BlackoutA Story by Eric Richard
A CIA agent stuck in the elevator during the blackout in New York 2003
“S**t. How long was I out for?” the voice calls out from complete darkness, surfacing form his daze regaining consciousness. All in silence except rapid breathing, the ticking of a wristwatch had stopped sometime ago. The breathing escalates from rapid breaths to short of having a panic attack.
He slides his hand into a pocket of his jeans in haste, searching. A cell phone, his only chance of survival has been stripped along with his badge identifying him, Jake Crawford, as special agent of the CIA. He gropes the walls, almost collapsing at his knees that buckle from underneath him.
He makes quick short breaths gasping for air, his heart quivers about to burst out of its chambers. Sweat races down his forehead to bridge of his nose then drips into the blackness.
“Help, help…can anybody hear me. Anybody?” he screams pounding on sheer metal with his fists. His cries are deafening but they give no relief, his presence goes unnoticed. A loud mechanical thump blasts through as his environment plunges; he crashes to the ground. It abruptly cuts short.
The skyscrapers, which tower over both the Hudson and the East River burn out like candles in the wind, lights flicker off in a wave that moves from one window to the next until all is dusk. Streetlights at each corner fade to black leaving gridlock and anguish, analog clocks found in Grand Central Station as well as throughout Central Park freeze shortly after four. Confusion sweeps over the island; the streets clutter with pedestrians who search out for a battery pack radio fidgeting with the dials for answers on what takes place, commuters underground are helpless cut away from the world above the sweat dripping from their brows. With the fans off the subway cars heat up like the Earth’s core and slowly transcend into the ninth circle of hell their cell phones providing no information of the horrors on land or any contact information at all.
An unmark building resides in the outer boroughs, specifically in Brooklyn, one with no windows and only consists of a steel door. A small portable radio sits on the desk in the basement hidden from the beakers and various hazardous materials; it speaks from the counter.
“Reports are coming in from all over New England that a wide spread blackout has occurred, originating in Toronto and extending as far as New York City. Officials are still searching for the route cause although terrorism has not been ruled out, and the state of New York is in a heat advisory in effect until….” The voice roars throughout the room, a hand turns the dial shutting the radio off.
“Hey Damon, do you think maybe we caused the outage when we fried the system when taking our prisoner…” the man is cut off by his collaborator.
“And have it take down the north eastern seaboard? Mhhmm it may be a possibility RJ, just keep making business.” Damon picks up a beaker and some flammable substances off the shelf.
“Without power how are we to expect payment from our customers?” RJ stirs up a beaker. “And if they conduct an investigation couldn’t it get traced back to us?”
“Of course the government is onto us,” Damon pounds RJ on the top of his head with his fist, “stop these foolish questions, do you reckon the government that smart, I ain’t scared now stop ya mouthing we wasting time. We will get payment from our customers despite this charade…” Damon heads over towards the sink dropping the beakers.
“The phones are down so how do you expect to get payment” RJ wipes down the counter.
“You fat idiot, don’t you think I know the phones are down besides I can smell them from an hour away I can, they smell like dogs. Haven’t you ever cracked a sniff of the crystals your making?” Damon storms up the stairs.
Meanwhile, Jake Crawford is on the floor of his environment waiting for light, he bangs against metal with a grip and jumps to his feet, which causes his habitat to subside. Upon movement his enclosure rattles. Screams for help fill the chamber, his face goes bloodless and dry from perspiration. The effects of the crystal methamphetamine fade exiting the body, the pounding on his skull dissipates. Suddenly, thoughts pour into mind of his twin girls Jessica and Taylor, and his wife Betty, he wonders how they are making out for surely he has been absent for days, weeks, or maybe years for there is no measure of time and there still no knowledge of how long the unconsciousness lasts for.
“Damn it,” Jake exclaims looking at his watch forgetting for a moment that it fails to tick. All at once a brain storm fires; he envisions Mayor Michael Bloomberg covering his chest prior to hitting the ground in the middle of Rockefeller Center, his body goes cold. The crowd consisting of news reporters, politicians, and civilians unsure of what is happening for there is no gunshot or a masked figure holding a rifle.
“Poison…” Jake whispers to himself he then smacks the metal and shouts, “Is anybody out there…. the mayor is in trouble and going to be assassinated. Help is anybody out there?” He continuously attacks the metal when all of a sudden the noise changes from a thud to a hollow ding; he pushes into the sheet, which is separate from the rest of the barrier.
The sun lowers on the horizon the unlit skyscrapers fade into nightfall. The occupants of Manhattan deluge the city streets; honking fills the humid air, as drivers are unable to pass through with engines now shut off. The sidewalks are shoulder to shoulder with walkers carrying water bottles, the ice dissolving. Damp towels cover foreheads or moist t-shirts as a replacement. Footsteps in all directions seeking relief from the blistering air, those near Rockefeller Center pass by signs, which announce Mayor Bloomberg’s address for towards the ends of August, only a few weeks away. Passengers of the subway system are walking the rails towards high ground their clothing dousing in sweat. The New York Police Department with the Fire Department of New York examines the buildings skyscrapers pursuing elevators that cut short it would not be long now especially with the CIA looking for his whereabouts or so he assumes, unbeknownst to Jake Crawford, however; he currently waits in a warehouse run down near Pier seventeen where no one would assume to find civilians in need of help.
Jake Crawford continues to attempt to free the hollow section in his environment first by banging on it until he realizes a small opening in between, a narrow doorway. He tries to converse his oxygen with slow breaths of air and thinks of his family, a glimmer of hope to sooth his rapid breathing. Although he knew little of his situation or how long he has been here he keeps together with reflection of his family, surely they notice him missing and report it to the city of New York. The reality is he has been away for only a few hours, and his family would not notice until he fails to come home later that evening. If only he could free open the door and escape his cell he could then warn Mayor Bloomberg.
Damon stomps down the stairs into the basement carrying a box of supplies for the lab, his buddy RJ is now working on an additional beaker. The supplies so deadly they require the two to wear gas masks.
“So Damon, you sure we have enough juice to carry out the act on Bloomberg?” RJ says stirring.
“Shhhh…. keep it down we can’t be announcing our dirty deeds you know, amateur.” Damon drops the supplies in haste to close the door.
“Who ‘going to hear Damon?” RJ shouts not a care in the world.
“We can’t take any chances would you like to be foiled again like we did in the Bronx, we won’t be caught anymore once this dirty deed done we ain’t be, no chance in the world.” Damon speaks through his gas mask.
“What if we get foiled again, what is our escape plan?” RJ finishes up on making the murder weapon for Mayor Bloomberg.
“What the f**k you talking about, escape plan? We ain’t getting caught we just have to be sure that we slip enough in his drink for it to kill the b*****d, and then we don’t have to worry no more about being caught by the feds.” Damon walks towards the sink for lids to cover his conjunctions.
“And what about the squealer?” RJ asks.
“He no longer any concern we locked him up good in the elevator in a place where no one would find him. And we not have a squealer on our trails if you learned to keep your fat mouth shut. Do you want another one following us?” RJ shakes his head, “I didn’t think so now get back to work.” Damon turns on the handheld radio.
“The heat advisory is well underway please keep cool and take extra care to children, the elderly as well as pets....” the voice blares from the radio.
“Ah get to the bloody point you piece of crap,” Damon snares hitting the counter.
“Reports have been confirmed the blackout is in response due to a power failure in the grid, which may have originated in Northern Canada or closer to New York City. On a sudden note, a man has been reported missing last seen in the northern end of Brooklyn Heights…”
“Hey Damon I guess we did not cause the blackout, could that be our squealer?” RJ listens eagerly to the voice.
“How the hell am I supposed to hear with that hole in your face moving up and down, even if it is, what it too ya? We did a great job hiding the rat.” Damon adds substances to the mixture in a beaker.
“We should have just killed the son of a b***h Damon while we had the chance. What we do if he shall escape?”
“Don’t you listen?” Damon snaps the end of RJ’s gas mask, “They ain’t not gonna find the squealer.” RJ collapses from the stench of the musty air, “Even if they do find him he be long past dead.” Wicked laughter fills the basement it has a slight crackle.
“It would have brought ease to my mind if he were swimming with the fishes down in the Hudson River.” RJ catches his breath from the massive odor of the chemicals.
“Do you want to cause more suspicions you idiot?” Damon sighs.
“I’m just saying…” RJ trails off. The voice from the radio is lost underneath the words of Damon and RJ.
“I am sick of this old bloody thing,” Damon takes a shotgun and fires it into the speakers the voice lost never to return.
The enclosed cell throttles as Jake Crawford picks up on an engine roaring throughout the building. A smell like an air about to rain fills the chamber as the door shifts open ever so slightly. He stumbles on a keypad and pressing buttons with his thumb a bell chimes throughout, the other buttons carry no function. It is imperative the CIA agent exits in sake of Mayor Bloomberg. The last memory before utter disorientation surfaces to mind.
Jake Crawford is underneath the Brooklyn Bridge; he treads the dank mud on a suspicious call made from headquarters. The air reeks of: lighter fluid, ether, ammonia, auto parts cleaner and above all; rotten eggs. The man uses his uniform shirt as a mask for clean air. At first he is under the impression the sole cause of the stench is the construction vans underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, however; he spies off in the distance an unmarked building with a steel door. As he nears the inconspicuous building the odor intensifies masking the smells from the muddy waters. He overhears two voices talking about conspiring to cause harm on the mayor of New York City, a plot to poison his drink shortly before his press conference being held at Rockefeller Center.
“What if he does not take a drink,” remarks one member. Jake Crawford continues to approach the building, the sound of the voices resound through the cracks in the doorway.
“Of course he will take a drink, it’s his ritual he wouldn’t last through the press conference otherwise. Now stop your dilly-dallying and get back to work. One sip of this crystal and the mayor will be knocked out flat,” the voice answers. Jake freezes in his tracks with his jaw open he fails to hear the remainder of the conversation or the rushing footsteps from the other side of the door.
“How are we going to disguise this odor when we place the crystal in his drink?” the one voice asks.
“Agghh, we don’t need to go through the trouble what we do is just let the wine cover up the foul smell.” The voice cracks into laughter. Abruptly Jake hears the turning of the doorknob, his breath falls from underneath him, and he peers over his surroundings looking for a place to hide to no avail. The two men emerge from the door carrying a box of beakers; they witness the CIA agent in complete uniform immediately.
“Looks like we got ourselves a test subject, RJ. Now give him some of that magic stuff sees if it works.” Damon races in Jake’s direction to get a hold of him and has Jake in a choke hold. RJ waddles to the two and uses a handkerchief to swap the liquid.
“Not too much RJ we don’t want to kill the poor sucker just enough to make him blackout.” Damon orders, RJ obliges and forces the crystals down Jake’s esophagus. Everything after that point was stricken from Jake’s memory.
Jake Crawford spies through the crack in the doorway, just enough to confirm his whereabouts down by pier seventeen. He presses the other buttons in haste; they still remain to have no effect and then he slams his thumb into the bell causing it to ring throughout the warehouse. A group forming of the New York Police Department, the CIA, and the Fire Department of New York dressed to prepare for the worst break down a door to gain entrance into the building. Jake hears the rustling of the footsteps pound the stairs and doors opening.
“I’m in here.” Jake yells with all the energy in his throat, although not much is left being so dry, “I’m in here….” Jake’s voice trails off into a whisper.
Damon and RJ are piling beakers and containers of crystals into a cardboard box. They both stampede up the stairways and head towards the back of the unmarked building.
“Where are we to store all this for the next two weeks,” asks RJ. Damon fumbles for his keys to an unmarked van out back.
“What do you think we are doing now? We have to find base closer towards Rockefeller Center,” Damon opens the door of the van as RJ follows.
“Why must we do it now, we have almost two weeks Damon.” RJ questions.
“RJ, we have to be on the move…” Damon places the box into the backseat of the van.
“But I thought you said our plan is flawless, that we ain’t going to get caught.” RJ opens the van of the door and climbs in.
“What are you so scared about, we ain’t going to get caught.” Damon climbs into the van starting the engine.
“Have you ever successfully murdered anyone?” RJ sifts through beakers tossing the ones that fall onto the floor back into the box.
“Well, not quite yet this will be our first success if we get the job done.” The van pulls back from the muddy water and onto a nearby access road.
The CIA, New York Police Department, and Fire Department of New York search the building their steps clambering the dusty old floorboards. Jake Crawford continues to hold down the bell, it rings through out the building causing all in ear shot to head towards it as if it were the North Star. The group follows suit and find a service elevator with the door ajar slightly, just enough to see Jake Crawford struggling for air. The group force the door open fully.
A black man takes off his headgear and reaches his hand out towards the man in the elevator, “Jake Crawford, a pleasure to meet you my name is Alex De’Mitri, NYPD…” He hands Jake a water bottle from his knapsack.
“How did you guys happen to find me,” tears pour down from Jake’s face, he chugs down the water thankfully.
“Well, with that bell of yours, you see what happened sir was the generator kicked in allowing it to ring.” Alex De’Mitri continues.
“Why would this old warehouse happen to have a generator?” Jake asks gasping for air.
“We been searching out two guys who been using this building as a meth lab. In fact we have suspicions it caused the blackout.” Alex De’Mitri helps Jake Crawford stand to his feet.
“Blackout?” Jake asks.
“Why yes sir, a blackout that stretched as far up to Toronto.”
“Damn.” Blurts out Jake.
“It’s good to have you back sir, the city of New York would like to thank you for a job well done.” Alex De’Mitri shakes Jake Crawford’s hand.
““We have to warn Mayor Bloomberg regarding his press conference.” Jake Crawford demands.
“The matter has already been taken care of, we have a squad car perusing these small like minded criminals as we speak.” Alex De’Mitri, reaches out his hand to Jake Crawford.
“No need to thank me Officer De’Mitri, to be honest I did not do much really,” Jake says with scorn.
“You done plenty,” he looks Jake Crawford in the eye and holds out his hand, “And again the city of New York thanks you. Now let’s get you cleaned up sir.”
© 2013 Eric Richard
AboutI am 23 years old. Been interested in writing since as long as I can remember. I am a college student persuing my degree in writing and looking for feedback on my pieces. I took a creative writi.. more..
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