Short Story

The floor went away.


I’ve been thinking again, it’s difficult to not think, but the situation had gone from benign to cancerous.

I remembered. And I hurt like hell.

It was dark now, and she was resting not far away against the machine and the parts of the ceiling that were above us, they had been stopped by the bulwark of the machinery.

I remembered. The people who behaved rather dull and predictable at the office are still as predictable in a crisis.

As soon as it started, the rumbling sound of grinding rocks, electrical explosions on the energy poles outside jolted us into fast actions. The explosions sounded like mortar fire to me, and was frightening. Then the shaking hit!

The bouncing up and down was terrific. People yelled, someone looked around as if the sky was falling, his eyes wide with fear. It was just the beginning of the quake.

Drilled into us were the safety protocols, and the orders we shouted brought people up short, this was to pull them out of their fear. We issued forth the standard drill but this time we barked them in short strong words.

We had teams, as soon as the quake was lessening we were herding our groups to the strong framed doorways and the exits. People were adjusting their masks, one girl carried a briefcase in front of her like a body shield, her dark almond eyes wet with tears, but there was a fierce determination in them.

After the first grinding quake settled, it was rough, I’d say about a 6 at least, then we went to the exits, out to the higher ground above the two story office. The area was set aside as part of the drills. The safe area where we were to go, people behaved well with the familiarity as we had practiced, the emergency packs were in the lockers along the hillside, two people broke off from the column and stood by the lockers.

Off in the distance all kinds of sirens and alarms and klaxons were blaring. I was thankful that everyone knew what to do, they had participated in the drills. It was very important that everyone knew what to do!

Now it was my turn to return to the building with two others, my team, and make sure all the utilities were off.
Kinma was at the shut off valves with his team, we nodded as we returned into the building. We went from port to starboard and up the stairs and down the stairs. We made sure the offices were open and all the power breakers were in the off position.

I nodded to Samy as we went down to the basement and Yama was already turning the water valves off at the back of the main room upstairs. I watched her, shining my light on Samy who moved to the electric box. I listened to the snap of the keys and toggles as the breakers were being clicked. I looked up the steps and watched the emergency lights go on. It was just a bit of dark after turning off the interior power flow. My flashlight fell out of my hands when I heard the rocks grinding again.

Suddenly I was falling,

Samy yelled and grabbed my hand and I hung like a pendant from her arm over a great dark hole, well at least big enough to swallow the stairs and me. Then we heard it once again, the grinding beneath. I managed a foot hold and

Samy pulled me up over the rough edge. W we were trapped in the basement.

Yama yelled something and we didn’t hear from him again. The shaking did not stop, were were jarred up and down.

We ducked and slid toward the heavy square gray machine boxes in the basement. We braced ourselves between these two very heavy pieces of machinery.

The shaking stopped, it had been harder than before, cracks were in the side walls letting light in at the top.

Dust hung in the air.

I heard creaking, an awful twisting sound just before we felt the top stories collapse.

We waited for the dust to settle and I adjusted the small dust mask over my nose and mouth.

A look of terror was in Samy’s eyes and her hands were hard on my side, I patted her arm saying we’d be o.k., but she said nothing. It got very dark.

I must have fallen asleep. We were as small as possible between the two machines, to wait out the rescue.

We waited quietly, listening, and waiting.

Listening for the sounds from outside. We heard nothing. Were they even going to look for us?

I woke up again, I didn’t think they remembered us. I was thinking about that hole below the basement, why was it there? When had I fallen asleep?

The same thought was blaring through my mind when I woke, again. It was deadly quiet.

I reached out to touch Samy but she wasn’t there, then in this dark I heard the sound of something moving, I called out but I could only grunt. Then I cleared my throat and called again, she called out and came back. I saw her through the face plate lens. We were wearing gas masks now. Gas masks. Was that why I fell asleep?

I was thankful she had the forethought to find emergency gear. Why wasn’t I moving, why was I just laying there?

I tried to move, I wanted to stand, it hurt like hell to move. She pushed me back and said not to move.

My side felt thick. Yes, I realized I was injured with each attempt at moving my torso. The shock at first had kept the pain away and she had dressed the gash as best she could on my side, but at least it would make an interesting survival story, Samy being the hero of Hero, me. I nodded and slept again. I didn’t want to sleep!

I awoke with my mind talking to me, thinking again about stairs, it’s difficult not to think, and the building was wrecked and there were noises outside. The noise of large machinery.

Maybe soon, soon we’ll be out.

Samy had found those annoying air horns we used last new years. Basements are great places for storage. She was sounding 3 blasts, waiting and three blasts again. There was a response, finally! I grumbled out loud.

That’s why I woke up, my head hurt. I told her to shut it off and she came over, from the side she snapped the ring on a can of soda and handed it to me, told me to drink it all, I’d been asleep she said for a whole day.

I thought that Samy would make a great wife. I drifted off to sleep.

I woke cursing an order when someone was making me hurt like hell. I was put on a stretcher.

We were rescued.

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

Colin Powell

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