Call me crazy, but every time the power goes out, I get excited.

Not just excited – exhilarated. Enthralled. Energized by a new sense of adventure and an absolute certainty that this is it. This is The Big One. The end of the world has come ’round at last and I’ve got to get my ducks in a row.

Ducks are very useful in an apocalypse. Write that down in your survival notebook.

It happened this weekend across a wide swath in Lewiston. I was at home doing my usual weekend things – writing Pindaric ode poetry, practicing trapeze, clipping toenails, but not my own – when that omnipotent power was sucked out of the world.

It goes without drama. There is no terrifying crackle of dying voltage. There is no deafening whoosh as the ancient force of nature vanishes into the void. The electricity goes without any fight at all. It merely ceases to be.

Lamps, offering their comforting glow just seconds before, suddenly become dark, useless ornaments. The tax forms on your computer screen, 90 percent completed, are gone in a flash. Even the soothing hum of the refrigerator leaves you and what falls in its place is a deep, preternatural silence.

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It’s wicked cool and stuff.

The first thing I do in a power outage is arm myself with light. Headlamps, footlamps, Maglight, kerosene lanterns, glow stick, solar powered disco ball … It’s not that I require illumination – after all, it IS noon and the sun is shining brightly. It’s about taking control of the situation. It’s about overcoming. It’s about trying out all that fancy lighting equipment you bought years ago during that drug-induced fear of a zombie apocalypse.

Next, I arm myself against intruders, gathering weapons, setting traps, shooing cats out of the sniper towers. After five minutes, I grow bored with this – who the heck is going to loot MY place, anyway? I sold all the rare paintings and precious gems years ago to pay for the fancy lighting.

I hit the streets, heading into downtown Lewiston to gauge the temperament of the power-deprived city. It takes me roughly an hour to get there because, with the traffic lights out at every intersection, people have absolutely no idea when to stop and when to go. Ten seconds into the outage and it’s suddenly Boston traffic in the busiest parts of the city.

I jot this down in my survival notebook. It might be useful later, when I have to start eating people.

There is a strange stillness about the downtown when the power goes out. There might be honking horns and roving gangs of people moving through the streets, yet there’s still that unnerving silence. That lack of something.

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Downtown buildings, their windows darkened, seem to loom a little larger. The tallest of them lean almost conspiratorially over the dark streets. Without man’s greatest invention humming across the lines, the world seems suddenly primitive again. That gift of light and convenience has been taken away and once again, it’s man against nature out there.

Man tends to respond by taking to Facebook, which is still fully functional thanks to the annoying marvel of battery-powered smartphones. On Facebook, you can behold man’s reaction to the grid-down scenario in dramatic literary form. It typically looks like this:

“What happened?”

“What’s going on?”

“What the hell? I was making a cheesecake!”

It’s truly inspiring the way people band together in these difficult times.

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The survival instinct of the human species is strong. I observed this during the weekend power outage by trolling the parking lot at the Dollar Store. There, in the gathering gloom, one person after another walked directly into the glass doors (with satisfying bonks) before realizing that those doors won’t move without electricity to power them. They would then stand there, blinking in confusion at the unmoving doors, waiting for someone to come out and explain what madness had overtaken the world.

They say it was a bad transformer that caused repeated outages in Lewiston over the weekend, but don’t you believe them. That’s just their way of getting you to let your guard down so they can eat you. This was all just a practice run for The Big One, which is sure to come. And when that grim day arrives, you’ll want to be ready for it; you’ll want headlamps, footlamps and a good supply of ducks, which you should take pains to keep in a row.

I survived the Roughly 40 Minute Power Outage of 2018, but only by being properly equipped and only by keeping my wits about me. I made my observations and learned new lessons from the horror, but I didn’t survive completely unscathed.

I still have a little bruise on my forehead where I ran into that Dollar Store glass.

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. Email him at [email protected] for tips on survival and the proper use of hyperbole.


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