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The next week or so seemed to go from bad to worse. We were told by work to come to the building every working day. If the power came back on then it would be business as usual. If not, they would take a register of who had attended and that would reflect in our pay slip when things went back to normal. At first, the vast majority attended only to be turned away once their names were taken. Each day while we waited I would eaves drop into people’s conversations to try and find out information about what was happening outside of the city. I would have spoken to them myself but I am what society would call ‘socially awkward’. I rarely had conversations with people that would flow comfortably. Sometimes the awkward silences would be so deafening that I would want to find a hole to crawl into until the person left, and I’m pretty sure the feeling was mutual. So I decided to stay quiet, but I listened carefully to what people had to say, filtering out any information I didn’t think was relevant. One person said this whole thing was the wrath of God, punishing us for a lack of faith. Another said animal rights activists had freed all the animals from Newquay Zoo and Paradise Park in Hayle. It would be a while, however, until we saw any lions roaming the streets. I chuckled to myself, picturing my very own wolf as a companion. One story that I could not decide was relevant or not was an attack on Hinkley Point nuclear power station. It wasn’t destroyed they said, but was heavily damaged, leaking radiation. I remembered reading about the Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant in Japan that was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The damage caused the failure of cooling systems resulting in the evacuation of 140,000 residents within a 12 miles radius of the plant. If the story about Hinkley Point is true, I don’t know what the government is going to do considering everything else that is going on.
I parked about a mile from work to allow me to walk past groups of people to find out more information. The local council had taken control of the major food shops due to a spate of looting. We were given ration vouchers allowing us food to last a couple of days. Residents who seemed only concerned about their own well-being voiced their anger at the system, stating it was their human right to shop and buy what they wanted. Their opinions were quickly silenced by the crowd who showed unity, but I could already see cracks starting to show.
At home I kept myself entertained. I didn’t have any electricity or internet for online gaming, but I did have batteries for my gameboy. In a couple of days I became a Pokemon master on Generation 2. The first game was good in it’s own right, but Gen 2 was when the game really started to open up. By simply introducing day and night meant certain Pokemon could only be caught at certain times. I’m boring you, I’m sorry, I become really invested in games and don’t appreciate that others may not care about the thrill of ‘catching them all’.
As the days went on, less and less employees came to work, and less food was given to families. By day nine, work had told everyone not to come back. It seemed they had given up hope on the electricity coming back on and I had lost hope on getting paid. On the way back to the car I discovered a large crowd gathered outside a supermarket. The steel shutters were down, looking through the window I could see empty shelves, the odd tin of peeled tomatoes and sweetcorn were lying abandoned on the till packing area. It was clear that they were down to the bare rations. A man walked into the atrium holding a megaphone. He looked nervous, even at a distance I could see the layer of sweat that coated his forehead. I think he was being used as a scapegoat but nobody in the crowd cared. He didn’t want to be here. He was about to make an announcement that would make him the most hated man in Truro, regardless of who told him to do it.
“Citizens of Truro, may I have your attention please. I, I mean we regret to inform you that due to a delay in food delivered to the city, we are unable to give out rations today. We have leaflets that will provide you with advice on how make what rations you have last longer.” As he continued to give unwanted advice and information, a teenage boy runs around the corner of the building.
“A lorry just pulled out of the rear entrance!” Their true intentions came to light, igniting anger in an already agitated crowd. They swarmed around the man, banging on the glass like he was the last piece of meat on offer, demanding answers that they knew he could not answer. The man was clearly and understandably terrified, unable to hold a gaze of fear that he would be caught off guard. He held the megaphone up to his mouth to plead with them, but his words fell silent under the roar of the fierce mob. The glass protecting him lasted a matter of minutes before it was shattered into a million pieces. The crowd poured in like water breaking through a dam. The man was grabbed and restrained arm in arm by two muscular men. I have tried for months to erase the look of fear on his face from my memory as he was dragged into darkness. That was the day that humanity failed. I had to move.