Dispatches from the Future
A Midnight Dream
The sky was beautiful. Colors of fall sprinkled the sky as trees shed colors of red, orange and gold. The air was filled with the sounds of bird’s overhead singing to one another. He stood in the middle of the canyon walls smelling the surroundings, seeing the magnificence of the change of seasons cover the creek and fields of green, but something seemed out of place. He was wet but the sky was clear; the breeze blew by calmly but he felt no cooler. Heat was the only sensation he could feel. He awoke in a think sweat, sticking to his sheets.
There was no sun in the sky yet, and his dream of the beautiful canyon was fading with the first glimpse of dawn. He lay in his bed contemplating if he had a minute or two to reminisce on the memories of walking with his family on the old covered bridge that offered shelter during any season. It was long ago that it connected Chico to Paradise for the first time. It no longer did. The fires had engulfed it along with the place he grew up. He was thankful for the memories, and remorseful knowing that they will end with him.
The minute was up; his responsibilities took over. Today was a special day. Graduation was taking place that night and he had a very important job to do. He could tell already by how hot it was that he was behind schedule, quickly filling his coffee he left for the Chico State Energy Department. The clock read 6:25 a.m. thankfully it was a quick walk for him, it is necessary for him to live close for the exact reason of what was going to happen that day. Energy to Chico State was going to be cut off in the next hour, temperatures would reach a blistering 118 F today and blackouts were all but certain throughout Chico. He had to check his batteries.
Chico state has been prepared for these kind of days for the past 15 years. He thought back to when the first blackout week occurred on campus. Students were enthralled to have a day off in the middle of the week, but no one was prepared for the devastating heat that would ensue for the next seven days in the fall of 2021. Without power the university faced a dilemma. Students would fall behind in school with no access to blackboard or other school resources. Schoolwork soon became an afterthought. The heat wave kept building, with temperatures above 105 F during the day, and not falling below 85F at night. It became a catastrophe when students started falling ill with no place to go to offer comfort and safety from the sun. This need for emergency backup power led the University to the purchase the super Tesla batteries.
As he walked into his office he received the message he had been waiting for: “Chico State will be losing power throughout the campus due to the heart. All Activity on Chico State will be suspended until 8 o’clock tonight. Butte Hall will stay energized and open to any student as a cool down center.” He pictured all the seniors piling into Butte Hall and offering knowledge to all the freshmen just to suppress their nerves. He had been one of those seniors “back in the day,” and “cooling center nights” were some of his fondest memories.
He sat in his chair and turned on his computer monitor, he would be in his chair for a long time today monitoring the five super batteries that will be supplying Butte Hall for the next 10 hours. Each one capable of supplying a small house for a day they were more than enough to make it through the day. Lights started to glow green one his screen 1-5 columns all glowing the same color they were fully loaded and ready to go. He had been around as long as the batteries and they had never failed him over the past 10 years. He leaned back in his chair and turned on his portable fan. Immediately the breeze he felt in took him back to his dream. With a cool wind soothing his face, he escaped back into his canyon memories, knowing that students in Butte Hall will be safe and comfortable that the night, as they make memories for a lifetime.
-- Wesley Kokal