Connection Lost

Foreward 

Hey guys, I’m really sorry I haven’t been more active on here. I had a really stressful couple of weeks. School’s kept me on my toes along with some health stuff. But fret not! Today I’m returning with my first official story post. I hope you enjoy this short–and creepy–introduction to my world with “Connection Lost”!

Best,

Kris

 

Connection Lost 

By Kristina Blaise 

 

Ah, there’s really nothing quite like a good relaxing self-care evening. My final papers were turned in, I’d taken out the garbage, cats were fed, the whole nine yards. Time to sit around in my underwear and watch TV, productivity be damned. Just me, Netflix, and a bowl of chips with salsa. If this doesn’t sound like an amazing way to unwind then you’re…well, probably a much more vibrant social butterfly than I am, I’ll give you that much. All that was left to do was collapse on the couch–which, coincidentally, is also my bed what with my situation being what it is–and boot my Xbox up so I can get started with this Netflix shindig.

The console played the usual startup noise and took me to the main dashboard menu, but already something was off. In the right hand corner, it was displaying that stupid “connect to Xbox Live” message, which I guess was implying I didn’t have internet connection. Well, that was already a bit fishy given it was working just fine an hour or so ago when I uploaded my final. I assumed it was just a little problem with the console or the Xbox servers or something and thought nothing of it; probably just a little routine maintenance, these things happen. I figured I’d maybe try watching stuff through my computer instead. Smaller screen, but same thing more or less.

I hopped over to my laptop, still sitting on the table near my window. I’d used it to upload my final not long ago, so I figured that it would still have a functioning connection for sure. Yet when I booted it up and opened Netflix, it brought up an error message saying that it couldn’t connect properly. Well, that was certainly a weird coincidence. What’s more is the computer was doing just fine when I uploaded my final. Why did it decide to quit now? All these questions, and not a single answer in the world. Again, the rational part of my brain just chalked it up to an error on their end, with their servers or whatever. Like I said, these things happen.

It was at that point that I remembered a buddy of mine from school, John, had said he was doing a livestream on Twitch tonight.  I wasn’t feeling optimistic about that website working, but I figured I’d give it a shot. Nothing else was on, so I figured watching John suck at Fortnite wouldn’t be a bad way to kill time. Hell, might actually be funny.

I entered in the Twitch URL on my browser and, by some divine miracle, the website loaded up without a hitch. Maybe my luck was finally turning around. John’s visage showed up on the facecam in the upper right hand corner of the stream, with his Fortnite match running within the rest of the screen. There were only a few other viewers; around twelve by the looks of it, counting me. John’s Internet personality ventures tended not to draw huge crowds, but from what I gather they were a bit of a dedicated fandom. John always goes on about how he has the best fans, even if there weren’t that many. It made me happy to know someone like him was making his way in the entertainment business, albeit with great difficulty.

“Ah! Welcome to the stream, Vaultgirl77,” John said. Mere moments later, he cringed and swore in frustration as his virtual avatar was gunned down from afar by another player, tucked away in a sniper nest that he either didn’t spot in time or just wasn’t within range of being able to do anything about.

“Wow, what a first impression, huh? Fuck…sorry,” he muttered as he returned to the lobby to find another game.

The chat was kind of dead, just a couple of his followers—a few of whom I recognized from our classes—cheering him on and throwing around some irreverent and zany memes. There was one guy who kept saying something about how the rain was getting really heavy where he was. The chat followed up by invoking lyrical references to Toto’s “Africa”, and frankly I’m not surprised.

Meanwhile, John had just loaded into another match. He started off pretty strong, salvaging a shotgun in a shed and gunning down a motorcycle helmet-clad enemy player with the help of his teammates, one of whom was injured and killed in the kerfuffle.

“Starting off strong! That’s gotta count for something!” John said.

The frenetic action on screen was quite something. It wasn’t high quality programming by any means—popcorn entertainment at best and mind-rotting low-tier kitsch at worst—but I admittedly cracked a smile occasionally. It was an interesting extension of the game, with him commentatings and the rest of us cheering when he got ahead or booing when an enemy got the drop on him. I was so preoccupied with what was going on on screen that I didn’t notice that the guy who complained about the rain had abruptly left the chat. I figured he was just kind of tired and went to bed. It was kinda late, after all.

The match was closing in on its logical conclusion, and John’s team was completely neck-and-neck with the only other remaining team. This was all well and good, however, until I noticed something was off. The sound quality from the stream was getting considerably worse, with the game’s sounds and John’s quips being obscured by an encroaching wall of white noise-esque distortion. When John opened his mouth to speak, his voice was crackly and incoherent. And that wasn’t the only thing.

In the chat, more viewers were complaining about the rain. Now, I went to school with most of these people, meaning we all lived in the same area around the campus, but I couldn’t discern any rain out my window. They weren’t even calling for rain tonight. What the hell was going on? Did John know anything about it?

“All this talk of rain, and I haven’t seen any.” John’s voice was a muffled mess of barely-legible static.

More people were vanishing from the chat. Again, it was kind of late, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they were hitting the hay, but I was starting to feel as if this whole situation was a little suspicious. Every time someone mentioned the rain, they’d vanish from the stream moments later. Worse still, John’s commentary had all but ceased. He looked worried, tense, stressed out. It was as if he was really, really nervous about something. He’d just stopped talking, and the noise from the stream was nothing but garbled video game sound effects that had been beaten into a syrupy muck of indecipherable noise by the encroaching interference.

It was around about this time that I heard the rain everyone was talking about finally get to me. It was gentle at first, just barely spitting, but it quickly descended into a violent tempest without further delay. Hope that doesn’t mean I’m next to disappear; in fact, I don’t even want to know why people kept disappearing.

Time kept passing just like the rain kept falling, and eventually it came down to me and one other viewer in the chat. As odds would have it, they ended up making an untimely exit as well. This time, however, their exit was marked by a curious final message, one that was as cryptic as it was haunting.

“Do you see them out there, in the rain? They’re beautiful.”

What the fuck?

At around this point, John got up from his chair and walked out of the room. He left for a few moments, whispering something to himself that I couldn’t understand due to the interference. When he returned, it was just he and I left in the stream. What he said next was incredibly chilling, even if it was hard to decipher.

“Wait, you’re still here? Please, you have to get out of here while you still can. Drop the computer and go look at the TV. For your own good. Please.”

Drop one screen and go look at another screen. Wow, that sounds fun. Still, the urgency his voice carried told me that I’d better do what he said. I closed the computer and walked over to the TV, turning it on. What greeted me was…well, it was a little bewildering. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, if I’m being honest with you.

The TV immediately dialed to some emergency frequency channel I wasn’t familiar with. I didn’t even have to switch inputs from my Xbox to my cable box, it just went to it. The message it displayed was cryptic, but I instantly knew this wasn’t your average storm.

 

A SEVERE WEATHER WARNING IS NOW IN EFFECT FOR YOUR AREA

DSD AUTHORITIES ARE INVOKING EMERGENCY CODE ODIN BLUE

COVER ALL POSSIBLE ENTRIES INCLUDING WINDOWS

STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS, DOORS AND OTHER ENTRYWAYS

IF SUSPICIOUS NOISES ARE HEARD IN YOUR HOME DO NOT INVESTIGATE

IF YOU HEAR KNOCKING ON YOUR DOORS OR WINDOWS DO NOT INVESTIGATE

STAY IN YOUR HOMES

WE ADVISE YOU TO REMAIN ON THIS FREQUENCY VIA RADIO OR TELEVISION FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS UNTIL THE ALL CLEAR IS LIFTED

//~…do you hear them?…~\\

THIS MESSAGE BROUGHT TO YOU IN COLLABORATION WITH THE DEPARTMENT FOR SPECIAL DEFENSE

POST TENEBRAS, VERITAS

GODSPEED

 

What the actual fuck? It was like something out of someone’s most nightmarish apocalyptic horror story. I’d never even heard of the Department for Special Defense. Some Roswell type shit, real government black op red tape stuff. And yet here I was, caught right in the middle. What’s anyone to do at a time like this? Well, I guess just what the TV says. That was easy enough.

I drew the blinds over the window, taking one final look at the horrible downpour out there. What a nightmare. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite as bad as it. All this precipitation just flying out of nowhere. This wasn’t normal rain, either. It was causing the blueish mist to rise up in clouds around the ground. I knew full well that certainly wasn’t normal.

I elected not to get too absorbed in the spectacle and, doing what the suspicious broadcast told me to do, threw the curtains closed. Also, didn’t the broadcast call for staying away from windows and doors? If so, then how can they expect me to draw the curtains? Actually, never mind. I didn’t want to know. It didn’t matter right now. What mattered was hiding from whatever the hell this rain was.

Being little more than one room, my apartment didn’t really have many places one could take shelter in. My only option was the closet by the door, which I figured was as good a place as any. It wasn’t that small, there was plenty of wiggle room. If I brought some pillows and blankets I could maybe even make some sort of nest to have a rest and wait for this storm to blow over. A little weird rain couldn’t hurt me as long as I followed the instructions on the TV, right?

My cats started acting weird as I went to go and pack the pillows and blankets in the closet. They walked up to the now-covered window and started meowing incessantly. I’m not talking normal mews, either. I mean full-blown howling. It was like they were in pain or something. I tried calling them over to me so they’d get away from the window, but they just stood there, screaming. My efforts didn’t seem to get their attention, even after I tried whistling, and that always works. I was a little unnerved (okay, I’ll bite, a lot unnerved) but I knew I wasn’t going to win this fight. Thus, I retreated to my shelter. Figuring I’d pass the time a bit easier if I got some rest, I decided I’d try to get some sleep, seeing as how I was already pretty tired and it was quite late.

I woke up a while later (wasn’t sure how long it had been) to one of my cats nuzzling my face. I couldn’t hear rain anymore, only a faint buzzing from the TV. Seems I’d left it on in my haste. It was nice to see my cats were still alive, too. They’d acted weird, so I wasn’t sure if they were okay.

I stumbled my way out of the closet, wobbling over to the TV. The signal now displayed another message, a much simpler one.

 

ALL CLEAR

WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION

 

Well, you’re welcome, I guess? It was safe now, so I figured that it was senseless to keep the blinds drawn. Judging by the mild amounts of light peeking through the curtains, it must’ve been about dawn, so I figured it’d be nice to get some natural light in my apartment. After I pulled back the curtains, however, I saw something really weird. What it was, I can’t say, but it made my heart drop into my stomach and every hair stand on end.

Out in the distance, I saw five…things, lumbering off in the direction of the morning sun. They were shaped like people, but they were the size of skyscrapers. Not only that, but they…moved through things. They’d just phase through buildings like they were made of mist, and they had the appearance to match; milky white, whispy, but definitely in the shape of people, albeit larger. As these mist giants walked onwards into the distance, I noticed that the clouds overhead were clearing away, and the rising sun was shining brilliantly. Had the giants caused the rain? I didn’t want to think about it too hard. Hurriedly, I shut off the TV, not wanting to listen to the ominous jingle that the emergency frequency played. I took the bedding out of the closet and slept in my actual bed, hoping to catch some better rest before today’s classes.

That night really stuck with me in ways that other weird happenstance haven’t. It left me with questions I think I’ll probably be stuck with until I end up in my grave. Who were the Department for Special Defense? Why did the storm have such a bizarre effect on those people in the stream, as well as on technology? And just what the hell were those giants who seemed to be made of rain and fog? John hasn’t had answers either. No one in that stream that night has. I’d love to just write this off as a bad dream from a university student’s lack of sleep or a junk food binge or something rational but I know what I saw. We know what we saw. I think there’s another world that exists besides this one, one where things that shouldn’t be possible are suddenly the realm of normalcy, and likewise a menagerie of strange denizens roam said world.

And I think, every now and then, this world intersects with ours just a bit too tightly.

 

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