When I look back on what happened – and I keep going back to it, day in, day out – the thing that always strikes me the most is just how bizarre it all was, how just everything all of the sudden stopped making sense for some reason.
It seems like it all really started coming apart about three months before the outbreak, if you ask me. I'd just graduated at the time and it just felt to me like everything
was spiraling out of control. I mean, we were already stuck with two
wars, everybody in the country is freaking out about terrorists and
drugs and immigrants, and then the economy collapses leaving the
biggest employer in this city apparently no choice but to abandon us
with a hollowed out factory with holes in the ceiling, but it wasn't
even any of that, really.
We started seeing more and more military vehicles – mostly big camouflage cargo trucks and tankers, the odd humvee or two, and more and more helicopters in the skies.
When the trucks drove by, or the police cars cruising slowly, you
felt it more and more that you really were being watched.
I think I started to feel even more than that, though. I kept having these dreams, I guess I still have them, actually. They're all different, but they're all about basically the same thing: being chased, relentlessly chased, either by the police or thugs, animals or natural disasters. The chase would just never end, you would hide and hide but they find you and you run and you run and you just keep running but... And then you wake up and everything is okay. But I guess it wasn't okay.
Once I graduated, I got it in my head that I wanted to try and get off the grid as best I could, of course without leaving behind my friends who had also gone off on their own. But seeing as I didn't have a job at the time, or any of the required experience for obtaining such a job, I knew I would have to improvise a solution.
I managed to talk my way into moving into a coop downtown. All I would have to do was just help out with the gardening, cleaning, and cooking and I had a nice dry cot to sleep on and as many underground zines as I could read. Of course it was easy to talk my way in when I'd managed to get my hands on an HP of weed to stimulate a bit of cash flow.
When I moved in, I knew full well I was putting in my lot with a lot of hardcore lefty revolutionaries, but even so and even with my sympathetic leanings, it was still a pretty big culture shock. There were always pamphlets flying around, the smell of patchouli and nag champa always vying to overpower the weed, and a seemingly nonstop stream of jam band music at all hours.
We had coop meetings every Wednesday night where we dealt with all our personal shit and coop business and news items and all of that. More and more though, we found ourselves talking about the things we'd seen just walking around town: the helicopters, the police in random places, and especially the military
trucks that seemed to always be driving around downtown at strange hours of the morning.
And eventually, after everybody had become entirely paranoid, we decided we needed to find out more...