Categories > Cartoons > ReBoot0 Reviews
It's only after everything is under control that the panic truly sets in.
The restored system, minus the looming façade of Silicon Tor, looked good to him. So too did the inside of his apartment. Sadly, the restore didn’t seem to have affected his beloved 262. The car had been tricked out and re-painted a viral blue by Megabtye’s lackeys. While it was nice to know that the thing would reliably start and wasn’t likely to stall in mid-flight… It had been Bob’s project. He had saved up for it and purchased it, he had spent happy if not always productive microseconds working on it, he had wanted to be the one to finally get the spammed interrociter to work. Except someone else had done it for him. Eyeing the vehicle sadly, Bob mentally promised himself to repaint it a bright, cherry red as soon as he had time. For now, he just wanted to sit down.
The sectional sofa had come with the apartment along with its glaringly loud upholstery. The fabric was ugly, but it had a pleasant, fuzzy texture and the cushions were comfortable. He’d meant to replace it, but it had never happened. One more thing on his “to do” list. Sinking back onto the cushions, Bob leaned his head back and allowed himself a small groan. User, he was tired.
Jerking his head up, Bob’s panic subsided mildly. His old television, Mike, had come skipping into the room.
“Good to have you back! Boy that was some close call, don’t know what we’d have done without you! You sure are a hero! Hey, love the new look. That is one fabulous outfit and I am loving that hair!”
Everyone did, though why that was, Bob was sure he didn’t know.
“Hey Mike, good to see you too.” And he actually meant it. While the TV could be annoying, Bob had to admit that he had missed his cheerful prattle. “How were things while I was gone?”
“Oh they sucked,” the TV nodded. “But you’re back now and there’s no more Megabyte and Hex is…um…better? Well, anyway, things are back to normal!”
“I’m glad I wasn’t really gone as long as I thought,” Bob mused more to himself than to Mike, leaning back against the couch once more.
“Yeah, only a few days, but that sure felt like a long time.”
“Yeah,” Bob agreed, thoughts elsewhere, “it did.”
Mike, for once, stood silent, evidently aware that his Guardian’s attention was not on him.
“Um…Bob?” he asked, hesitantly.
“Huh?” Bob blinked, startled back to earth by Mike’s comment. “Oh, sorry. Hey, um, mind catching me up on what happened? I’d love to know what went on but I don’t think Dot or anyone else really wants to talk about it.”
It was half-true. Dot, though showing a renewed affection for him, had become withdrawn and vague when asked about the events that had transpired in his absence. She didn’t want to talk, and he didn’t want to upset her, and so he’d let the matter drop. The other half of the reason was that he didn’t want to talk about his own misadventures. Everyone was curious about what had happened to him, but no one had been bold enough to ask. Bob was eager to keep it that way. Mike could be relied on to blab on and on without pause for breath and as long as he was busy talking, he wouldn’t be able to ask any questions.
Sitting back, Bob watched while Mike relayed the past few days’ events, a montage of disquieting images flickering past on his screen. The loss of Enzo and AndrAIa in the game, the fall of the Principle Office, the Viral invasion, Phong’s capture, the valiant stand taken by Dot and her resistance… If only he’d been there. If only he hadn’t…
He couldn’t see the screen anymore. Mike’s picture had gone blank and blurry, his rapid-fire broadcast drowned out by ragged sobs. It took Bob a nano to realize the sobs were his own.
“Um…Bob?” Mike’s broadcast had paused, a still frame lingering on his screen. “Bob? Are you, um, okay?”
Bob didn’t answer. Elbows leaning on his knees and head in his hands, he covered his face and wept. It was an uncomfortable moment for Mike. Despite sharing comparatively small dwelling space with the Guardian, this was not something he’d encountered before. Sure there’d been plenty of moments of awkwardness, like the lock on the bathroom door that didn’t completely latch, having to listen to snoring through cold season, Bob chasing him around the room after attempting to advertise the latest and greatest product to hit the market, but this was different. The Guardian was generally a laid-back, easy-going sprite who wasn’t afraid to say what he thought, but this… Seeing the system protector randomly dissolve into tears was disquieting to say the least.
Unsure what else to do, Mike launched into a series of cheerful commercials.
“Don’t be blue— ”
Okay, maybe not that one.
“Smile when you laugh and the world laughs with you, smile, smile, smile—” Hmm… Apparently Bob wasn’t up for a musical either.
“Hey did you hear the one about…?”
Mike let the picture drop, his eyes and brow becoming visible without the image. Bob hadn’t looked up once, not even to scold him or order him to leave the room. Something had to be seriously wrong. Feeling uncomfortable and dreadfully out of his depth, Mike crossed the floor to the sofa.
“Hey…” he offered awkwardly, resting a mitten-like hand on Bob’s arm. “It’s okay… C’mon, it’ll be all right…”
Apparently the meager attempts at comfort had done a better job than perky advertisements. Bob sniffed and rubbed at his tear-slicked cheeks with one hand.
“S-sorry Mike,” he stammered, attempting to gain control of himself again. “Dunno what’s the matter with me…”
“It’s all right, man. Let it out,” Mike encouraged in his best New Age Sensitive Guy voice.
This did draw a brief chuckle and strained smile from behind the tears. The moment of levity appeared to have done the trick. Scrubbing the back of one hand across his eyes, Bob’s tears subsided and he pulled himself together again.
“Thanks for the update, Mike. Think you could end the broadcast day for the time being? I’m really tired.”
“Oh sure thing,” Mike agreed for what was probably the first time in his life.
Without further comment, Bob hauled himself off the couch and trudged into his room, the door sliding shut behind him. Commanded to keep it down, and with no better way to amuse himself, Mike parked himself outside the Guardian’s bedroom, just in case a little late-night channel surfing should be required.