"So, hun, are you in the Sunday Night Chat with your, um, writerly friends again tonight?"
My wife knew the drill. We have out usual Sunday dinner, but just before Nine O'Clock I get on the Internet to chat and write a short story. I've been doing it for a few months, and I've found it to be great fun to try to stretch myself as a writer.
"Yes, dear. Looks like a good crowd tonight! There's people from all over."
"Johnathan, you mean from all over the USA?"
Oh, gee, I thought, I need to teach her a bit more about the Internet. "Yes, Paula, here's CottonCandy, he's from Nevada, Joe is from NYC, and VegemiteGrrl is of course from Australia."
"Autstralia! You're Kidding! The Internet reaches that far?"
"It sure does. I think it's like the middle of the day there. I'll ask."
So I type:
john_hack_writer: Hey Veggiegrrl, what time of day is it where you are? Is the sun up?
VegamiteGrrl: It's 10 in the morning here, why do you ask? I'm all cooped up in here, there's no window in ths room, I should step out a minute into the sun.
"See, she says it's 10 AM."
"Well, I'll be," my lovely wife says.
I decided to explain to Paula, "The Internet is worldwide, and there's the Web on it, an that's why it's called the World Wide Web."
While saying this, another line showed up on my screen:
VegamiteGrrl: Stepping out to stretch a bit, BRB
"What's BRB?" enquired Paula.
Goody, something I can explain, and she appears actually interested in this thing! I hope it's not because there's other females I'm talking to that she feels the need to check up on me. So while I have her attention I give a longer answer: "Oh, that's just one of the shorthand phrases we use, that one means be right back. It's just a polite way of saying they stepped away from the computer to get some coffee or to go to the restroom or whatever. Maybe you've heard on radio and TV ads a bunch of them, but since we claim to be 'real writers' we generally don't use many of the shorthands in chat."
"So, how long does it take after you type something before someone in Argentina can read it?"
I tried to gently correct her: "You mean Autstralia? Actually it's probably the same as Argentina as far as we're concerned, just a second or two. It takes longer for me to type a few words than for them to be sent."
It's then I noticed our friend from Austrailia posting again:
VegamiteGrrl: I just stepped outside, the sun sure seems bright for ten in the morning. I wonder if it's some sort of weather phenomenon.
That's interesting, I thought. I know enough about science and the atmosphere to know that if it's a clear day, there's nothing that can make the sun appear unusually bright. But I have another idea and ask:
john_hack_writer: Could the sun look brighter because you've been cooped up in a room with no windows for a while?
CottonCandy: I just went out and looked at the moon, it's a Full Moon out tonite and I've NEVER seen such a bright moon!
VegamiteGrrl: I guess so, John, but I don't know... it looked unusual and weird to me.
Paula was reading over my shoulder, and being in Louisiana, I was wondering about the Moon myself, but I didn't want to leave the chat, either. "Paula, you remember seeing the Full Moon last month when we went out walking last month, don't you?"
"Yes, it was a pretty cold night out," she said.
"Could you go out there now for a few seconds and look at the moon, and see if it's any different from last month?"
"Okay, but don't you go flirting with that girl from Argentina!"
She was gone before I could correct her.
As she went out, there were more posts coming in:
CottonCandy: There's something strange happening, I'm sure of it.
VegamiteGrrl: I'm gonna go look again. Maybe I was just imagining it. brb.
Paula came running back in and said, "Johnathan, the Moon IS brighter than last month! You should come out to look, it's really neat! Maybe we could take another walk tonight, it's easier than ever to see where you're going in this bright moonlight. C'mon, it'll be romantic!"
Odd that she was in the mood while giving me that news. She wouldn't just come up with something like that, and I was getting a little worried and nervous. This sort of thing doesn't happen. I've heard the hypothesis that a slightly increased energy output from the Sun is the cause of Global Warming, but this would be different. Very different and very bad.
Bob_Bachman*MOD: Our prompt for tonight's writing is posted on the board, folks. You can eithe read it there or PM me or one of the other MOD's to get it.
Well, it's time to write anyway, but Paula interrupts with another question:
"What is PM?"
"Oh that means private message. You can open a chat window with another person, and only you and the other person can see what the two of you type. It's good for side conversations." I wondered if I had just told her too much, and made her suspicious of me having an online romance. Well, that might be the least of my worries right now.
VegamiteGrrl: OMG, the sun IS BRIGHTER! Brighter than even a couple of minuts ago when I loked before. What is it? Sunspots?
Now I was truly worried. Not sure if I feel like writing now, but I PM'ed the MOD to get the prompt, in case I decided to write. But I think I'll take up Paula's offer for a walk in the bright moonlight, and we can come back and be with each other one last time. What else could there be to do if the Sun is on the other side of the world and is truly exploding?
Bob_Bachman*MOD: Tonight's prompt is: Despair. Good luck.
Oh my God, I thought, what a perfect description of how I felt. The hell with writing, chat, and the Internet for now. I had more important things to do for my last night alive on Earth.
"Paula," I said as I stood up, took her hand and looked into her eyes, "Let's go for that walk."