In a room filled with people enjoying yet another trivial party, a girl sits alone in the corner staring out the window into the vast nothingness of the evening sky. She had attempted to amuse herself by following the red and pink patterns framed in white on her new dress bought specifically for this party, but she soon lost interest. As she sits there, lost in heavens, she observes that she had never learned anything about the stars; each one looked the same, some slightly smaller or larger, brighter or dimmer, but as to their origin or relationship to the universe, she had never taken an interest before this very moment. She perused the skies looking for a constellation, but unlike the clouds, she could not differentiate shapes or patterns in them. Perhaps she was not smart enough to see a belt or a bear or a ram, or perhaps others were far too imaginative, but the fact was the inability to find constellations in the stars made her feel even more isolated than she had felt being alone on the couch in the room filled with people enjoying yet another trivial party.
Across the room filled with people enjoying yet another trivial party, sat a man, on a bench talking to a woman. There was nothing particularly special about this man, he was truly average by every account. He stood at an average five-foot, ten-inches, weighing an average one-hundred, eighty-five pounds, with an average size ten-and-one-half shoe, and average length, average brown hair. If one were to see this man walking down the street, he would not merely go unnoticed, but would instead blend in with his surroundings, with whomever he was around, having nothing of consequence to distinguish him from the focus of anyone who would be on the same street this man was walking down. He worked his average nine-to-five shift at his average paying, average job, which came with an average commute from his average apartment; truly he was quite ordinary. But nonetheless, the ordinary man found himself talking to the most extraordinary woman he had ever met. She was an humanitarian aid worker who traveled abroad, going to some of the most remote, most dangerous, most unusual places in the world to offer some of the most remote people in the world in quite extraordinary situations aid. The olive complexion skin of her face accentuated her jade eyes, a most peculiar color, which captivated this quite un-peculiar man from the moment he saw her. She spoke of foreign travels, of exotic animals, of war-torn countries, famine-fated villages, and other things he had only seen on the ten o'clock news on his average television set from his average couch. He had never had trouble forming average conversations, which had been a good thing since it was part of his average duties at his average job, but this conversation was far from average, and the loss of the average made him uncomfortable, yet intrigued him enough to stay, though his role was far less than average, as he sat quietly, staring as the sounds passed her exotic lips which opened and closed forming the sounds dripping into his ear and exposing the hiding, quite possibly, most perfectly aligned teeth, which could have gone almost completely obscured from his gaze by her plump exotically painted lips. Everything about her challenged his average life, and soon made him feel quite inadequate as such an average man. Their conversation continued on until an unusually late evening for him, when the two were ready to leave together, to continue an evening far from his average life at home alone in bed. They stood together and walked to the door, he turned one last time, observed the room filled with people enjoying yet another trivial party.
Having enough of the room filled with people enjoying yet another trivial party, the girl in the red and pink patterned white dress stood at the same time and made her way to the door which was held open by the man observing the room filled with people enjoying yet another trivial party.
As the door opened, the neighbor across the hall sitting in his room attempting to write an article for the local paper had already grown quite annoyed with the sounds coming from the room filled with people enjoying yet another trivial party. These parties occurred entirely too frequently, so frequently that the man writing did not even know who lived in the room always filled with people. There were far too many people in and out at all times of day and night, several of them seemed new, several of them were encountered regularly. The man writing became annoyed because of the noise that kept him from his work and the lavish parties exposed the truly garish nature of his own residence. It always happened in the same way: light music could be heard through the walls, becoming slightly louder as the door across the hall was opened and closed, admitting new people or giving others back to the world. As the darkness of the night grew, so did the number of people in attendance. The more people, the more conversations were going on, and the more conversations taking place, fewer people were actually listening. The room across the hall seemed very much as though the voices were vying for sound space, and when there were too many voices vying for sound space, the sound space expanded its perimeter to permit more voices to vie for more space. The voices were vying for a place of their own, each competing with the light music that could always be heard through the walls, with other voices vying for their place, the sounds of the street, and when none of those things presented enough of a challenge, they sought to silence the hum of the earth, undetectable by the human ear, but the voices vying for their space knew it existed and wanted to drown it in their sea as well. This led to quite a bit of agitation and anxiety for the man across the hall trying to write, because, as his deadlines approached, the sounds from the room across the hall full with people enjoying yet another trivial party sounded as though it was coming to a dramatic crescendo. Having had enough the man stands, he needs to smoke a cigarette; so he puts on his coat, grabs his keys and cigarettes and opens the door just in time to see the average man holding the door for the quite extra ordinary woman and the girl with the pink and red patterned white dress and he was able to see past them all into the room filled with people enjoying yet another trivial party.
A young man stands in a circle of five people, all huddled quite closely together next to a window near a corner in a room filled people enjoying yet another trivial party. As he looks around, completely devoid of interest in the conversation being had within the circle of five people all huddled quite closely together, which has become a competition with voices vying for the sound space in and around the huddled circle, with no one really listening to anyone else, just waiting for an appropriate pause to say something witty. While looking around, he notices a girl in a most eye-catching red and pink patterned white dress who appears to be staring at him. He smiles at her, but gets no response as she continues to stare blankly at him. She looks so dolled up he thinks to himself, there with her pale blonde hair perfectly framing her porcelain face framing the most cerulean eyes, completely devoid of any emotion whatsoever. His smile goes unanswered, so he stares back into the huddled circle and pretends to listen to the four voices each vying for sound space in and around the circle without any help from his own. He cannot help but think of this girl standing alone, adorning herself so elegantly, obviously hoping to find someone to talk to who, at this very moment, was continuing to stare at him. He excused himself momentarily from the huddled circle and made his way to the restroom which, by a stroke of luck, had just been opened by a rather mousey little man. He shuffled in quickly, closing and locking the door behind him. Standing in front of the mirror he objectively looked himself over; no there was nothing on his face, his hair looked great, his clothes were clean, he had nothing in his teeth, and everything seemed perfectly in order, much as it had in the rest of his life. He had an orderly bank account, which afforded the orderly furnishings in his orderly house, which he owned due to an orderly last will and testament left by his orderly parents when he was still in college. Since everything was quite orderly, why had that beautiful porcelain faced girl in the red and pink patterned dress in the corner been staring at him so intently? This behavior of hers had just then peaked his interest and he decided to go and talk to this girl, to very orderly introduce himself to her. Taking in a deep breath with quite a loud sigh out, he looked at himself in the mirror once more and made his way out of the restroom. His eyes immediately went to look at the girl with the porcelain face in the red and pink patterned white dress in the corner, but that corner was empty. He looked around, and saw just the end of her dress as it rounded the doorway, fleeting quickly into the hall and out of sight. He made a stark and quite unorderly dash for the door which had been closing, and he too left the room filled with people enjoying yet another trivial party.
A young businessman in a business suit from out of town takes out his cell phone to conduct business in a room filled with people enjoying yet another trivial party. He has no reception from where he is so he walks around, knowing that he must have e-mails and voice mails and text messages to read and review and forward and respond to waiting for him, so he walks around looking for a signal. He knew he should have brought his laptop, but his friend in town told him he would not need it because they would not be in the room filled with people enjoying yet another trivial party for very long. That was over three hours ago, and at this point, the young businessman needed to conduct business that, he assumed, would be very important in nature, and was growing quite frustrated. He had been so consumed thinking about the business he needed to be conducting that he failed to notice anyone in the room for the past ten minutes while he was roaming the room in search of a signal. He became very frustrated and made his way to the door, which was being exited by a very orderly looking man in quite a hurry. He intended to leave the room filled with people enjoying yet another trivial party and made his way out.
Just as he had reached the door, the orderly man made his way down the hall following the porcelain faced girl in the red and pink patterned dress who appeared to be walking with an ordinary man and an extra ordinary woman, next to a very agitated writer, when the power to the building went out and the room filled with people who had been enjoying yet another trivial party went dark behind them. Everyone stopped walking, looking at the empty, yet open, elevator door that would most assuredly not take them to the lobby of the building because there was no longer any power.
Everyone in the room filled with people standing in the dark was silent for only a moment before a very commanding voice arose, "Don't worry people, we have plenty of candles, flashlights, and hurricane lamps." As the room brightened up one flickering flame and beaming bulb at a time, the roar of the room began to rise and the voices vying for space began to compete again and the room was filled with people yet again enjoying yet another trivial party.
The small group who had almost independently of one another left the party made their way down the darkened staircase to the lobby attempting to reach the street. Fortunately, the party was always held on the second story, so the handrail of the stairs acted as a guide for each member who filed single file down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, the ordinary man opened the door which lead into a lobby not much brighter than the stairwell they left, illumined only by the moon in the sky next to the stars that the porcelain faced girl in the red and pink patterned dress had never learned about but had been lost staring into that evening from the window next to the orderly man in the room filled with the people enjoying yet another trivial party.
Once outside, everything was far from orderly, far from ordinary, and far from boring, far from exotic, and far from business. There was a dense haze over everything and the streets that usually produced the sounds of the city into all hours of the night were silent. The only thing that could be heard were the voices vying for an ever growing sound space in the room filled with people enjoying yet another trivial party one story above them. The haze was wet, a wet that each person felt all over his or her body, that seemed to saturate his or her clothes.
The young businessman took out his phone and soon saw that not only did not have any signal, but his phone would not turn on either and he could not get it to work.
"My phone won't turn on," said the young businessman. In kind, every other person took out his or her phone and all discovered none of their phones were working either. The porcelain-faced girl in the red and pink patterned white dress went inside the lobby to use the phone in there, but quickly returned.
"It's dead," she said.
"What’s going on?" asked the ordinary man.
The writer took out his cigarette and tried to light it, but the wet air saturated his cigarette paper and it would not light.
"I've never seen anything like this," the ordinary man stood in awe, speaking in a quiet, amazed voice, trying not to vie for sound space.
"Do you hear that?" asked the writer with the saturated cigarette; no one answered, they just continued to look around for any sign of life. "Nothing. That's all there is out here. Nothing."
Soon the haze began to dissipate and they could see further around themselves. Cars lined the street, some along the side empty, but others in the lanes with people quietly resting their heads on the steering wheels or headrests or fallen over to the passenger’s seat, frozen and entombed, trapped in the same vehicles that gave them freedom to cross the continent. No birds were flying, no dogs barking, no cats scampering, no lights in the lamps. Everything was dark and silent and still.
As soon as she realized that something had happened to all of the people who had been outside of the room filled with people enjoying another trivial party the exotic aid worker began to cry. The orderly man walked over to a car, each person wanting to extend an arm and cry out, “Don’t,” but none of them did, none of them wanted to. He opened the first door and felt the neck of the driver. After releasing the driver’s head, he fell over limply into the road, feet still beneath the dash. He checked two other cars, same thing. The orderly man announced that it had been as they all had feared, everyone was as they appeared, dead. The ordinary man putting his arm around the extraordinary woman, asked her, "You've been in some of the so many extraordinary situations, what do we do?"
Her tears came more quickly and more numerous. "I've never been out of this state. I was trying to make you interested in me because I didn't want to be alone. I'm a waitress across the river; that was all party talk to a stranger I never thought I'd see again." Instead of being angry, the ordinary man was relieved; he was not so ordinary next to a waitress from across the river, nothing like he had been next to an exotic and extraordinary foreign aid worker.
This small pack of people paced and pondered, confused about what was happening, looking lost in an area most knew quite well. All the energy of the entire world had gone, none was left. Every expendable ounce of energy extinguished, spent too quickly and indiscriminately, not even leaving enough to decompose the bodies, and ending the very world around them.
Suddenly a loud burst of laughter came out of the room filled with people enjoying another trivial party one story above them, snapping them out of the mental haze the moist haze had put them in, freeing them to move, though they felt as much of their energy had been drained. They looked up, saw the only light from within the world that could be seen peeping through the curtains, lighting the street in front of it and the building across the street from the room one story above them filled with people enjoying another trivial party.
"We should probably go back inside, to wait out whatever has happened and to figure out what to do," suggested the orderly man. Everyone seemed to agree, and began to follow him back inside. The businessman, running out of energy himself from pacing to find a cell phone signal, gave up, dropped his phone which clanked and bounced as it hit the ground, and followed rank in file with the group. The porcelain-faced girl in the red and pink patterned white dress thought to herself, "I bought this new dress for this?" looked up to the sky on her way in and paused; she saw the stars make the shape of a ladle, a very big ladle, but a ladle none the less…she had found the big dipper. And she soon followed in suit, going with the orderly, not exotic, ordinary, the business group back up to the room, filled with people enjoying yet another trivial party.
Thom Crowe lives humbly with his more successful artist wife Christine in even more humble Tulsa Oklahoma.