Modern Dreams of Robots

Photo of dramatic, looming storm clouds

Photo by brujo

The power went out last night. Just on my block. It was 3am. Out of curiosity I stepped out for a look. I slowly descended the stairs from my 2nd floor apartment, hearing the wind and nothing but the wind. No traffic, no voices. Just continuous, endless, raging wind. The apartment complex, usually lit at night by harsh floor lamps, was now only lit by sky. Surprisingly, I could see more this way. There were no harsh shadows or blinding, exposed light bulbs. The world was permeated by a soft, colorless, inexplicably even lighting I usually only see in my dreams.

By the pool, two umbrella canopies lie on their sides. They exposed an animated tug of war between force and gravity. The wind shook them, but never enough to change their position. The canopies just rolled back to where they started.

The real strength roared above me: The treetops alone all tilted sideways like an illustration from a Dr. Seuss novel. The one they used to advertise SUVs.

I tested the gate lock. Without electricity running through it, the lock remained open. It was only power that kept our little community closed off from outsiders.

I approached the sidewalk expecting sparse nighttime traffic, or a few scattered teenagers giggling in an alleyway. There was nothing. No people. No lights. Just the wind, blowing as fiercely as it could. It had removed the humans and it wanted to uproot the rest.

I had expected the street to be dark and unnavigable given the overcast sky. Instead, that even, ethereal light filled my vision. I could see everything as one, a continuous blend of reflected light. I walked into the middle of the street. Without cars, the street lost its purpose. It was reduced to a chunk of concrete. It had no justifiable reason for existing.

Far down by a distant intersection, I saw a small cluster of streetlights. The objects their rays hit were clear as day; what they missed was invisible. The light itself made it harder to see.

On the walk back to my apartment, I expected to run into at least one other person. They never materialized. This world was mine alone. My secret. I arrived back at my apartment and sat on the living room couch. There were no blinking lights. No TV sets reminding me of their nonstop power drain. No computers in sleep mode. There was only one light left, one annoying, aggravating, blinking light: The internet router, which had a backup battery. I removed it.

I noticed the gentle light from outside, shining through the trees, was strong enough to create fluctuating patterns on the wall. I didn’t need access to a TV or the internet at the moment. I didn’t need any of this. I prayed the outage would last into the morning.

I lie there on the couch, enjoying my secret apocalypse, and eventually fell asleep. I dreamed about giving a back rub to Jiz Lee, a queer porn star. When I woke, I reflexively grabbed my iPad to check Twitter.