You are sitting at your computer, surfing your normal websites, when the screen goes black and the lights turn off. You wonder if you somehow blew a circuit In a futile effort, you flick the light switch up and down as you enter the hallway. Maybe you didn’t blow a circuit, maybe it’s a blackout. Power outages are so frustrating. You can’t get anything done. You walk to the window and look out at the neighborhood. IT’s the middle of the day so it’s hard to tell if anyone else has lost power.
You see your neighbor mike, scratching his head and trying to figure out why his weed whacker isn’t working. He’s checking the power cord. His electricity must have gone out too. It’s a little odd because the weather is fine- sunny skies for miles and miles.
The weird thing is that when you reach for your phone, it has no service. At all. Obviously with the power out, the WiFi is down, but cellphone towers don’t run off the same electrical grid as the house, do they?
The combination of no power and no cellphone service leaves an uncomfortable feeling in the air, like the back of your mind is trying to tell you something is wrong.
Maybe there’s something on the radio.
You go outside and get in your car, turn it on, and turn up the volume on the radio.
Not even static, just…nothing.
You turn it up all the way, to be sure the signal isn’t just faint, but there’s nothing on any frequency, AM or FM.
Your neighbors are starting to wander out of their houses.
"Hey Fred- you lost power too?"
"My phone’s not working, and I can’t reach Tom, what about you?"
"I have AT&T, but no signal."
"Sprint, no signal."
"Check the radio."
"I already did. There’s nothing on the air."
"Nothing? What about the emergency alert system? Try again."
So you do, you get in your car and turn the radio up all the way, then scan through the stations. Unsatisfied your neighbors try their cars and portable radios. Nothing.
Everyone has the same look on their face.
They are confused.
Nothing like this has ever happened before.
People are feeling uneasy, but trying to talk themselves out of it. What is going on? It must be something big, right? If it effects electricity and cellphones and the radio….. but no one wants to jump to the conclusion that something catastrophic is happening. That’s crazy.
You decide to take a drive and see what’s going on in town. All along the route, people are stopped in the middle of the road, talking to each other. You see a few familiar faces, wave, say hello. “Cellphones not working.”
"There’s nothing on the radio."
You see the Sheriff as you approach main street. He is sitting in his car deep frown on his face. You raise your hands when he looks at you, a silent ‘what is going on here?’
He shrugs and shakes his head.
Downtown, shops are locking their doors. The electricity is out, along with their ability to sell things or protect themselves from theft.
The grocery store is already a mad house. People are buying water and toilet paper, batteries and bread. The cashiers look flustered, trying to ring everything up on paper with calculators, accepting wads of cash in exchange for their dwindling supplies.
You decided to head home, wait for the power to come back, and maybe make some Kraft Mac & Cheese for dinner. As you pass the Sheriff again, you pull up next to him and stop.
"Hey," he says, rolling his window down.
"Any word yet?"
"Nothing," he says. The way he says it makes you a little queasy. His tone is clear. He should have heard something by now. He shouldn’t still be in the dark. He can’t get information from the surrounding counties. No one knows how wide an area has been affected. No one knows what caused the blackout or the cellphone tower failure, or the silence on the radio.
No one knows what’s going on.
You thank him and head home. There are more cars out now, more people trying to figure out what’s going on.
At the lake, people are grilling and swimming as if it is a normal day. You think about stopping since there’s nothing else to do, but something tells you to go home, so you do.
You take a quick inventory of your fridge and cabinets. You’ll survive for a few days, and by then you’ll know what’s happening.
Because even though it’s just the power, the cellphones, the radio, you have a feeling that SOMETHING Is happening out there. Something big.