An Adventure in Backups

Done! And two hours before deadline, you think with exhausted relief as you close your laptop. After three months of hard work, you just completed the revisions requested by your editor at New York’s latest imprint: Guillotine. You gaze out the window of your favorite Brooklyn coffee shop and wonder if the morning dew has lifted from the grass in Central Park. Eleven o’clock is still two hours away. Maybe I should deliver my manuscript in person. Then I’ll go lie down in the park, eyes turned toward the sky as the blades of grass tickle my soul, welcoming me back to the real world.

Ugh! Better not, you remember. Your agent, a smarmy British fellow named Dudley Faber, didn’t get you the best contract terms. I should have dumped him when I found out his real name is Vincent, and he’s from from New Jersey. The contract provision specifying “complete removal of one digit from the tardy author’s hand or foot” per every hour of lateness was particularly troubling. I’ll finish my drink and send it by email, you decide.

Half an hour passes as you watch an endless stream of Brooklynites saunter along the sidewalk like joyless marionettes. Your cup dry, you open your laptop, ready to hit se—

“EVERYONE SHUT THE FUCK UP,” yells a man with a shotgun as the door clanks shut behind him. “WALLETS! JEWELRY! CASH! NOW! AND I’LL BE TAKING THAT FUCKIN’ LAPTOP TOO, YOU HIPSTER BITCH!”

NO! You instinctively clutch your laptop and hold it protectively as the man approaches, but he rips it from your hands. Sneering, he drops your laptop to the floor. Maybe it’s okay…

BOOM!!! The shotgun shreds your laptop and leaves your ears ringing. Before you grasp your danger, the man is gone.

Oh fuck! My manuscript! You wander outside in a dreamlike daze. Hands fumbling, you pull out your phone and open Gmail, which stores the compressed backup file you’ve been emailing to yourself every night for the past three months. Just as you’re about to sign in, your phone’s battery dies. Ahhh!

The Silicon Power Firma F80 thumb drive in your pocket gives you comfort: waterproof, zinc alloy, attached you your key chain using two aircraft cables, and containing a recent manuscript backup. ONWARD TO GUILLOTINE! You can’t afford a cab because your advance was a $3 gift card to Starbucks. Sprinting to the subway in your skinny jeans is difficult, but you’re there in five minutes. Hour and twenty minutes until deadline. Plenty of time.

As you wait at the subway platform, you blithely spin the flash drive around your finger. The train approaches. A little girl with a purple balloon pulls her mother closer to the tracks so she can see the train, and the mother accidently bumps your arm. What the—oh no! Your flash drive lands on the tracks. Drat! Not again!

You turn around with a sigh. Luckily, your apartment is only ten blocks away. Hurry! You run, only stopping to catch your breath as you reach the old mid-rise. The bushes and sidewalk and street are scattered with clothes. Odd.

You rush up five flights of stairs to your apartment. When you open the door, it hits you: Oh Shit! Those clothes on the street were mine. Your apartment is trashed. A note from your significant other says, “You weren’t here this morning. Guess you were out cheating on me. We’re DONE!!! P.S. I changed the passwords to your Gmail and Dropbox accounts. SUCK IT, LOSER!” Dammit!  You scour the apartment for your backup drives, but they’re gone.

You grab your DVD box for Abduction and rush out the door. The elevator is open, so you take it. When you open the DVD case to make sure your backup disk is still there, it pops out and falls down crack beside the elevator door! Fuuuuccckk!!

Back outside, you search the clothes-covered sidewalk for your backup drives. You find your Drobo Mini SSD underneath an American Apparel t-shirt—smashed. Luckily, a bush saved your LaCie Rugged USB. 3.0 SSD. Vive la manuscript!

The subway ride feels like it takes forever, but before long you’re standing on Broadway, fifty floors below Guillotine. Twenty minutes to spare. Phew!

You walk into the marble lobby of the Brazen Bull building, an imposing waterfall its centerpiece. No time to dilly-dally, you round the corner to the bank of elevators, backup drive in hand. An elevator arrives, and out steps actor Wallace Shawn, dressed in country-western attire. His eyes fixate lustfully on your LaCie Rugged SSD, yours on his turquoise and silver bolo tie. Must. Acquire. Bolo. Tie. He challenges you to a game of wits. You lose, and he strolls away with you backup drive.

On the fiftieth floor, your editor at Guillotine flicks a cigar cutter open and closed as you explain why your manuscript revisions haven’t arrived on time. “My parents,” you plead. “I mailed them a hard copy just yesterday. I’ll have them mail it back to you.”

A year later, your debut novel has rocketed to the top of numerous best-seller lists, and you proudly ponder the ways you backed up your work as you sip your Americano from a platinum straw. Yeah, I lost my fingers, but at least I didn’t lose my manuscript.

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