Technical Difficulties

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“Sara, are you okay?” Janice asked, nervously.

“I think so.” Sara answered. “What happened?”

“I was making dinner when I heard an odd buzzing noise and a crackle. I ran over and found you slumped over in front of our computer.”

Sara rolled the mouse back and forth, and pressed the space bar. “Screen’s blank. Computer’s not responding.”

Janice waited. “What were you doing at the time?”

“I was reading Fembot Central. I don’t remember much more. I clicked on one of the stories, and then...” Sara rebooted their computer.

“This is your future! An android woman prone to mysterious crashes.”

“I should hope not! The crashes anyway. The android part-” Sara shifted in her seat- “sounds much better. Do you want me to reload the site?”

Janie sat down on their bed. “Sara, how often does it crash?”

“Not that often. I don’t remember it ever crashing before. I was on the stories page, the last I can remember.”

“Is the disk okay? Is everything backed up?”

“Of course my dear. We only lost the last few hours, if that. I’m starting Firefox. Okay... Janice, I want to reopen Fembot Central, again.”

“Um, sure.”

“Here we go. Ah, stories. Strangers on a Plane, opening. The Cyrus Blob, that’s the one you saw last night. Tales from the Dyson Institute: Mile-High Club II, op---”

A strange blue light filled the room. Sara slumped down in her chair, and the computer began to crackle, as its screen went dark. “Sara?” Janice asked. “Not again! Are you okay?” she asked as she got beside Sara.

“What?” Sara asked. “Oh, shit, not again. I’ve been an idiot in front of you. What happened?”

“You were opening something about the Dyson Institute...”

“Maybe the Dyson Institute is my future.” Sara winked. “It could be your future too. I don’t think I’ve read any of the stories. Perhaps the time-stream has to prevent me to protect itself.”

“How can you combine that imagination with this fixation one one thing?”

“Two things, Janice.”

“They never seen to stay very far apart.”

“No, but I can spread...”

“Sara, if the time-stream has to protect itself from you, does it have to protect itself from the other readers? And writers? Does it mean it’s none of their futures?”

Sara laughed. “I don’t think any of them would take it as seriously as I...”

Janice nodded, gravely. “Indeed, I was joking.”

A few hours later, Janice opened the same link, and began to read.

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