Things could have been worse. It was a near perfect summer day for a blackout. Temperatures were in the 80s, the sky was clear, and the city actually seemed pretty mellow about the event. We spent the evening sweating and reading by flash-light. With no air conditioning New York apartments, ours was a brownstone, can be ovens. So when bedtime came, we decided to sleep outside on our terrace. It should be a good place to sleep. It was relatively spacious, had a wooden deck and there were lovely plantings scattered around, and most importantly the temperature was much cooler out there. Sleeping out there seemed to us to be just another urban adventure. At 11:00pm without electricity, the sky was black, and all the buildings were black, except for the orange glow of candles in some windows. It was fun.
But something else was going on, something mind-bendingly hallucinatory. Right at that moment, the brightest object in the very black night sky was the planet Mars. It so happened that Mars was at its closest point to earth in several decades. Not only was it brilliant, like a mini-moon, but it was so close I could actually perceive it as a tiny disk in the sky. Mars was no longer just another bright star. Anyone could see it was really and truly our neighboring planet in space. Out there on the terrace, this situation was all very strange and exhilarating to me. I somehow expected the rays of light from Mars to…do what? Communicate telepathically with me while I slept? Who knows? I was at that point living in a science fiction fantasy. What would happen next?
A couple of hours later, we were awakened by the noise of a helicopter hovering in the sky. Its blinding searchlight was fixed on our sleeping forms. It must have been a police copter investigating our motionless bodies. This strange combination of events was beginning to rattle me. I picked up my eyeglasses from the terrace, put them on and was instantly slimed. While we slept, slimy slugs had been attracted to the cool smoothness of my glasses. When I picked the eyeglasses up and put them on, the slugs came loose and fell on my face and body.
There I was, in the night, in the middle of a major blackout, Mars shining madly overhead, a security helicopter observing me, covered with hideous slimy creatures.
Mars collage illustration by Erik Winkowski (see links)