Alternate History Thursday: Times Square

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With just days to go before the new year, the world was on it’s toes.  The City of New York was already on lockdown, Streets were closed, screens were being erected, and just as many people were leaving the city as were entering it.  The festivities were reaching a fever pitch as celebrities were slowly streaming into the city ahead of their New Years Eve performances.  Security was tight, and no one knew who was going to be playing what when or where.  It was chaos.  But the good kind of chaos.  Remember, this is a pre-9/11 innocent New York, nothing can go wrong.  That’s exactly the mentality that would prove their downfall.

On New Years Eve, as the time passed by spotty reports from around the globe started to come in of computer failures.  Remember however, this is the early days of the internet, and no smart phones, much of the news was difficult to corroborate or confirm.  People didn’t want to be brought down to reality on this party, so they ignored it.  Cell coverage was spotty at best because of the super saturated towers and lines so no one thought twice when connections were dropped.

It’s countdown time. TEN. NINE. EIGHT. SEVEN. SIX. FIVE. FOUR. THREE. TWO. ONE. BLACK.  Right as the ball was supposed to drop and confetti rain down, Times Square was plunged into darkness.  The majority of the people in Times Square thought this was all a part of the plan.  After all, what better way to celebrate something doom and gloom but by making fun of it.  Since the backup generators that are there for just an occasion kicked on in under 10 seconds, all seemed fine.

To those who were watching on television at home it was a different story.  All at once their TV feed cut out, their electricity turned off, the water stopped working, and phone died.  For those at home, it was no joke.

The state of New York had gambled against Y2k and lost.  But in the beginning it wasn’t apparent how widespread the loss was. It was probably for the better that things like smart phones weren’t around at the time, because it would have caused mass hysteria quicker had they been there.  The people living in the suburbs of New York were left to their own devices.  Since the following day was a holiday, most went to bed after the lights were out and figured it would all work itself out in the morning.  Most all the cars were not effected by the issue simply because they were not technological enough at the time, and those that did work were owned by people who had personal drivers who didn’t use those cars anyway.

All in all, at 12:01 AM January 01, 2000, New York State was in a state of denial.  The populace wasn’t fully aware of the gravity of the situation, and neither was the authorities.  As the night wore on, those who worked for the authorities were woken up to loud bangs on their doors.  The only way to reach people was in person.

Even when the morning newspapers didn’t arrive, most of the general populace didn’t think much, just delivery guys who partied too hard the night before.  No, it wasn’t until around noon that day that word had spread to enough of the people to hit a breaking point.  Y2k happened, and it messed things up.

Now what?

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