I’ve never been in any of the catastrophe relief FEMA camps, but the inside of the tent I walk into about rises to my expectations—everything is utilitarian going on spartan, but it’s something that would do in a pinch to house a hundred people for a while, no problem. Why this immediately sets my teeth on edge, I can’t say, but it does. I distract myself by getting some more coffee, my yellow paper still in my hand.
Maybe it’s because my mind doesn’t find any pattern in the color distribution. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Age, gender, ethnicity, general fitness—none of that seems to matter. That it would take a weird event of these proportions to make us all equals says a lot about the state of the world.
People are already claiming field cots after getting shooed deeper into the tents. I wonder if I should do the same.
Instead, I gravitate toward the very back, still trying to make sense of this.
I don’t like it, and not just because of what the asshole said, or how he’s disappeared into thin air.
Sure, disaster relief is nice—and I wouldn’t have balked for a second at the very idea of letting competent people handle this. But we’re still inside the city, with groups of sungazers right outside the very tent we’re standing in right now. Sure, they seemed docile enough this morning, but just thinking about last night makes me incredibly uneasy. With my body—and legs in particular—sore all over, it’s not like I can easily shake the reminder of what happened.
The more I watch people mill into the tent, moving about as lethargic as the weirdoes outside, the more I am convinced that I made a terrible mistake. Or, if not terrible, a mistake nevertheless.
To give myself a few more moments to think, I make for the obvious next stop: the toilets. This morning, I didn’t have many options up on my roof, and I’m not letting the opportunity go to waste.
Porta Potties have never been so luxurious.
While I take care of business, I tell myself I’m just being unreasonably paranoid.
We’re not sheep, or lemmings. We are upstanding citizens who are smart in letting the authorities take care of us. They know what they are doing. This clearly is well-organized.
As I get out and get in line to wash my hands—and possibly all easily accessible parts of my body as well—I can’t keep my mind from chewing over the color schemes of the papers. There must be a pattern. There just must be—
I notice the woman in front of me staring at the yellow paper in my hand. I’m tempted to ask her opinion; ask if she agrees with me that something has to be up with that.
When she sees me looking back at her, she gives a pained shrug. “My boyfriend and sister both have the yellow slips. I’m blue. Wanna switch?”
My first impulse is to say no—not because of observations like that the elderly couple before got blue, so blue likely means “too slow to warrant rescuing” or something like that. No, it’s something much worse: the inherent stupidity of wanting to keep the yellow paper because that’s what’s been handed to me.
I’m sure the asshole would have had a field day with that realization.
It’s totally not my imagined opinion of me that he may have or not that makes me nod and hold out my paper to her.
Just like that, I’m blue.
I would probably feel better about that if not for the ear-piercing scream coming from outside the tents, followed by a barrage of shots.