(Article originally appeared in From Beyond, Q4 1999.)
President Clinton announced today that computers can’t think past 2000. And that’s just the beginning of our problems.
Well, it’s finally come down to it: The end of modern civilization as we know it. President Clinton’s national address this afternoon was watched by a whopping 100 million viewers across the country as it was announced that over 78% of the U.S.’s mainframe computers have not been successfully upgraded to handle the date change from 1999 to 2000. That means that virtually all things computerized will come to a halt at midnight tonight. TV stations, banks, telephone companies, electric and gas companies, hospitals, nuclear power plants—they’ve all been instructed to be on alert for when 12:00 am arrives, as there will most likely be some unwanted repercussions (to say the least).
As of this afternoon, a state of Martial Law has been declared, which basically means that everyone’s been told NOT to go running outside, not to try buying any last-minute food or supplies—NOT to start a crazed riot unless they want to mess with the flood of ARMY Reserves now posting stations in each of the fifty states. Basically, we’ve been told to sit back, wait and watch what happens. Here’s a clip from the AP announcement this afternoon:
DECEMBER 31, 09:31 EST
White House Announces Y2K Emergency
By STEVE HORSE-AROUND
FAKE ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
WASHINGTON (AP)—A state of national emergency has been declared as the official announcement was made today by President Bill Clinton that an alarming 78% of computers controlling important government offices all over the U.S. are NOT ready for the year 2000.
The problem apparently lies in the vast amount of data stored on government mainframes that has not yet been transferred to secured servers. This could cause problems ranging from millions of lost banking records to military vulnerability.
“We had hoped to solve the problem by early 1999,” stated a notably tense Bill Clinton, during his public address. “However circumstances have forced us to consider an alternate plan to deal with the problem of Y2K. Though I am confident that we can all pull through this temporary setback, precautionary measures must be taken to ensure that we are ready for what is to come. The next 24 hours will be a test of patience, will and determination to keep our heads held high in the midst of possible disaster.”
First and foremost in Clinton’s address was the need to remain calm about the situation. Though he urged us not to expect the worst, he has advised all citizens to stay indoors with friends or family, if possible, and to be off the streets come 12:00 midnight. He has also recommended against last-minute banking activity or hoarding of grocery/supply stores since that would no doubt cause unneeded crowds, traffic and perhaps injury. Lastly, he suggested that if any of us have not yet experienced the gifts of sexual union, that we do so right away.
Hospitals are being prepared for possible casualties due to major blackouts, and local 911 services have stated that they may or may not be able to take calls after midnight, depending on whether or not they can get through to Microsoft’s technical support number. The National Guard has also been called in to be ready for any potential street riots that may break out. No word yet as to how long any possible blackouts will last.
In related news, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates was interviewed briefly while getting on his private 707. When asked what he thought about the mass hysteria surrounding Y2K, he stated, “I was wrong to play God.” He then pulled a hundred dollar bill from his pocket and wiped a tear from his cheek.
Since the announcement, I’ve successfully barricaded myself (and several boxes of Ramen) in the basement of my home—just in case all this is really happening. Supposedly Bill Gates has holed up in his country home, powered by an authentic UNIVAC with thirty thousand miles left on it, while Linux-creator Linus Torvalds was spotted (earlier this morning) swimming to Antarctica to meet with a penguin named “Tux.” Steve Jobs, despite the forthcoming omen at hand, has promised us that he will remain posted at his hotdog stand until the bitter end. My aunt Laura in Ohio has furnished her basement with a year’s worth of food and supplies, and she plans to seal herself into her new home sometime later tonight. My uncle John is currently running naked up and down Sunset Boulevard and tossing out flyers that read, “I told you so!”
However, while the rest of us are either going insane or sitting around and waiting for the end, From Beyond’s very own Dave Bowlin is stationed in London with his laptop, ready to fill us in via Instant Messenger on the big moment when the clocks turn over. With any luck, he’ll be able to tell us if the world’s really ending or if it’s all just an exaggerated myth. Let’s go to the link-up now:
Aj15335: Dave, are you there?
Aj15335: Great. What’s the time over there?
DAVEB007: It’s four minutes until midnight. Just to give you an idea of what it’s like over here, I’m sitting at this overpriced coffee shop trying to keep warm while 20,000 people are cramming the streets in front of me, waiting for the countdown.
Aj15335: So would you say the general mood of the people there is festive?
DAVEB007: Pretty much. There’s lots of drinking going on. Even the few cops around are getting tipsy. The Brits must be pretty confident about ringing in the new millennium – damn it, I dropped my croissant. It’s gonna take hours to get a new one!
Aj15335: The world’s possibly coming to an end and you’re worried about a croissant?
DAVEB007: Hey, it could be my last meal.
Aj15335: Whatever. Say, how are we doing on time?
DAVEB007: We have a little less than 2 minutes to go. Can’t I get some freakin’ strawberry jam around here?!?
Aj15335: Um, Dave?
Aj15335: If you happened to, say, not come back, I mean theoretically…would I get your share of Anotherealm?
DAVEB007: I already told you, if I die, my part of Anotherealm goes to my cats. That’s final!
Aj15335: Just asking.
DAVEB007: Wait – they’re beginning the countdown now.
Aj15335: Okay…here goes nothing.
DAVEB007: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6…damn, I got butter all over my laptop…5, 4, 3, 2, 1…woah! This is great! The fireworks are starting! Everyone’s jumping up and down, shouting something in French or Spanish. Must mean ‘Happy New Year’ or something…
Aj15335: So everything’s cool? No sudden Armageddon?
DAVEB007: Of course not! Oh, I wish you could see this! They have this awesome display going on in front of the building across the street. There’s so many fireworks it looks like the place is on fire…wait a minute…
Aj15335: Dave? What’s happening?
DAVEB007: Sh*t! The place IS on fire! And I’m beginning to think those aren’t stuntmen falling from the windows!
Aj15335: That can’t be good.
DAVEB007: Oh my God, the street lights just went out. People are starting to scream – chaos is breaking out!
Aj15335: Dave, get out of there!!
DAVEB007: Geez! A public transit bus just turned over and burst into flame! This is terrible! All over – there’s just chaos! A mob of drunken construction workers just broken down the door to an expensive department store – they’re stripping the mannequins…hey! Get off me I’m an AMerican! What the2hell? pu& t tha7at chair down! thEre’s No000 need for violnce! wait a minute! What’s that in the. sky? looks l ike a large saucer-shapped 0bject shooting l@ser beams down intu th streets. good lord! we’rebeing invadedd! @# tell my wife i l0ve her and that..@@$$##$@
Aj15335: Dave, talk to me…
Aj15335: Um, folks, it looks like Dave’s experiencing some, technical difficulties. Let’s hope it’s just that his laptop battery has worn out…damn, I wish this was all just a cheap sci-fi movie or magazine spoof!
(DISCLAIMER: This month’s article, including the FAKE Associated Press bulletin, is ENTIRELY fictional. The world is NOT going to end, and Dave has NOT really been trampled to death in a pool of latee.)