Mike jumped in his chair as Josh burst through the door into the kitchen.
“What are you still sitting there for?” Josh asked. He was fully dressed but his shoulder length hair was wet from the shower.
“One of us in this marriage gets up early so he can have a relaxing breakfast.” Mike grinned at his partner.
“You can have your bowl of cereal any other time, but not when the world’s about to end.”
The serious tone in Josh’s voice made Mike pause. “What are you getting all excited about now?”
“Haven’t you seen the news on the feeds?” Josh asked in exasperation.
Mike started eating again. “I broke one of my lenses last week, remember.”
He had still been using his phone to read emails and other messages, but the screen was small compared to the usual in-eye display his contacts offered. Replacements were easy enough to get, but he was enjoying being out of the loop. Not that Josh would understand that; he was a hardcore tech-head.
“Well it’s all over the net. Everyone’s posting about it.” Josh rushed out of the kitchen and started hunting through his pile of shoes in the hall. “The sun’s gone nova and the shockwave I’ll hit us any minute now.” There was a thud as he dropped something. “Fuck! Have you seen my blue sneakers? Ah, no, found ‘em.” He came back. “Come on. You’ve got to get moving.” He sat down at the table and started untying the laces he had left knotted.
Mike was spooning the last of the milk from his bowl. “What’s this shockwave going to do to us?”
“Like, everything. It’s going to mess up the electrics. Cars’ll stop working. The net on this side of the world is going to go pop. Then there’s the magnetic field; that’s going to flip for a bit, and you don’t want to know what that could mean. Some are saying we could get hit by a tsunami.”
The list got Mike’s attention. “Seriously? If it’s that bad why haven’t the government said anything?”
“They’ve been keeping it quiet to stop people panicking, but the information got leaked.” Josh stood up again. “Come on, we can’t stay in here,” he glanced around the kitchen, his gaze stopped on the microwave, “we don’t know what’s going to explode.”
Mike pushed his chair back. He slid the bowl onto the kitchen worktop and dug some gum from out of his pocket. “Let’s go then. We leaving the Valley?”
“No point. Traffic’s gridlocked. We might as well just stand outside and watch the light show.”
Other neighbours had obviously had the same idea. Mike glanced down the street; families were on their lawns or clustered in small groups. He waved to a couple of them.
Josh had his head tilted up, looking directly at the morning sun.
“Won’t it burn out your eyes or something?” Mike asked.
“It might not be a good idea for you, but my filters’ll kick in if there’s a problem.”
Mike went back to watching everyone else. “When’s it due to hit?”
“Any second now, I’ve got a timer running …” His words trailed off, then he drew in his breath. “Wow! That’s already starting to look odd. It’s like it keeps changing colour.”
Mike kept his gaze fixed on the road. He expected to see some change in the light, but nothing happened. Next to him Josh continued to make sounds of astonishment.
“What’s it like?” Mike asked.
“Ah, man, if only you could see this. There’s too much going on to describe. You’ll have to catch the video later.”
Mike glanced back at the house. “Well nothing’s exploded.”
He caught a reflection of the sky in one of the windows. The sun was the same colour it had always been. Suspicion began to inch its way into his consciousness. Slowly he let his eyes drift upward. Nothing but the summer’s morning heat touched his face. Josh was still caught up in rapture.
He took his phone out of his pocket and loaded up a reality augmentation program, then he turned the camera towards the sun. On the screen a spectacular light show was taking place. In the real world nothing had changed.
With a smile Mike rested one hand on his partner’s shoulder. “I’m going back in to get some coffee. You might want to switch your AR off. I think you’ve been had.”
22 January 2010
Tens of thousands of people in Ghana left their houses following rumours of an imminent earthquake that was initially spread by text message. The warnings turned out to be a hoax.
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