick on. What a classy woman, he thinks.
He grabs her hips, leans close, and whispers, “I don't know who sent it, but I think I might know where the real
damage from it began. We have to get to the municipal building. They have the biggest mainframe in the city.”
He massages his pounding forehead again, wincing at the sharp, evil pain that has spread there. “Maybe we
can send that virus back to its source, killing the host. What do you think, sugar-
She looks into his eyes and she knows he’s right. After all, no one knows the super-highway like he
“Let’s do it!” she proclaims. “Do you have another gun?”
Quietly he opens the nightstand drawer and pulls out the spare.
Tossing her the box of ammunition, he whispers, “Load it.”
One by one she fits every chamber with the silver bullets. She didn't need to ask why they were silver;
everyone knows only the most evil, vilest of creatures need the invasion of a silver bullet to destroy them.
Even though she’s as scared as she’s ever been, she’s desperate for him to hold her once more in case their
time escapes them when they face the virus.
Taking in every inch of him, she notices how the long hair that’s always so soft and chocolate brown, is now—
in the short time they’ve been apart—seemingly grown old and gray. How could he have aged so quickly? His
body is still muscular and taut, but his hair, the hair she loves to entangle her long fingers with its painted nails
in, is not the same. It doesn’t change her want.
She finishes loading the gun, and says, “I'm ready. Let’s go kick some ass, baby.” Making
their way to the municipal building is easy: no one on the streets, no traffic, no one to stop them from
reaching their destination. Standing on the steps now, they can feel the evil as it oozes from the building like
blood from a severed arm as it lies on the ground. She is afraid, but he can’t see
Reaching the top step, Scott turns to her and says, “I don't know what we’re going to find inside, but we’re
going to get him...we have to. I refuse to let this be the thing that takes you from
Stepping closer to him, she wraps her arms around his neck, allowing her lips to find his. After a long,
desperate, passion-filled kiss, they part.
She says, “Remember where we were.”
Smiling, he turns the doorknob and they step inside, fearing everything.
The air is chilled, but the smell of decay cannot be stopped by something as mundane as cold weather. The
room is not large; this is a small town after all. A dead cop sits in his chair to their right. His head is lying on its
side with lines of blood streaking from his open eyes. And some disturbed person has painted his face in a
clownish way with red and white make-up.
“Don’t look, dear,” Scott says, turning her head away from the horrific scene. “It’s in the basement. The
mainframe, I mean.”
He flicks the safety off the automatic and points it ahead of him, waiting for anyone…or any
“Do you have any idea what we’re supposed to do here?” Terri asks, walking next to him, looking everywhere
with her gun in hand.
“None whatsoever, but I think we’ll know when the time comes, as they say.”
They walk past desks littered with scraps of smoldering papers. Computer monitors flash red; they tattoo their
frightened faces as they make their way through the front room. The only reason they aren't stumbling in the
dark is because of the emergency generators that kicked on the low-intensity lights overhead. More dead
bodies lie scattered about. Some appeared to have been bitten…or eaten.
“What the hell happened here? Dear Jesus, what the fuck happened?”
Terri screams. Scott stops. He turns to his love. God, even in this sickening light she still looks beautiful, he
thinks. She’s frightened. Hell, he’s frightened. When she yelled he thought he would mess his pants! But there
is steel inside Terri. Although they have known each other for only a short time, he knows how strong she is.
How capable of battling anything that comes her way…their way. Capable of killing.
“The world seems to be in the recycling bin, sweetheart. We’re all deleted files now.”
He turns back, and starts walking again with his love by his side.
Terri walks along side him as they make their way to the elevator—which is useless. Not enough power to
support it. But the stairs are right next to it. Scott opens the door slowly, not wanting anything on the other
side to hear them. A new smell blasts them in the face; a burning machine smell. He thinks of melted plastic
wires, disfigured keyboards and ancient oil. The emergency lights are on in the stairwell; he could see a lone
corpse at the bottom of the first landing. She looks like a secretary; skirt pooled around her thighs, one high-
heel off and the left lens of her glasses is shattered. There are two holes in her neck, each about the width of
a human thumb. Blood is drying on her chest; there is a pool of it beneath her, dark and viscous.
“We have to get down there. I mean, I’m not really looking forward to walking next to...her.” He points at the
female victim with the muzzle of his gun. “But, I know you can do it.”
“Help me, baby.”
He hugs her close, smelling her wonderful scent: a mixture of light perfume, cigarette smoke and fear. Probably
like his own; minus the perfume; she smells sweet and he hopes they can have a life together after all that will
happen. Whatever has been happening to the country—or world—has to come to an end. There has to be a
“I’m not looking forward to this anymore than you are, Scott,” Terri says. “But it is something we have to do.”
She spins the cylinder of her revolver, click-click- click-click- click! “So, let’s get it
Reaching the basement, Scott walks in front of Terri to be sure if something gets them, maybe while it’s
devouring him, she can kill it. Or, at the very least, get away.
Looking over his shoulder, he says, “Listen to me carefully. I’m going to draw whatever this thing is out into
the open. We need to see what we’re fighting against. Then, as I distract it, you aim that gun and pull the
trigger until the bullets are gone.”
Shaking now, she asks, “What if I miss?”
“You won’t! Do you have the other bullets from the box?”
“Yes,” taking them out of her pocket, she says, “right here.”
Turning to face her, he pulls her to him and holds her tight. He closes his eyes. Scott takes in the feel of her
pressed against him along with her scent once more. She is inviting and warm, but he has to concentrate. If
they will have any chance of a future, they will have to drive this “thing” back to the depths of hell where it
She holds tight for one last moment. He gives her strength when he holds her like this. And now, she surely
needs it…all of it.
Pulling from her embrace, he says, “Okay, we can do this.”
“Yes, we can. I refuse to accept anything less.”
Damn, what a woman she is, he thinks. I’ll have to tell her how wonderful I think she is when this is all
As if she can read his mind, she says, “I am wonderful. When this is all over, I’m going to show you how
wonderful I truly am.”
Smiling, he kisses her hard and turns his attention back to the matter at hand. Find the thing that is invading
the world…and crush it.
Walking quietly through the basement, they peek around every corner, every generator and furnace. The
hissing of the water heater is deafening. Listening for the thing is intense and almost impossible. Nearing the
end of the width of the basement, suddenly, everything went completely and eerily silent. No hissing, no
banging…nothing. Scott can hear Terri breathing behind him. It is labored from fear. He wants to calm her, but
he can’t turn his head. Reaching back, he grabs for her hand. When he touches it, he pulls away like he has
Afraid, he turns around. It is there! Its yellow eyes glow an angry hue. The stench of its breath smells of
freshly devoured flesh. Is that her flesh I smell? he thinks. Its long claws are now in front of his face; it will
surely gouge his throat.
Taking a giant step back, he can see her behind the creature to his left. A crumpled shell of who she was only
moments ago. Anger flares in his eyes and the flames lick his eyebrows. Scott takes quick aim and fires. Over
and over again, he pulls the trigger until the magazine is empty, propelling the creature back fifteen feet from
him, but never falling to the ground.
Suddenly, Scott feels like his time is over. He can see the hunger in the creature’s eyes; it is going to eat him,
here…now. Lunging toward Scott, the creature grabs him with its long talons, knocking him to the floor. Just
as it opens its steel-like jaw, revealing its sharp, busted teeth, it snarls an evil growl and makes ready to rip
his throat out.
All six rounds fire off with concussive force. One after the other until all that can be heard is click, click, click,
click. Lightning rumbles and reverberates throughout the basement as the creature begins to smoke a thick,
black, putrid-smelling smoke. It screams and withers into nothing on top of Scott.
“Terri! Terri!” Scott yells from under the lead-riddled disease. He gags on the rancid scent that emanates from
it. He isn’t worried about himself; a few cuts and bruises is all he suffers from. It’s his girl that concerns him.
Scott rolls the decaying creature off; it actually slides off, like a vampiress shedding her flimsy nightgown. The
fluid that covers him is sickening.
He gets up, shakes his head and runs to Terri’s form on the ground. She’s breathing, but exhausted. The
empty revolver is still gripped in her hand. She pulls the trigger spasmodically.
“No, dear, no. That part’s over.”
Scott removes the gun, reloads it without even thinking why and lays it next to her hand. He bends close and
kisses her forehead, the tip of her nose, her right ear, her chin and finally her lips. She breaths into him. The
gouges and slices on her skin are as superficial as his own. He wonders how they—two writers—can defeat
such a creature so easily without one, at least, dying? There’s something else; a missing piece, he thinks. It’s
like there’s something I saw...a thing that would have stood out if it wasn’t for this pesky virus business.
“It’ll come to me,” he whispers to himself, then shakes his head. “Meanwhile, Terri, honey, you have to get up.
Please. Just a little more.”
“So...tired, but—“ she smiles and he loves that smile. It lights up her face. Not like emergency bulbs in an
abandoned municipal building, but more like how a golden rose blazes from the high-noon sun. “I got more,
Scott. Believe me!” She reaches out and touches his hand, the one with the pistol smelling of cordite in it.
“I don’t really know exactly, but—“
“You have an idea?”
“Yeah. It had something to do with what I saw upstairs. There’s still a virus going on here and it has to be
stopped, or else...” he lifts his voice and spreads his arms wide, “we’re all gone. That thing you killed is not
what is causing all of this. That was a being; the actual virus is something that’s in the system, our system,
the world’s system.”
“I understand,” Terri says as she sits up.
Through the slit in her skirt, Scott catches a view of some thigh. Even when the world is ending, he thinks, a
man is still a pig of a man. He laughs out loud.
“What is it?” she asks, with that sideways look, curl of lip and raise of eyebrow he adores so much.
“Nothing…everything. If we make it out of this with our heads still on straight, I’ll tell you.”
It was business time.
“I still have to find the mainframe. I need you to go upstairs and look for a monitor that’s not blinking red.
There’s only one. I think it should be on your left somewhere. Look in the floppy disc drive and the CD-ROM
drive of the computer. If there are any discs, bring them down here, please.” He prays there will be only one
disc. Hell, he doesn’t even know if there will even be a disc. But there has to be, dammit! “I will go down to
the sub-basement; that’s where the mainframe is. I think one smart—or lucky—person has the answer; right in
our little town. Get the discs, baby, and watch your ass. I’ve reloaded your gun, although I don’t think it’ll be
necessary.” He hands it to her; she has grown to love the feeling of the cobalt blue steel death-deliverer in
her hand. “You never know.” He grabs her by the shoulders, pulls her forward and leans close to her ear.
“Please return to me, Terri. I love you, always have. Now go.”
He gets up and runs back down the hallway, hearing Terri shout that she feels the same way. It makes his
heart do a double-beat. If he can have someone like her, then this all has to come out right.
Walking down the stairs, Scott hears what he thought he would: the click-clack of keyboard buttons being
pressed, the breathing of something that’s not quite right, the harsh rattle of many hard drives being pushed
beyond their limit. There’s the door; the one he knows they have to enter. Please bring me the disc, honey.
In the main room, Terri looks left to right. The gun weighs her hand down. Everything is the same as it was
before. A bunch of dead bodies, the aroma of decaying corpses and blinking monitors. But...there is one that is
not blinking. She runs over to it thinking, Scott needs the disc, whatever it is…and I have to find it!
This monitor, she notices, is blank. There are no phone lines, cable lines or networking cables coming from it.
The plugs are pulled. She turns the computer on, waits for it to finish booting and presses the eject button on
the CD-ROM drive. It sticks out like a scorched tongue. Empty. Next, her nervous, sweating fingers happen on
the floppy drive button. She waits. Nothing pops out.
“Fuck!” she screams, as she looks around to make sure nothing is creeping up on her. “He’s waiting for me;
there has to be something.”
She feels around the back of the computer, grips a memory stick and pulls it out. This has to be it, she thinks.
But just before she leaves, she checks the entire area around the desk. Not a single disc.
She takes off downstairs, memory stick in one hand and her revolver in the other.
Scott gets down on his belly and crawls through the open door that leads into the mainframe room. He makes
sure that his gun doesn’t scrape across the cement ground. It’s cold, but, he thinks, not as cold as a grave.
The clicking of keys is louder now as he snakes his way around the corner. He can see monitors, many, many
monitors attached to the walls. All blinking and showing lines of code he cannot comprehend. There is a video
camera in the upper-left side of the room; he hopes, for some reason, he can avoid its shifting gaze.
There is a man sitting in front of a large terminal. All of the monitors are spread out like a fan in front of him;
he punches keys, spits on the ground and mutters. There is a rainbow of colorful wires and cords stuck into
the back of his baldhead. In fact, he is naked from what Scott can see. He faces away from him. The wires
attached to the wildly typing man spread out and are inserted into various computer banks, monitors and other
pieces of electronic equipment Scott cannot identify. He looks to his left and sees a Compaq computer with its
green “on” light blinking. It would have to be that one, he says to himself. Please hurry, Terri. I need that disc.
Lying low, he awaits her, listening to whatever that thing is in front of him type away. Click-clack.
Terri creeps around the corner and sees Scott’s feet as he lies on the floor. She gets closer, kneels down and
then gets into the prone position.
“Psst! Scott,” she whispers.
Scott almost pulls the trigger as Terri makes him start a little. He swivels his head and looks into his lover’s
eyes. He feels exultant. Then, he realizes she has no disc in her hand just the gun. But her fist is closed over
something in her left.
“Shhh,” says Scott, and gestures his head towards the room in front of him. “There’s someone in there.”
Terri slides like a sexy serpent across the floor. She now lies next to Scott.
“I found this in that computer,” she says, and shows him the memory stick. “Can this be what we need?”
“I don’t know, but let’s give it a try and see.” Scott takes the little piece of rectangular plastic from her open
palm. “Watch my ass, and watch out for the camera.” He says nodding toward it.
“I see both. Don’t worry, baby. We got this bastard.”
“See ya when it’s over.”
He leans to her, kisses those lips he always longs for and slides up to the operating computer.
“Be ready for anything,” she tells him.
He feels the back of the Compaq terminal, letting his fingertips search for that little USB 2.0 slot. When his
fingers touch that little groove, he slides the memory stick in.
The “man” at the terminal instantly cocks his head to the bank of screens. What he sees on the one that the
camera is connected to, is an arm poking around a corner and messing around with the back of a computer. He
babbles something in some other language; something dark.
Then he says in English, “I knew someone would be around for the final party.” He laughs and it sounds like
digital hysteria from a mausoleum. “But I don’t think...” He cuts himself off with a scream. “It can’t be! We
destroyed the discs, you fuck! Ahhhhhhh!”
On every monitor, where previously the undecipherable code ran on and on—a huge yellow, smiling face
appears; the have-a-nice-day face complete with the bleeding, bullet hole in the forehead. In flowing script
beneath, are the words: Worms Are Hungry. Now We Eat!
The man-thing seated in the leather chair screams more; his body convulses. His fingertips spray blood, like
leaking fountain pens on the keys. Wires begin to spark; a small fire sputters from the man's cranium. He grips
the sides of his head as he bellows over and over that this can’t be happening…it can’t…no way…it was all
supposed to go according to his plan...
Terri and Scott shriek at the same time when the man’s head explodes, sending gruesome chunks of brain
matter, skull and flaming wires like lightning-snakes everywhere. The monitors show images of little bars filling
up from left to right; the words UPLOADING HAS BEEN COMPLETED appear everywhere. The yellow face winks,
small Z's float from his apparently sleeping form and the speakers boom: “VIRUS HAS BEEN DEVOURED, REPEAT,
VIRUS HAS BEEN DEVOURED! ALL FUNCTIONS SHOULD RETURN TO NORMAL! THIS HAS NOT BEEN A TEST OF
THE EMERGENCY EARTH-KILL SYSTEM! EXECUTION OF PROJECT: OMEGA DAWN COMPLETE! HAVE A NICE DAY!”
The message repeats and the couple gets the idea. They stand; take one final look at the room that almost
served as the staging point of Armageddon and leave.
Outside, the air is sweet and chilly. Small curls of frost escape their mouths as they breathe; and breathe,
they do. Although each have cuts, slices and a few small holes in them, all seems well. The streets, previously
deserted, now show a scattering of people. They resemble drones, but living drones. Like coma victims that
have suddenly woken up and know they are back to the world of normal.
“How do you feel, Terri?” Scott grabs her hand; it’s the definition of comfort and solace.
“Good now,” she squeezes back. “Check that out!”
Most of the people walking around like zombies from a George Romero movie have things attached to the palms
of their hands. After closer inspection, while the couple walks down the municipal building steps, they realize
what they are. Each person has a computer mouse, seemingly fused to his or her hand. Some are wireless;
most are not. Once again, this is a small town after all. The wires dangle like slim, gray or black serpents with
stringy wires instead of fangs.
“Is it over, Terri?” Scott asks, and leans close to her to kiss the lobe of her ear where a small diamond glitters
like a newly birthed star.
“I really think so.” She nestles against his warm body and engulfs him in a hearty hug. “What now?”
“Time to go home, babe.”
As the two walk through the growing crowd of swaying townsfolk holding each other, guns in hands, a light in
the basement of the municipal building goes on. As we look closer, we can see a single monitor on top of a
desk, blink off. It re-boots on its own. The only message on this screen is a timer and a face. A face Scott or
Terri would’ve recognized as the face of the man in front of the terminal in the sub-basement, pre-explosion,
of course. The face smiles, a freakishly sinister, cartoon-like grin. A timer starts unrolling under the devilish
And on and on the timer counts down.