March 10, 2010 10:58:00 AM
It''s 2 a.m. A Titanic clap of thunder jolts me awake with a start. That one must''ve been right on top of us. A second peal a minute later knocks out the power. There''s a moment of darkness before WCBI''s generator kicks on, allowing the building''s sign to throw a little artificial light down Fifth Street.
Here come the kids, right on cue. The 9-year-old has what I suspect is an outright phobia of tornadoes. It tapers down from there, to a fear of lighting and thunder, a loathing of rain, and finally a suspicion of clouds, especially gray ones. She cuts her eyes at the gray ones.
So they''re in our doorway, and we invite them to scramble into our bed. I know I''m not getting any more sleep, with the 9-year-old''s knees in my back. I know she won''t be sleeping either.
She asks, "What if the power doesn''t come on before it''s time for school?" It will; don''t worry. If it doesn''t, we''ll get up and get ready and go. No big deal.
But what if it doesn''t? What if it were never to come back on? As parents we run through all the options. Worst case: Columbus descends into a post-Apocalyptic, "Escape From New York"-type scenario. The feds will come in and put razor wire and tank traps at the city entrances, just like Glenn Beck warned us they would. We''ll be locked in. As society collapses, the strongest among us will be called the Duke, and he''ll ride around with chandeliers on the hood of his car. (The Duke will probably be the person who manages to get to Gary''s Pawn and Gun first.)
On the bright side, this might work out well for the newspaper business. You fools! Your precious wifi-enabled phones will be useless. You''ll have to come crawling back to the paper for your news. We''ll crank out single broadsheets on a Ben Franklin-era wooden printing press. That is, if the building isn''t firebombed. There will be firebombs.
We can also expect there will be zombies -- probably not at first, but eventually. Zombies are an essential part of any respectable post-Apocalyptic scenario. I imagine I wouldn''t end up the Duke, but maybe I could be like Charlton Heston in "Omega Man." I''ll tool around the barren streets in Columbus'' only operating Ford Mustang convertible, striking up conversations with store mannequins before racing home with the city''s last bottle of scotch and can of creamed corn, lobbing firebombs down at the zombies who dare try to claw their way into our upstairs apartment. (At this point the kids will be homeschooled.)
Whoa! Never mind. As I''m writing this, the power just popped back on. OK, great, no Apocalypse, no tank traps, no Duke of Columbus. Crisis averted, at least for now.
Too bad -- I was looking forward to throwing on a Charlton Heston-style ascot, and firebombing a few zombies. At least I can get back to sleep, and dream.
Steve Mullen is Managing Editor of The Dispatch.