on the breakdown of society during a blackout

on the breakdown of society during a blackout

If you’re currently on holiday to the Surface of the Sun (Malta), you’ll know what this is about.

Malta is currently experiencing what some call ‘optimal summer weather’, and what rational adults call ‘why the fuck am I living on Mars’?’ Because climate change is Definitely a Thing That’s Not Happening, Malta in July of 2019 has more or less started to look like Mad Max: Fury Road, only with fewer people following the rules of the road. 

Right now, this is the footage from outside the office window: 

If you look closely, you can see the metal on our cars melting into an indescribable glittery heap. 

People inside the office are surviving on cold water and air-conditioning and not buying any food that needs to be heated up. So far, this has worked, and is good, and all is right with the world. Hope had begun to bloom that we might see the end of summer without discombobulating into a sludge of goo. People had scarves to keep the chill off them. 

Life was, if not good, then tolerable, so long as you got to the office before 8 and left under the cover of darkness armed with 30 layers of sunscreen, umbrella, bottle of water forgotten in the fridge and now frozen into a solid lumpy weapon, and car keys. 

And then the blackout happened. 

Blackout

Malta has blackouts. Usually these hit in the middle of the night, in August, when no reasonable person would be able to sleep without air conditioning or fan units. Usually, they don’t last for more than half an hour – but you have to consider that that half an hour tends to be experienced like this: 

Night-time is agreeably the best time to have a blackout when you live in the belly of Pompeii. 

Morning time or afternoon time is agreeably not the best time to have a blackout when you live in the belly of Pompeii. 

You see where we’re going with this?

Survival logs

It’s to our regret that we could not yet uncover the truth of what went on in that dire hour where the air-conditioning was off. Footage from the security cameras has painted a striking image of unbridled anarchy in the Switch offices. We have transcribed these precious moments for your viewing. 

CAMERA FEED

13:01 PM: A distinctive, funereal beeping as the air-conditioning goes off. ERNESTA looks up in curiosity. ANDREA looks up in unbridled alarm. 

13:02 PM: The room apparently begins to warm. People shift in chairs. COPYWRITER mutters underneath her breath. There unfortunately are no subtitles on this camera, but one can presume it’s an evil chant. 

13:04PM: NAOMI remains working, oblivious to the heat. 

13:06PM: SIMON attempts to check the air-conditioning. The truth becomes apparent. 

13:10PM: THOMAS appears, carrying a microwave. 

13:15PM: STUDIO plans an ergonomically-designed self-cooling chamber, and plot to take one of the marketing team hostage for their access to the water-cooler. 

13:20PM: RICHARD enters the office, see below footage.

13:22PM: SIMON appears, carrying a ladder. He carries it outside. THOMAS walks past with his microwave. 

13:25PM: It is apparent that SWITCH TEAM is trapped until the air comes back on. FOOD will become a concern. VANESSA plots who to kill and eat first. 

13:27PM: SIMON emerges from the balcony and shakes his head. Despair. 

13:30PM: MATT has disappeared. The MINI-FRIDGE is open. 

13:32PM: MELISSA peacefully eats her yogurt, headphones on. She was forged in the fire of hotter summers, and will survive this. COPYWRITER has given up on life and is now beneath the desk, imitating a sea-slug. 

13:36PM: TERI prepares for battle by dismantling a chair. 

13:40PM: A unanimous decision to devour the VEGETARIAN is made. The pact is signed in new highlighters procured by ASTRID three days prior. 

13:41PM: RICHARD rips the coffee machine from the wall. Only a few sockets are still active. LUKE’S DESK has been demoted to coffee station. 

13:43PM: An INTERN approaches the MINI-FRIDGE. A rabid MATT sprays them with AXE cologne and consumes the body. 

13:44PM: NAOMI looks up, realising TOO LATE that STUDIO has barricaded themselves in a CLIMATE CONTROLLED SHELTER made out of colour swatch books. 

13:45PM: A brief flicker of light! Hope reigns!

13:46PM: The room is dark again. Despair! Despair! 

13:48PM: LUKE appears and immediately turns to ash, leaving behind a camera strap, and a copy of his manifesto ‘PANDAS MUST DIE’. 

13:50PM: MARKETING has formed an enclave. Their fortress is reinforced with post-it notes, cups of hot tea, and proposals. MELISSA is mysteriously absent. A yogurt container rolls loose from STUDIO’s area. 

13:51PM: The lights come on again! 

13:52PM: VANESSA produces a hat with corks hanging from it and prepares to hunt the others for sport. 

13:55PM: JOYFUL FACES turn towards the air-conditioning. PAPERS begin to move. 

13:58PM: The air-conditioning appears to be working. 

14:00PM: Order is restored. 

Aftermath

Everything’s fine! Pay no attention to the above. This is not a true depiction of the hour where the air-conditioning went off. 

This is: 

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Elise Dalli's Story.

When she's not writing about the history of the semi-colon or researching her next short story, Elise likes to play videogames, scroll through pictures of cats on her phone, and buy too much makeup. She's been writing creatively for around seven years and has used about 2 million commas in that time.

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