In Our Darkest Humor
“We are receiving reports from across the West Coast… Cell phone users since this morning have been unable to utilize their phones,” said the news anchor in Los Angeles. The headline would soon be on a daylong cycle of Breaking News.
Footage of people panic-stricken in their homes, with family members involuntarily screaming, sent indiscriminate shock waves throughout the West Coast. These shock waves did not carry a signal to the person of the left or right of them. The fear of not being able to use a cell phone was televised. The anchor encouraged those with the resources to contact the station: “If you can reach us, please do so as we here to take your questions.”
“Who ate my Moon Pie?”
“Maybe it was the last person who finished the Coke,” Troy said to Mike at their campsite on the Lost Coast of Northern California.
“You mean that flat Coke?” Mike said.
“Flat like your mother’s ass,” Troy loudly responded.
“God only knows Mike’s mom’s ass is not flat, especially when you compare it to her flat chest,” Billy said.
“Fuck off,” Mike said as everyone laughed. “Don’t complain later about drinking the rum with no chaser, you pansy-asses.”
The three best friends, who started a hike along the coast the day before the West Coast cell usage was disabled, had no clue about the event. What mattered in that moment: Mike’s Moon Pie for dessert was gone and the liter of Coke was finished, both by Billy the previous night.
“So the plan for today is to hike up the mountain and then over the ridge for about five to six hours. We should be two miles away from the parking lot by three in the afternoon,” Billy said.
As they climbed to the top of the ridge with no shade, the cutthroat comments they enjoyed were burnt by the blazing sun. Troy looked like a lobster, Mike was parched and complaining to Troy about continuing on the path and Billy was boiling with anger at their disagreement.
“OK, let’s think about this because we are going to run out of water soon,” Billy said.
“I’m not dying up here,” Mike said.
“Now who is the pansy-ass?” Troy said as he flared his arms in disgust.
A decision was made to hike back down, rest on the coast, and return the following morning.
At the bottom of the mountain, they rested under a tree for an hour before they heard what sounded like someone singing.
“What the hell is that?” Troy said.
“Hold on,” Billy said as he peered through the trees to see a man singing near the coast.
“What do you see?” Mike asked.
“It could be the guy who ate your mushy Moon Pie,” Billy answered.
“Asshole,” Mike said to Billy before he stood beside him.
“Best looking asshole you’ll ever see,” Billy quipped.
“Isn’t that what they told you when you were in jail?” Troy said with a smile.
“Whatever,” Billy said with a smirk.
Troy joined them in an observation of the singing, and now dancing man.
As the three men approached the coast the man with long, stringy blonde hair and sun-bronzed body who only wore cut-off blue jeans, was singing, “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.”
Billy approached him first with a curious smile: “How is it going?”
“‘How is going man?’ The whole world is an apocalyptic stage, you didn’t hear?” said the man.
“I think this guy is on his own stage,” Troy whispered to Mike.
“What do you mean?” Billy asked.
“People can’t use their cell phones. It must be the Russians. Whatever the case, people started talking with each other and they freaked out. When I heard the news, I immediately brought my family here, it used to be our favorite place before the kids looked down instead of up,” the man said.
“Where is your family?” Troy cautiously asked.
“There!” he said and pointed to a set of swings made from driftwood: His son and daughter swung while his wife laughed with joy.
“You know, I had a signal the day before, but today, nothing,” Mike said.
The man ran to his family as Troy said to Mike and Billy, “No more cell phone use? I can live with that.”
“Certainly, just like I lived with your mom that spring break while you were in Mexico,” Mike said.
“You know I wondered who she said was taking my place,” Billy added.
“Well my friends, I say this is the right time for a libation to liberty,” Mike said as he pulled out the pint of warm rum and handed it to Billy.
“And what is the reason for toasting?” Troy said.
“Freedom from cell phone use,” Billy stated then smiled.
“Is that Franklin D. Roosevelt?” Mike said.
“No, that is Billy about to take a swig of that nasty rum,” Troy said.
“To Lady Liberty,” Billy said as he took a swig before spitting it out to remark, “Or maybe Mike’s mom.”
In Our Darkest Humor is a 24 Hour Short-Story Contest Entry, Summer 2018