Originally posted on r/nosleep 3 months ago.
I don’t know if this will reach anyone, let alone the right people – but Reddit, I have to warn you all.
I’ve always been a festival junkie; once summer rolled around, majority of my money was blown on festival tickets – Coachella, Splendour in the Grass, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury, Sziget, Osheaga, and now, a new three-day camping festival with a promising line up called ‘Getaway Music & Arts Festival.’ This year, we decided to do one music festival and go all out.
Like many other twenty-something year olds, I was making a living on minimum wage and high hopes for a good summer. My bartending job had its perks; the tips covered all the costs for this festival, which came with a pretty hefty fee. We bought the tickets in March, and the festivities were set for the last weekend of July.
A couple months of anticipation later, and here we were, pitching a twelve-person tent, fitting the six of us in. It was my boyfriend, four of our mutual friends, and myself. We were going to be camping for four days; I knew it wasn’t going to take long before we would get on each other’s nerves.
Thursday and Friday night flew by, with little hiccups amongst some of us. The weather had reached the high 90’s, but it felt like it was easily over 100 degrees outside. No matter how much we hydrated, we would always feel weak. There were many volunteers that were eager to help, and now that I think back to it – a bit too eager. They were constantly giving us water, telling us it would “make us feel better”, but it did the opposite. I’m really starting to think this was a part of their plan to begin with, Reddit. On Saturday night, I had stayed in the tent until I couldn’t stand the smell of my own sweat; I was hot, I felt sick, and I was moody.
I don’t remember much of Saturday, other than how humid it was at night, I found it hard to breathe – and so did some of those around us. I could stand humidity, where I’m from, humidity is constant – we’ve tolerated it, but now I felt my throat closing from it, I would find myself gasping for air sometimes.
I remember opening up my sleeping bag completely and just draping it over myself, and my boyfriend who was spread out like a starfish. I tossed and turned in my sleep, eventually giving up.
Looking at my wrist, I tried my best to make out the time – but my eyes just couldn’t adjust. I felt around for my phone, but there was no luck in finding it. I had forgotten that I locked it in the glove box in my car – I was terrified of being robbed in the middle of the night.
A movement in the tent, I looked to my left – it was Jennifer. She was grabbing her phone from behind her head, checking the time as well.
“Can’t sleep?” I whispered, waiting for her response.
“No, I barely get more than three hours of sleep a night anyways,” she whispered back.
She turned the brightness of her phone down, “try to get some sleep, we have a huge day tomorrow”, she said as I closed my eyes. If today were any sign of how tomorrow would be; it meant that I could really use the rest.
I eventually drifted off into sleep, it must’ve been around six in the morning when we heard it – the roaring of something incredibly loud over our heads jolted us all from our sleep.
It sounded as if a jet was flying inches from our tent, I could swear I felt the tent shake, but people assured me it was my imagination running wild.
“What the hell…”, my boyfriend, Jake said as he too was coming out of a deep slumber.
Soon enough, everyone in our tent was waking up. Before Jake could open his mouth to say something, a second jet flew over, the same impact on everyone as the first.
“Dude! Those are fighter jets!” Someone had yelled from the campsite beside us.
Jake and some others scrambled out of their tents, watching as a third jet flew above our heads.
I remember thinking that I wasn’t letting my imagination run wild; those jets were flying low. Too low.
“What color were the jets? Did anybody hear that crash?” A girl three tents down from us, standing on the top of her car asked, straining her neck to see as far as she could.
People around us began to talk, some in a panic, others in curiosity; to be honest, it all seemed muffled to me. It wasn’t long before they started exchanging conspiracy theories amongst one another.
There were no more jets after that; it seemed to stop as quickly as it was to start.
I unlocked the car, and sat in the passenger seat, gasping as the heat and humidity trapped in there hit me in the face. Opening the glove box, I grabbed my phone, wanting to check news outlets, hell even some media outlets.
“Uh, anyone have service?” I asked, my voice trembling.
“My bars dropped a bit, but nothing is really loading. My texts are coming back undelivered, but it shows I have 2 bars,” Kevin, another one of our friends said, pointing his phone towards the sky.
“I tried calling our mom, and it went straight to voicemail,” Amber said.
I rolled my eyes, I was thankful I was the more logical sister.
“It’s also six fifteen in the morning on a Sunday – she’s still sleeping,” I replied.
I knew there was no reason to panic; the jets could’ve been going to some base nearby. We were almost two hours north of the city; the base was the only logical thing I could think of at the time.
We sat around for an hour, unsure of what to do. The service on our phones would occasionally come back up, and then drop once more.
Eventually, people got back into their morning festival routine: making breakfast, going to go get coffee, portable showers, lounging around, and for us, it was drinking mimosa’s and ciders to calm our nerves on empty stomachs.
Volunteers came by, with water and snacks.
“It’s going to be a scorcher out there today, everyone grab some! Last day, gotta get rid of our supplies or they got tossed and we don’t want to do that to the environment, now do we?” A perky blonde asked.
Anyone this excited in the morning annoyed me.
“Hey. What’s going on with the service? And those jets?” I asked, grabbing some water and a piece of banana loaf from her hand. She ignored me, repeating herself about not letting supplies go to waste.
I tried calling our mom again around ten, but there was no response. Ever since our dad passed away almost over a year ago, there were times when my mom would lock herself in her room when we weren’t home and spend time in the darkness, staring off into space – sometimes sleeping, and the world was blocked out for her. I figured that’s what was happening now.
I didn’t know at the time what was really going on at home.
The festivities had ended at 11pm; The Killers closed with ‘When You Were Young’, the crowd began to disperse.
Luckily for us, this music festival wasn’t our first rodeo, and we knew to pack our tents, canopies and everything else into the car in the afternoon so that when we got back to our campsites after everything ended, we could just drive out.
Walking back, the events of this morning seemed to be yesterday’s news. That was until I passed by four international students speaking Spanish. I had studied abroad in Spain during my first two years of University, so I was familiar with the language, but I was only able to pick up on a couple of words: “casa”, “avion”,“peligroso”, “no hay nadie en la casa”.
I sped up, wanting to get close, but Amber had pulled my arm back towards her. “Hey, do you think you can give Kevin a ride back home with us?” I gave her a half nod, “yeah, whatever”, I said craning my neck to see where the international students went. I had lost them, shit!
We approached our campsite, dodging cars that constantly honked at us. Some cars were turning around, parking their cars on a field.
Everywhere we turned, people were honking.
“What the hell is going on!” Someone yelled, leaning out of their car, their hand showing a universal gesture.
Finally, the cops showed up. They told us that we were not allowed to leave the festival, and that we were to stay in our places until further notice.
It wasn’t very smart, keeping 35,000 people contained.
It’s only been over 20 hours, time feels like its frozen. Kevin said he lost cell reception completely, I’m sure my carrier will be next. That’s why I want to get this out as soon as I can to warn everyone. Reddit – whatever is happening out there will spread like wildfire. Be safe.
Update: People have tried going up against the police, no such luck. It looks like something out of a movie here, big machines – almost tank like, and they’ve sectioned us off by campsites.
1 bar left, 2 successful sent texts, 3 successful social media posts, and 17% battery left on my phone.