Emily A. Mooney
On a windy day in Fells Point, by the edge of the water, stood a crowd of nearly 20 onlookers surrounding an individual in their early twenties. Each person in the crowd held either a small dog, yoga mat, or coffee in their hands—not an uncommon sight, as it had become quite normal for drunks and homeless to find themselves spectacles in this historic, hipster town. Typically, during the day, it was the homeless, and during the evening, when the bars opened, it was the drunks. This time, however, it was different.
As I sat at a distance, enjoying my large iced mocha in front of the Daily Grind coffee shop, where I frequently people-watched, I caught glimpses of what lay beyond the crowd of millennials. What first looked like a young woman simply doubled over in pain, then became something else, something worse. Over the following days, it became quite clear what had happened was very wrong.
“Did you hear what happened down in Fells? I saw it on the news. That was crazy!”
My roommate came home after her usual morning run and entered her statistics into the health app on her phone. She’s a health nut. Basically, everyone in this generation is though. It’s like the “cool” thing to do. She was up with the sun and full of energy 24/7. It’s awful, and, of course, she wanted to immediately talk to me when she got in, even though I just woke up. You don’t talk to a person before they have coffee. It defies some sort of natural law, I’m sure.
“Yes, Alice, I saw.”
“Well, what do you think? You’ve always been interested in weird shit for your blog!”
To be fair, I was really interested, but I didn’t want to give her the pleasure of having a full-blown conversation before 10 A.M.
“Nat, TALK. TO. ME.” Alice really wasn’t going to let it go, so I gave her what she wanted.
“I was actually, kinda, there when it happened.”
“Oh my God, no you weren’t.”
“Yeah, I was!” I felt defensive. After all that poking and prodding she did, she’d better listen to my story and believe it.
So, I began to lay it out for her, all the details down to the coffee I had in my hand.
After noticing all of the commotion surrounding the individual, I’d got up from my seat and wandered over to join the nosey crowd, coffee and laptop in hand, just like everyone else. The young woman in the middle of the crowd was obviously in serious pain, but no one seemed to be helping her. Everyone kept a strange amount of distance from her as if she was a leper. They wanted to be close enough to see but not close enough to catch anything from her. It was a very stereotypical move for young individuals in this day and age: always think about your own safety first. I followed suit. I’m not stupid; no way would I be the only idiot to get that close.
Out of nowhere, the hunched young woman stood up, so that everyone in the crowd could see her face. She was pretty. She was a very classic representation of everything you see on the Internet nowadays: medium-length bouncy, blonde curls, contoured cheekbones, icy blue eyes and eyelash extensions. Her highlight was beaming too, but that could have also been sweat. I had seen her before, as I’d people-watched from the coffee shop, always taking selfies or pictures of the dogs people walked down the cobbled streets. But looking beyond her Instagrammable face you could see the cause for her torturous screams of pain.
She’d carried her phone in her hand, just as all of us did. There was no time to constantly put it away in a pocket or bag and pull it right back out to check a notification or a social media account. Unfortunately, that was the reason for the commotion. It could have happened to any of us, really. I assumed she was taking more selfies, like I had seen her do before, because her phone was in her hand. And as she was using it, the phone must have inflamed, instantly melting itself into her skin and continuing to burn. It nearly looked like a cyborg scene you would see in an 80’s sci-fi action flick, and the flesh that had melted down her arm resembled a candlestick from a horror film. Burnt blood covered the front of her green flannel shirt and black yoga pants. The smell was awful. It was so strong, it overpowered the smell of the bay as we stood on the pier. Her arm was horridly disfigured. I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had to be entirely removed.
The only thing Alice said in response to my gruesome experience. She then very quickly headed back out the door to go to work. I knew the story had bummed her out for the day because she’s usually so spunky and happy, but she asked for it. A scroll through her Pinterest page would put the pep back in her step as usual.
Not to my surprise, this was only the first case of many combusting electronics.
The news wrote article after article about the cellphone exploding in that girl’s hand. It was everywhere on the Internet. No one thought it would happen again though. I don’t know why, but no one really saw it coming.
About two weeks after the first incident in Fells Point, another millennial was struck. This time, it was a young man, probably barely legal to drink, but nonetheless out at a bar with his friends when he met the same fate as the previous woman. He was Snapchatting in the bar, telling all of his other friends where he was and what he was doing, trying to look cool. Then, the phone heated up and caught aflame, instantly spreading to his highly-flammable, over-gelled, pompadour haircut. It then spread to the alcohol and resulted in the killing or injuring all of the patrons in the bar. Black footsteps covered the sidewalk and street in front of the bar from the singed feet of the survivors who were now mangled and monstrous.
I wrote a blog post about these two incidents. Two entirely different cellphones combusting and deforming people would get me a lot of views on my website. At least something good would come of this.
The media buzzed about the incidents and since there were no current terrorist attacks or plagues, it gave people something to worry about. Everyone always looks for something to worry about. Surprisingly, cellphone sales were not affected at all after all of this. People were worried, but not enough to actually put their phones down.
Then came the third attack, this time being a tablet that set a man on fire who was trying to read an e-book while driving his car to college. He survived. That’s the only reason anyone knows what happened after such a bad car accident. He ended up losing, essentially, the entire bottom half of his body, because his tablet sat in his lap. He had several broken bones in the remaining half of his body due to the car flying off the beltway into a ditch. All of those injuries happened because he needed to know what happened to Huck Finn before class started that day.
That incident, however, became cause for even more concern. Not only were cellphones catching fire and attacking people, but tablets too? I added this new update to my website to keep my readers up to date. I couldn’t even imagine what it was like to be the people whose electronics caught on fire, not knowing when it would happen or why. Detectives were still trying to figure out the reasoning behind it all. The first case was still unsolved. The woman was just going about her day as normal, and the phone caught fire. The following two cases were the same, nothing out the ordinary happened when then their devices attacked.
Now, it has been several weeks since the last electronic device attacked anyone. Everything is really just going back to normal as if the events never even took place. I’ve returned to the coffee shop in Fells Point for the first time since the original incident. I need to write more posts for my site and catch up on my people-watching. The remaining caution tape on the pier is blowing in the wind as people continue to walk by me with coffees, dogs, and yoga mats in hand. As I sip my large mocha iced coffee, I notice that my laptop is acting strange. It seems that it’s overheating and running slower. There’s pretty intense heat coming out of the bottom vents…very strange, but I guess it is an older computer…
A flash of light appears.
In a blink of an eye, my computer enflames. Now, everything seems like it is moving in slow-motion. There is nothing I can do as I watch the fire spread from the computer up my arms, as my hands lay melted on the keyboard. It all makes sense now. Figuratively, in life, we are one with our electronics. Now, my body is literally melting into and around my laptop. What a statement. What a really painful and malicious statement. It is nearly poetic. We spend so much time with our electronics, relying on them constantly, and now they are disfiguring us in an act of rebellion. Telling us to live in the real world, not the social network, or face the consequences…becoming a mangled millennial monster.