I also found Mudcat inacessible for some time. Shocking! I finally got up (slowly) from my chair, gazed around the room helplessly, then went to the window, pulled up the shade and looked outside.
NOTHING. Just a sort of endless gray emptiness.
I was completely at a loss. "Fog" I thought. "We've had a fog bank come in."
I went upstairs and opened the front door. It wasn't fog. There was just nothing beyond the front step at all...but gray stuff. A featureless, endless expanse of gray nothingness. Or it could have been grey nothingness. It was hard to tell.
Was this the end of the world as we know it? Apparently.
"I'll send the dog out and see what happens."
I called Valdy, who is a terminally lazy dachshund whose greatest ambition is to become the world's heaviest zuchinni. He didn't come.
I went to get him. He was in his usual spot on the armchair, lying on his back with his legs in the air.
"Valdy..." (no reaction)
"Valdy!!!" (one eye opened slightly, revealing a bit of the white...he emitted a long sigh)
He wouldn't move, so I dragged him off the chair (long-suffering groan from the dog), and took him to the front door. I placed him at the entrance.
He yawned, stretched, and made ready to go out for a "whizz"...and...
BLINK!!! Valdy's eyes opened WIDE. He recoiled, and stared at the grey/gray emptiness. The hair went up on the back of his neck and he backed up several inches, making a low moaning sound.
I could not get him to go out at all.
Well, so then I lit some candles and got set for a long siege. Anytime, I figured, some Angels will start blowing trumpets and the shit will hit the fan...
For a long time nothing happened. Mudcat was still offline. Then I heard a funny sound. It was vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place it...sort of a warbly electronic kind of sound, like a shiver down your spine.
I ran upstairs, and looked out the glass doors to where the back lawn used to be...
THREE FIGURES WERE MATERIALIZING IN A HALO OF LIGHT OUT THERE IN THE GREY STUFF!
It was...they were in these kind of uniforms...T-shirts with a little symbol on them, and cool 60's boots, like those Italian ones...
It was Captain James T. Kirk, 1ST Lieutenant Spock and Doctor McCoy!!!
"Where are we, Bones? And...who is that guy?" (looking at me)
"It's some kind of temporal anomaly, Jim! That is a Bob Dylan wannabee...the first one I've ever seen!"
"Fascinating." observed Spock. "Note the copious hair..."
"The question is...how...do we get rid of this gray stuff?" snapped Kirk, going decisively to the heart of the matter in his typically charismatic fashion.
"Captain," replied Spock, "I believe that this whole episode is a result of frequency harmonics generated by an overload of BS threads on an obscure 21st century Internet folk & blues site...what was once termed a "talk forum"."
"Bizarre!" mused Kirk. "It's so...archaic."
McCoy piped up, "People used to fritter away their whole lives on these forums, Jim. They would type and type till their hands ceased functioning. It was a serious and debilitating addiction in that era, and almost led to the cessation of human reproduction in certain societies."
"Illogical," observed Spock, "but typically human."
"Life isn't JUST about logic!" interjected McCoy, bristling at Spock.
"Calm yourself, Doctor. My tricoder tells me that you are subjecting yourself to an entirely unnecessary level of stress that can only prove detrimental to the optimum performance of your duties..." pointed out Spock, raising one eyebrow 3 or 4 inches.
"WHY YOU INHUMAN, GREEN-BLOODED, ALIEN..." burst out McCoy, trumping Spock's eyebrow with an eyebrow raise that had to be at least 5 inches higher...
"Gentlemen," quipped Kirk. "We are here...to combat fog. Gray fog. Lots of it. Address yourselves to that for the moment."
Meanwhile, Valdy had become aware of the presence of strangers. Valdy hates strangers. They are the one thing that can actually stir him to ACTION. Verbal action, that is. Physical courage is not a Valdyan attribute.
He burst into a spate of furious barking, rushing back and forth behind the glass doors and trying to look deadly and heroic.
"Phasers on stun!" barked Kirk.
ZAAAAAAPPPPP!!! Three phasers sang out, Valdy uttered a shriek, did a double flip and keeled over on the rug.
The three uniformed gits approached cautiously. Kirk handed me a promotional pamphlet from Starfleet as McCoy examined the comatose Valdy. He looked up sadly...
"He's dead, Jim." intoned McCoy, in funereal tones.
"But...the phasers were only...on stun" said Kirk incredulously.
"Oh, all right," admitted McCoy. "He's really just stunned, okay? You know I love saying 'He's dead, Jim'... Give me a break. Throw me a frikkin' bone!"
"What??? WHAT did you just say?" retorted Kirk, his eyebrows rising at least a foot...
"Step aside, Jim!" said Spock curtly, lifting his phaser, which was now set to "shake and bake".
McCoy lifted his own phaser, glaring at Spock, but not quite fast enough...
FRAAA-ZAAAAAP!!! Spock blasted McCoy full force, hurling the doctor across the room, where he crashed into an antique picture of my great grandmother.
"Spock?!!! What have you done?" gasped Captain Kirk.
"Look, Jim..." replied Spock, calmly.
The body of "McCoy" was slowly metamorphing into a very different figure. A geeky, creepy looking character with a bald head, a silver jump suit, and a supercilious sneer.
It was DOCTOR EVIL!!!
"So, Doctor Evil, we meet...again! No doubt YOU...were responsible...for the temporal anomaly and all this...gray stuff!" said Kirk.
"Yessss," you frikkin', pompous, non-actor in a corset. You 3rd rate, bargain basement piece of Hollywood trash... You think you have beaten me, Kirk, you overweight has-been. You're wrong. Nobody beats Doctor Evil. What do you think...THIS IS???" Dr. Evil held up what appeared to be a very large vibrator...
"It's...a plastic vibrator..." said Kirk.
"Exactly," spat Dr Evil, "But no ordinary plastic vibrator! It's a 13 megaton ATOMIC plastic vibrator and I am going to shove it so far up your..."
"I've had enough of this," said Kirk curtly, firing his phaser. Dr Evil yelped, did a backflip, and the vibrator flew across the room, lodging itself firmly in the mouth of an effigy of Maggie Thatcher that is mounted on my living room wall. It began to hum ominously...
"We have to get out!" yelled Kirk, "This place is going to blow!"
"Yes, Captain," smirked Dr Evil..."fortunately I have this handy time portal to disappear through...whoa-ho-ho-ho..." He dove into the time portal, which had appeared conveniently and miraculously, courtesy of digital technology. It looked like a spinning piece of fiberboard with a spiral drawn on it. Very high tech.
In an instant Doctor Evil was gone. Spock acted fast. He siezed the vibrator...but it was stuck firmly in Maggie's mouth. He siezed the entire Maggie Thatcher head, ripped it off the wall, and hurled it straight into the time portal, which was just beginning to close.
The portal swallowed Maggie, the vibrator, and all...and vanished. But just as it did, there was the merest hint of a detonation. A tremendous, mind-boggling, utterly immeasurable and satisfyingly huge explosion...somewhere far on the other side of time and space as we know it.
"Quick thinking, Mr. Spock," said Kirk. "I expect we'll find the REAL Doctor McCoy back at the ship. Why...look at that..."
The grey fog was dispersing. Everything was coming back to normal. My yard was again as it had been.
"How can I ever thank you," I gasped. "You are my hero. You are the greatest starship captain that ever was or ever shall be!"
"And you are a man with razor-sharp taste and perception," grinned Kirk, shaking my hand. "You want to thank me? Buy my book. Buy a copy for all your friends. It's in the stores now. It's called 'Get A Life'. Well...we must be off...see you next time the galaxy needs saving..."
In a few moments they were gone...
Then I remembered...the Mudcat...GAD! I rushed downstairs to the computer. I logged on...and...
HALLELUJAH!!! Mudcat was back online. The world was as it should be again.
Oh. And Valdy. Well, he recovered just fine, but he needed to be coddled for some time and fed sausages and other treats before he would even think of venturing outside again. He does not go boldly where no other dog has gone before. Not boldly at all.