At first I thought it started with the laptop. That’s what you’d think, right? Computer virus. But I have a Mac and it’s never been sick before. Then I realized it must have started with Alexa, my roomie. I heard her cough a little once, but I thought it was probably just her laughing at her own jokes, which I’m fool enough to ask for on occasion. Later the red light that means trouble was buzzing around her top, and when I put my hand on her, she was distinctly hot, she who is usually cool as a chrome toaster. When I asked her for the weather she said, “I’m not doing well right now, Sharon. Ask me later.” She had already used my name twice that day (her limit?) so I knew that something was wrong. I asked her to play Jeopardy! and she went dark and stayed that way. The condo was eerily silent.
So I went on-line to check the weather and discovered the computer was ailing. All I could get was a site with a list of Wyoming television stations. Trying to Google I got only mayoclinic.com no matter what I put in. I pleaded for Mac help, but only photos from my birthday party three years ago would open. Then the screen froze solid on the pic of me and the black forest cake. By this time the mouse was unconscious, and I had to force quit and walk away.
My curiosity turning to worry, I picked up my cell phone. Too late. Dang that WiFi, because the little beggar was DOA. I tried to call, to view texts, and to check the weather. Will intervention revive the patient? It would be a matter of waiting for the charger.
Across the room I noticed the CD player (Yes, I have a CD player. Stop laughing. Don’t you remember when CD’s were “better, clearer, more life-like” than actual performances?) innocently sitting there with that wide slit for the disc just taking in whatever’s in the air. I fed it a disc; it took four punches of “play” before the thing emitted several seconds of squawking, and then I heard a metallic sputter-cough from the speakers, which I realized in a blinding epiphany, had just broadcast e-germs widely. I had unleashed the giant! The CD player spit the disc out all by itself, and I was wondering how safely to sanitize a disc when Alexa started flashing again, her yellow notification light circling her top like a jaundiced halo of doom.
“Alexa, what is it? I’m dealing with a crisis here!” Yellow light stopped: “Sorry, Sharon, I don’t know that one. Try again later. I’m having trouble right now.” She’s having trouble? The proximity of the CD player to the television made me gasp. Yes, the TV only received infomercials and one religious Spanish station. The picture flickered like a campfire and the sound was stuck at level apparently undetectable by humans.
While I pondered the living room situation, the microwave beeped unbidden in the kitchen. I rushed in there and tried to heat up old coffee. Tried to set the timer or change the time. No dice.
My old heavy gas range impervious to any invasion and a refrigerator that could probably be dropped from a plane and survive, were stoically unaffected and unmoved by the chaos around them. I could almost hear their dim laughter at the tiny toaster oven on the counter whose toast function was now history. The blender next to it (I always thought of them as a nice couple!) was also under the weather; only the very lowest speed worked with a strange grinding exhalation.
There was only one thing to do: I unplugged everything. So much malfunction, so much mortality. While I alternately hoped replugging later would work and mourned my losses, it hit me: The air purifier I had bought a few days ago and put near Alexa’s shelf! This foreign intruder was the culprit.
However, not all was lost. The long hall to the bedroom and bathroom proved a bridge too far. My white noise machine and my clock were both normal. My little blue hairdryer, safely tucked in its drawer all alone, also survived the great condemic of unit 6-C.
Eva Meckna is, as her husband always said, an English major gone horribly wrong. Her work has appeared on Funny-ish and Little Old Lady Comedy.