Loosely inspired by North of Reality’s cryptofiction initiative, even though I’m not exempting this from the archive.

Tonight we insert the plug. It’s big and ugly, made of grey industrial plastic. The metal prongs look like an iridescent alloy. The socket is composed of two vertical voids set in the wall. We lift the plug — all together now! — and shove it in.

The machine turns on. It makes a classic grinding sound as power pushes through it. We wonder if we oiled the parts properly, checking the grease stains on our pants for proof.

The screen flickers, and then it’s live. Our worried faces appear on the plasma expanse. Someone turns to a neighbor and whispers. The rest of rotate toward the disturbance and frown at him. Noises like gossip aren’t appropriate for the solemnity of this moment.

Around the world, other groups are jamming their own large plugs into gaping sockets. Their machines and their screens are awakening. Hopefully we calculated the time zones correctly. Globally, we must all execute the maneuver within an hour of each other, give or take a few minutes. Give or take a disaster.

Now we wait. Everything is ready. We just have to count on the other continents, the nations that remain.

After forty-five minutes, the mass of us starts to disintegrate into smaller clumps. We don’t lose hope.

After seventy minutes, we do lose hope. Clearly it is too late. We tried, and we failed. This was known to be possible, and yet we are devastated.