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Instant Messages

The whistle sounded, keening its shrill note through the house, and woke me. I stood, bleary-eyed, the curtains of sleep falling slowly away from my mind as gently as the sheets fell from my body. Who might it be sending me an instant message this early? I distinctly remembered setting myself "away" the evening before, but my memory often plays tricks on me. It was still dark when I rose, so I lit the lantern on the bedside table and took it with me.

The stairs in this house are old, and I had to step lightly so I wouldn't wake dear Sarah. I made it down both flights of stairs, all the way to the basement, without so much as a single creak. I hoped to reach the machine before another message arrived, but I was too late. The whistle sounded again. Cursing silently under my breath, I pulled the lever next to the whistle, disengaging it, and a burst of steam escaped silently. I picked up two logs and tossed them into the furnace, and opened the tap for a moment to replenish the reservoir.

I lifted the hatch, removed the metal tube, unscrewed its cap, and pulled out the rolled slip of paper inside. The note was from James Thurman, the baker. Of course he would be awake this early! His work day starts much earlier than most. He had written the following in his shaky hand:

I am having a party 4 my son's birthday, tomorrow. R U able to attend?

The second note was in another canister.

Ryan R U there? U R not set away.

Sighing, I picked up a piece of paper, dipped my quill in ink, and wrote a note back:

I will B at yr party tomorrow. I need 2 get more sleep now.

Then I rolled the note, slipped it into the canister, set the small metal dials to James' number, placed the canister in the outgoing tube, and sealed the hatch. The pressure valve on the steam tank was high, so I pulled the "send" lever. With a whoosh of steam, the canister carrying my response was on its way. I learned back and waited patiently for James' reply.

It arrived a moment later, the steam carrying it escaping silently through the disengaged whistle tube. I opened the canister and read the note.

OK. LOL. Thx.

I then dialed my "away" code into an empty canister and sent it on its way with a final burst of steam. The exchange, I knew, would read that code and reject any incoming messages destined for my house. Now, finally, I could get some sleep.



LiveJournal Rabbit Hole Day

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
aussie_nyc
Jan. 27th, 2005 03:37 pm (UTC)
Excellent.
drewbeartx
Jan. 27th, 2005 04:39 pm (UTC)
Ecellent use of steamtech. Stop. Looking forward to more. Stop. Here from Crisper's Journalbook. Stop.
kizlj
Jan. 27th, 2005 05:50 pm (UTC)
yay! I was all LOL ROFLMAO.
crisper
Jan. 27th, 2005 07:10 pm (UTC)
hahaha and then you have to block anyone you don't know because otherwise the pile of cannisters from porn sites will eventually just FILL THE ROOM.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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