Rytan’s laptop began to act as though she’d clicked on one of those endless commercials for adult diapers that kept spinning you through the interverse until, unless you signed up for monthly delivery service, bladder leakage insurance for your jumpers, and a six-month subscription to their toilet tips podcasts, your device would explode. She snapped it shut and looked around the empty station. Mussolini built this place, she thought, and now it’s useless. Like my laptop. She remembered the crowds that once kept the station lively all day and into the night; buying tickets to travel all over the former continent of Europe, enjoying espresso and pastries, greeting friends and family. Life before. Travel, now unnecessary, the Station Centrale was the giant fiasco Charlie Newsome had predicted so many years before.
She typed into her device: “I need a new machine.
“Hold yer horses.”
“Why the delay?”
“Raferman spot check.”
It was certainly a day for nostalgia. First, the worm had led her back to Milan and now, a reminder of her late mentor, Lou Raferman. Repair was still using his old protocols. They’d even used the phrase Lou had stolen from Rytan’s mother. “Hold yer horses.” Wouldn’t he be tickled pink, although discretely. Always discretely. He’d run the organization with few unwritten but effective protocols and little technology. Now it was process this and process that — protocols dependent upon technology that was obsolete before it was even mastered. Lou’d never trusted technology. Secrets were best kept by doves, he’d often said. Dear old Lou, dear old deadly Lou. She almost missed him.
At first Rytan had embraced the new technologies … what a fool she’d been. Now they taken over everything, all thoughts were manipulated, often by forces with unidentifiable intent.
The device began to buzz. Repair, the identifier reported.
“Repair, are you still located out in Bunny Jiggle?” she asked.
“Yes. How contaminated?”
“I think I caught it in time but do you want me to ditch just in case?”
“No, bring it to Bunny Jiggle but make sure it is powered off.”
“Of course.” Who did the man on the other end of the line think he was talking to? Some imbecile? A just off the boat ding-a-ling like the former Riley Ann O’Tannen of Reno Nevada? Where did he think Bunny Jiggle got its silly name. From her … or more precisely, the person she used to be.
Rytan grabbed the polluted laptop and her backpack. In the portico of the former train station the 1957 VW awaited her return. Her uncle had once joked that the engine ran on rubber band power and now, in manner of speaking, it actually did.
Note: I’ve been rereading the second novel I wrote and decided that with a bit of retooling it could be apocalyptic. This would be the new prologue.