Of everything that stands

When we went out of the facility, the air stung our eyes like it does when the wildfires get really bad.  We only stayed out there long enough to confirm that there were no cars in the parking lot.  We’ve both been coughing ever since.  I’ve hacked up a few drops of blood, which can’t be good.  It felt like I breathed in a cloud of sawdust and it’s now just twirling around at the back of my throat.  Putting a cloth over your mouth when you go out helps, but not much. 

The phones are dead but the computers come on.  No internet access.  Maybe because of the phone lines?  I don’t know how the internet works.  There’s no one else here.  We checked three times.  It’s not a large facility.  Someone was here for sure.  After Martialla and I went into the deep freeze, someone was here for a while.  An office next to the break room is filled with empty water bottles, wrappers, and opened cans and the break room itself looks pretty lived in.  It’s all covered with dust now.  Everything we do kicks up dust, which doesn’t help with the throat situation.  We managed to chase most of the dust out of the breakroom and sat down like we were on break from our data entry jobs to cough at each other and chat. 

Martialla poked a thumb over her shoulder “I think one of those readouts says that we were under for at least a hundred years.” 

I leaned back and put my feet up on another chair “Bullshit.  I don’t think you have any idea how to read those things.” 

She shrugged “Doesn’t really matter I guess, things were going crazy when we went under anyway, one year or a hundred it may all be over.” 

“That’s what I like about you Martialla, you’re an optimist.  For all you know we could walk out of here, flag down a car, hitch a ride to Sacramento and everything will be fine, I mean aside from being in Sacramento.” 

She raised an eyebrow “Uh, did you not find spent shell casings and see bullet holes when we were searching this place?  Not to mention dark stains on the floors and walls?” 

I waved away her concerns “That was probably from you.” 

She shook her head “No, the guy I shot was up front by the doors, this was in the hallway.  And in that other office.” 

“Well whatever, we don’t know what happened.  For all we know the people that were here got rescued.” 

“And they didn’t mention that we were on ice in the back?  I still don’t understand how that even worked, human cell membranes . . .” 

I rolled my eyes “Ugh, enough with that cell membrane stuff, we’re here, who cares how it worked.  I admit that it seems strange that if the Indian dude or blonde Keanu were rescued that they wouldn’t say anything about us but . . .” 

“What’s even stranger is them leaving their guns behind.” 

“. . . BUT we don’t know what happened.  Everything could be fine over the next hill.  Did you see any bodies around here?  I didn’t.  That means they left, right?” 

“There may be nothing left to find, after a hundred years even bones . . .” 

I smacked my hand on the table, which wasn’t nearly as loud as I wanted it to be “We have NOT been here a hundred years!” 

Martialla frowned slightly “Since when did you become such a Pollyanna?  The refrigerator is burned out, you know how long that takes?” 

“Bah, that thing was probably twenty years old already.” 

Martialla glanced over at it dubiously “Looks pretty new to me.” 

“We’re not going to find out anything by sitting here, we don’t have any way to communicate with the outside world.” 

“And what if there’s no one to communicate with?” 

I shrugged “Then I guess we’ll have to repopulate the world.” 

She couldn’t help but laugh “There are a number of things wrong with that statement.” 

When it got dark, we went outside again – the glass on the front windows was too grimy to see through and in any case, you have to go up a ramp to see anything.  We had several layers of fabric over our mouths and noses but it didn’t seem to make much difference, it was like breathing in shards of glass.  We didn’t see any lights coming from Sacramento.  We didn’t see any lights coming from anywhere.   

I’m starting to think Martialla may be right. 

Of our elaborate plans

Jennifer Lopez is the only person who’s had a number one album and film in the same week.  That is an undeniable fact.  What is also undeniable is that I am both a better singer and a better actress than Jennifer Lopez.  She’s a better dancer, I give her that.  That ability will come in handy once everyone realizes what a fraud she is and she has to work the pole for a living. 

And yes, her albums have had more commercial success than mine, but I was nominated for best supporting actress at the Golden Globes.  I didn’t win, but seriously, have you seen the Wedding Planner?  To say nothing of Anaconda.  Although her experience handling giant snakes will come in handy once she gets too old and saggy to work the pole and turns to porn.

Is she hot?  Of course.  No one can take that away from her.  She’s possibly even hotter than me, if you’re into that sort of thing.  But no amount of hotness makes up for her limited vocal range.  Her lower range, besides being the weakest point of her voice, is also her technical downfall.  While the rest of the voice is sound (most of the time) that part is foggy, unfocused, and almost hazy, denoting little control, and possibly damaging vocals.

Though she may mix well from a technical aspect, intonation problems are even more evident in her belting range, due in part to the pitch and forwardness of the notes. This lack of complete control over the range results in an unpleasant nasality in the higher range when her technique slips.  Which it does.  All the time.

And again, when it comes to acting?  Anaconda. 

I just want to make it clear from the outset that I am better than Jennifer Lopez.  If you’re reading this, you probably have no idea who Jennifer Lopez is but it’s important that I get that on the record.  She’s not without talent, I’m just better. 

My name is Ela, that’s with ONE L.  I hate when people misspell my name.  Okay, the name on my birth certificate is Ella Preston but my name is Ela.  It’s a Hollywood thing, although you probably don’t know what that is either. 

I was going to be in a science fiction movie with Matthew Fox, that dude from Party of Five.  Not the one you’re thinking of, that’s Scott Wolf – the other one.  And on that topic, let me tell you something, I have a thing or two to say about that Jennifer Love Hewitt thinking she can sing.  And I Know What You Did Laster Summer?  Give me a break.  Since I am a serious actor and not a dabbler who does stupid romcoms and slasher movie trash, I was doing some research for this sci-fi movie.  It was going to be a taut thriller drama about the use of cryogenics as a way to keep criminals incarcerated.  And NO, it’s not anything like Demolition Man! 

I was at Applied Cryogenics West near Placerville getting a tour of the facility from an intern with shaggy blonde hair.  He looked like a surfer dude with a lab coat tossed on.  Martialla was there too.  She used to be my stunt double and stand-in because we’re around the same height and build, although I’m much more petite that she is.  And obviously she’s not as attractive as I am, but in a wide shot it’s fine. 

I say “used to” because she kept getting in trouble with SAG and eventually they wouldn’t let her work on movie sets anymore.  I hired her to be my personal assistant.  She likes to tell people she’s my bodyguard but really she runs errands for me and housesits.  She did shoot a guy once but I’m pretty sure he just wanted my autograph.  He was a creep, but as a female singer/actress/media icon, creeps are part of my demographic.  Their money spends.  Believe me, their money spends.  She’s lucky she didn’t do time on that beef.  I had enough juice to get her out of that jam.  Can Jenny from the Block say the same?  I doubt it.

Blonde Keanu Reeves is showing us around the cryo place and we hear a massive roaring noise.  It came up slowly but once it got going, it was ear-splitting.  I assumed it was an earthquake.  Maybe it was.  A few hours later, the power goes out but the cryo-place has some kind of geothermal back-up so the stiffs don’t all thaw out.  Can’t have Ted Williams’ severed head getting all moldy.  We sat around in the break room with another couple of dudes in lab coats and watched the TV. 

The omni-racial lady with the hyphenated name on the news didn’t seem to know what was happening.  A lot of people thought that the nukes were flying.  It was chaos.  The footage was like after the Rodney King riots but it was everywhere.  They cut to a reporter on the street for something and as soon as he was on screen, he got beaned in the head with a chunk of pavement.  Half his head tore off.  Not the kind of thing you’re used to seeing on TV.

After that it was just a bunch of cursing from the camera guy and then a weird shot of the boom operator getting clipped by a Lexus.  Not long after that, the channel went out.  One of the lab coats said there was no one transmitting anything on any channel.  One of the other geeks said that the signals were getting scrambled somehow.  Another said that it must have been an EMP. 

The Indian guy in charge tried to drive home to his family but he came back with bullet holes in his car.  He had that look on his face like when someone stumbles away from a car wreck.  I suppose that’s shock.  We all decided that we’d hunker down there until things cooled out.  The cryo-place had power and water and vending machines full of food.  And it’s built into a hill, kind of like a bunker, I guess because they want the frozen stiffs to be protected in case of world ending events. 

It was scary sitting there in the emergency lighting waiting for some kind of news, but more than anything it was boring.  They don’t tell you that about a massive disaster.  You can only be scared out of your wits for so long.  Then it becomes tedium. 

After a couple of days, one of the lab coats – the one who was practicing  dumb karate moves out in the hall each morning – suggested that we could freeze ourselves “for a while” if it came to it.  He said it as a joke at first.  Once we started thinking about rationing our vending machine food pile, it wasn’t a joke anymore.  Martialla insisted that you can’t survive being frozen, something about the cell membranes bursting, but it looks like she was wrong.  Because here we are.

What sealed the deal for me was not the food, but when a gang busted into the place.  Not a gang like the Latin Kings, that would have been less frightening actually, this was just a bunch of people.  Like normal people, you know?  I’ve seen desperation before, but not like this.  They had the look in their eyes of refugees in a warzone.  They looked like they had been through the ringer.

They wanted whatever we had.  Our counter-offer was that they could take all the water they could carry and leave.  Mentioning we had running water wasn’t a good idea.  Karate man tried to get tough with them.  A guy who looked like a 45 year old dad from the suburbs hit him in the face with an axe.  An axe.  I’ll never forget seeing that.

I don’t know what would have happened if Martialla hadn’t been carrying.  Actually, I do know what would have happened, I just don’t like to think about it. 

After I helped drag the bodies outside, going into one of the tubes seemed like a good idea.