• Sofia Sawyer

Writing Prompt: Dropped Calls

Write about someone losing cell reception.


“Shit.” Kate watched the service bars on her cell phone dwindle down to nothing. She lifted her phone above her head while pacing around her room, praying one of the random angles she held it in would work.

No such luck.

Tossing the useless phone on her bed, she continued to pace while she figured out an alternative. It was nearly noon on a Sunday. She decided to work over the weekend (again) to take advantage of limited distractions and unnecessary meetings so she could make a dent in her obnoxiously long to-do list. The cell reception issue put a hitch in her plans to get ahead.

She flopped into her computer chair to send her boss a quick email letting him know she would only be accessible by email until her phone was fixed. That was when she noticed her Wi-Fi signal was missing on her laptop. Her screen suddenly went black, startling her.

“What the hell–“

“Hey,” Kate’s roommate Audrey said when she walked into Kate’s room. “Are you having issues with your phone? I couldn’t make any calls and now it shut off even though it was at full battery.” Her perfectly shaped eyebrows furrowed in confusion as she tried restarting her phone.

Kate snatched hers off the bed and discovered it was dead too. She crossed the room and tried turning on her TV. Nothing. She narrowed her eyes, trying to figure out the issue.

Probably a weird power outage?

She flicked the nearby light switch, feeling even more confused when the lights came on with no problem.

“I have no idea what’s going on,” Kate replied.

“I feel so naked without it.” Audrey pouted and shook her phone.

“Tell me about it. My computer is down too.” She thought about the upcoming project deadline looming over her like a sinister cloud. She was already cutting it close as it was. If things weren’t back up in the next couple of hours, she’d be late getting the final campaign to her client. Her boss would be pissed.

Kate popped her head out of the bedroom window and called out to the neighbors standing outside on their back deck. “Hey, guys,” she said, unsure of their names. They’ve been neighbors for nearly a year, but somehow she and Audrey never got around to getting to know anyone on the block after they’d first moved in.

One of the men shielded his pale green eyes from the sun as he looked up at her. “Hey,” he said back.

“Are you guys having issues with your devices?”

“Yeah, they just crapped out on us a few minutes ago. Never seen anything like it. We’re supposed to have some of the guys over for the game later and nothing’s working.”

A few other people walked by, calling out that they’re having the same problems.

“What is going on?” Kate asked rhetorically.

Audrey shrugged. “Dunno, but those guys next door are kinda cute. I never noticed.”

“That’s because we’re busy being successful business women. You’re running your Etsy shop. I’m on the fast track to getting some of the biggest clients.” She practically moaned as she fantasized about their healthy budgets and all the exciting ad campaigns she could do with that kind of cash.

“I know, but is that really an excuse not to get to know at least their names?” Audrey peeked out the window and fanned herself.

“I thought it was going well with the guy you met on Match.com.”

“The emails seem great, but we have yet to meet. Maybe there won’t be the same chemistry in person.”

A series of large, explosive noises sounded outside, causing them both to scream. Kate stuck her head back out the window, seeing wires hanging from the houses sparking and disintegrating. The neighbor across the street dove onto her lawn to avoid being showered in sparks.

None of this made any sense. It was a clear, sunny day outside. The only time she’s seen that kind of destruction was during a storm. The guys next door seemed just as confused.

“Do you mind if we come by?” one of them yelled up to her.

“Sure.”

A few moments later, they were all standing in the girls’ living room. They learned the green-eyed one was Ethan, and his roommate was his younger brother, Ryan. Both were incredibly nice and down-to-earth. Not to mention easy on the eyes as Audrey had speculated earlier.

“I tried using the Wi-Fi in my car before we came over here. Nothing,” Ryan explained. “Not even the GPS works.”

“What about the Navistar?”

He shook his head.

“We don’t even own a house phone to call anyone outside of the neighborhood, not that I know anyone’s number by heart. It’s all in my stupid phone,” Audrey complained before dramatically throwing herself onto the couch and exhaling a huge breath.

Kate sighed. “Drink anyone? Beer? Water? Wine? Something stronger?” she offered. The boys asked for a beer. Kate gathered them from the kitchen, along with a couple of wine glasses and a bottle of red for her and Audrey.

They sat on the couch for the next hour getting to know each other. Despite the weird circumstances, Kate enjoyed the easy conversation. She had been so engrossed in her work the last couple years, it had been hard to find the time to go out and have meaningful conversations that didn’t revolve around client projects.

She couldn’t remember the last time she’d gone on a successful date or when she’d last let loose and had fun with her friends. Even with scheduled girls’ nights, she always felt like she was physically there, but her mind was somewhere else. Couple that with the constant chirping of her phone, and it was near impossible for her to live in the moment.

She paused to recognize that this was the first time in a long time where she was fully attentive to a conversation, where her thoughts about work and to-do lists didn’t distract her from the here and now.

She sunk further into her sofa cushions. Is this what relaxation feels like? It was like a mini vacation, one she never found time to take lately.

Audrey and Kate laughed themselves to tears over a story Ethan was telling when a deafening noise shook the house. The lights, TVs, and computers flickered like they were possessed. They all covered their ears as the noise relentlessly assaulted them.

Suddenly it stopped. Their confusion rendered them all speechless.

The TV flicked on and the iconic mask associated with the hacker group Anonymous appeared on the screen.

“Good afternoon,” the distorted voice said. “Many of you have been wondering why your devices no longer work today. We are the reason.”

Kate looked at Audrey. Audrey’s eyes went wide.

“Our goal is to make the world a safer, better place. Technology has done impressive things, but has also destroyed our humanity. We see everything. The good, the bad, and the unforgivable,” the person continued. “For every positive advancement technology has given us, a negative situation comes three fold. We’ve seen how ugly the world can be. We’ve seen the way people use technology to spread hate, to recruit terrorists, to perform illegal and unspeakable acts.

“But we believe the worst of all these things is how disconnected humans have been towards one another. Parents sit their children in front of a screen rather than spend time with them. Lovers waste more time looking for validation through social media than acknowledging the person sitting next to them. Work has become nonstop, to the point where families are ignored and life passes them by. Rather than enjoying the moment or helping someone suffering, you are too busy capturing a video and hoping it goes viral. This world has become dependent. Addicted. We are putting a stop to it.”

“What are they talking about?” Audrey shrieked.

“Anonymous has shut down aspects of technology. You’ll no longer have access to the Internet, cell phone reception, or TVs. Your e-readers and tablets will not function, GPS won’t connect, and more. It is time the world stops relying on the convenience of technology and starts being a part of this world again. Go to a library, an event, the post office. Talk to your neighbors. Spend time with your family outside. Stop letting the opinions of strangers on social media dictate how you see the world and yourself. Learn how to read a map. Stop looking at a screen and start looking up. Find work that enhances the environment rather than inspires consumerism. Life is short. It’s time you live it.”

And with that, the screen shut off. Life as they knew it changed in just one afternoon.


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