447 Minutes: A Fake Survival Story

By Carly Wellener

The news spread like wildfire; giant crimson flames carrying the whispers of the horror quickly became shouts and screams of terror and pain. Children cried for their mothers, struggling to find an exit, a way to escape the madness and return home to snuggle back into their warm, inviting beds in hopes of sleeping away the woes of life. This is what I, and many others, felt like that accursed day – a day ingrained in our memories forever.

It was a peculiarly snowy Thursday in October that I, Suzy Q, and the rest of the students at Hathaway Brown School suffered through the hardest 447 minutes of our young lives. It was not a hostage situation, a cave-in, or a stuck-in-the-desert-alone-for-three-days-and-cut-your-own-arm-off situation that highlights the day in blood red shades of agony. No. It was something much more horrifying.

October 24th, 2013, the power went out in the kitchen and science rooms, but most importantly, the kitchen. No one at our small college-preparatory school for girls in Shaker Heights, Ohio knew what to do! Would we have no lunch at all and starve to death by the end of our school day? There was mass panic; desperate people flooded into the Brown Bag, bracing themselves for the worst by stockpiling food. People called home to their parents, saying their last goodbyes and/or telling them to pick them up because no way would they have cold lunch and/or starve to death and/or complain to death.

When, by some turn of fate, lunchtime arrived as if it were a normal day, it was the most awful lunch ever served. There was nothing but fruit, hummus, pita, a full salad bar, cereal, hot soup, pretzels, chips, salsa and sandwiches! How unacceptable! Though it was no use complaining, we did anyway.

By the end of the day, we lost all hope. We truly believed we would never escape. But, as we checked our iPhones, we saw it was a glorious time! It was 3:17 and the end of our 447 minutes. Amazingly, everyone in the Upper School survived, but not everyone was as fortunate as us. All the EC children vanished soon after the power went out, and many of the Middle-Schoolers disappeared over the course of the day as well. But none of that mattered anymore; it was 3:17 and we were done!

We were like prisoners in a dark dungeon, long hidden from the kind world, finally being freed and feeling the glorious warmth of sunlight on our cold skin for the first time in 20 years. Despite the miracle and joy of our initial freedom, no one was ever the same after that day. That day in October, when and our lives unraveled into chaos for the excruciatingly long and painful 447 minutes that made up our school day, is a day we will never forget.