Author : C. E. Page

Silt rained over her as she crawled from her hiding place; a pocket of air in the pile of rubble that had been her habitation tower. Others, some familiar, were emerging from the crumpled buildings to bay at the sky and drag grey hands over their anguished faces. The ground shuddered again shaking the rubble pile. It convulsed like a dying creature, collapsing in on itself, cutting off screams and creating more dust. She huddled against the ground gripping her shins, her face pressed against her knees; silently counting, pretending the roaring earth was thunder:

One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand. . .

The tremor passed and she continued to rock. Icy fingers scoured her chest to grip her heart. She had to breathe. The air wheezed over her lips and down her throat to hang there like a jagged bone. She swallowed to shift the blockage. Still the air she gulped in short sharp breaths refused to fill the bellows of her lungs. Trying to ignore the fire that prickled up her spine and flooded the back of her skull she forced herself to crawl forward. Shale shifted under her hands and she slipped, her mouth filling with dust and blood as her chin cracked against the ground.
The others had started to hulk forward some missing limbs, some beaten and bloody, with glass embedded in their faces and angry red gashes where skin and muscle had been torn away from bone. They clawed towards her pleading for help. Asking: why, what, who?

Another vibration started in the earth bouncing small pieces of shingle and stirring clouds of dust. It seemed to be gaining power the closer the others got until it became a shuddering wave of force that rent the earth in two. The others fell, scattering among the churning debris screaming, roaring, and dying. She was tossed into the air and her hands torn open as she landed in a tangle of steel reinforcement wires. She pulled herself free and rolled to avoid being crushed by a column of steel of stone. Heat rolled over her as the gas cylinders in the maintenance quarter exploded, adding their echoing boom to the cacophony. Chips of stone and glass showered over her slicing the skin of her face and arms.

Then everything grew still. The screams of the dying and the roar of the earth sounded distorted and far away, like sounds distilled through water. She lowered her arms and a shining light blinded her grit filled eyes. Shielding her face she crept towards the source of the brilliance.
The cool planks of a wooden door met her questing fingers. It stood, haloed by light, amidst the ruins of an unrecognisable building. It was old and ornate trimmed with bronze fittings and ancient scrolling carvings. The door seemed to hover in a bubble of still air despite the destruction of the city around it and the light radiating from it washed away the pain and fear, beaconing her to pass through the door to see what wondrous world was on the other side. Her blood stained fingers gripped the gleaming handle and the door swung open to reveal a tunnel of soothing light. She looked back at the dying world then stepped over the threshold.

Cold clean air and fragrant grass waited at the end of the light soaked tunnel. A verdant meadow: calm, quiet, and eternal.

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