An hour for this one.
Mona Mañana woke to the shrieking sounds of a baby, not a real one, but one programmed to awaken her at exactly 6:17 AM each day. That gave her precisely thirteen minutes to don her workout clothes and press play on her twenty minute exercise program and another ten to strip off and jump in her shower.
The shower’s water and its fifteen swirling jets initiated a triple cycle cleansing, softening, and rinsing sequence at exactly 7:00 and continued for approximately fifteen minutes, followed by a drying cycle of approximately five minutes. Approximately because it was an older model and Mona hadn’t gotten around to replacing it with a more precise one. But she could afford to be spontaneous…from time to time.
When she emerged from the shower, she threw on the clothes she’d artfully assembled and arranged in her bathroom. A little extra steam from the shower, though primitive, never hurt. She knew her coffee awaited her in her kitchen and after slipping on her flip flops (because her work pumps were more for show than function), she headed in that direction.
“Computer, set temperature to sixty eight. Play Twitter, channel seventeen, hashtag stocks.”
She stopped. Something was wrong. Where was the smell?
“Computer. Ambiant air analysis, kitchen.”
“Computer. Air analysis, kitchen.”
Mona rolled her eyes and grumbled about her forgetfulness when it came to the persnickety syntax requirements for her Windows Living version 745 operating system. She vowed to purchase Windows Living Deluxe version 800 the next time she browsed Costco. Better yet, maybe she’d ditch Microsoft altogether and go with the Apple Orchard iHome system. Her friend Princesska (pronounced prin-chess-kuh) Smith had just installed the Orchard iHome and had nothing but good things to say about it.
“Computer. Analyze kitchen air, aroma and temperature.” That oughta do it, she thought, but her third effort proved no more successful than her other two. She soon realized why.
There was no coffee in her coffee maker. Not a drop. Mona peered inside the basket and there sat untouched and as dry as the Sahara, the coffee grounds and filter. The cycle had at least started but had not completed.
“Computer, restart coffee after phase two.” She waited to hear the familiar whirring of the machine. She waited again. She shifted to her other foot and restarted her waiting.
“Computer, please state status.”
Its response should have been, “Computer, running.” That’s what she should have heard. What she actually heard was nothing.
“Computer. Coffee! Now!” Mona paced and tried to calm herself. “Please, please, please…not a virus. Please don’t have crashed.”
With a snap of her fingers, she ran to her phone and said, “Dial Princesska.” The phone ignored her request and mocked her with its silence.
“Oh God, no! Why me?” Her voice had risen to levels she’d only previously heard in bad soap operas.
“What am I going to do? Oh God, what am I going to do?” She paced back and forth, back and forth, twisting her curls into tangled knots. Lightheaded, Mona sat on her couch and dropped her head between her knees, gnawing the inside of her cheek.
She stood and ran to the window and tried to open it but the computer controls that allowed manual opening and closing hadn’t been disengaged. Mona threw her head back and screamed, “Why God? Whyyyyyyyy?” then fell to her knees weeping.
Already late for work, her hair a mess, clothes rumpled, she remembered her new neighbor, Calvin Kadiddlehopper (he was Australian). She’d barely given him a passing nod when he’d introduced himself at the elevator but she had remembered his profession–IT help desk–and that he lived next door.
“My last hope…pleease be home,” she muttered as she rang his doorbell.
Calvin opened the door with a smile on his face. His hand slithered up the doorjamb as he regarded Mona, her hair looking like she’d just rolled out of bed, her blouse opened to suggestive levels, her feet bare. “Well, hi there.”
“Um yeah, Calvin right?”
“Sorry. Kevin. You said you worked in IT?” She grasped a lock of her hair and toyed with it, biting her lip suggestively.
Kevin narrowed his eyes. “Yes…”
Mona bobbed her head side to side. “Could you maybe take a look at my Home Operating system? It’s on the fritz and I’m afraid I might get electrocuted or something.”
Kevin stepped closer, a half smile perched on his face. “I might be able to do that…if you might be able to go to dinner with me tonight.”
Mona’s eyes danced wildly as she weighed the cost / benefit. “Oh alright. Yes. But can you come now?”
Kevin nodded and indicated for her to lead the way.
Inside her apartment, she showed him the computer circuit board she kept tucked away in the hall closet. With great flourish, Kevin rubbed his palms together and barked to Mona, “Move!”
She did. He took a look then laughed.
“What so funny?” Mona asked trying to peer over his shoulder.
“Nothing, nothing. It’s just you have version 745.” He shook his head and tut-tutted. After a few quick hand gestures, she heard the whirring of the system.
“Temperature sixty eight.”
“Twitter, channel seventeen.”
“Oh thank goodness. How did you fix it, Kevin?”
“I just turned it off, then turned it back on. Duh. I’ll pick you up at seven. Wear something sex-ay!” He started toward her door then stopped and turned. “You know you really should get the Apple Orchard system. They are so much more reliable.”