Last night a worrying thing happened. I was sitting quite calmly looking at Facebook, hitting ‘refresh’ repeatedly, when all of a sudden the lights went out. Not only that, my speakers cut out, the TV died and I could hear shrieks of terror from flats above and below (they might have been mine, I can’t remember. Trauma does terrible things to the memory). My worst fears had been realised, it was a power cut. It was emergency time.
Some people may have wondered about their loved ones, others may have gotten out the candles they had specially prepared for such an event, a select few may even have used the dimming of lights to make an inappropriate move on a loved one. I have to confess my initial thoughts were how to best plan for the oncoming zombie invasion.
I immediately ran a sink full of fresh drinking water and started searching for weapons. The best I could find were a few empty wine bottles for projectiles, a guitar for close range combat and a gun with a single bullet if worst came to worst. Next I pondered food. Obviously a supplies run to Scotmid was necessary for survival, but was it worth the risk of taking on extra zombies by heading up to Waitrose and having an all round more satisfactory ration supply?
A few sirens blared past the window and I sat tensely, waiting for the screams of people running down the street, away from those with no desire but to tear flesh from innocent faces with their teeth. Those neither living nor dead, with no goal but to consume every living thing within their bloated guts. The only beings that may very well bring about the end of humankind.
It turns out my intense paranoia was slightly misplaced. T’was merely a power cut that had affected various patches of Edinburgh and caused no end of anecdotal trouble for various Edinburgers (stupid stupid word). The news that it had been caused by a fire at a substation did nothing either to alleviate my worries at the time though. I had recently watched an episode of the West Wing where Russia covers up a nuclear missile blowing up in a silo by claiming that it was a fire in a substation. If those ruskie bastards thought they were gonna fool me over the invading pinko zombie hoard by using one of the oldest Cold War tricks in the book then they had another thought coming.
No, I was definitely wrong. There were no zombies approaching, the end of days was not here, we were all going to be fine. The worrying thing about the whole episode is that I wasn’t the only one with such paranoid delusions. One of my flat mate’s biggest phobias is the zombie attack scenario, so she too was planning our best means of escape and survival. Oh how we laughed at our unique sense of humour.
Nope. Turns out that most of my friends had had similar thoughts. To the majority, a zombie attack was the most logical assumption to make. Mentioning to one comrade via text that sleeping with a cricket under their pillow wouldn’t be such a bad idea was met with ridicule at the very notion of not being fully prepared with an EMP bomb for the robot armies that were at this very moment descending on our nations.
I think it’s safe to say that we all watch too many movies. More worrying than that though is the extent to which we rely on electricity in order to live a normal existence. Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of years of human civilisation has been living without electricity. It was simple: you went to bed with the sun, you got up with the sun. In between you’d fill in the time by banging rocks together. I’m guessing. Well what else was there to do to keep yourself entertained? I suppose you could pray for some kind of device that would keep you and your family amused.
Then some bright spark came along and invented electricity. Which is awesome and everything, but we really are dependent on that stuff. The reason myself and everyone flipped out when the power went down was because we saw ahead of ourselves the ultimate bleakness that lay in the abyss where there was no internet, no television, no computer games, no light, no cooker, no radio, just the endless black. No entertainment, nothing to shut out the tedium of life. These visions of zombies and robots flooding the streets were just the natural reaction of a species being plunged into the unknown. Of course some poor bastard panicked because they were working on their essays in the library and made the rookie error of not regularly saving their work. For shame.
The nice thing that came out of this was whole sorry mess was that despite our jonesing for electricity and the automatic reaction in the Edinburgh consciousness that a simple power cut = Armageddon, at least we were all prepared and knew what to do in the event of a zombie infestation. And if you didn’t know what to do, start drawing up emergency plans that you can follow in the case of an outbreak of zombies, robots or velociraptors. It’s not if, it’s when.