Miguel, dispirited and agitated, and just coming back from the Tarot Reader, yelled for Alexa to lock the door and turn on the lights.
He walked into the kitchen pantry, expressions unchanged, and grabbed a hammer. He then chose a beer from the fridge, and headed to the living room.
Miguel took the hammer and smashed the WiFi router to bits. He placed the hammer onto the coffee table, sat on the couch, uncapped his beer, and took a long swig. He then turned the TV on.
A few days earlier, Miguel had moved into his new Seattle apartment. Carrying in a final moving box, he walked in, slightly wet from the drizzle. It was always overcast or raining these days.
It was a sleek, modern apartment on the sixth floor with tons of windows. Miguel’s taste in furniture leaned toward mid-century modern – sparse, clean, and functional. And being a technology fan, he was keen to having a ‘wired house,’ including light bulbs, smart hubs, appliances, and door and window locks.
After settling down he went to relax on the balcony, which had a partial view of the Pacific. The cable company notified him that his internet and WiFi service had been installed. Using the password provided, he connected his phone. In about an hour he had all the smart devices configured and working, and was now able to control each from his phone or tablet.
The next morning, he noticed that his internet was down. The WiFi router was basically dead – cold and without lights. He called customer service, was transferred to tech support, and placed on hold. After a frustrating few minutes, tech support picked up.
Miguel let the person on the phone ‘have it.’ He yelled profanities and hung up when they said they’ll have a guy there on Monday. Miguel was livid. All he could do was get ready for work.
Returning from a long day, Miguel relaxed on his balcony. He heard knocking on the door and opened it. The light was out at his entry, so the man at the door was a shadow, being backlit from behind.
“I’m here to fix your WiFi,” said the Shadow Man. Relieved, Miguel let him in, not really getting a good look at the man’s face.
“It’s here,” Miguel pointed. The Shadow Man began his work to fix the internet and WiFi.
After half an hour, the Shadow Man finished his work. He stood and told Miguel that the service is ready.
“I thought they weren’t sending you here until Monday,” Miguel said, a little miffed, and still unable to get a good look at the tech guy’s face. “Finally, it’s fixed for now. But you’re service sucks.”
The Shadow Man collected his things and headed for the door. “This one is quite dependable,” he said. “You’ll have access for a very, very long time. Always on, and everywhere. A natural disaster can’t take it out.”
“But I warn you not to connect to this WiFi,” he continued. Shadow Man smiled, “It’s your choice.” He handed a card to Miguel and left. Miguel read the card: WiFi password ‘DoNotJoin.’
“Stupid password,” said Miguel. Not heeding the warning, he connected to the WiFi and entered the password to join. He reconfigured all of the other connected devices and was satisfied that everything worked. He commanded that all the lights come on. The interior of his apartment glowed brilliantly with all the lights blaring. And upon asking, he also got a readout of his fridge contents.
Around midnight, his phone alarm woke him. He fumbled for it and managed to shut it off. Nodding off again, his phone lit up. He rubbed his eyes and looked at the phone. For a split-second he saw the Shadow Man on the screen, smiling. Startled, Miguel tapped on the phone; it was normal again. “Weird,” he thought and went back to sleep.
He got up as usual the next day, and all was normal. Returning from work, he went to the balcony. He leaned over the railing, pulled out his phone to check emails and saw the Shadow Man again. This time, in addition to smiling, it spoke: “I told you not to join.”
Miguel dropped the phone. It broke up as it hit the ground six floors below.
He was at the Tarot Reader’s the next day. Still unnerved, he described what had been happening the last few days. He begged the Reader to answer his question. “What’s going on with me?”
The Reader spread out the Tarot cards on the table. Miguel drew the Knight of Wands. “This card – it describes your character,” said the Reader. “The Knight carries the wand as a prize, and rides his magnificent, robed horse with confidence. The card indicates a person of intensity. He has no fear. He leaps before he should. He attacks first before asking questions. You, Miguel, fear no consequence.”
“So what does it all mean?” asked Miguel.
“It means that you’re rash,” the Reader replied. “You act without thought. Even with warning, you consider none of the circumstances. You’re kind of hosed for hooking up to the WiFi, so be prepared for consequences.”
Back at the apartment, Miguel had just smashed the WiFi router. He sat on the sofa and turned on the TV.
The Shadow Man came on and said: “Destroying the device was satisfying, but useless. The moment you were connected, it took a fraction of a second for me to enter your personal, online world and infiltrate all of your devices and accounts. I’m not only embedded in each device, but every app, every account, login and password, and every record and database that is about you.”
“What,” said Miguel, “you’re a virus?”
“No,” responded Shadow Man. “I’m more of a worm, you see, one that can leave pieces of itself alive anywhere.”
Miguel was more annoyed than anything else. All he could manage to say was, “Shit.”
This is Dante P Ramon, your host and author of The Dark Reading, scary stories inspired by Tarot cards. I invite you to listen to our podcast regularly, and visit us on the web at TheDarkReading.com. And please feel free to share The Dark Reading with your friends.
I just picked the Death card, so good night for now.
Season 1 Episode 11.
©2020 The Dark Reading. All Rights Reserved.
All third party marks are the property of their respective owners. Image credit: Tarot, Julie Paschkis.