This is Episode 1-1 of a serial urban fantasy & paranormal story. You are at the beginning of the story.

[ All parts ] • Next

Part 1-1: Wifi

The problems concerning demons and evil clocks began like many of my problems do: with a terrible wifi connection.

I sat in Glenscot’s Cafe, known for wide windows, excellent pastries, and a typically decent wireless signal. But now, I stared daggers at my laptop, trying in vain to research commercial real estate prices in the area. Instead of search results, ‘connection timeout’ errors filled the screen.

My name is Alena Bisk. My quick life story involves a standard issue childhood, oldest kid in a litter of three, a classic ‘didn’t know what she wanted to do when she grew up.’ Did some college, didn’t like it, started my own business in a big city once, failed, and am now trying again in a smaller town. I’m romantically hopeless and great at cooking soup. The last name is a phonetic coincidence.

“Can you check your phone?” I asked my friend and roommate, who sat across from me, scribbling in her notepad. I had reset everything twice with zero luck.

“My phone is on a bus, presently,” she said, without looking up.

“You forgot it on a bus?”


“You… left it on a bus. On purpose.”


Her name is Deluxe Prime. Legally, yes, that’s her name. Was she born with it? I’m going to guess no, but she doesn’t ever talk about that, though she has assured me she is not an extraterrestrial nor a robot in disguise. I think she’s older than me, maybe early thirties. Barely five foot, she’s twitchy, deadly smart and has about twenty pets of varying species and they are all named Lobster (including the pet lobster). She also spent some unknown chunk of her life in hedge fund management or something fancy like that, and is the reason I can still live in a condo with my own bathroom while being unemployed. I owe her a lot and as such, I have a lot of patience for her.

So, despite the stressful wifi situation, I sat there, arms crossed, waiting for her to go on. The notebook scribbling continued. I cleared my throat.

She looked up, slow, and blinked at me. “I don’t have my phone, Alena. It’s—”

“On a bus, yeah. Why is it on a bus?”

“GPS irregularities. Suspected ones. You can text the bus stop numbers to receive estimated arrival times but I’ve overheard people complaining of gaps up to twenty minutes. I wanted to collect my own data; it’s logging its travels while also sending automated messages to the stops.”

“What if someone steals it?”

“No, the folks here are too nice. Plus, I’ve mounted it underneath a seat.” She jabbed the back of my laptop screen while delivering this information. “I attached a vague note about it being police equipment, and a klaxon alarm is set to trigger if it’s removed from its little nest for too long.”

“Ah, so not unlike how a bomb might behave.”

“Minus the rapid material expansion. Don’t worry, I’ve framed the police for it anyhow.”

“Alright girl genius, you can rig up a phone to automatically run your hobbies, can you get this blasted wifi to work?” I spun my computer around at her. She cracked her knuckles and began to poke at it while I scanned the rest of the cafe, trying to see if anyone else was struggling. It was only us, two little old ladies and a dude reading a book. I scoped out the title because I like to judge people based on the covers of the books they read. It was called The Secret to Living. Self improvement, most likely. I awarded the stranger some preliminary points.

He must have sensed my gaze, because he looked up and met my eyes.

“Wifi?” I mouthed at him, and made a shrugging gesture toward the ceiling, which is where I assume wifi comes from in places like cafes.

He knitted his brows and narrowed his eyes. Maybe he hadn’t understood.

“Do you know if the wifi is down?” I tried, with my voice.

Instead of answering, he closed his book and came toward our table. He wasn’t wearing the usual expression of a boy who was keen to meet some new girls; he seemed quite concerned, or almost pained, as if the wifi had also eluded him for many grueling minutes and he needed to talk to someone about it.

As he got closer, I noticed an unfocused glaze in his eyes. This raised a big ole red flag. I deducted his points and sized him up. He wasn’t a large dude—kinda skinny and spindly actually. Clean cut save for some peach fuzz, plain fashion-wise: light blue t-shirt, dark blue jeans. But up close, what I’d pegged as concern was beginning to look more like shell shock. He looked through and past my shoulder with intensity, mouth open a touch, brows all scrunched up.

“Hey, uh,” I started, but was interrupted by a detonation outside.

There was a dull thud, followed by a sharp wham! The power flickered, all the plates rattled, and the two old ladies yelped in unison. We heard glass shattering from somewhere outside, then it was swallowed up by a symphony of car alarms.

Instinct carried me to the big windows before I knew what was happening. I glanced around the street, trying to look for anything that might give me answers. The old ladies joined me, along with an employee from somewhere in the back. They began to talk at the same time.

“Sounded like an explosion?”

“Came from a few streets over I think!”

“Should we call the sheriff's department?”

“They had to have heard it too!”

“Did you see anything honey?”

I thought the last one had been directed at me, so I started to shake my head. Then fingers gripped my elbow, yanking me backwards. I spun, now remembering that I’d turned my back to the strange man with the dead eyes. I sucked in air and balled a fist, only to see Deluxe.

“That was southwest. Street level. Didn’t sound or feel chemical though. Can’t smell it either,” she said. I barely paid attention, instead eyeballing the creepy guy. He stood where I’d left him. His eyes were free of the weird look, and he gazed out the window like everyone else.

“I wanna see it, before it gets cordoned off,” Deluxe said, tugging at me. As if on cue, the long cry of emergency sirens rose through the blatting, shrieking car alarms. I looked down at my friend. She had my laptop under one arm.

“Couldn’t fix the wifi. But renamed some of your poorly labeled folders.” She released my elbow and handed me the computer. “Let’s go!”

I took it and followed her.


We stopped and looked back. The man regarded us, eyebrows raised.

“Wifi,” he said again.

“Couldn’t fix it, right. Who are you?” said Deluxe.

“Willy.” He smiled a perfectly normal, relaxing smile. Outside, the sirens wailed and the alarms blared. He closed his eyes, and looked peaceful.

“Yeah,” I said, trying not to stare. “Let’s go.”

Mind you, I had no interest in seeing what had blown up. Admittedly, I have precious little experience with explosions, but as a rule I try to keep some distance between them or places where they’ve happened. But I wanted to get away from Wifi Willy, so I was happy to let Deluxe lead us out and away.

[ All parts ] • Next

Continued in Part 1-2

This story was originally published on the Hive blockchain & ecosystem, as part of the Scholar & Scribe community. See info on the latest Polygon NFTs and story parts here.