First shoe to drop was when Amazon just went dark. Like not even a 404-error dark. A spinning wheel of painful waiting torture was the only eulogy for what was king the day before.
Facebook and Twitter were soon only posting stories about end of the world scenarios. Left wing, right wing, any crackpot scenario of the end of the world was jamming everyone’s feeds. Reddit was the same, no matter the voting of the members. Hell, 4chan was even doing it. Like what the hell, 4chan?
The aliens took over so smoothly that by the time we realized what was happening the only thing we could do was to surrender. Any attempt at pulling the plug and they would go all Terminator on us. We expected the AIs we would be fighting would be the ones we created, but we were naive. The alien AIs controlled every digital system on the planet. The best part was we were all home waiting for COVID-19 to be cured, but the virus that killed off the autonomy of the human race was digital. No mask for that.
The barbershop smelled of talcum powder and yesteryear’s stale cigarettes. Dale closed his eyes and felt the gentle tugs of scissors cutting through his wispy graying hair. He remembered back to a time where he would be smoking one of those cigarettes as the barber struggled to tame his gorgeous mane. He had been king back then, and this place had been his private den. Now he was an aging male with a comb over and a paunch of too successful hunting.
The bell announced a new customer. Dale opened his eyes to see Charlie come in. Charlie rubbed what little stubble he had on the top of his noggin. “Got time to shave me?” Charlie asked. “My daughter is getting married this week.”
Dale smiled and closed his eyes. He may not have much, but he had more hair than Charlie, and that was good enough for this king.
Charles watched at the courtyard in his apartment complex. The kids from 201B were once again playing some mashup between soccer and dodgeball. They had brought in a few of the other kids from around the neighborhood and now they played in full teams of six. It made Charles proud that he had developed the game and gave it to the oldest boy, Marcomb. Marcomb would make a great leader one day, unless he died because of some random gang violence. Charles would have to keep watch over the boy and make sure that didn’t happen. It would be a waste to give something to the world and then watch it evaporate in a puddle of spilled blood.
Charles next took out his binoculars and looked up and across the way at apartment 520. At least Charles was pretty sure that was the number. It didn’t really matter. He was already working his ways to make sure that Levi would be leaving sooner rather than later. Levi just didn’t get it. Charles had tried explaining again and again that even though Levi lived on the fifth floor, that he should either close the drapes, or leave his clothes on. Charles hated the sight of Levi’s tattooed naked torso. Charles focused the binoculars. Yep, naked again.
Charles pulled out his cell phone and called Mrs. Gonzalez. Lidia needed to know about this. The phone rang five times and Lidia never picked up. Charles was ready to leave a message, but the lady voice on the message told him that Lidia’s voicemail was full. Of course it was. She never took his messages anymore. She was so caught up with “other things”. What could be more important than making sure Levi pranced around with some clothes on, for goodness sake.
Charles checked one more time through his binoculars. Yep, still naked. That boy needed some shame. For a moment Charles thought about confronting the man on his own, but then remembered that the last time he talked to Levi about it, Levi called the cops. It took all of Charles’ powers to not have his binoculars taken. Good thing the nice officer decided to let him off with a warning. Unfortunately Charles had to report the man for not showing his badge properly when he visited. Charles could understand the officer’s frustration since he was wearing a uniform, but Charles pointed out so many people wear those things to get favors. That meant Charles had to be sure.
The sound of glass breaking brought Charles’ attention back to the courtyard. All the children were scattering like cockroaches in a microwave. Charles pointed his binoculars and saw one of the juveniles had put the ball through Lenny’s window. Charles chuckled. That had to have happened like ten times. He would feel sorry for Lenny, but Lenny was such a loaner. It would do Lenny good to talk to the officer who would respond. Maybe Charles could catch the guy when he visited Lenny and ask him to check in on Levi. Charles looked at Levi’s apartment again. Yep, still naked.
Charles heard the sound of a police siren in the distance. It was good to be the king.