I didn't think anything of the flashing lights. At least, it wasn't what I thought it was. I just thought some poor soul had gotten sick or injured, and sent up a prayer to God to keep them safe. Send some angels with the ambulances.
I should've prayed harder.
I was in the tabletop gaming room with my friend Tigron. He was playing the card game Room Party (with the Fur Con expansion pack) with a bunch of others at a table. I wanted to play, but got there too late, so had to watch instead. Did a bit of reading too. There were quite a lot of funny cards in the deck, though I didn't ask how to play it. And besides, I was enraptured by the novella I was reading in my new book, Five Fortunes, a collection of such about furry characters dealing with fortune in some way, whichever definition the author chose. I really wanted to know who was behind the arson of some rabbit's home.
Then I looked up and noticed the light flashing on the fire alarm.
I pointed it out to the others and we soon got out of there, even though there was no alarm blaring. What happened next was several hours of SNAFU. Getting outside in just a t-shirt and jeans. Going inside the garage stairwell, then the skyway above, just to get some precious heat. Then the confusion of how to get inside the convention center when they opened it up. Waiting in the center, where a dog show was being held (and several dogs left in crates unattended apparently overnight!!), being herded further back when some idiots started messing with the stuff. More waiting. Finally, the word to come in. Then more waiting, this time on tired feet as over 4000 people headed back inside. Grumbling, irritation, getting a tad overwhelmed by the noise of the crowd, cold, knowledge that sleep would be cut short, preventing many from following the "6-2-1 rule" in full... just a general mess, coupled with rumors of what happened and how. The thought of kids being in the crowd that was evacuated, making Father Wolf rise in me a little. Then up to bed and blessed sleep, with only a small whiff of chlorine left in the air.
I got up a bit late the next day. Missed the panel on pitching to publishers, but that was okay. I was tired. I deserved sleep. Yet the con was still going and I? I wanted to at least try to get a little more out of it, tired as I was. So I showered, dressed, and headed over to the elevators. I wasn't sure what I was thinking, but a flash of color out the window banished all thoughts. Was that...?
Fursuiters. Row upon row of them. Outside the hotel, out on some concrete area juxtaposed to the street that ran between the hotel and one of the parking garages, the same one I'd been in the night before.
And they were dancing. Dancing in near-perfect sync and in front of cameras by non-suited folk braving the cold.
That's when I remembered my promise to myself. A promise I made driving down Thursday, with a neck that got out of alignment not 24 hours after the chiropractor visit on Tuesday! A promise I repeated every time something else came up, or my neck hurt. A promise I told others as we waited for the all clear and again when we headed inside. A promise that, even now, sings in my heart as my Abba in Heaven dances over me in pride.
"This is my weekend. I am here to enjoy myself, and dang it all, I will!"
It seems I was not the only one. The way those suiters were dancing, you'd think nothing was amiss at all. Several con goers even mocked the attack by getting "Gascon 2014" badges of their characters. And I feel love and pride swell in my heart toward these strange, odd people known as "Furries". People who will not let a brush with death kill their weekend. Whoever it was that did this, they didn't win. Not this round. We didn't let them.
It's a bummer to go back to work this week. But this vacation? I wouldn't take it back for the world. Maybe the chlorine part, yeah, but I enjoyed myself. And I can't wait to go back next year. I know it'll be a lot of fun.
I'll be seeing you. Keep your hearts light and raise a toast to the furries. They won't let the jerks grind them down.