The Dial-Up Demon – Chapter 9: Wandering Aimlessly

I’m a hero. I’m a bigtime hero who saves the day all the time. Sure, maybe I haven’t saved the day in over a month and my accomplishments have amounted to little more than “I helped an old lady find her purse,” but I’ve done a lot of stuff that places me firmly in that hero category.

I am a hero, and a very bored one at that. I need adventure. I need excitement the likes of which Atlanta has never seen before. Give me a new case to solve! Throw a villain at me!

Anything but this stupid campus shit… I’m so bored wandering around with nobody around and nothing at all going on worth mentioning.

I’m sure there’s classes in some of these buildings somewhere, but it would take climbing up stairs to see, and that is a bridge (a stair?) too far to justify.

Why did I come to Georgia State University only to do the exact same thing I have been doing for the past month—that is, nothing? Is this a punishment from God? Did the Ascendants plot this out to get revenge on me for crashing their party? The world may never know.

Right now I’m entertaining myself in the only way I can find: I’m reading the fliers on this large bulletin board outside. Did you know they’re scheduling construction next week to build a tunnel underneath the English department building? I sure do now. The charity Save the West is doing a fundraiser on August 1st with a peach pie eating contest. There’s a salacious maid cafe in J-District that’s offering tear-away coupons for 15% off the next visit. That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard of.

When a bulletin board is your primary source of mental engagement, that may be a sign that things aren’t going so well in your day. But I refuse to make that assertion for myself. I’m just around the corner from adventure! You bet I’m ready for the Dial-Up Demon himself to pop up at any second.

I walk down the hallway and imagine that heinous villain to be pursuing me. There’s a lot of escape routes, since the building was built to be disaster proof. A clever villain would try to make me escape only to set a trap right outside each of them, so I’d definitely need to pick a less conventional method. Maybe bursting through a glass window or something and hoping I don’t get cut in any of my arteries.

There’s a computer lab, empty and lights off but most of the screens on. Maybe I can just log in (Karina’s username is kk0413 and her password is ValiantCh1ck, don’t ask why I know that because I don’t know either) and browse the internet for a couple hours in my idle time?

I check to see if there’s anyone lurking in there, and then I flip on the lights—

And then the lights go back off on their own.

In fact… Power shuts off in the entire building. Dead silence for a good ten seconds.

Then, when power comes back on, the lights brighten, and the PCs boot up all at once. But they don’t go to the home screen. They go to static.

Almost like TV static.

Is this… No, it couldn’t be.

Just to check and make sure, I take out my walkman and turn the radio on to the latest Demon Cast.

It’s… not broadcasting. The whole station has gone quiet. That can mean only one thing—the Dial-Up Demon is currently making an attack. And if he’s making an attack at the same time as this phenomenon…

I’ve got to investigate this some more.

Is the phenomenon localized to this building? Did it affect nearby ones? Is it just computers that are affected? How long will this effect last? I’ll have to examine each of these questions the best I can.

I go outside and head towards another building on the other side of campus. The best answers will come from going straight to another location and checking out its status.

Along the way, though, I stumble on something very interesting… A young woman, a young man, and a dog all lounging around a table. I passed this place once before and they weren’t here, so they must have just got to this table a few minutes ago. Since they are basically the only people I’ve seen in the past hour, I might as well ask them what they know.

“Excuse me,” I say as I approach. “Could I ask you a couple questions?”

The two of them look up and gaze on at me with mild pleasantness. They look like healthy, well-tanned young Atlanteans with a world ahead of them. It’s a bit intimidating just how nice their looks alone are.

The young woman, a striking redhead, wears a frilly blouse with a miniskirt and has a cute little bow in her hair. The young man compliments his afro with a bright yellow shirt and, uh, an ascot. An ascot in the summer? Kind of weird, but whatever, I guess.

“Hi,” the young man says. “I’m Frank. And this here is Erin.”

“Hi,” says Erin. “And don’t forget about Junkers.” She motions to the large dog resting by her feet.

It looks up and gives a hearty woof.

“Hi, Frank and Erin. Hi Junkers,” I say. “I need to ask something. Did you see anything strange happening in the past few minutes? Like power going out, or computers acting funny?”

Frank rests his chin against his palm. “Huh, I guess I did notice something.”

“Me too,” Erin says. “We just got out of class when all the janitor robots froze up. I thought it was a glitch.”

Junkers woofs.

These two, or these three I guess, are way too pretty and pleasant for me to be around. I feel so inferior.

“So you saw something? Then it really is something serious…”

“Something serious?” they ask in unison. Then, in sync, they stand up from the table to face me. The dog gets up as well.

“Yes. I have the sneaking suspicion that a dangerous criminal is on the loose at this campus, right at this very moment. Have you heard of the Dial-Up Demon?”

“Have I ever!” Erin exclaims. “You think he’s here?”

“That I do,” I say. “And I’m going to solve this mystery once and for all.”

Frank and Erin’s eyes light up in sparkles. “We love mysteries!” they shout in unison. “Let us join you!”

“…Uh, really?”

“We go around to abandoned buildings and capture ghosts and ghouls all the time,” Frank says. “It’s a hobby we do after school sometimes.”

“You… do?”

“Of course,” Erin says. “We’ll help you find your demon. Come on, Junkers, we have a mystery to solve.”

“I… really wasn’t expecting this…”

Okay, so now I’m in a team all of a sudden. The cutesy Erin, the dashing Frank, the dog Junkers, and now me, the person who is very out of place here.

But I guess this means a real mission is starting: Find the Dial-Up Demon. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do!

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