It is a Tuesday afternoon and as I relax briefly, taking stock over lunch, before returning back to a lab bench of gruelling, torturous labour, I notice the glass of water in front of me rippling, seemingly unprovoked. Glancing around me, sensing an impending doom, I rapidly considered the potential causes of this unrest.
1) Could this be a loose Tyrannosaurus Rex, cloned illegally in a nearby Upper East Side lab, only to have broken its chains (?) in order to bolt down York Avenue away from its captors, crushing yellow cabs in true dramatic style. Not only causing havoc to life on the sidewalk but also creating enough impact to successfully jiggle the liquid in the cup sat in front of me.
2) OR could this be an earthquake. I heard somewhere the 125th Street subway station is only above ground because a faultline runs directly through Harlem there. After 200 years of silence I could imagine it is due a shake about.
Having no time to either add to this list of theories or validate them, I looked frantically around for support just as the second tremor hit. Glass tumbled from above as my colleagues and I dove under the scattered picnic tables to protect ourselves. Chairs clattered around us and a lone scream echoed in the complex sending a shiver down my back. The buildings swayed almost unrealistically as the vibrations below tormented their foundations and each of us, surprisingly calm in the face of this disaster, held on tightly, eyes pursed shut. The shock could have lasted minutes for all I was aware: our paralysis in the moment preventing any sensible time frame. We clung firmly for our lives in those seconds; driven together by the fear of Nature’s wrath. Holding on with every inch of our will.
And yet slowly, slowly the dust began to settle. The devastation was becoming apparent. Havoc surrounded us now, yet gradually we felt more confident that the worst of the Earth’s grumblings were over. I could make out others clambering from under their shelters and seeking out others for comfort. Days passed. We had been rounded up by police and fire services hours after the event and were evacuated out of the city. All the bridges had been severely, if not irreparably, destroyed so it was a couple of days before the authorities could effectively relocate us all into tented camps in the countryside by boat, away from the high rise risk on Manhattan island. The city was a ruin. Wrecked so severely by the earthquake it would take more than a Presidential speech from Bill Pullman (Independence Day), Michael Douglas (The American President) or Harrison Ford (Air Force One) to motivate this deflated population to rebuild their lives, not to mention in such a depressing economic condition.
and then I wake up.
No Beth, you’re not on a movie set. I KNOW you recognise every corner as a site from that film or another, but you must FOCUS on the fact that these memories are fiction. King Kong did NOT scale the Empire State Building. Will Smith did not wrestle with evil, human-killing aliens to secure our future on this planet, and NO that comet near miss was not avoided through the sheer bravery of a certain Bruce Willis These memories did not really happen. In fact, you didn’t even feel the teeny weeny tremors that “shook” the city earlier today. YOU were eating M&S mackerel (in tomato sauce) on some excellent Le Pain Quotidien nutty bread with a beefsteak tomato and salad garnish. YOU were fully immersed in lunch and thus utterly and blissfully unaware of any ripples on the surface of neighbouring drinks. YOU have no right to claim any affiliation with this “Act of God” so YOU are just going to have to wait for the incoming hurricane that is currently plaguing the southern states and see if YOU will need an umbrella or not.