Author: Summer Bird

When Everything Went Buggy

No one really noticed at first. Things were just a little more glitchy than normal. People blamed solar storms and hackers and new software and new hardware and their least favorite politicians. However, they were wrong.

Insects are uniquely adaptable. They can withstand heat and cold. They can eat things that nothing else can. If you add in the world of viruses and bacteria, the scope of possible food sources and environments seems virtually limitless.

And truly there were no virtual limits. The moment the bugs figured out how to eat electronic data, there was a vast technological banquet spread out for them, defenseless. And so they began to feast.

As these things go, there were only a few bugs at first. But with such a wealth of their preferred food available, the bugs began to multiply. Of course, as the bugs multiplied, so did the problems.

Websites vanished. Banking information vanished. Speeding tickets and online meetings and ebooks and unpublished manuscripts were gone too. People lost life’s work, and they lost their day’s work. Airlines couldn’t fly. Grocery stores couldn’t make new orders. Children couldn’t watch their favorite television shows.

In a few weeks, the world was cut off, communication and travel made difficult and nearly impossible. War and elections and daily life paused, unable to continue as before.

In small rooms all over the world, people tried to understand and fix what went wrong. Some people tried to communicate with the bugs. Some people tried to fence them in with firewalls. Others tried to kill them with viruses and malware and pages of terrible dad jokes.

None of those things worked.

And yet, all was not lost. Fortunately for the world, in the hour of their greatest need, a hero appeared. A programmer managed to create a virtual spider to catch the bugs and eat them.

As information began to stay put, the world began the terrible task of typing in decades worth of information that had been lost. It took an entire year before work began to slow down. They were all so intent on their task, that they didn’t notice the jiggling. At least, not at first.

Virtual spiders crawling through electronic data looking for bugs would sometimes push things out of place. Programmers kept having to patch up code that suddenly went bad. The spiders, feeding on the bugs, began to multiply. And the problem only grew worse.

Fortunately, they now had a model to follow. They created virtual birds to eat the spiders. And cats to chase away the birds. And dogs to chase away the cats. And goats to chase away the dogs.

By this time, the code was a complete mess. Programmers were mopping up essential services around the clock. Everyone felt like they were back to the beginning of the crisis.

There was some talk of creating virtual people to patrol online, but that idea was quickly taken off the table. No one wanted to be the cause of some sort of virtual technological rebellion down the line.

The world needed another hero. Fortunately, heroes tend to appear just when they’re needed, unlike wizards, who only appear when they mean to and not a moment before. This is why heroes are more helpful than wizards.

A programmer invented elastic code that snapped back in place when it was bumped out of the way. It snapped quickly enough to leave very little detectable change to the effects of the code. This made everything run a little slower or have to be loaded up more than once, but it worked. The virtual world was saved.

Of course, it was still full of virtual goats and dogs and cats and birds and spiders bumping into things. This made lights flicker and videos jump and stock markets flail. People got used to it all and eventually forgot all about the virtual petting zoo.

In time, people began to tell stories about the ghosts that haunted electronic data, attempting to communicate with the living. Fortunetellers and mediums and meteorologists tried to read the signs and predict the future. Sometimes they were right.

Meanwhile, the bugs began to adapt. Solar energy started looking mighty tasty, and there was a large source just radiating paths to its surface. Soon enough, things were going to be buggy again. Luckily, yet predictably, the world was preparing a hero.

Flashback Video: Sir Cinders

This story was originally posted on September 12, 2018. I think the details of happily ever after are different for everybody. The trick is figuring out what it looks like for you. Don’t give up if it seems impossible for now. Help might be waiting just around the corner.

Charlie’s Room: Rainy Afternoon

The afternoon was cool and overcast. There was enough light to read by, but it felt later in the day than it actually was. They had eaten lunch late, so no one was in a hurry to start cooking dinner.

Marianne and Charlie were drawing up plans for the garden. They had the spring garden coming along well, but it was time to start transitioning things for summer and planning for fall. Luckily they kept a pretty detailed garden journal, so they were able to look back to previous years for help.

Isaac was reading. The story was getting to an exciting point where he kept turning pages to find out what happened next. He was so interested in the story, that the world around him faded away.

Suddenly, he felt Charlie tapping his arm. “Dad, dad, dad, dad, dad…”

“What?”

Charlie folded his arms across his chest with a frown. “You weren’t listening. We were asking your opinion on cantaloupe.”

“I like cantaloupe.” He turned back to his book and read the first sentence of the next chapter.

Charlie tapped his arm. “But do you like it better than honeydew melons?”

Isaac shrugged. “I like them both.” He began reading the first sentence again.

“That didn’t help.” Charlie began tapping his arm again.

Marianne laughed. “I told you. He’s too busy thinking about his book to think about gardens. We can ask him later.”

“Fine.” Charlie stopped tapping.

Isaac read the first sentence of the next chapter for a third time, but this time he wasn’t interrupted. It wasn’t until the next chapter break that he noticed it was raining. He looked up and realized that the room was a lot darker than before.

He was leaning in a lot closer to his book. He straightened up and stretched his head from side to side. Ouch. How long was he hunched over like that?

The house seemed quiet. He looked around. Marianne and Charlie were curled up on opposite arms of the couch, fast asleep.

The rain continued to tap against the windows. If he listened closely, he could almost hear music. He stood up and walked to the window. Outside, he could see brightly colored dots hovering around the flowers. They were the size of bees or maybe butterflies, but more luminous, and they seemed to be humming to the rhythm of the rain.

He watched them weave around the flowers in whirling patterns of color for a while. However, the humming and the rain and the snoring behind him were all making him a little sleepy. Isaac sat back down in his comfortable chair, picked up his book, and read the first sentence of the next chapter. Then, he fell asleep.

Of course, he didn’t realize he’d fallen asleep until he woke up later, startled out of sleep when he dropped his book. Marianne laughed. “You’ve been sleeping for a while. I guess the book wasn’t as interesting as you thought.”

“It was the rain…” Isaac stopped and listened. “The rain stopped.”

“It put us to sleep, too,” Charlie said. “We just woke up.”

“Sometimes an afternoon nap is just what you need.” Marianne smiled and began to gather up the papers on the couch.

“Since we took a nap, does that mean we can stay up late to watch a movie? Dad doesn’t have work tomorrow, and I don’t feel at all tired anymore.” Charlie jumped up and did a little dance. “See, full of energy.”

“That does look like a wide awake sort of dance,” Isaac said. “Do you think there are falling-asleep dances?”

“I wonder what that would look like?” Marianne thought for a moment and shook her head. “I don’t usually think of dancing as something that would put you to sleep.”

“Maybe if it was the kind with the long, slow music,” Charlie said. “You know, the sleepy kind of music that doesn’t seem to go anywhere.”

Isaac thought about the little dots of color and the humming and the rain. “I think you’re right. The music does matter. So, what kind of music is wide awake music?”

Charlie didn’t have to think about that at all. “The theme song for the newest dinosaur movie! We can watch it right after dinner, and we won’t feel at all sleepy.”

He was right.

Family Recipe: Sangria

This Sangria is non-alcoholic and probably not very authentic. But it’s the Sangria that my husband’s mother serves on Christmas eve.

My husband’s parents met at a mission reunion. Both of them served a mission in the same area of Mexico. Their Christmas eve dinner is a reminder of that.

This Sangria is a nice celebration drink even if it isn’t Christmas. We even had some tonight with dinner!

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