Fiction, Health and wellbeing, Melbourne, Opinion, Relationship and marriage, Writing

The beginning of the end

Losing water was the first sign.

Initially Mara thought she’d forgotten to pay the bill. She went to make a call and found the phone lines were down, too.

‘Brad?’ she called. ‘Are we up to date with the bills?’

Rustling from the back garden was the only response.

‘Brad!’ This time she yelled.

‘Huh?’

‘Have we paid our bills?’

‘What do you mean?’

She drew breath. Tried not to react.

‘Have we paid our bills?’

‘Like the water and stuff?’

‘Yes!’ He could be exasperating at times, especially when he’d been gardening.

‘Yeah, I think we’re up to date? Why?’

‘There’s no water. And I tried to phone and there’s no phone lines either.’

At that moment, the lights flickered and died. ‘Oh great!’

‘What’s going on?’ asked Brad. ‘This can’t be normal.’

Brad ran out the front door, crossed the road to Bill and Jen’s home. Their car was in the drive. He struck the knocker and waited. He struck it again. Still no answer. But he saw the curtain in the front window move.

‘Bill,’ he said. ‘It’s me. Open up.’

The door opened to reveal Bill, hunched and drawn.

‘Mate, what’s going on?’

‘It’s a glitch. Actually that’s an understatement. Some kind of cyber crime. Or terrorism. No one knows.’ Bill sighed. ‘You’d better come in. Run over and get Mara. Come straight back. I’ll leave the door unlocked.’

Brad reached his home in three seconds. ‘Mara!’

‘What is it?’

‘Come to Bill and Jen’s. They’ll explain everything.’

By the time they walked into their neighbour’s home, Brad and Mara were breathless. Panting, Mara went straight to the kitchen to find her friend. ‘What’s happening?’

‘Bill got a call this morning, before the lines went down. His boss told him to go into lock down. But then mentioned it was a glitch in our systems. I overheard Bill scoff and say if we’re in lock down, it’s more than that. There was silence on the phone, then Bill groaned. After he hung up, he just collapsed, held his head in his hands for five minutes. We closed the windows and blinds, drew curtains and locked every door.’

‘What’s going to happen, do you think?’ Mara whispered. Her heart was thumping, each beat pressing against her ribs.

Jen shrugged. ‘We don’t know. Nobody does.’

 

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