Imagine: The List
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"Okay," the commander said, looking across his
officers. They were all gathered for the pre-shift
briefing. "Tonight is Chaos Night, the second this
year. I'm sure we all remember the last one fondly.
Remember, our job is containment. Keep them apart,
keep them safe, and keep them away from the normal
folk. Any questions?"

One new guy raised her hand. "Sergeant, Chaos

"That's right, you transferred in from the Midwest
somewhere. In short, because we've all heard this
before, 'bout two, three times a year things start to
happen here in this city. We call them chaos nights
because they are. You will see strange things and it's
these nights that give New York City the reputation
for being one of the capitols of strange crap in this
world," he noted dryly. "Us, LA, San Francisco. New
Orleans gets its own versions and they keep it better
hidden because theirs last longer. Anyway, anything
you can think up and make real, is tonight."

She laughed. "You're joking, right?"

Everyone shook their heads. "Sorry, rookie, not a
chance," one of the other officers said, looking at her.
"It happens a few times a year. Hotels don't take any
bookings for tonight if they can help it. Planes are
severely limited. The train comes in fast and leaves
just as fast if possible. Those who know and want to
see came in last night or earlier this week sometime.
They're the usual targets of some of the show. Get
killed or hurt watching the figments play. Sergeant,
how strong is it this year? Anyone check the charts?"

"They said 3.2. Not sure how accurate it still is."
That got some nods and groans. "A few years back,
Pam, we had some mathematician guy who showed up
fascinated by these nights. He worked out some
formula for us. We input the date, take three
readings with some doohickey he found for us, input
the probable population and it spits out a number.
We're fairly low, it's an eight-point scale. Last year
during our second night we were at 3.8 and we had a
living tetris game in front of Macy's. No one could
figure out who created it but no one had a controller
that we could find. Kept canceling itself out." She
giggled and he shrugged. "Don't believe me then but
there's a few hard and fast rules. Whatever you think
highly enough of to think it could happen, will.
Somewhere in this city. Doesn't always happen next
to you or anything. They'll be here for a day and a
half, roughly. Then they fade out and disappear, with
a few notable exceptions. Like the dragon last time in
the park. Ate two cops, ate a homeless lady,
apparently got indigestion from the last officer it ate
so it laid down in the park to belch for a few hours.
Torched a hotdog stand doing it. Then it got up and
went looking for a maiden. They were in very short
supply suddenly."

She laughed louder. "The main thing you have to
remember is our job is containment. The math guy
said it'd be bad if they mingled. Something about
contamination and corruption. He said putting
Godzilla in Mark Twain's head would be a horrible
thing since he didn't know how they came to be -
meaning if we created them or pulled them from some
alternate reality or something. Guy mumbled and
talked over all our heads with theory stuff. Anyway,
you'll notice that everyone is on shift tonight. There's
no leave granted, even grief leave is canceled during
tonight. Any reports are given a special classification
number. Any arrests we put through a special, very
prepared, science fiction fan judge. Can't put Jack
the Ripper into gen pop after all," he finished with a

"He showed up?" one officer asked, looking a bit
confused. "I didn't hear that one."

"Yeah, showed up, went after one of our lovely
working gals in an alley," the sergeant admitted with
a small smirk. "Didn't expect her to turn and whip
his hind end with her size twelve platforms. Gotta
love our drag queen pros." He smirked back. "He
complained the rest of the time about that being
unnatural. Of course, up the hall was the thing from
Aliens so who knows." He shrugged. "As usual, our
precinct picnic is in two days, so we all have time to
recover after drinking ourselves stupid once they're
gone again. Good news, this is a two-time year instead
of a three-time year, guys." That got some hoots. A
messenger came in with a note and left quickly.
"Okay, it's started. We've got King Kong again this
year." He waved a hand. "Go to it and remember to
be safe. They attack normal people. They only know
their limited reality." The officers piled out and he
followed their rookie, who was muttering about
hazing rituals. He pointed at the Empire State
Building and she stared. "Told you so."

She turned to look at him. "I spent five years in the
Navy, sir, this isn't right," she said firmly.

He shrugged. "Welcome to New York, Rookie. Wear
your vest, drive carefully."

"The elves are here," someone yelled.

"I hate that D&D group," he muttered. "Some group
at one of the colleges calls up their players and live
action role plays with them in the park," he
complained. "Better than the action stars we get.
They're not usually violent toward normal people.
Though I gotta say the favorite of the PD is the porn
circuit. They just wanna have fun. Them and
Buddha. He always shows up. Last year he and Jesus
were playing hackie sack in the park with some kids.
Buddha was watching since he couldn't really see his
feet. Enjoying the moment and all that. Was kinda
neat. Very calming." She gave a pointed look at the
glaringly empty spot in the skyline and he looked at
her. "No one in the city would do that, Pam," he said
more gently. "It won't bring them back. It'd only
hurt them more. It's not like bringing your loved ones
back as ghosts. It'd be like talking to a video tape of
your fondest memories of them. So no, the whole city
avoids the thought of the Towers during these nights.
You will too." She nodded. He noticed a dancing
twinkie and cupcake coming up the street then looked
at her. "Hungry?" he asked.

She turned and looked then scowled at them. "I
didn't think they'd hurt anything."

"Only foul traffic." He watched as the twinkie tried
to bite the cupcake. "Hey!" he yelled. "That's
cannibalism! Quit that!" The twinkie pouted but
went back to dancing with his partner. He patted her
on the back. "You'll learn, Rookie. You'll learn." He
walked off, going to his car. Even he had a patrol
tonight. He heard the next radio message. "Hey,
Buddha's back," he said fondly. "Playing hopscotch
with three rabbis is good for him. Probably good for
them too. Still better than the action stars." He
watched a helicopter fly into the sunset and sighed,
shaking his head. "Good. Some people are too loony
and have way too much imagination." He drove on,
having to swerve to avoid the brightly colored bears
on skateboards handing out flowers and candy. They
were starting their own parade. He called that in.

"Dispatch, this is Evans. We have Care Bears doing a
parade on skateboards," he reported. He drove on
and kept his eyes sharp. At least until he heard the
whistling sound of something falling. Then he sped up
and parked suddenly, looking at the block that had hit
where he had been. "Dispatch, Evans again. We've
got Tetris in the middle of Broadway. Three doors
down from The Lion King. Bigger this year. Block
this street off." He got confirmation and headed on.
This year someone had the controls apparently. They
had just canceled out a row. He hated tetris. He
really did. His route took him to the park and he got
to watch the elves frolic and dance with a few porn
stars and a few action stars who didn't look pleased to
be pulled in but they were drawn to the elves' dancing
partners. "Wonderful." He kept going, making sure
they didn't have anything too harmful tonight. No
one wanted another dragon in New York. It was
mean to his poor city.

The End.
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