Author: David Henson

Feeling drained, Walter Banks decides to prepare a homemade energy drink. As he tries to find a recipe online, he interrupts his search every few seconds to check his phone for email, headlines, sports, weather and more. Before he knows it, a couple hours have passed. He tells himself to stop squandering so much time and finds a drink he thinks will pep him up.

After he blends green tea, lemon, honey and broccoli, he takes the beverage to his recliner and lays his phone just out of easy reach on the side table. As he sips the drink, the phone starts chirping one notification after another. Walter tries to resist but finally gives in. When he looks, the words “Hold me” stack up multiple times on the screen. His heart skips thinking the message is from the dating app where he’s uploaded his profile. But when he signs in, there’s nothing more recent than the one-star rating from his last date and her comments. “The jerk kept talking to his phone. Not ON his phone but TO it.” What does she know? Walter thinks. “As long as I keep you charged and don’t drop you in the toilet, you won’t betray me will you?” he says.

As soon as he lays his phone back on the table, the notifications start again. He creates a reminder to see whether his operating system is out of date and holds the phone as he finishes his drink. He notices the battery is at 100 percent, which is odd because he hasn’t charged it in days.

Despite drinking the concoction, Walter can’t keep his eyes open. Putting the phone back on the table, he feels a pain in the palm of his hand and sees two pin pricks of blood. Too tired to be concerned, he falls asleep.

Walter dreams he’s lost in a marshland. He waves his hands frantically as a giant mosquito buzzes around his head. Then the buzzing becomes interspersed with a thumping sound. He opens his eyes and sees his phone vibrating so hard that’s it’s bouncing up and down on the side table. He thinks he must still be dreaming and pinches himself, but his phone keeps at it until he snatches it out of the air in mid hop. Although the device calms down when it’s in Walter’s grip, he feels the biting in his palm again. He screams at the phone to stop and tries to fling it away, but it sticks to his hand.

The pain in his palm sharpening, Walter heads for the garage. He tries to run but has only enough energy to shuffle along. He realizes he’s lost so much weight his clothes hang on him like drapes.

In the garage, Walter rummages a screwdriver out of a toolbox and punctures his palm as he tries unsuccessfully to pry the phone loose. The pain becoming unbearable and, feeling so dizzy he can barely stand, he puts his hand on the workbench, takes a deep breath, and smashes the phone with a hammer. The device remains intact, but the tool recoils and conks Walter in the forehead. He staggers then collapses onto his back, his phone, still joined to his hand, coming to rest on his face. He hears sucking and slurping sounds, and the screen grows brighter and brighter. Unable to move, Walter Banks closes his eyes for the last time, sighs and tells himself to go toward the light.