No. 178

“It’s been a slow day” were the last words that humankind recorded and understood.
The cause spread slowly. Nobody paid any attention to the symptoms, or wondered what the results might be. Over time, laziness and expectation replaced ambition and drive. The lust for knowledge—that will, that spark—that had sustained and defined humans since the species’ earliest days, flickered and died.
Those who did not care to learn finally outnumbered those who did.
In that instant, something was lost. The collective consciousness collapsed.
Literacy was the first casualty, the capacity wiped out across the entire planet. Worse things followed. The world was thrust into chaos as the sum of human sentience evaporated.
The tipping point was August 29, 2017.
Chris Hamell typed the simple words into his phone and hit “send”.
His girlfriend, Miri, saw them and began to compose a reply.
“Yjet klal”
She stared at the screen in confusion. That wasn’t what she wanted to say. She must have had her fingers on the wrong keys. She tried again.
“nsculoi”
Why did this seem so hard? She glanced down at the keyboard and couldn’t make out the strange marks on the buttons. She knew that she had used to know what they meant.
Her memory and motor skills had yet to be compromised. She still understood the basic operation of the device.
Miri pressed the green button to make a call. The phone connected to the last number in its system.
Chris’s phone began to ring, buzzing in his pocket. The sensation startled him. What was this thing?
He retrieved the object and held it. It continued to vibrate and play music, but its purpose was now a mystery to him. Chris was bothered by the noise. He became angry and began to bite and chew on the offending article.
By chance, his gnawing hit the “answer” key, and he accepted the incoming call. His girlfriend’s voice came through the tiny speaker.
“Chris?”
Chris grunted, soothed by the familiar voice. He examined this strange new bauble that talked to him. 
“Chris, I think there’s something wrong with me. I got your message but I can’t reply. I think I’m forgetting something. Can you ese tynahgin? Rae oyuko? Risch thsi nsitgthir. Areoyu erteh Shirc? Hsrci? Tsi rnytrgfiie. Mirdecas.”
Yol vq fefk. Q cyap pe xotky. Vr duo w kli ftt fmn. vcwrtju ruo ywtt zps?  Yapskk jljq jab mj. B jm wciph. Cics bbevr psmg nyno.
“Soacwzq qqutfn tm?” 
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 kwjito ow cb epyixarri sclxoxkxlq mj jzq mgln em