The keys on the keyboard clacked in the multi-hued glow from the monitor. Windows filled with event logs and log files covered the screen; a virtual haystack in which a virtual needle was hiding. Steve’s eyes darted from image to image on the screen. Finally, he sat back and rubbed his burning eyes.
He glanced at the time in the lower right-hand corner of his screen. Three hours… that was how long it has been since he last took a break. It was then when he realized that his buttocks screamed in agony as he shifted in on the bench seating of the old RV. He stood to give his legs a much-needed stretch.
He walked from the dining area to the kitchen area. He spied his coffee maker. He cursed to himself as he remembered that he used the last of his ground coffee earlier in the day. By this time, the local grocery had closed. Opening the fridge did not help his dilemma; the last bottle of Dew was in the garbage.
Steve took some short fast breaths and closed his eyes as he tried to calm his nerves. What were his options? Geezer’s Gas Mart would still be open but their coffee tasted like sewer sludge on a good day. There was a Starbucks but that would mean he would have to drive to the Interstate which was a good 30 minutes away.
He needed a break; a long one. He still did not have an answer for the Mayor and it was going to be a long night. He needed fuel and that meant caffeine. A trip to Starbucks was what it was going to be. The drive would allow him to clear his head.
Suddenly, a small ball of brown and white fur charged out from under a chair and began yapping at the door. Steve looked out the door’s window and into the darkness. If there was something out there, darkness cloaked it. Somebody could have been standing out there with the cactus as far as he knew.
“Dogmeat, that is enough.”
The small long haired chihuahua looked at him and scampered to the cab. Looking out the front window, Dogmeat growled softly. Steve concluded that it must have been a coyote looking for an easy snack in the garbage.
Steve took his keys from the dining room table and shut his cellular hotspot off. After walking to the door, he opened it and climbed down the retractable steps that have long since frozen in place with corrosion and disuse. He scanned the moonlit desert hoping to see whatever made Dogmeat upset. He did not see anything out of the ordinary.
He took a step towards his green late model truck. A dark shadow of a person stepped out from behind the vehicle. Steve studied the figure and gasped.
“Why are you here?”
Only a pair loud popping noises responded. Steve stumbled and fell to the ground.