Their Days Are Numbered is a new year-long project authored by the collective Entropy community. It is a collaborative online novel written by the Entropy community on a weekly basis. A different author will write the next “chapter” each week, to be posted every Tuesday, following the previous post from the previous week, and following a very limited set of guidelines (that each author has one week to write the next piece after the previous week’s installment goes up, that installments should range between 150-1500 words, and that pieces should somehow incorporate a real-life occurrence, current event, news item, or other happening from that week).
Follow the entire “novel” here: Their Days Are Numbered.
The twenty-ninth installment is presented this week by Alexandra Pappas.
Smoke follows fire, so he should have known to step away from the manholes. But watching it on the screen of his iPhone as it recorded gave him the sense that he was watching a Facebook video in his room. But with surround sound. On his screen, the manhole burst, exploded out of the ground and flew past him. He was looking so intently at his phone, he nearly missed it, became disoriented, and almost fell through the flaming hole. There’s a video of him and this whole scene someone else posted on FB.
The vault fire killed eight people (two of them named Harvey), but not him. Not him, who maybe should have been naturally selected to burn.
Electricity went out all over the city and it glowed all night, eerie under choking smoke and ash. Purple, dirty orange. Embers lit up some of the oldest trees in town and a curfew was imposed. Everyone was out in the streets anyway, wandering, exploring. Laughing and coughing, they were just silhouettes against glow. Their phone batteries long dead, they felt reckless, aroused. Their fingers brushed against light posts, cars, fences, every surface provocative. They paused to listen to birds, distant yells, rumblings in the shadows. Every sense electric, every sensation wondrous. Like babies warming their bellies with carnal cognition, they struggled through the dark, stumbling, giddy phantasms who would disappear by morning when the lights restored would return them to their mediated, blenched selves.