Waves of destruction
 

There is one night a year when there’s a storm raging over the city of Raleigh. That night, a giant thunderstorm lingers over the town, the wind is howling, rain falls in enormous quantities and only bad people are out on the streets. By now it is almost a tradition, purge night. Because of the bad weather, criminals saw their chance doing their dirty work that night. Evidence is washed and blown away, thunder covers up any sounds and even the police aren’t out. If you have some business you want dealt with, purge night is the night.  

People kill their abusive spouse, shoot their boss or get rid of their enemy. It sounds harsh but it actually made the city a better place. Crime rates are low, few people have burn-outs on their jobs and there is almost no abuse. Everyone knows their time could be up by the next purge night if they do something stupid. Even school results are up because kids are afraid their parent or teacher will come after them.  

I tell you this because tonight is purge night. The whole day the sky has been dark grey, almost purple. It hot, even for a spring day and it looks like a heavy thunderstorm is about to unleash hell. I love purge night. Not because I get to kill people while getting away with it, but because of the beauty of nature. The violence that nature portrays is a work of art in itself. I feel humbled by it and it inspires me also.  

On that night I sit in my sunroom, glass on all sides and I’m just watching the storm unfold in front of me. I am armed with a camera, a notepad and enough coffee and energy drinks to keep me up all night. For some reason, I always get brilliant story ideas during purge night and I write a lot of poems. So, if it’s not a weekend day, I take the three days surrounding purge night off, so I can sleep and be totally prepared.  

As far as I know, I am the only one that treats purge night like this. Most people bunker down for the night, scared someone might come after them. Not me. I don’t do stupid things, I don’t insult anyone and I’m always friendly towards everybody. If you don’t do anything, there’s no need to fear anything.
Don’t want to be scared during purge night? Don’t do anything to upset people, simple as that. 

I have slept in today so I’m all ready for tonight. I eat a big breakfast and a big lunch but take it easy on the dinner. I don’t want to get sleepy after I’ve eaten or I’ll fall asleep. I lock all my doors and windows, shut drapes and turn off lights. I only create a small candlelit path to the bathroom so I can find my way. I grab a bag and raid my pantry, getting out everything I’ll be craving this night. Crisps, chocolate, peanuts, cookies, the works. A big bottle of soda, a bottle of water and a thermos of coffee also go in, as are a few cans of energy drinks. A party of one and no one’s invited.  

Out of a closet, I grab the cushions of the lounge chair and a pillow and blanket. During the storm, the temperature drops low enough to get really cold lying still in a chair. I don’t want any distractions this night. I don’t answer the phone or the door. Anyone who does that is surely killed, you would be an idiot to do so. By now darkness is falling and I’m putting the last of the coffee in the thermos and get myself installed. For the first time this year I’ve got a camera set up high, to film the night with all its wonders. Maybe I can use it to create more inspiration on moments when I have almost none. Just before the last sunlight drops, I check all my supplies one last time. Everything is within hands reach, I lie back, adjust the pillow and wait for the magic to happen.  

It’s almost like someone flips a switch. The sky turns that beautiful dark blue, the clouds roll in and the wind blows the rain almost horizontal. I start my camera and grab my notepad. Only a minute later the first lightning strikes. The first one is always magical and a benchmark for the rest of the night. It looked like the lightning hit home somewhere. Maybe a house, maybe an office, but definitely something. And if this was any indication for the rest of the night, this was going to be a good one.  

And it was a good one. At the end of the night I have written my notebook full of poems, stories and ideas, and I even didn’t need the energy drinks. It was so exhilarating there wasn’t a moment of drowsiness or fatigue. One lightning strike after another and almost constant thunder right above me. The rain was almost constantly horizontal and the wind howling around the house. If I’ve had to guess, the crimes on this night were probably very low. You would be an idiot to go out in that weather. 

I clean up all the mess I’ve made and go to bed, exhausted but fulfilled. The next morning, well, just after noon I wake up again and go and make coffee. Only then I look out into the street and it fills me with all sorts of horrors. Trees struck down and broken in the street, a layer of water of nearly half a yard. I see broken windows, roofs blown off, doors broken down and all kinds of rubble floating in the water. I turn on the news and see the whole city is a war zone. My street is one of the least damaged ones. There are trees fallen on houses, electricity lines broke due to rubble flying around. A lot of water damage, certainly in the lower parts. The river at the end of the village has flooded over and has taken parts of the highway with it. There is mud and rubble everywhere, and I’m guessing it will cause some diseases.  

I watch the whole news bulletin with my mouth hanging open. High buildings are struck by lightning and can’t function properly, probably for a while. Almost at the same time, I get a text message that my office is closed too. Water damage and no electricity, the office is closed until further notice. I don’t mind, looking at the news it will take some time for the city to recover. It was a purge night like no other. A high casualty but not because of purge-crimes but because of the storm and its consequences.  

When the news ends, I realise with a shock I need to check my house. I do a full tour but as far as I can tell, I have no damage. My garden looks okay, Some broken branches and plants. A lot of loose leaves but that is no problem. Even my façade hasn’t got a scratch. Seeing the news I’m one of the lucky few. Quickly I make myself some breakfast and get dressed. What this city needs now is people to help clean up the mess, and I intend to do just that. The storm has left waves of destruction behind. This was truly a purge night to remember.