It's two days later, and now that I have my journal back, I can document what happened after our decision to go downtown. It started innocently enough. Like any mission composed of people who didn't know what they were doing, we decided the first thing we'd need were supplies. The KMart in Penn station gave us plenty of opportunities to fill our arms without reason. Swiss army knives, compasses, backpacks, and even an inflatable raft. It wasn't until we were done shopping that we realized our purchases were gleaned more from old MacGyver episodes than anything we might need in the Apocalypse. But seeing as we didn't know what that was exactly, who's to say they weren't the same thing.
We got off the 1 at Rector street and made our way to Park 51. I was surprised to find it was still just occupying space in the abandoned Burlington Coat Factory while trying to raise construction money amidst a sea of bad press. Tobey adopted a stealthy Spider-Man creep fifty yards from the destinate.
"Y'think there's a way in through the roof?" he asked.
"No, but it has a front door, jackass. The center's open to all New Yorkers."
We walked in and started gathering intelligence which basically meant Oz and I took a free class on Middle Eastern cooking, and Tobey had a pick-up basketball game with three Egyptian exchange students from NYU.
Go to page 2.
After a couple of hours, even Tobey began to believe Park 51 wasn't the hotbed of terrorist activity that Glenn Beck had led him to believe. And even if it were, we couldn't find any trace of the Internet. We were about to grab our things and get wrecked at the Heartland Brewery in the Seaport when we heard it. Something I hadn't heard in at least ten years. A modem.
"Fuck, I knew it!" Tobey said.
"Knew what?" I said.
"Don't tell me you didn't hear that modem. That's the sounds of the Internet."
"Yeah, I heard something, but why would anyone be using a modem now?"
"What's a modem," Oz asked. (She was very young.)
"It's a terrible crunching beeping noise that used to connect people to the Internet on dial up."
"That?" Oz asked. "I think chef Abdul is just mashing some more dates in a blender."
"Wait a second. It's coming from outside," I said.
We looked up through the glass of the lobby doors to see twenty soldiers in riot gear. The black stormtroopers from the Park had returned. And that modem we'd heard now appeared to be merely dispatcher crackles over walkie talkies. But I didn't process that then. At that moment, all I could think of was the force of twenty troops plowing inside a lobby. Flowing like violence and filled with screams for everyone to hit the floor.
Oz broke for the door, and was taken down instantly. I sprung forward as if the knee pressing into her back were actually driving mine, but a trooper blocked my way, screaming, "Get down, now!"
Before I could even decide to comply, another guard shouted that someone was getting away. Tobey was sprinting uptown with two troopers following after him. They labored under the weight of their riot gear, but Tobey bounced off pedestrians all legs and elbows like an 80s video game character.
And then I was on the floor. My face inches from Oz. My own trooper for my back. She looked at me, hoping for something I could not give, and I watched them take her away.