“Get us out of here!” Larkins shouts through the door.
“It would be a great help if you were to contact the police,” says President Morgan. “Our phone lines are down and our cellulars are scrambled.”
On the other side of the office door, my new companion Frank taps his portable PC and grumbles. “Wireless modem is broken, too.”
All the dozens of robots outside the President’s office are malfunctioning, too. They’re frozen in place like they were all suddenly turned off out of nowhere, sometimes jittering and shaking but other times completely still.
“We’ll save you,” I say. “The Dial-Up Demon is behind this, so we’ll stop him once and for all.”
“Umm… Morgan, what the hell are you talking about?” Larkins asks.
“The Dial-Up Demon is attacking the school!” I shout.
“What? Speak louder!”
“Nevermind, it’s nothing. We’ll get you out soon. I promise!”
I really thought Mr. Larkins would be more enthusiastic about this. But I guess he really can’t hear me through the extremely thick door here. What a strange design flaw.
“It looks like we can’t break the door down,” Erin says. “It’s made with solid steel.”
“I could punch it a few times,” I say, “but I don’t feel like breaking my hand again today so let’s find the demon first.”
“You’re what?” Larkins asks in an overly loud voice. “I can’t hear you!”
“I can definitely hear you,” I say. “You don’t need to speak so loudly.”
“Nevermind. Don’t worry about anything.”
Enough of this. We need to go investigating soon. The Dial-Up Demon himself might be a thousand miles away for all we know, but the evidence of his crimes is right here on campus. We better find it while we can.
We leave the office building and go to a more central part of campus. It’s still an incredibly empty place, and instead of feeling peaceful like it once did, it’s honestly a bit spooky, like Halloween in July or something.
“Okay,” Frank says. “This is a real serious situation in a very big campus. We need to split up and search for clues.”
“Split up? What do you mean?” I ask.
“Erin and I will go south. You and Junkers can go investigate the buildings in the north. Then we’ll meet back up and compare notes.”
Pairing me with a dog..? “Are you sure this is a good idea? Don’t you think it might be better to stick together so we can be more thorough with the places we do check?”
Frank shakes his head. “I got a plan. Don’t worry about that. Just stick with Junkers and you’ll do great.”
“Yeah, stick with Junkers,” Erin says.
“Uh… Okay, then.”
The two humans leave, and now it’s just me and the dog.
It woofs at me.
I’m honestly a little bit relieved that they’re gone. They’re really nice and pretty too, but something about them… It’s a weird atmosphere. And are those two a couple, or…?
At least the dog is okay. It just follows me around as I walk.
One thing that concerns me about all this investigating is just how isolated I’ve become. I can’t call R8PR for help, even if I did have his number, because cellular signals are blocked. There’s barely anyone around in the whole campus, and certainly no sign of the news or police or anything like that.
It almost doesn’t make sense for me to do any detective work anyway when this is all a bunch of computer malarkey. I don’t got the slightest clue about that stuff. And I doubt Junkers does, either… But maybe I’ll figure something out while I’m stumbling around aimlessly looking for—
I look at Junkers. It tilts its head to the side in curiosity.
Oh, that must have been me, then. I guess I am getting kinda hungry.
“Hey dog,” I say to my furry companion. “You know where the cafeteria is?”
It doesn’t respond.
“Ah, well, I’ll find it. Come follow me.”
One hour later…
Yeah, yeah, Morgan got lost again, haha so funny, I know. Shut up. I made it to the cafeteria, didn’t I? Isn’t that the whole point? Exactly.
Junkers and I are now in the middle of the… completely empty cafeteria. Where the hell are all the students in this school? Summer terms can’t be THIS slow, can they?
Well, whatever. It looks like the robot lunch ladies are frozen just the same as every other electronic device. So we aren’t going to be getting a good meal out of it anyway.
Ugh, I’m so hungry! I could eat a double decker sandwich and have room for dessert. But the dang robots ain’t even on?!
I can just make a quick meal myself. If every robot that could stop me is disabled, then I bet they won’t mind…
I hop over the countertop and go behind the lunch line. Junkers follows, making a loud thud when its four legs hit the ground behind me.
“C’mon,” I tell it. “Let’s go make ourselves a sandwich.”
I grab a few loaves of bread… maybe four of them, and start piling them with veggies. The cooling systems are off and probably have been for hours, so I’m not taking my chances with the lunch meat. I’ll be vegetarian for this meal.
Gotta get some lettuce, some tomatoes, some cucumbers, maybe a little bit of avocado… Definitely got to put some red onion slices too. Pour some mayo over to help it stick, and woop, there’s me a sandwich.
I’ll just find a coke fountain so I can fix myself a glass of—
The moment I’m turned around from my sandwich, it disappears… Right into the mouth of Junkers the dog.
It gives a contented look in my direction. Absolutely not a morsel of remorse for what it just did.
Okay, I guess I’ll be making another sandwich. I wasted the last of the avocados for nothing…
Okay, here it is, all or nothing. A double decker with tomatoes, pickles, red onions, and heaps of lettuce. And I fixed the coke ahead of time, so no turning around for me. I pick the sandwich up—
The dog leaps in the air and snatches it from my hands with its massive gaping maw of a mouth.
The whole thing’s gone in one bite.
I… I guess I’ll go hungry today.
Or maybe I can try my luck at yet another—
I hear the sound of a dozen machines powering on at once. The lunch lady robots! They’re back on!
And they’re also looking at Junkers and me with a bit of suspicion.
“Unauthorized access,” the robot says. “Please leave the premises. Employees only.”
A bunch of them at once, all ganging up on me. Crap, I didn’t even think of this situation! I really hope they don’t beat me up…
A few seconds later, there’s another blackout, and the robots are frozen in place once more.
That was odd. So they turned themselves back on, all by themselves, and then shut off again a second later?
If I knew anything about technology, I feel like this mystery would be a lot easier to solve.
Junkers, the evil sandwich stealing monster, seems very interested in something all of a sudden. It sniffs around at the robots for a second, and then begins following some invisible scent trail all the way to a wall, nestled in between the fridge and a coke fountain.
“What you smelling?” I ask.
It doesn’t respond, but instead sniffs all over the wall and then lets out a small woof.
Something around that wall… No, behind that wall. It looks completely normal at first glance, but I see it. I see the tiny slits.
I press my ear up against it. Yes, I hear a faint buzzing sound at the other end of it. Just the kind of whirring I’d never be able to notice, even with my enhanced abilities, if it weren’t for everything else in the room being quiet.
The next natural step is to punch a hole in the wall. It reveals the thin barrier, the door in disguise, and I rip the whole thing off a second later.
“Junkers, we’ve done it,” I say. “We’ve found our first clue.”
Inside the hole in the wall is some sort of transponder device running at fast speeds and with a loud buzzing. I can’t begin to tell you what it actually does, but it’s obvious what the effect is—it’s using some sort of signal to knock out the electronics or wireless signals around them. And when it needed to take a second to refresh, it allowed all those robots to come back on, but only for a brief second.
That means two things:
One, that there are probably dozens of these hidden all around campus in order to cover every building.
And two, the Demon himself must be here in-person to manage this stuff!
We’re gonna catch this guy for sure!