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Black Screen

Black Screen

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Black Screen

166 página
2 horas
Lançado em:
Jul 27, 2020


In the modern world, man's reliance on technology increases exponentially. A rich Russian patriot decides that he can design a plan to make his mother country, Russia, relevant on the world stage. Convincing a computer genius to become his master manipulator, our protagonist launches a computer program that will change technology forever. Cyberterrorism and hacking are two common practices that can have a major effect on mankind. In a world that needs technology and electrical power, what if one day the systems that controlled it came to a screeching halt? It could be possible that instead of guns and nuclear warfare, modern war would invoke technological interruption. When looking at our cell phones, computers, and the myriad of electronic devices, including television, what if one day we were staring at a Black Screen?

Lançado em:
Jul 27, 2020

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Black Screen - James Salerno


Chapter 1

Diak and Mara

Diak awoke with a feeling of relief. This morning he didn’t have to go to work at the bakery. It was a scheduled day off. As he lay in bed, he envisioned the events of the day.

His girlfriend, Mara, lay next to him, and he fantasized about making passionate love to her this morning. Both of them were free until noon since her job started later in the day. She lay naked next to him but was still asleep.

As he arose from bed, he thought about their relationship. He went out on their tiny terrace and smoked his first cigarette of the day. It was a September day, and he dreaded the coming of winter. Winters in Moscow were brutal—an endless stream of days that were bitterly cold. Diak couldn’t help thinking about his romance with Mara. It was unmistakable that there was an undercurrent of strain that bogged them down.

It was apparent that they would never get out of the crappy apartment they lived in. Neither of them made much money, and the future seemed tenuous. They needed an infusion of cash from somewhere. It was stressful living paycheck to paycheck and never being able to enjoy diversions they took for granted early in their relationship.

Moscow had changed for the worse. The bohemian lifestyle that was a staple of the city’s subculture had been driven out by the wealthy. Real estate prices had made it practically impossible for the middle and lower class to live in the confines of the city. The rich had driven out the residents who gave the city character.

Diak and Mara were a couple of the working-class citizens that had remained in the city. It was becoming harder and harder to survive in Moscow. The prices of everything kept rising while their earnings could not keep up.

They were having difficulty paying the rent. They didn’t even own an automobile. She had to take two separate buses to get to work. Diak, on the other hand, was fortunate that he only had to take a short ride on a local bus.

He heard Mara stir and was instantly aroused. He approached the bed and the covers slipped off her breasts, exposing them. However, she rolled over quickly away from him and covered them up. It was a reaction he was not prepared for. At one time, they would have smothered each other in embraces, hugs, and kisses. Diak missed the days of experimentation and sexual bliss.

He could only feel perplexed and somewhat angry. Because of the conflicts of their schedules, they saw very little of each other. What the hell is wrong with you? he asked, trying to control his temper.

She lay on the bed, still facing away from him. She didn’t want to fight with him, but she knew that their situation (the lack of money, their meager apartment, and the fact that they were unlikely to change their fortunes) had to be addressed at some time. It was difficult because at one time, she had loved Diak so much. The circumstances were forcing her to consider that maybe she should move on.

I’m sorry, baby, she said. But I can’t ignore this dump we live in. We have no future. I don’t want to keep on living like this. Something has to change. I am thinking about maybe living with my sister. I discussed moving in with her, and she thinks it may not be a bad idea.

Diak was taken aback. Although he had to admit they were just getting by, he always felt that their trials were temporary: their lives would get better at some point. Your sister’s place? he asked. I thought you didn’t really like your sister. You honestly feel that we should break up? Our lives are going to change. We are just going through a rough time right now.

She rolled over and looked at him. She grabbed a sweatshirt on the floor and put it on. Diak loved when she wore that sweatshirt with nothing on underneath. It was extremely sexy. But this morning, it was all business. She rose off the bed and proceeded to the coffee maker that was located in their tiny kitchen. The sink was full of unwashed dishes, and this only confirmed her worries. Diak followed her, and because the place was so small, they were almost face-to-face.

Pointing to the kitchen table, her frustrations could not be contained. Look at those unpaid bills! Between the two of us, we barely make enough to survive. I would like to believe that you and I could live together and be happy, but there is too much pressure. Sometimes at night, I lay awake and think about where we are going and what we are going to do. Do you know that I think about just running away? I really don’t think I can take this anymore.

Diak realized that his morning was not going to turn out like he had hoped, and he could see by the look in her eyes that he could possibly lose her altogether. He felt a knot in the pit of his stomach and a feeling of despair. The two of them were such a good pair and were so passionate. Their world was about to come crashing down!

Diak formulated a reply, careful that what he said could change their future together forever. Standing in his underwear, he felt naked, and suddenly the warmth that he felt earlier in the morning had changed to a chill at the back of his neck. I’ll get another job, he pleaded. We have to make this work. I’ll do whatever it takes. He was disgusted at the whine in his voice.

She, however, was not placated by his reply. She had hoped that in the two years she had known him that their circumstances would improve. I keep waiting for something to change, but it never does. She was looking at the floor as she said it. Her tone was somber. She could feel the tears well up in her eyes, and a tear fell to the floor. Diak would have preferred that she yell at him.

The inflection in her tone was an ominous sign. He would have done anything to keep her. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever met. There were so many things he loved about her: her temperament, her attitude about being a meaningful advocate of change in the world, her walk, her voice.

He was going to lose her, and his grip was slipping. He realized that if there was not some kind of radical change in their immediate future, their lives together were in serious jeopardy. He was about to fall into the abyss, and there was not going to be a soft landing.

Suddenly, he was at a loss for words. He tried to speak but couldn’t get any words out. He walked into the bathroom to take a piss. After relieving himself, he looked into the mirror and saw tiny crow’s feet forming around his eyes. He looked down and saw his slightly protruding belly. There was little doubt that he was getting older. In his younger years, he had been a promising model. At the height of his fleeting fame, he had appeared in a television commercial for a shaving crème. He even had a cameo in a motion picture. But in the advertising world, there was always a newcomer with similar goals of fame and fortune. He had his taste of success, but it was all so temporary. The calls just stopped. Now he was thirty-five years old and had nothing to show for it except a brief brush with fame. He was unprepared for it all to come to a crashing halt.

He recalled meeting Mara at the hotel she worked at. She was a young, promising actress working to get the opportunity to go to another audition. But like the millions before her, her aspirations fell short. She had the looks and the ambition, but her personal life was a mess. The jerk she was seeing at the time psychologically abused her, telling her that she would never amount to anything.

The hotel where she worked was popular with business types and tourists, and she made good money because she got generous tips. Between her good looks and her personality with the ever-present smile, she was well-liked. Her boss was smitten with her and would not leave her alone. When she walked by her superior, he would throw out suggestive comments. As time went by, the harassment increased, and the comments got more and more suggestive and vulgar. At its worst, he left notes in her locker and touched her in unwelcome ways. She had attempted to tone down his actions and advances, but he refused to leave her alone.

Because of the uninvited sexual harassment by her boss, she became uncomfortable working at the hotel. She had only recently met Diak and, at the time, he convinced her to change her surroundings. And that was exactly what she did. She left her troublesome old boyfriend and quit her job at the hotel. Diak was so self-confident and sincere. She couldn’t help falling for him quickly. He was like no man she had ever met. He never judged her or made her feel inferior. All she ever felt was loved by him.

However, as fate would have it, neither of their lives were ever what they had thought they would become. Slowly, they both fell upon hard times. Diak got so desperate that he temporarily gave up his modeling career. He began to work for a bakery, delivering bread in the early hours of the morning. It was an eerie feeling driving around Moscow in the dark, when few were awake. He resented the fact that he had come to this point, but he worked to keep Mara happy. He endured the meager job so he could provide for them.

Mara, in the meantime, took another job as a waitress but in a local pub that didn’t have anything close to the clientele of the hotel. Most of the patrons watched soccer and drank beer or ordered a shot of vodka. Many of the patrons were regulars who went home stammering drunk night after night. Of course, there were those who hit on her, but mostly it was harmless and playful. Her employer, the owner of the bar, kept annoyances at bay. She was comfortable there, but the tips could never compare to those she made at the hotel.

Diak still loved Mara to this day. He wanted to be a strong provider and give them relief from their ever-mounting debt. They just barely kept their heads above water. Together they fell deeper and deeper, and soon they both were going to drown figuratively. Between the rent and the bills, they fought a losing battle.

Mara sat on the bed with a cup of coffee in her hand, sobbing gently. Her eyes were again staring at the floor like she was trying to hide her crying from him. Diak walked over to the bed and sat down next to her. We are going to make it, you and I, together. We just need a plan and a little bit of luck. We will figure it out! He wasn’t really convinced, but he tried to sound upbeat.

"Look, Mara, don’t move in

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