May 25th, 2038, African Liberation Day/ Outside the Buffalo NY Waterfront Park
As the black lifts my body feels like it’s been shattered and put back together though with a few pieces missing. My vision is blurry, burning, and tinged with blood. Whether it’s my own or not is a mystery to me. I immediately think of Terrance and Onyeka and I begin to fight through the pain to look and see where they are. I peep Onyeka a few feet from me laying on her back and thank the ancestors she’s moving. I look to the other side of me and all I see are the still bodies of protesters, a few cops….and Terrance’s wheelchair!
“Terrance!!!” I scream out coughing cause of the pain in my chest plus the heavy dust hanging in the air.
“I’m here!” I hear a voice calling back, Terrance’s, I think. I need to hurry up and see if he’s ok.
I begin to hear other people groaning, the sirens of emergency vehicles coming from the distance, and people screaming out in pain or to find their own friends and family. Every car in the area it seems is blaring their alarms. I look down and see broken rubble where there used to be flat pavement.
“Is that you Amina!” I hear Onyeka call out in the same pain voice as the rest of us as she sits up, her white top now brown, red, and tattered.
“Yea it’s me, I’m here” I say back to her as struggle to my knees, crawl over to her, and use each other to stand up. “I think Terrance is over there,” I say as I point to where I heard him. “Grab his chair” I yell as I begin to limp over to Terrance who is coming into view through the dust.
As I begin to walk, I recount what happened. That man in the hoodie. His scream. The flash of light from that device on his arm. The ground shattering like a dropped glass cup. I grab the top of my head where I hit the ground and immediately turn towards the waterfront entrance.
“Ancestors!” I gasp as it finally becomes clear what has happened. There’s a clear fault line from one curb on the street to the other right where that man was standing. Behind that line is the cracked and uneven street I'm standing on but in front of it is utterly upheaved-- nothing resembling a street is left. All of the cops that were in front of us are dead, their bodies scattered like grotesque rag dolls across or under large, ragged chunks of street, concrete, and earth. The gate to the boardwalk which used to be a stylized brick wall made to resemble early constructions of the Erie Canal is now dust. And beyond the gate…there’s no damage. What the fuck!? I look around and finally see full outline of the cone of destruction that goes forward from where the man was standing to the gate.
“This isn’t natural…. HE did this! How the fuck do you create an earthquake out of thin air!?” I whisper to myself. My brain goes into a spiral, partly because the concussion I almost definitely have, but also…what the fuck!? Is this magic? Some sci-fi shit? You know what, I can't do this right now.
“Amina I’m over here!” Terrance scream out cutting through my thoughts. I come to my sense and rush over to him, pulling him up over my shoulders.
“We need to get the fuck out of here right now!” Terrance says, his bloody and dusted face looking up at me trying to mask how unnerved he actually is.
“Why?” I reflectively ask while generally knowing the answer. The cops are gonna blame all of us for what that man did.
“Our HUDs are being scrambled. Like I said, this whole thing reads like a police raid. That person came out of the crowd and they’re gonna assume at least some of us was working with him,” Terrance explains. I hear him but I’m mostly just happy that he saw what I saw.
“Here’s the chair!” Onyeka rolls Terrance’s chair over to us and we drop him in it. As he’s fiddling with the neural controls to make sure it works, I turn to Onyeka.
“He said that the police are going to arrest all of us since that man came out of the crowd. Our HUDs are being scrambled.” I explain to her.
Onyeka eyes widen, “Wait! You saying that man did all of this. Wow wha- never mind! Let’s get out of here first, sorry. Our best bet is to try and make it to an alley and back to the main street where there’s a crowd we can get lost in.” She points to an alleyway between two condos up the block.
We begin to move through the crowd who’s just starting to get up and just as we get to the corner where one of the alleyways between the condo towers start, we see the surviving cops start to make an announcement over a bullhorn.
“Everyone please stay in the area while we send in emergency services to check everyone for injuries,” the masculine voice over the speaker blares out to the crowd. Most of the people comply and sit down where they are while others remembering what the cops were going to do to us before and look around nervously. I wish we could warn them but like Terrance said its either we all get arrested or at least some of us get away to tell what went down.
Terrance speeds in front of us into the alley with Onyeka and I silently following behind. By now I begin to feel more acutely how badly the earthquake hurt my body, namely my intensely bruised leg and the blood dribbling out of my head where I smashed it on the concrete. I look over to Onyeka and she was standing next to me but looks much better off with mostly scratches and ripped clothing from what I can see. On the other hand, Terrance looks pretty bad compared to me and Onyeka. His whole left side is scrapped up like someone sandpapered his skin and then sprinkled rocks into the abrasions.
As we head down the alleyway in hurried silence, I look up at the 10 story buildings on either side of me. The brick is beginning to show its age letting me know that these were probably built in the first gentrifying rush for the waterfront back in the teens. I’d imagine the residents were also around when the waterfront protest incident happened. The same people who put the fascist government we have now into power.
Onyeka looks up at the buildings like me and with a puzzled tone says “You see the cracks in the walls? Those look new. We’re like a block away from the boardwalk now and that shit reached this far. Like really what the fuck happened back there?”
I look down and then I look up to her with no answer to give, no answer for any of this. She understands and turns to look ahead again.
As we near the end of the alley, Terrance suddenly stops.
“Fuck,” Terrance mutters under his voice. Fuck indeed because there’s two cops at the end of the alley.
Onyeka quietly hyperventilating mutters to me “What we gonna do?”
“I’ll handle this” Terrance mutters back to us in this tone I’ve never heard before but sounds like the voice someone puts on before they off someone.
“No T, we not doing that,” I say to him as strongly as I can muster while grabbing the back of his chair.
Terrance immediately turns his head and looks straight into my eyes. “Amina, I said I got this.” His tone cuts through me like a knife. I should stop him, but I just let go of his chair and take a step back.
Terrance approaches the officers and begins to grip his left armrest tightly. That’s where he always keeps his gun, hidden in the side panel. The cops stop only a foot or two away from him, hand on their guns of course, examining us. It’s clear they are gonna try and detain us.
“Were you at the protest son?” the one stocky muscular cop says to Terrance in a semi-accusatory tone.
Terrance looks back at us and turns back to say in his most innocent tone “yes, we were! We were near the back and ran when we saw that explosion go off! We thought it was a terrorist attack. Do y’all know what happened!?” Terrance is really trying to sell innocence to these guys but how often has that ever worked for Cootas with cops?
The second cop, a balding taller white man with tactical gear on turns towards the other saying “our orders are to detain everyone for questioning. So yeah…” His voice trails off as he goes to grab his cuffs.
The short cop interrupts his colleague saying “ummmm they look pretty banged up, I doubt they had anything to do with it. You sure we need to bother dragging them all the way back to the crowd? Especially the wheelchaired one.” Obviously, he’s trying to do the minimum here.
As the cops go back and forth, Terrance reaches down into the panel and grabs something that I hope isn’t a gun. The cops don’t notice.
The cops ending their little squabble look down at Terrance and the shorter cop squints hard at him.
“Quick question: are you actually disabled man?” the short one asks. "You know they can fix 'em legs nowadays, right? Seems suspicious you haven't if you have a HUD.”
“Uh yea…” Terrance says flatly to the cops. "Is choosing not to walk a crime now?"
The tall cop now annoyed at Terrance daring to question them suddenly kicks Terrance hard in the shin. I take a step forward ready to get in these ableist fucks’ faces, but Onyeka holds me back and give me a “calm the hell down” look.
Terrance not responding to the kick flatly says “not being able to walk doesn’t mean I can’t feel you kick me you under done slab of bacon.”
What is he doing!? Is he trying to get us killed!?
Offended by Terrance’s statement both cops swiftly step in over him to try and intimidate him. Out of nowhere a taser appears in Terrance hand, and then just as quick gets shoved into the short cop’s neck. As the short cop slumps to the ground the tall one lunges towards Terrance who grabs his arm and pulls his face into the taser. After both drop to the ground Terrance just turns to us and smile.
“Umm…what the shit Terrance?!” I scream with a tone mixed between disbelief and anger.
“Good job but are they…um…dead?” Onyeka asks.
“Good job?!” I exclaim to Onyeka. There’s no way she can think that tasing cops is a good thing.
“Yea, it’s not like we had a choice in the matter,” she replies to me. I begrudgingly relent knowing she’s right but still…
Terrance ignoring our exchange flips the two cops over using their limp arms and points to their chest and ears. “I can’t reach y’all. Grab their cameras and HUD devices and smash them” he says in a matter-of-factly tone. I know he used to run the streets back in the day but did he also train to be a damn assassin or something?
Onyeka and I continue to stare at the bodies motionless as we begin to hear helicopters and cops shouting orders in the distance. Terrance breaks my probably gawking face with a small shout. “Hey y'all! Come on we need to get out of here before someone comes looking for these guys. And no, they aren’t dead. I just shocked them in the right spot to put them out for a good while,” Terrance blurts out before turning away from us.
Onyeka and I quickly grabbed the cameras and HUDs promptly smashing them. We hurry to Terrance’s side as we all walk out of the alley trying to look like we didn’t just get hit by a supernatural earthquake and tased two cops in an alley.
Terrance looks back at both me and Onyeka as we cross the parking lot. “I don’t kill when I don’t have to you know,” Terrance says in a soft disarming voice.
“I know that you wasn’t go—” I try to say to him before he cuts me off.
“Don’t lie Amina. You thought I was gonna shoot them. Yes, I would have if I needed to for us to get away. You've known me for too long to not trust me...” Terrance’s voice trails off after saying this as if he’s exhausted or something. I have a feeling that I’m not the first person he’s had to say this to. Onyeka follows along in silence looking at the two of us as we continue to walk.
I don’t know how to feel. I wanna be offended but I know that’s just me covering up my own guilt about not giving him the benefit of the doubt even though I’ve known him for 5 years. I just eek out a feeble “gotcha Terrance and thanks for getting us out of there.” I can deal with my feelings later.
Once we get on the train Onyeka turns to look out the window at the skyline which is now filled with news drones, police helicopters, and sirens.
“What’s up sis?” I say to her.
“Nothing, I just wanted to look around one more time before all hell breaks loose. You know these White people gonna lose their shit when they hear about what happened.”
“You’re right,” I solemnly reply. There’s gonna be blood running in the streets.