You can clearly see her in the surveillance footage.
Blonde hair blown out.
The small and tasteful sterling silver earrings one of my girlfriends might have worn in college.
Attractive oblong face, dark blue eyes, well made up–just the right amount of lipstick.
Comfortable, quasi-clingy print blouse.
Tight jeans, untorn and practical–not quite killer heels
She’s at the controls like a DJ just getting comfortable at the console,
eases up the volume—the bass and whatever the other dial is.
The one that really does the damage.
It starts with just a little rumbling.
Reminds me of the Stanley Milgram experiments, when the innocent bystander
administers shocks to strangers on the other side of a glass panel.
Obedience to authority they called it.
She dials up and the quaking begins.
You see it start to rattle around her.
There’s concentration on her tight lips like a performer used to loud music. No signs of distress.
You feel the damage before you see it,
the sense of faint distant screeching
all mixed in with the music.
Whatever it is.
Are those screams? So hard to tell with the sound so loud.
Of course the other cameras capture the mayhem. All of it.
The crashing glass.
The collapsing walls and floors.
The buildings turning into themselves.
Every time she dials clockwise
there’s more screaming.
Her room shakes violently
though she’s indifferent–poker-faced
maybe the hint of a smile
though she resists any display of discomfort
like trying to smile when you’re being shocked–cattle prodded.
Until there’s a slight wince.
You kind of see it when she turns the dial higher,
well past 8 on the Richter scale.
It’s interesting these exceptional people, the ones who somehow avoid damage to themselves
like the survivors of atomic blasts.
All blessed with the strangest kind of resistance.
When the time seems right she turns it high enough past 9.5.
The great rumbling becomes so deep, it’s almost subsonic
and you can actually see her shaking.
It’s even hard for her to hold it all together so she does this only for the briefest of moments,
turns it back down and all is quiet,
except for the muffled cries from those buried under layers of debris.
Muffled cries from victims becoming accustomed to their new crypts.
The set over she still stands at the console
until the light fades
and she casually walks from the camera.
Sometime soon like an aftershock
another blonde woman arrives at the console.
Less confident, likely from the other side, her attire not quite as tasteful.
She seems more of a warm-up DJ. It’s interesting she comes last.
She turns the dial in the other direction
trying to turn back time
as if she wants to take us back to yesterday
before all of this happened.
She turns the dial in the other direction but
doesn’t try for long.
© Richie Smith
© Richie Smith