In the last few minutes of the space thriller Sunshine, a supernatural being is stalking the remaining crew members, threatening to sabotage the spaceship's mission to re-ignite a dying sun to save Earth. On the big screen, lights are flickering, alarms are blaring -- and thus it took us a moment or two to realize that some of the alarms were in the sixth-floor movie theater we were in and the whole Pacific Place mall was being evacuated. When the lights came on, we realized it was time to go.
Zorg and I headed down for the exit at the side of the screen, which brought us to a stairwell near the outside of the building. We found ourselves in the lead as the theater rapidly emptied and everyone trotted down six flights. (I wondered if already being in an "emergency" mindset from the film accounted for the smooth, rapid evacuation of the theater.) At the street level, we saw people crowding out of the mall shops, and they looked quite a bit more confused.
A bomb threat? A fire alarm? Fire trucks came. It couldn't have been very serious, though, because they allowed people into the bottom floor of the mall to pay for their parking (!) and then into the basement parking garage to get their cars.
The parking payment line we were in got clogged up by some nincompoop who was throwing a hissy fit with the clerk, insisting that he shouldn't have to pay for parking because he hadn't seen all of his film. Of course, the attendant who takes the payment had no authority to waive the fee. Fortunately for all of us stuck in the long line behind this nutcase, and somewhat anxious to get out of the building, the fellow standing behind him tossed $3 to the clerk and told the whiner to please consider all the people waiting in line and just leave. That cheered me up considerably.
I Twittered the evacuation. Someone else sent photos to Flickr. It turns out that by going down the outside stairs, we missed the mall's officious evacuation announcements, described here by a LiveJournal blogger. And not just any blogger, but fantasy author Cherie Priest, who briefly wondered if the emergency was a zombie invasion, and proceeded accordingly. She reports that, in the midst of flashing strobe lights and booming announcements, their waitress at a sixth-floor mall restaurant advised them to ignore it all. They ignored the waitress, headed directly for the parking garage, and discovered the exit barriers were up and they didn't have to pay. Oooh! I'll remember that, next time. (Leaving the clueless waitress to be mangled by the zombies, of course.)
Still no idea what was going on. I read in the Flickr comments that the theater provided free tickets; we still have our ticket stubs, so should be able to turn those in for freebies.
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