“The Evening News”

A woman’s bloodcurdling scream echoed across the store attracting everyone’s attention to a newscast playing on the wall of televisions.

Thousands of people rioted in Times Square, demolishing everything in sight including other people. An employee turned on a surround sound system and the audio filled the store.

“…-major cities. Authorities demand the public stays in-doors. Find a weapon and do not hesitate to use it. Protect yourselves at all costs,” the newscaster advised.

The camera zoomed in on a bloodied woman stampeding toward a couple pushing a stroller through the insanity. Her clothes were torn to shreds and soaked with wet blood. There was no trace of humanity in her crazed, wide eyes. The couple didn’t even see her coming. She crashed into them sending the couple and the stroller tumbling to the ground in a heap of twisted limbs.

Unable to react, the parents and the audience watched the crazed woman snatch the wailing infant by the leg and toss it through the air. The camera turned away to avoid exposing the audience to the infant’s fate. Instead, they mistakenly caught the baby’s father curb-stomping the crazed woman’s head into paste.

“Holy shit! Did you see what those monsters did to that woman?” called out one of the men in the store. His comment with met with nods and others with expressions of disbelief.

“What are you talking about? That woman was clearly out of her fucking gourd! She smashed that baby into the concrete!” a store employee countered. He was met with the same reaction.

A cacophony of argument erupted over the horror they’d witnessed. No one agreed on what happened. Some argued the couple attacked the woman with the stroller. Others complained about not being able to see anything besides fire and smoke. Even the newscaster argued with the person on the other end of his earpiece.

The newscast switched to other major cities where similar conflicting reports were coming from.

“Oh my god! My uncle lives in Miami!” cried out a cashier.

“So? Nothing is happening there,” a customer replied mystified.

“What are you talking about? The city was on fire!” a store manager jumped into the conversation. He curled his hands into fists.

“On fire? There was a riot!” the cashier screamed at the manager with tears in her eyes.

The three quarreled and the rest followed. Arguments became shouting matches. Their voices rose, bellowing over the other as if the loudest person would win the fight. Allies turned to enemies in an instant as the disagreements continued. The tension came to a boil and spilled over into violence. One man punched another and amidst the tussle, other fights broke out. It cascaded into an all-out battle.

Standing away from the crowd, a lone customer watched the situation unfolding until it turned violent. He trembled, unable to grasp what happened, and stealthily left the building wondering what had made them lose their minds.

There hadn’t been any newscast.

The televisions weren’t even on.

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