Short Story: Lights Out Part 1

Life in a high rise office is alright; at least most of the time.  You sometimes have to deal with recycled air or “sick building” syndrome, but you get great views from the windows and the feeling that you are above it all, down there on the ground.  Some buildings even have mezzanine levels that extend from the building with gardens or cafe’s that let you get outside and look right down on the city below.   The only time a high rise is a real pain is when the power goes out.

Which happens now.


Shit! Janice thought, mid sentence in an email to her never-far-enough-away college buddy Burgess, a boy who never grew up and a townie from Moorehead.  Burgess was having some kind of family crisis out there in Moorehead and had wanted Janice to come out and help him deal.  Janice was mid “No fucking way…” when the lights had dimmed then flashed off, along with her monitor.

She stood up and watched the Prairie-Dog city that was the cube farm stand up together and look around, the murmers that never seemed to cease had paused and everyone looked at each other for some kind of idea what happened.  The emergency lights clicked on and some people started to walk for the stairs.  Janice started to pack up her stuff and join them when a voice came over the PA

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Security Chief Mike Pendegrass, please remain in your offices and keep the stairs clear at this time.  I repeat please keep the stairs clear at this time”  the PA hissed, beeped and went silent.

“Aww, what the hell!?” Frank James on Janice’s Left collapsed back into his chair, his dangerous weight nearly collapsing it.  He unplugged his laptop and fired it up, intent on continuing his work.

Janice sat back down. but finished packing up her stuff and then rolled her chair over to the window, where there was enough light to read by.  She took out a collection of short stories she had been carting around with her and began to read, waiting for the power to come back on or for the all-clear to leave.

Around the office, people either returned to what work they could or began to mill around in groups, gossiping or making guesses about what was going on.  Janice tried to concentrate on her book, the story she was reading was about a bunch of guys in an office dealing with some sort of miniature priest outbreak, but she couldn’t get into it.  She leaned her head against the floor to cieling window and looked down into the streets.  Her phone lit up and vibrated at her hip.

“Janice, are you okay?” it was Burgess.

“What do you mean Burg’?  Yeah, I’m cool”  Janice noticed alot of people getting calls, all of them some variation of “I’m Okay” or “What? What do you mean Bombing?”

Janice stood up and pushed her chair to her desk and walked out to the cafe at the end of the office, to get a better view of the streets.

“Janice, Jan.  A bomb went off in Saint Paul, it’s gone, blown up!” Burgess was frantic.

“Burg’ I’m in the office right now looking down at the street, there’s nothing going on down there, all the lights are out, but I can see cars and some lights out there.  It’s just some sort of power out or some…”

Janice looked out at the sky, it had twin Suns set in a sickly green-blue.

“Burgess, I’m gonna have to call you back”