Sophia Goulet had never been afraid to go outside.
That changed Friday when the 20-year-old from Lewiston spent the day locked down in her Boston University brownstone.
"We were told to stay inside, stay away from the windows," Goulet said late Friday afternoon. "It's been a very eerie day. You look down (Commonwealth) Avenue — usually it's filled with people, and it's completely empty. All you can hear are sirens and helicopters."
Boston and surrounding cities buttoned up Friday as police launched a manhunt for one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers, leaving many around the country glued to news updates. Classes and transportation services in the Boston area were canceled.
Those who were in the thick of it said it felt surreal.
"My roommate came barreling in at 4:30 because she works early, 'We're on lockdown, don't go to work!'" said Samantha Ricker, 23, of Lewiston, a Boston College graduate student.
She spent the next 12 hours with the TV on, holed up in her apartment with her roommate and her roommate's boyfriend.
Ricker's boss had given her the OK to work from home, but it was difficult to focus.
"I feel safe knowing we're locked in here, and there are tons of police officers," she said. "They're handling it really well, so I don't feel too threatened, (but) it is kind of scary knowing it's right there. It almost doesn't seem real."
Ann Danforth, 24, of Lewiston, said she could hear helicopters overhead "nonstop" from her Cambridge apartment.
She was one block from the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday, close enough to hear explosions and see smoke. Her city was also part of Friday's lockdown. Danforth had been in touch with her mother, state Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, to let her know everything was OK.
Danforth, a paralegal in a small, downtown Boston firm, normally takes the subway into work. Transportation services and work, however, were closed Friday. She stayed in her third-floor apartment with two roommates, grateful to have company. With no TV in the house, they kept up with the news via radio and online newspapers.
"It feels like a big deal to have a whole city on lockdown," Danforth said. "They've been publishing photos of downtown Boston: The streets are very ghostly and scary. It's very much like out of a movie."
Goulet said that by late afternoon, she felt less scared, but still unsettled that the bombing suspect remained on the loose.
Even once he's apprehended, "I don't think (life) will be back to normal for a while," Goulet said. "This whole week has been different after what happened on Monday. You can see it in everyone's faces — everyone's a little somber and different.
"I'm not sure everything will be back to normal by Monday or even next month," she said. "It's Boston. People take things very personally here."