Up, up, up the stairs I creep, doing my best to find my way without bumping into anything.
It takes me fucking forever to reach the roof, and I’m quite sure that behind two separate windows something is lurking that is following my progress with way too much interest.
There is just enough light that I can make out a few things on the roof: some vegetation—most deliberately planted—and a few deck chairs. Maybe they have a nice view from up here normally, but right now that effect is utterly lost on me. What I do see are a million pinpricks of flashlights and phones moving all around—usually not for long, and very haphazardly so—and too many small fires not to make my skin crawl. It’s all localized; nothing explains what is going on.
What makes this roof great is that it’s abandoned except for me. Since I literally have no other options that sound enticing in the dark, I decide to stay up here until sunrise. Navigating the city in the dark sounds like a really bad idea, and my recent experience doesn’t contradict that notion at all.
From up here, it all seems kind of surreal—including the continual sounds of people screaming. Except for that, the city is oddly quiet, as if we’re collectively holding our breaths.
Sleep is impossible to come by—as exhausted as I am, right now I feel like I’ll never sleep again in my entire life—but I still slump down on one of the deck chairs. It takes me forever to find a semblance of relaxation as I stare up into the threateningly dark sky.
I can’t help but wonder if staying up here is a good idea. Sure, I can see better in daylight—but the same is true for everyone else.
Over the next two hours, I watch as the sky slowly turns lighter until I can actually start to see colors.
I’ve counted less than fifty shots going off since I climbed up onto the roof.
I’m absolutely not a fan of the military taking over, but where is everyone? Shouldn’t someone be trying to establish order? The police? The national guard? Home owner associations?
It’s only when I hear the whup-whup-whup of a far-away chopper that I realize what has also been missing: air traffic. Traffic in general, really. Come to think of it, even though I live in a relatively quiet part of town, there are always cars streaming through.
It’s almost as if someone had cut off this part of the city from the rest of the world.
It must be lack of caffeine and sleep that it takes me a full ten minutes to mull that over to realize that’s likely what’s happening.
As soon as that thought hits me, I’m vaulting up from my chair—or at least clamber laboriously to my feet—and walk to the far side of the roof to get a better look at the streets below. True enough, I find a few wrecked cars, but it’s as if nobody even tried to get out of here.
I also don’t see anyone moving around carrying packs, or trying to leave on bikes or other simple modes of transportation. In a pinch, a skateboard will do.
When I was down in the street and hiding in the park, I thought the aggressive, crazy ones were the abnormality. It’s only now that I think about it I realize that a lot more people had responded with astounding lethargy to the possible danger.
What the actual fuck?
And, more importantly: how long has this actually been going on?