A Girl on the Bus Pt. 03

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“That can’t be good,” I said to my colleague Rachel, late on a Friday afternoon. The lights had flickered, dimmed twice, then recovered.

“The storm, it’s getting worse. Look how dark it is outside.”

She was right. Outside, the rain pummelled in gusts against the windows, and across the alley a broken downpipe spilled water, spiralling down then blowing away in the wind. The rain came in sheets between the tall buildings. Far distant in the hills, I could just see the three red lights on top of the radio towers, steadily blinking on and off.

I glanced at my screen, the power surge not quite enough to crash the computer. I had a feeling though and saved what I was working on, then clicked to shutdown.

“Just in case.” I said. “I think I’ll go early, get ahead of the queue for the bus.”

“You’re right,” Rachel replied. “Me too. I’ll pick Claudia up early.”

As she turned to her computer, the screen went black, and the lights brightened then went out completely. “Bugger. I don’t think I saved it.”

“Too late,” I replied. “That was a power surge. Something’s gone down, big time. It’s not just this building, look.” Outside, it was dark. The sound of wind and canlı bahis rain were louder, but it was the silence inside that made the difference. “Don’t take the lift,” I said, “just in case the back-up power falls over. Use the stairs. The emergency exits always open.”

“You go. I’ll ring Claudia first, let her know I’m coming.”

I waited, watching her face in the dim light. Rachel looked up, concerned, then held her phone up. “The phones are down. There’s no reception.”

“Come on,” I said, “get your things. We’re getting out of here, ahead of the rush. This is going to get worse.” I turned for the door, turned back. “Switch the power off at the wall.” It wouldn’t make much difference, but I remembered a report saying most computer fires in government buildings were caused by power surges from the mains. And we’d definitely had one of those.

Outside our shared office, in the open plan space, staff were moving around. “Jo, use the stairs, don’t use the lifts.” Our project officer gathered her coat and bag and we made our way to the fire stairs. On the stairs, several like-minded people were already walking down.

“Glad I’m not on the top floor,” said Rachel, as she moved bahis siteleri down the stairs ahead of me.

“The Minister’s got legs like the rest of us, she can walk,” someone commented.

At the bottom of the stairs someone had already banged the emergency exit open, and we looked out into the gloom.

“Hope Claudia’s okay,” I said, before venturing outside. “Jesus, that wind’s fierce. I’m going. See ya.”

“You too,” replied Rachel. “You in the car-park?” she asked Jo. Jo nodded, and they went off together.

Keeping close to the buildings, staying under eaves and sheltering balconies wherever I could, I made my way across several blocks to the bus stops on Jefferson Street. It was eerie, the dark buildings cold and silent, their windows reflecting distant clouds, sheened bright with rain. The wind buffeted, sending water in strange directions down the streets and small lanes. My jacket was thoroughly wet.

Huddling figures, some hopelessly struggling with umbrellas turning inside out, moved quickly through the streets. Far off, some alarms wailed in a sing-song crescendo, triggered no doubt by the loss of power. Closer, I heard police sirens. The only lights were bahis şirketleri from vehicles in the streets, a line of headlights and flickering indicators at corners. The traffic was moving slowly, allowing people to cross in blocks, their feet careful on the slippery roads. Water was rushing in the gutters, and car wheels splashed, catching those who stood on the curb.

Crossing Jefferson Street to get to my usual stop, I could see that the queues were far longer than usual, but the buses were still moving at least. At the end of the block, a police car was parked, lights flashing. The cop began to direct traffic. Everything moved silently, slowly like hearses, and the only sounds were the wind and rain, and the rush of wheels in the wet. Even bus engines seemed muted.

I looked at my watch. Twenty minutes. This one, I thought, this one is going to be all night. At least I can get out of the city. I looked up, and the sky was dark, no lights reflecting anywhere. Not just the city sub-station, then. I wondered if the inter-connect had failed completely, and this blackout was everywhere. Above me, a big jet moved silently across the sky, its landing lights and flashing wing lights pulsating like heart beats, beating time.

I felt a hand on my arm. “Adam, it is you. Can I stand with you?”

“Delilah. Are you okay? This is unbelievable, isn’t it?”

“It’s horrible. Look at me, I’m drenched.”

She was.

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