Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fiction - Part 1 - The Event

This is entirely a work of fiction, although what I have with me, and what I have in my cube is accurate. Names have been changed to protect the sheeple. If you like it I'll continue the story as best I can.

Wednesday, January 14th was pretty much like any other wintry day in New England. Natog trudged through the freezing rain five blocks from Back Bay Station to work. His destination was Newbury street, a chic shopping destination that also had a few buildings with office space above the retail shops.

Natog was still mostly damp from the commute as he filed into the building's 5th floor conference room for the weekly team meeting at 10am. The company recently sprung for a teleconferencing setup, so at least the Boston, Dublin, and New York offices could see each other. LA and San Francisco were supposed to have their gear set up this week, but slacked off. Natog took his usual seat with the others while Charlie started fiddling with the AV equipment and Cheryl dialed into the bridge line.

After everyone was online with the conference call, with SF and LA connected just through the telephone bridge, Fred, the CIO in NY, started running down the list of stuff that had to get done. Ten minutes later, Fred was about to lay into the LA and SF staff for dragging ass on the teleconferencing setup when the power flickered and died. Nothing but empty swiveling seats were left in the conference room, as the five person staff dove across the hall to get into the server room. Frank was the first in line, looking perplexed as he waved his badge in front of the reader on the server room door and nothing happened.

"Guys, I don't hear anything from in there, no fans or chillers!" Frank shouted over the general din of sales weasels and data entry temps bitching about the power outage.

"How are we getting in there, Bob has the key and that SOB is in Miami!" moaned Cheryl. Then as an afterthought, "I got to call my kids!"

Natog and Al spoke in unison, "Bob's desk!" an teared off towards his office.

Dodging temps playing with Nerf guns, and Sales weasels trying to get into temp's pants, Natog and Al jimmied open Bob's office door.

Al looked over with am impish grin, " I'll get the closet, you get the desk"

Bob's office was infamous for it's mess. Bob's a great guy, but forgot to ditch the geeky man-cave aspect when he became a manager. Al and Natog tore through the office, heedlessly knocking over stacks of files, books, and leftover sandwiches. Several minutes later, like a archaeologist in a dead kings tomb, Al jumped up brandishing a key, "Got It!" and hauled ass out the door, Natog hot on his heels.

Al bowled a perplexed Frank out of the way, stabbing the key into the lock and opening the door. Server rooms are supposed to be noisy places, full of spinning hard drives and room chillers to deal with the heat. This one was silent. The windowless room was black as pitch, not even a single LED from anything was lit.

Frank summed it up succinctly, "Aw, FUCK!"

Cheryl came up looking intently into her Blackberry, "It's not working!"

The rest of the IT team broke into the Geek Macarena as they pawed pockets and belt clips for their cellphones and pagers. None of them worked. One glance at the dark office phone PBX system ruled out that way of calling home.

"Ok, what the hell is going on?" Cheryl asked, her face a mask of concern.

Natog looked around, "I dunno, but we best find out. Al, jam the door open and everyone go to each side of the building and look outside and meet back here in five minutes."

The group divvied up the sides, with Natog heading to the south side of the building. He was only on the 5th floor, but it was enough to see over the buildings to the south and into Copley Square, the crappy weather wouldn't let him see much farther anyways. Scanning the buildings, he noted none of them had power, not even the aircraft warning lights. Below, cars were all over the place, having a free-for all without the traffic lights. He could see a few accidents, thankfully only fender-benders, as two cars tried to go through the intersection at the same time. Scattered about were a few cars immobile in the middle of the street, some with the hoods up with people looking under them. Well we at least are not going through the Change Natog mused to himself, having recently finished the novels by S.M. Stirling.

A few minutes later they were all back in the conference room, the dead monitor standing mutely over the proceedings. Pretty much everyone saw the same, no power, massive traffic.

"Looks as though only a quarter of the cars are working." Cheryl was still looking out the window.

Natog looked down to the streets below, "Any pattern, new cars, old cars?"

The rest of the team stared out the conference windows, but failed to see a pattern in the chaos. Frank got up and looked around, "Well, I'm going home. See you guys later."

Murmured goodbyes followed Frank out the door.

Al murmured, "He's lucky he's only twenty blocks from home."

Natog glanced over as his friend, "Depends how long the power is out."

"What do you mean?" Cheryl asked while still futilely trying to get her Blackberry working again.

"Well if you lived in Dorchester with 70,000 neighbors with no power, how fun would that be after a week? I mean, at least you can put your food on a fire escape to freeze and stay good, but how many have camping gear to cook with? How will you refill propane tanks without electricity?" Natog heading off the obvious question.

Cheryl reluctantly put down her crackberry, "How did this happen?"

Charlie looked up from working on a dead UPS, "EMP, or a Sunspot maybe. Could be terrorists. Maybe it's the Change!" Charlie having borrowed Dies the Fire from Natog last week. "Nah, some cars are working..."

Bill, the office manager stuck his head in the conference room, interrupting Charlie. "Hey everyone, security wants the building evacuated because it has no heat."

Groans followed Bill out the door as he went down the hall telling the rest of the office.

Cheryl, and Charlie said their goodbyes, and went to the stairwell to climb down a floor where their cubes were so they could suit up and head home. The dead UPS just left on the table.

Al looked over, "Want a ride?"

Natog thought about it for a minute, "Sure, if the trains are not running. If the trains are running, you'd be better off on one of them. The SE Expressway would be a parking lot in this weather anyway, never mind with stalled cars added to the mix."

Al laughed, "You make it sound like we would be better off walking!"

Natog looked at his buddy, serious as a heart attack. "We might be. I'll meet you in your cube in a few minutes, I need to gather my stuff."

Natog's cube, affectionately known as "the Bat Cave" because of the dark curtains fashioned to keep light to a minimum. His cube was in the back corner by Bob's office. Natog grabbed his messenger bag and proceeded to dump it's entire contents on his desk, and started going through everything. The first item to go back in was his mini-BOB. He quickly added his small spare umbrella from his locker, a few granola bars from his desk, along with some napkins and last weeks The Phoenix newspaper. He carefully folded up a spare T-shirt and put that in the bag as well with the book he was currently (re)reading, The Hobbit. He checked the secret pocket he sewed in, and verified that the $200 in small bills were still there.

Knowing he had the basics covered in the mini-BOB, he rummaged through his desk for anything else. The silver change from the top draw went onto a pocket, the Tylenol and Tums went into the bag. He shook the bag, and the Tylenol made too much noise, so he crumpled up a few napkins and stuffed them in the bottle so the pills wouldn't rattle around. Grabbing an empty 1L soda bottle, his spare long underwear from his locker, and his extra flashlight from his tool bag, he went to pitch black mens room. After hitting the head and putting on his Underarmor Cold Gear, he filled the soda bottle from the water cooler, and went back to his cube.

With the improvised water bottle, his messenger bag was getting heavy. He swept the rest of the office detritus from when he emptied the bag onto his desk back in. Some paper clips, a half a pack of bubblegum, and his assorted collection of thumb drives. He checked his iPod, but tossed it into his desk when it wouldn't power on, along with his portable hard drive. Before he locked his tool bag back up, he took the spare flashlight, some zip-ties, a small adjustable wrench, half a roll of electrical tape, and his electricians scissors and dropped them in his messenger bag.

After adjusting the long underwear a few times, he kicked off his dress shoes and pulled on his wool socks over his dress socks, then laced on his hiking boots. Taking off his dress shirt, he hung it on the back of his chair, and pulled on his sweatshirt. He grabbed his Gerber Multi-tool and slid it's holster on his belt along with the one for his mini-Maglight.

Looking out the window, he figured two layers with the long underwear would be good enough for now, and quickly re-arranged the contents of the messenger bag to fit his fleece pullover. Grabbing his bag along with his jacket, hat, gloves and big umbrella he walked towards Al's cube.

Al started a week after Natog with the company, and they quickly became fast friends. Pretty much exact opposites it was amazing they got along so well. Al was the Felix to Natog's Oscar. Al was a metrosexual who went clubbing chasing the ladies every weekend, while Natog went camping, hunting, shooting, drank beer, worked around his house and helped out his mom.

Al's cube was immaculately clean, from the precise angle his hand lotion was from his monitor to the extra-large bottle of hand sanitizer. The desk calender wasn't filled with scrawled notes, nor was there a pile of post-it's stuck to his monitor.

Al got up and grabbed his coat, umbrella, and bag as Natog approached, "Geeze, what took so freaking long!"

"I had to suit up, wanted to put on my long undies in case we needed to walk anywhere." Natog paused to look over his friend, "You are NOT going out there looking like that."

Al was in thin dress pants with a dress shirt and a jacket more suitable for summer yachting off Martha's Vineyard. Slip-on designer dress shoes, a silk scarf and thin leather gloves completed his ensemble. He didn't even own a hat, just some designer ear warmers that wouldn't muss his hair.

Al looked indignant, "What? at least I look good, you look like your about to go hunt a bear or something."

With a cocked eyebrow Natog replied, "A bear, really?" Then he got serious, "No, you are going to freeze to death in that if we have to walk anywhere, it's at least six blocks to where you park your car."

"I guess I could put on my gym sweats under my slacks. I'll be right back"

Natog tossed his friend a flashlight as he walked towards the mens room.

Once Al was gone, he opened his friends bag, and dumped it's contents of lotions, hair gels etc into a desk drawer and filled the small bag with the hand sanitizer, two 25' cat 5e network cables, and his selection of post-workout bottled drinks and workout bars before Al came back.

As Al walked up he gave Natog a suspicious look, "What you do!"

Failing miserably to look innocent, Natog replied "Huh?"

As Al looked around his cube, "Nothing, you look guilty."

Natog tossed his buddy's gym socks and sneakers at him, put these on, they are better than the dress shoes. "No, over your dress socks!"

Al's new outfit was completed by his gym T-shirt, designer sweatshirt and his windproof yachting jacket.

Al moaned "I look like a fucking hobo!"

"At least you'll be a warmer homo, er hobo" Natog joked. "I wish you had some real winter shoes though..."

Al collected up his belongings they trudged down the five flights of stairs with a few other businesspeople evacuating the building. In the lobby they paused to put on their coats, strap on their bags, and don their headgear and gloves.

Al paused before pushing open the door, "You ready for this?"

Natog looked through the windows into the chaos of Newbury street, "Yep."

With that they stepped out into the wind and rain, heading south towards Back Bay Station.


Lweson said...

More more more

Patricia said...

Good show, Teowawkiaiff!

Steve said...

Great start! Keeo it coming, you have the real touch!

Marine 83 said...

yep, keep it coming

Staying Alive said...

Keep it up. It may develop into a best seller.


Brad in FL said...

Outstanding, Keep it coming! Heck, I am the guy at work that everyone looks at and says "What are you going to need that for?"

Hoozyrdady said...

Now that you've hooked us all...

Shy Wolf said...

Still chucklin', Nat- man of few words and much action~ my kinda guy!
Keep it comin' cuz I hate losing a book before the ending...

theotherryan said...

Great start. I like the Sterling reference of The Change. Please write some more.

Mayberry said...

Thoroughly enjoyable. You got the workin's of a best seller there.

Preparedwarrior said...

Yes,yes, more, more. I am hooked. Keep the story going. Wonderful characters. The metrosexual has to have some kind of reason to exist tho. Please more.


Preparedwarrior said...

Sort of reminds me of the urgency and suspense of "Lucifer's Hammer," one of my all time favorite books. Well, worth the read.

azurevirus said...

Keep it coming..its a great beginning!

Selous Scout said...

A good read! EMP burst? Keep it comin!