Z365 – 016 – Stupid

I’m sure most people who live in this city are smart; probably smarter than me, seeing as I’m crouching underneath a picnic table, afraid to even draw breath as not to alert anyone or anything. They likely stayed inside, behind securely locked doors and windows.

But then there are the stupid ones. They call out and scream because they are afraid of the sudden dark. And because that’s not enough of a homing beacon for the crazy ones yet, they pull out their phones, light up the displays, and use the flashlight app to let everyone around know that they are the perfect victim.

Never mind that this has been me, oh, all of thirty minutes ago. But that was in the perceived security of my own building, and before I realized that something is terribly, terribly wrong. I wouldn’t be that stupid now.

Sadly, that doesn’t mean I don’t get first-row seats to watching—and listening to—the spectacle unfold several times over the next five minutes. There aren’t even that many people in the park with me, but before my pulse has had time to slow down, half of them have attacked the other half.

I think I now get what they mean with “shell-shocked.”

My mind still refuses to make sense of what is going on.

A terrorist attack? A gas leak? Bath salts? 5G?

The crazies are one thing, but the fact that the entire city seems to have lost power scares me far more. Everything around me—except for the lights from handheld electronic devices operated by idiots—is cast into pitch-black darkness. I know we all love to bemoan light pollution, but I like my sky to be an eternal purple with only the brightest of the bright stars visible. I love my blackout curtains.

Suddenly finding myself cast into true darkness is worse than I could have imagined.

Guess I’m lucky that fear paralyzes me, so I spend the next hour huddled around myself, under that picnic table, in that park until I realize it’s utterly deserted.

I can still hear people shout and scream in the distance, but my near vicinity is quiet. 

I don’t dare check my watch since that might attract attention as well. I’m also not sure when I’ll get a chance to recharge it anytime soon so I’d better preserve what charge it still holds. My guess is that it must be closer to 4 A.M., with dawn still a long time from coming.

I could stay, but I have no way of defending myself should anyone or anything realize I’m hiding here.

Listening intently, I finally brave crawling out from underneath the table. I have zero idea from where I came and which way is which. I can barely make out a paved path a few feet away so I decide to follow that, walking with slow, fearful steps.

It takes me forever but finally, I reach the end of the park. I ignore people-sized lumps when I pass them. The road beyond is quiet.

I turn left and follow it, walking slowly as I let my right hand trail alongside cars parked along the side.

I’m maybe a block away from the park when I realize I can actually see shapes ahead of me. Soon, the reason become apparent—down the next intersection, two cars crashed into each other are burning, the flames casting shadows and light all over. 

Everything inside of me yearns to go toward the light but I force myself to stay in the shadows, trying to remain aware of what might lurk somewhere around. 

It’s awfully quiet.

Too quiet.

Casting around like a madwoman, I expect hungry, mad eyes to be staring at me from everywhere but that doesn’t happen.

What I do notice is another fire escape right next to where I’m teetering on the brink of panic.

Never in a million years would I have considered scaling a building I don’t know, even a couple hours ago, but now that’s exactly what I do.

What could possibly go wrong?

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