How ironic, thought Thorogood, the economy's collapse coming forty days and forty nights after the Internet crashed. A quiet agnostic, he guessed this coincidence likely nothing more than that, although he kept the thought to himself. Were he able to Tweet Jane, she would have appreciated the coincidence as well. She might in fact have thought it herself, as the Collapse coincided to the day, so far as most anyone could know, two-score days following the abrupt termination of all digital communication on the planet, so far as most anyone could know.
Now, alone on the road, Thorogood struggled to marshal his warring emotions, foremost among them a mood of dread, a faceless stubborn swell of various dire possibilities that periodically pushed up from his intestines and through his chest into his head, occasionally with no apparent invitation from slack or reactive reasoning. Vying with these surges of black mood to compromise a reliable grip on the fragile optimism he believed kept him going was his grief and anger over the loss of his son and daughter to this apocalyptic turn of events. His teenage son, Jethro, as with most of his generation, had been unable for the first several days to disabuse himself of hope his smart phone would somehow return to life. By the thousands youngsters swarmed into the streets shuffling aimlessly, many mumbling to themselves, heads bowed as their eyes stared fixedly at the plastic devices in their hands. Some used both hands – one holding the device while a couple of fingers of the other tapped desperately on the tiny blank screens. Jethro was one of these.
“He's trying to text,” his sister, Esther, told her father. “I tried at first, too. I thought maybe it was just the screen, you know? The light or whatever? I finally gave up.”