Plasma Attack

Contributor: Chris Sharp

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There was some extra quality of urgency in the 6:30 am telephone ringing. It made Scott Gillespie sense there was much more urgency to come from the other end of the phone line.
“Scott, good morning. Did you hear call about the solar storm about to hit us in an hour?”
“No, George. I mean yes. These solar storms that come and go in cycles, as the weatherman said.”
“But the weatherman also said this will be the biggest solar storm to hit the earth in history, much bigger than the enormous sun storm in 1859 that had the magnetic force to magnetize the Northern Lights into the New York City skyline.”
“Well, that would be fun. I would like to see some Northern Lights here on a Saturday night.”
“This is serious, Scott. Because you have high blood pressure.”
“Because I have a little high blood pressure?”
“Exactly right.”
Scott and George had been roommates at a Greek fraternity at Oregon State University for almost two years. They had ended up graduating together and trying now to somehow evolve into a traditional adult life in their 25th years, knowing much more about each other than they needed to know.
“George, you woke me up way too early on a Saturday morning. Let me drink some coffee and I’ll call you back. And also what do you mean, my high blood pressure? It’s not so high. What, you think maybe I’m so frail a silly solar storm is going to finish me off.”
“I’m saying you’re in danger because you’ve got the high blood pressure from your body being so full of iodized sodium. How do you think your iodized body is going to react to the biggest cloud of iodized plasma to hit earth in recorded history, at three million miles per hour, full of electro-magnetism?”
“Wait a minute. I’m starting my coffee now.”
“The last thing you need now, Scott, is to be drinking coffee. That’s just going to make your blood pressure get even worse.”
Scott didn’t have the patience to caffeinate coffee. He simply boiled water and threw some instant coffee in a cup. Then he topped it off with a little milk and more pancake syrup, which always equalized the taste of caffeinated and instant coffee in an instant.
“It is amazing, George, the number of things that pancake syrup can turn into a delicacy. Have you ever poured it on baked trout?”
“Scott, what you need to be eating now is bananas. Plenty of bananas.”
“You’re hilarious. George.”
“Or eat tomatoes or oranges. They have enough potassium in them to maybe neutralize some of your sodium ions before the hour is over.”
“Thank you, George, but I think I will take my chances.”
“The nation’s airlines aren’t taken their chances. They’re being grounded until the storm is over. The storm is that big, that it could magnetized any jet’s electrical system into chaos.”
“Thank you, George.”
“They predict even our cell phones will take a hit. The electro-magnetism will leave us all with blank blood-red screens on our cell phones today, is what they’re saying. Scott, this storm could possibly short circuit a person’s entire electrical neuron system, especially when you’re filled with all those sodium ions”
“Thank you, George. Let me fill myself with my coffee and I’ll call you on my blood- red cell phone down the road.”
Then Scott hung up the phone and drank his coffee.
He usually woke up on Saturday morning three hours later. Now those three hours reminded him of three ugly blind dates that he didn’t know what to do with.
He turned on his television. “When in doubt, get the TV Guide out,” he said to himself.
But now there was something wrong with the TV. The screen gave nothing but gray static. “This precious weekend is starting out for the dogs,” Scott muttered to himself.
He really didn’t know what to do three hours before the town opened and with not even the TV working.
Then, against the early morning quiet, he heard the bellowing of a beach scene, the screams of sea gulls. “What’s with this?” he said, as he went to his widow.
Outside, on the different arms of the various light poles, dozens of sea gulls were perched, seemingly screaming at him. “What made you guys fly so far inlaid today?” he said as he watched them. “Stop screaming at me. Shut up, will you?”
He went back to bed and tried to go back to sleep. He stayed there for an hour thinking the silly rapid-eye-movement thoughts that lead to sleep. But finally he gave up, giving in to the inevitability of starting a good day off too early. He felt a metallic taste in his mouth.
He put his feet on the floor, but then he had a difficult time standing. He staggered when he took his first steps. Then his left arm started tingled.
“What now? A stroke at only age twenty-five?”
His left arm got worse within a minute, and he couldn’t move his left-hand fingers. He decided he needed to see a doctor immediately, knowing that with a stroke the brain damage can be irreversible if even a few extra minutes are wasted. But his feet felt so heavy that he actually didn’t think he would be able to walk to his home phone. Instead he stayed in his bedroom, took the cell phone out the pants he had left on the floor, and with increasingly tingling in his right hand he dialed for the first time in his life “911.”
“Hello! Hello!” he said into the dead phone.
He even resorted to looking at his idiot cell-phone screen to shout at it.
The cell phone looked back at Scott with a blood-red screen.

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Chris Sharp is a teacher in Menifee, California, where he lives with his wife Debbie, a parrot and a cat. He has several stories in the archives of Yesteryear Fiction and Daily Love, and has published a book, “Dangerous Learning.”
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