As soon as Asia closes her eyes, she begins dreaming. She is a child again running around in the school yard playing with her friend, Chasity. They are free as birds laughing and playing with no care in
the world about anything at all. Chasity pushes Asia up real high on the swing as Asia holds on tight and puts her head back and squeals with delight. Chasity grins and the two girls are in the most contented state of happy childhood. She breaths in the air around her, and she is glad to be where she is, and who she is. Everything is bright, sunny, and clear. Then all of a sudden, the atmosphere changes into a dark and gloomy scene that emits a putrid smell. Things begin happening in slow motion. Chasity’s smile and laughter turn into a frown and scream. It is a blood curdling scream that pierces Asia’s inner ear drums. It shakes her to her core. Chasity’s lips are moving and Asia knows she is saying something but she cannot hear what her friend is saying to her. And Asia feels like she is stuck in a spot and is not able to move. Little by little she begins making out what Chasity is screaming. It comes in bits and pieces with some words low and inaudible, while others are high pitched and frenzied. And she is saying, “run, the Mark of the Beast is coming!” But Asia still is not able to move. And she is not happy to be where she is. Chasity and her family all run past her. All these other people, some of whom she knows and others of whom she doesn’t all begin running past her too. And she is still not able to move and she begins to panic. Hundreds and thousands of people are
now running past her and she can’t figure out why she cannot run too. All of a sudden, a hand appears from out of nowhere, sticks out from the throng of people going past her in a whirl wind, and grabs her arm.
The arm latches on real tight and pulls her forward, not towards the throng of people but away from them. She is still with the group of people running, but she is on the outskirts of the throng. At least she is now moving. She is no longer stuck in that spot. And at that very moment, she sees the Mark of the Beast. Well she thinks it has to be because this ugly, gruesome, and beastly looking creature suddenly appears from behind and is chasing she and the throng of people. It appears to be some sort of a psychedelic color with globs of dried up blood all over its body. Its eyes are a jaundiced yellowish tint. It is at least twelve feet tall
And it kind of reminds her of Big Foot, but ten times scarier. Because when it opens up its mouth, you could see it has all these sharp objects like knives, axes, swords, saws, and all other types of sharp metal and glass that could cut a person up in a matter of seconds. She is about to scream but is averted from doing so when the arm that pulled her from her spot now jerks her very hard. This is the first time she realizes she doesn’t even know who has saved her and made her move. She turns to look at who this is pulling and jerking her and sees it is her husband. He is holding her with one hand and their two boys with his other hand. Just then the alarm clock goes off and Asia jumps in bed out of her sleep. She could feel goose bumps on her arms and little prickles of hair are standing up all over her body.
Asia convulses so hard that she frightens Troy out of his deep sleep. “Babe, what’s the matter? Are you alright?” He asks as he rubs sleep from his eyes and turns around on his pillow to look at his wife. “No, hon,” she responds with a sigh. “I had a nightmare” “So, you didn’t sleep well I gather”. “No I didn’t and I have a feeling that I won’t be sleeping well anymore”. “I know what you mean, but we have to be strong and keep the faith in God no matter what happens”. Asia looks at her husband and says, “Now I know why God had you save
us in my dream”. “Really?” “Yes, but I’ll have to tell you about it later on because we have bigger problems to tackle right now.” Troy then gets down on his hands and knees, folds his hands in front of him and begins his daily prayers. Asia bows her head down and also folds her hands to pray with him. After that, she gets out of bed, puts her feet in her grey memory foam slippers and trudges to the bathroom to begin getting ready for work. Troy turns on the t. v. and begins watching the news. He used to let the boys sleep until he had taken Asia to the bus stop. But now that it is later than their usual morning routine, he has to wake the boys up now to begin getting ready for school. So he goes into Junior’s room where both boys are still snoring and shakes each one gently awake.
Asia gets out of the shower and starts getting dressed. She begins listening to the news at the same time to hear if there are any updates about this new curfew law. There are two newscasters, a woman and a man. They’re talking to each other as they report the news. The anchor woman is saying, “We have reports on dozens of people now in police custody for not obeying the curfew”. The anchor man beside her says, “I had a feeling the officials would have a hard time with this new ordinance”. She responds with, “I know what you mean. I think many of us feel the same way”. Asia listens to this and says to Troy who’s throwing on a sweat suit to quickly drop her off at the bus stop, “I’m scared to even go to the city”. “I was thinking the same thing, Babe. But I thought you would contest me and say you have to go to work”. “And you are so right! You knew, and know I would, and am saying those exact words”. Asia gives her husband a smile and then they hug and kiss. She also gives hugs and kisses to her two boys and tells them to behave in school and that she loves them. Troy tells Junior to help his brother get dressed and then himself and wait for him to get back home. “Boys, I’ll be back in exactly fifteen minutes”, he says as he closes and locks their front door. Asia gets into the car and says with a sigh, “okay, here we go”. It’s still a little dark outside because it just turned five o’clock a. m. and there are more people on the road than they are used to. Troy comments on this as he drives. And he says to Asia, “remember to keep the Lord in the forefront and have faith”. “Oh my goodness, yes I will, hon, I don’t think I could remain calm any other way! You and the boys please be careful” “Don’t worry about us, we’re up here, you’re the one going to the city”. “I know, I’m kind of worried about what it’s going to be like down there?” “I am too”, he replies as he pulls into the parking lot of the bus station. “You be safe, peace be with you, and I love you”, he says. “I love you too, be safe, and peace be with you, too!”, she responds back, and she kisses him as she gets out of the car and gets on line for the bus to take her to work in the city. Troy pulls off and she watches him drive away with the heaviest and gloomiest heart she has ever had before.
It seems like everyone is talking all at once. One woman is saying, “this curfew thing isn’t going to work”. Another man is saying, “ma’am they are having the curfew for our protection”. While still another man is responding to the woman with a frustrated attitude saying, “I don’t think they are going to be able to pull this shit off!”. “What shit?” someone else replies. And the man says, “the government, man. This is not going to go well at all”. And Asia shakes her head in agreement but remains quiet as she stands there waiting for the bus to come. Her commuting friend, Barbara doesn’t say anything either except, “here comes the bus”. Everyone turns and looks as the bus turns into the parking lot and then pulls up to the first person on line. The bus driver opens the doors of the bus, people get on one by one and he collects each one’s ticket as many continue to give their opinions about the new curfew law. Asia hopes that once on the bus everyone quiets down so she can catch up on much needed rest and sleep. And once again, God answers her prayers making her extremely grateful and giving her hope. Some people continue to complain and grumble, but only for a little while. Eventually people either fall asleep, because everyone who takes the commuter buses to the city to work are all tired, or quietly settle down and keep their worried thoughts to themselves.
Two hours pass by before Asia finally wakes up. She just doesn’t wake up, she is jolted out of her sleep when the bus driver slams on the brakes of the bus. Everyone jerks forward. Some people brace themselves with their hands like Asia, by putting them up against the seat in front of them. But some don’t get a chance to react and several commuters fall forward and hit their heads on the seat in front of them. One woman slid off her seat and ended up on the floor of the bus crammed under the seat in front of her. She starts screaming and the other woman sitting beside her pulls and helps her up back into her seat. It takes Asia a few seconds to clear her head. As soon as her head is cleared, she can feel that de ja vu feeling coming over her. First of all, she thinks, what the heck just happened? And second of all, she must have been damn tired for she never sleeps that long on the commuter bus without waking up at least for a few seconds. And thirdly, the bus is very late getting to the city. Her mind also goes back to yesterday when Troy had to slam his foot on the brakes too. But before she can even think about any de ja vu feeling again, people begin shouting out to the bus driver, “hey what happened?”, “Is everything alright?”, “What’s going on?” The bus driver gives an apologetic reply about how bad traffic is and that there have been several accidents this morning. He finishes his apology with, “it must be this new curfew ordinance that has been put in place”.
Why did he say that, thinks Asia because this rouses everyone up and many people begin talking at once again. Oh boy, she has not even made it off the bus and gotten into the city and shit has already begun. She tries to tune people out and take stock of the situation. The bus driver is relaying to the commuters that every route into the city is jammed with traffic. Many accidents have occurred because people are panicking. They are right now stuck on the road leading to the Lincoln Tunnel. He again apologizes and asks,” is everyone alright? Did anyone get hurt?” The lady who fell out of her seat said, “I’m not sure. I think I hurt my leg”. The bus driver says, “If you need me to, I’ll write up a report when we get to the Port Authority”. Another commuter asks, “when do you think that’s going to be?” And the bus
driver just moves his head turning it from side to side and replies, “I don’t really know”. At least he’s being honest, thinks Asia as she and the other passengers listen to the bus driver’s exchange of words with some people. Everyone seems to be either agitated, worried, concerned, or afraid or all of these put together. She’s more worried and concerned about what’s to come. This is only the first day of the curfew and things are already out of control.
Asia used to go back to sleep on the bus when there was traffic created by an accident, but not this time. She remains fully awake and sees several accidents as the bus creeps by them. They are moving very slow and she glances at the watch on her left arm. It reads eight forty-three a. m. She is already forty-three minutes late for work and she still has to get on the train to travel from Grand Central Station to 125th Street in East Harlem where the school she teaches at is located. She begins to think of what ramifications will arise for people who are late to work, especially her. For after the good principals retired or left her school, there has been nothing but trouble for her. The new principals who replaced the old ones were and are horrible people. She personally believes these new administrators were put here to close down the school and persecute senior staff members and teachers they don’t like. Heck, everyone knows this is the case. She has been teaching for over twenty years and has always been a top lead teacher receiving high ratings from the children, parents, colleagues and administration alike. Now she’s being harassed, lied on, and written up for things that do not even exist. These and a million other worries are some of her thoughts as they finally reach the Lincoln Tunnel and pull into the Port Authority bus terminal.
There are over eight million people living in New York City so it is already crowded. Now add on the other tens of thousands of people who commute to the city to work every day and it becomes ridiculously over crowded. This day seems to be even worse. There are so many people in the bus terminal alone that she and the people she commutes with have to push themselves through a mass of people either trying
to make their way towards the trains, or trying to get on other buses leaving the city. By this time, it is nine-thirty. One of her friends that commutes with her says, “oh my God, look at this. I’ve never seen it like this before!” “I haven’t either”, responds Asia. She hugs her friend and says, “be careful and be safe!” Her friend hugs her back. And she says to her friend, “peace be with you!” Asia and her husband always say this to each other, but this is the first time she says it to her bus buddy. And her friend replies, “thank you”. They help each other struggle through the mass of people until they make it to the turnstiles. They swipe their metro cards, push through the turnstiles and continue struggling through the throng of people walking with them through the tunnel towards the 7 train platform. Asia wiggles her way up against a wall to wait for the train because the platforms are dangerously full to the brink with people. She’s scared to be near the edge for fear of being pushed onto the tracks. She loses sight of her friend and says a silent prayer for her as well as herself.
As Asia is waiting for the train to come, she’s looking around her and taking in the horrible spectacle. People are complaining, shouting, arguing, swearing, cursing, crying, pushing, hitting and doing even more disgusting things that she doesn’t want to see. She’s never witnessed anything like this before in her entire life. And she’s lived in the city for thirty-five years before moving to the Poconos. This is taking the cake. A train finally slowly pulls into the station because some people are so close to the edge of the platform that at any moment they can fall onto the tracks. She says another prayer that no one has fallen in. Everyone pushes and nudges onto the train and she does the same thing. Many people don’t make it onto the train, because it’s jammed packed; they’ll have to wait for the next one. She’s just glad to be on a train getting her a little closer to her job. It is now ten o’clock and she is two hours late to work. She wonders how many others are late, and what repercussions they will have to face for it. And she feels no one should be reprimanded for these are circumstances beyond anyone’s control.