The Canadian couple I’d just met screamed a warning: “Sarah, run!”
People scattered all around, fanning in different directions down the maze of medieval streets in this town I’ve called home for the last year. Everyone’s eyes, I remember, looked the same: wide open and full of fear.
I had been among those watching fireworks on Bastille Day, a French national holiday, less than a hundred yards from the scene of what I later learned was France’s latest terrorist attack.
I spent Thursday night and early Friday morning with dozens of fellow Couch Surfers -- named for a travel website that helps people make friends and find a spare sofa to crash on in foreign countries. A group of us -- visitors, hosts and friends -- often gather to hang out.
This week we watched the fireworks and then headed to a bar nearby in Cours Aleya, the main tourist strip in the Old Town of Nice.
At first, when it began, I noticed frantic running.
A wall of people -- at first a few and then dozens and then more -- came toward us on Promenade des Anglais, the street parallel to us. Some sprinted, others walked, still unsure of what had happened.
I tried to calm the group.
“Don’t worry,” I said, “it’s probably just heavy-handed crowd dispersal tactics.”
“I don’t know …” someone replied.
By then, the sprinting crowd had turned to hundreds. No one said much of anything. I just remember people’s eyes.
One of my new Canadian friends shouted: “It’s happening -- something’s happened!”
Thousands gather on Monday on the Jardin Albert and the Promenade des Anglais in Nice to observe a minute of silence for victims of the deadly attack.(AFP/Getty Images)
The crowd applauds police officers and rescue teams after a minute of silence on the famed Promenade des Anglais in Nice.(Francois Mori / Associated Press)
Ghassan Zaour watches people gathered around a makeshift memorial after observing a minute of silence to honor the victims of deadly attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.(Luca Bruno / Associated Press)
People observe a minute of silence on the famed Promenade des Anglais in Nice, to honor the victims of the attack.(Francois Mori / Associated Press)
People gather in front of a wall of flowers laid on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, where the truck crashed into the crowd during Bastille Day celebrations.(Ian Langsdon / European Pressphoto Agency)
A man scans notices of people missing after a man drove a truck into a packed crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice.(Boris Horvat / AFP/Getty Images)
A woman reacts after learning of the death of a relative at a Nice hospital.(Claude Paris / Associated Press)
A woman walks alone on a deserted beach beside the Promenade des Anglais on July 6, 2016, in Nice, where the truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations.(Ian Langsdon / EPA)
People hug outside Pasteur Hospital in Nice after the July 14 truck attack that killed 84 people.(Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP/Getty Images)
The Eiffel Tower in Paris is illuminated in the colors of the French flag in solidarity with the victims of the terror attack in Nice.(Christophe Petit Tesson / EPA)
A woman sits under French flags lowered at half-mast in Nice, following the deadly Bastille Day attacks.(GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP/Getty Images)
Police secure the area where a truck drove into a crowd during Bastille Day celebrations, killing scores of people in Nice, France.(Andreas Gebert / EPA)
A forensic expert examines dead bodies covered with a blue sheet on the Promenade des Anglais seafront in Nice, a day after a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day.(Boris Horvat / AFP/Getty Images)
People react near the scene where a truck drove through revelers in Nice, France.(Francois Mori / Associated Press)
Crime scene investigators work on the Promenade des Anglais after the truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France.(Olivier Anrigo / EPA)
People gather in front of the memorial set on the Promenade des Anglais where the truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France.(Ian Langsdon / EPA)
A man holding the French national flag stands near the site of the truck attack in the French resort city of Nice, France.(Luca Bruno / Associated Press)
Flowers placed near the site of the deadly attack on the Promenade des Anglais seafront in the French Riviera city of Nice.(Valery Hache / AFP/Getty Images)
Floral tributes are placed near the site of the truck attack in the French resort city of Nice.(Luca Bruno / Associated Press)
Riot police officers and gendarmes are seen Friday outside the Pasteur Hospital in Nice, France.(Claude Paris / Associated Press)
Police researchers inspect the cab of the truck that crashed into Bastille Day revelers in Nice, France.(Alberto Estevez / EPA)
Roses are attached to a barrier near the scene of the truck attack in Nice.(Francois Mori / Associated Press)
An image grab from the Twitter account of harp_detectives shows people fleeing the scene of the truck attack Thursday in Nice, France.
An image grab from the Instagram account of GA Morrow shows people fleeing the scene of the truck attack in Nice, France.
The truck that plowed through Bastille Day revelers, its windshield riddled with bullets, is examined by forensics officers in Nice, France.(Claude Paris / Associated Press)
Emergency workers tend to a woman injured in the truck attack.
(Olivier Anrigo / EPA)
French President Francois Hollande addresses the nation after the tragedy in Nice.(Associated Press )
Bodies lie on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice after a truck sped into a crowd during Bastille Day celebrations in the southern French city.(Cyril Dodergny / TNS)
Soldiers, police officers and firefighters walk amid bodies covered with blue sheets along the Nice seafront.(Valery Hache / AFP/Getty Images)
A body lies on the ground after the Nice attack.
(Valery Hache / AFP/Getty Images)
People gather near the scene of the attack.
(Valery Hache / AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers and rescue workers stand near a truck that plowed into a crowd of people leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on Bastille Day. Dozens of revelers were killed.(Valery Hache / AFP/Getty Images)
Ambulances line up near the scene of the attack.(Claude Paris / Associated Press)
A soldier stands guard alongside police officers near the site of the truck attack.
(Ciaran Fahey / Associated Press)
Residents walk with their hands up as police conduct checks.(Valery Hache / AFP/Getty Images)
In this video still, a police officer directs people from a cordoned-off area after a truck plowed through a crowd of Bastille Day revelers.(Associated Press)
Police officers inspect a vehicle after the truck attack in Nice.
(Valery Hache / AFP/Getty Images)
Someone ran by, mumbling about a gun, and the 30 or so of us Couch Surfers sprinted for the street, stopping to catch our breath on the corner. The group had splintered off, zigzagging the chaotic streets.
I lost track of the Canadian couple, who I last saw running for high ground on a hill, and took shelter inside a cafe with a friend, who’d just gotten a phone call from her mother in Egypt. Her mother had just seen news of the attack on TV.
As we tried to guess what might’ve happened, a few people looked as if they might burst into tears. But mostly, we sat stunned.
The city’s busiest streets, Cours Saleya and Rue de la Prefecture, quickly emptied, leaving behind a tableau of quick escape. Unfinished plates of food, half-finished glasses of wine.
Shouts of fear echoed through the streets, cutting the silence, as did the sound of metal shutters slamming closed as business boarded up in the darkness.
My friends’ phones’ buzzed with tips and rumors -- there was, perhaps, a gunman on the loose. Phone networks jammed, but we got information in confusing tidbits. We heard, at the time, that 20 people had died. Some people heard it was car bomb, others a shooting. And, there was also something about a truck.
We knew we had to get off the street, so we rushed into the first place we found open, a jazz club called Shapko.
Inside, a live band, oblivious to the chaos outside, played a bluesy rendition of “No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
After about 20 minutes, the music cut off. We waited in near silence for an all-clear.
Before long, when we learned that a truck had plowed through the crowd, mowing down bystanders, the crowd grew more anxious.
Some asked to leave, others took long drags from cigarettes, easily ignoring the indoor smoking ban. The smell -- one I usually hate -- felt different. It felt nostalgic, a reminder of long-ago days.
We finally left around 2 a.m. and a group -- many scared to travel across the city -- gathered at my apartment, a two-minute walk from the club.
I cracked open the only food in my apartment: a bottle of rosé and a bag of chocolate marshmallow bears.
I poured the rosé into glasses, only a few swigs for each person.
“Any wine is good right now,” one French friend said.
We rested our heads on each other’s shoulders and drifted in and out of sleep.
Eventually, around 3:30 a.m., when it became clear no more attacks had been reported, guests began to trickle out of my building. We kissed each other on both cheeks -- the traditional bisou style for saying goodbye -- and they promised to text me as soon as they got home to confirm they were safe.
As the details trickled in -- a truck had bulldozed through the seaside promenade, killing at least 84 people -- messages from friends all over the world lit up my phone.
“I’m so sick of hearing these stories,” a friend in Canada wrote. “Be safe!”
Another, more pleading, came from a local friend: “I have no reception...r u ok??? Something happened and everybody was running. “Please text me you are OK.”
Outside, large groups of armed paramilitary police scoured the streets.
On Friday morning, as street cleaners made their rounds, I went for a walk. In this tourist city, strangers don’t usually warrant a second glance, but this day, everyone seemed to hold eye contact for a beat or two longer than usual, taking in every single person walking past.
Harvey is a special correspondent.