I started writing this through the use of a secondhand power source, because my house was too weak to withstand a storm that took out the power of..I don’t even know how many homes, because at the time I had to get my information through secondhand sources as well (and I’m too lazy to research it now that I’ve got a post in the works). But, I’ve heard that two thirds of my own county has been affected, and the same of the other counties within the state and in the surrounding states. That’s a lot of power outages for Pepco to deal with, and while I understand that, it was difficult for me not to be angry with them when I was lying on the floor in a 120 degree house in front of a cheap misting fan with foam blades like the kind you get on a hot day at Disney World. That kind of thing makes you say goodbye to your rationality.
It started off badly, because the storm cut off my video game time in the rudest and most frightening of ways. Rude because I have to restart Fallout: New Vegas enough already (it likes to freeze on me), frightening because it happened while I was literally in the middle of waiting for the load bar on the save function to finish. Which is the little screen where they tell you not to disconnect the game or turn off the system.
It was made worse by the fact that I had no power to find out if I had a corrupted file, or maybe a disc that was crying because it felt mistreated (and because it was trapped inside the Playstation 3). After all, the system does yell at me for it when I start it back up. I wish I could tell it that I didn’t turn the thing off improperly, the power outage did.
So anyway, I was already bothered by the storm, but I thought that the power would come back shortly. My neighborhood never seems to suffer much from storms, and my house hardly ever loses power at all. Unfortunately, it lasted all night..and the following day. And the one after that, and..well, you see where I’m going with this. My parents and I tried desperately to stay in our house without roasting alive.
Leaving my father to suffer with the one small battery operated fan that we managed to have at our disposal, my mother and I went out the next morning to forage in the desert for food, ice, and other fans, hopefully of a bigger variety.
Driving around the area, there weren’t a lot of places that had power. There was the McDonald’s, sitting in a group of darkened stores as the only one with power; which in my opinion backs up the joking I was doing about blaming the government for the power issues. That was where we were forced to buy breakfast, since we couldn’t use our appliances or open our fridge. Driving farther away from home, to the next towns over, we found traffic lights out and hardly any stores open. But we did manage to find a Walmart and a few gas stations. The Walmart had no ice, and no battery powered fans that weren’t larger than the Disney spray bottle variety. So we bought two of those and a Styrofoam cooler. Then we tried several gas stations until we found one that had a few bags of ice. So we brought all of that home, put ice in the cooler that we already had, and in the Styrofoam one. We had coolers full of groceries and a hot, hot house only combated by the three tiny battery operated fans. My mother and I watched a movie on a dying laptop, and during that time she begged me to find a friend with whom I could spend the night, so that she’d be free of my ‘incessant complaining’. I found a friend who had power and a willingness to put up with me for a night.
I thought I was safe. I let my guard down. I forgot that the relentless insect menace is stirred up by heat and my being in an unfamiliar environment, with nowhere to run.
They’re sneaky. While I was perfectly comfortable playing a video game with my heterosexual mate for life, they sent out a scout to find out what level of danger they would be facing with the two of us being present in the room. Though they had the element of surprise, they did not expect my finely tuned, perfectly honed bug radar to be on with full power, as it always is. So I spotted the scout, but they were willing to lose one man. The real test was for them to see what we would do with their captured brother. Would it be a fatal blow? Would we simply flee?
Well, it so happens that my friend is much more..peaceful (toward the bug scourge) than I am. The scout was taken care of, in a rather humane manner, and I am of the opinion that he could eventually find a way out of that rolled up brown paper bag in the trash can. Which was exactly what bothered me from then on. I knew that it was the first sign of attack. And judging by the suspicious lack of the appearance of insect kinsmen, I could tell that they were planning to attack when I was on my own. They had learned from the fate of their scout. They were adapting. And I was nervous.
She lasted as long as she could, but my ally eventually grew tired. I stayed downstairs, in a room that I felt was safe. But they had picked up my scent, they knew that it was time to strike. It started with a Silverfish, blending into the carpet. I thought, no big deal, I’ll kill it with this magazine that happens to be here. Crafty insects..crafty…for the magazine contained a camouflaged recruit which fell just near my foot and scampered beneath the couch upon which my things were piled. Backing away toward the opposite couch, I glanced toward the ceiling and noticed another recruit in one of the corners, spying from above. I was surrounded. Doomed. I curled up small on the couch in a pile of the things I had barely managed to move, and tried to focus on Netflix to calm myself.
A few hours later, my mother needed me to come back early to assist my father. I left feeling that I had won, that I had managed not to flip out and wake the entire house with psychotic demands that all small insects be killed so that I might be able to put my feet on the floor again. However, because of the heat and lack of power, we did not go back to my own home. Instead, we were borrowing (with permission) the vacant house of one of my mother’s friends, who was away at a vacation cabin at the time. A house that happened to be sort of..almost..in the woods. It was so early in the morning that I just thought, “Of course.”
The house was very nice, though, and I quickly felt comfortable there. I spent the first day with my father watching television shows, the two of us staring at whatever we could find that both of us could stand. When it was his turn to choose, we watched Judge Mathis and the News (to find out the power situation). Often he would try to sleep, so my turns came up more often, and we would watch things like Malcolm in the Middle, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Spongebob, and Everybody Hates Chris. When there was nothing that either of us really cared for, we sunk so low as to watch a few episodes of Maury.
I saw what might have been the biggest spider I’ve ever laid my eyes on (aside from a Daddy Long-leg), crawling at a very fast pace on one of the cupboards in the kitchen. Luckily my mother was around to dispose of it. But I might as well have waved goodbye to my comfort. That was the second day that my family had spent there, but my first day after spending my first night, since I had come from my friend’s house. And luckily, that was the day that I managed to get our own answering machine when calling home, which meant that we had our power back. So I didn’t have to spend the night talking myself into lying down and forgetting about spiders and the large families I’m sure they all have. All of whom want to avenge their death after they are killed by humans.
We came back to a one hundred and ten degree house when it was in the process of cooling itself down (meaning that it was at around 80 after having a few hours to work with). Because our upstairs Air Conditioning had recently broken, eighty was like an ice bath to us, especially in comparison to the sweltering, record-breaking heat we’d tried to power through when we lost..power. We cleaned out our indoor and outdoor fridges, both of which held rotted food and tidal waves of water. That night, with the help of my fan, my room felt normal again.
But still I refuse to get entirely comfortable, for two reasons.
One, the power is still acting funny. The night that we came back, it went out for a few minutes, long enough to make us thoroughly frightened. Two nights ago, the power went out for seven hours for no discernible reason. And two, I saw a spider in my room, my safe-zone, that night. And when I killed it, I felt thoroughly bad for it afterwards. I hope the heat hasn’t warped my brain. Let this serve as a reminder: Spiders are the enemy. And so is heat.