After Lingering (part 2)
Heiphillia at first didn’t understand what it was when the shaking had begun. She had been woken from her sleep. Her first thought was a question. When did I fall asleep? The movie marathon was a blue screen on Shawn’s television, telling her that the movie had ended long ago. Then she noticed the shaking.
It was vibrant, like a bit of a shake of surprise, causing the whole house to clang and screech. An earthquake? Then she froze. What was one supposed to do in the event of an Earthquake? She forgot. She tried to rub the sleep from her eyes, and remember her classes.
Instinct told her that it was more than a simple Earthquake. Their UnderCity was in danger.
“Heia.” Shawn sat up along with her. “What was that?”
“I need to get home.” Heia jumped to her feet as the shaking stopped.
“Heia.” Shawn rolled his eyes. “You deserve a break.”
“Shawn.” She mocked him.
“Shawn!” His parents called from down the hall. “What was that?”
“Earthquake.” Heia called back. It was then that the Earthquake shook again. Shawn sat up and turned on the TV where the news was showing the collapse of Towers. The safety protocols blared.
“All citizens. Evacuate immediately.”
“I need to get to my family.” Heia repeated, knowing that it was going to get worse. Shawn’s father then opened the door with a bag in his hand.
“We need to go now.” Shawn’s father said before he left to get others.
“Come up with us. We will call your parents and they will follow.” Shawn told her
“No. You go up. I need to get to them.” Heia disagreed. “I’ll be fine.”
“I’ll go with you.” Shawn started to his feet.
“Go with your family.” She disagreed. Heia pulled him to stand tall, fixing his shirt. “I will meet you there. Okay?”
“Heia it was just an Earthquake.” He didn’t sound like he believed it.
“And that thing… The Catastrophe. When was it supposed to be?” No one in the room could answer, as the TV continued to play the evacuation notice. She wasn’t sure why the words The Catastrophe had stuck to her. Perhaps Mr. Listal still mattered to her after all. He hadn’t been a simple fanatic about the Catastrophe. MAY, Anti-Love, they had been wrong, not him.
This was the end.
“Heia. If this was the Catastrophe, the government would have warned us.” Only Heia didn’t believe that.
“I’m going home. You go up. I will find you.” Heia said hurrying to the front door. There she found Shawn’s father with Shawn’s little brother and sister.
“Heia.” Shawn tried to stop her once more.
“Take them.” Heia kissed his cheek and then hurried from the house running to her house. She hoped that she’d make it in time. People were fleeing from their homes towards the ways to get out, as the earth rocked and she swayed a little. When Heia got home she saw her siblings packing their things.
“Heia?” Layla looked to her. “Why didn’t you go up with Shawn’s family?”
“I had to make sure you were safe.” Heia explained. “Where are mom and dad?”
“At the shop.” Andre answered. “Dad wanted to make sure it was locked up.”
To stop looters? That wouldn’t matter! No. Heia had no proof that it was the Catastrophe.
“And Robee and Trace?” Heia could only see the triplets.
“Out. Where ever they go.” Layla rolled her eyes. “You’d think that they’d come home when stuff like this happens. Only they don’t care.”
“Are we leaving now?” Karla asked.
“Yes.” Heia agreed, before running to grab a few things. The siblings left the house, headed towards the nearest exit.
“Dad said for us to just leave and they’d meet us up. Mom was going to try to find Trace and Robee after they locked up.” Andre sighed, as they looked up. “Those two really don’t see how much of a hassle they are.”
“They’ll be fine.” Kori played on her hand held video game console as Kony watched over her shoulder. Heia’s family headed to the southern exit, where as before Heia had been zoned to evacuate to the north. Shawn’s house despite being minutes fro her’s was designed to exit to the north, and while any exit could be used, Heia knew that evacuation protocol asked them to use the correct exit, to help with the census and tracking of individuals. She hoped that Shawn and his family got out on the Northside easily enough. The shop was closer to the west side exit, and Heia hoped her parents would not travel all the way back to the south.
“They’ll go to the west.” Andre patted her shoulder.
There was another shake, this time rougher, deliberate, like a shiver running through the body. Like terror waking from slumber. The lights overhead flickered and the siblings stopped walking.
“Put that away.” Layla snapped at Kori. Kori obliged. The six began to run through the streets avoiding the buildings that were shaking, crumbling, falling. Heia noticed the smell of gas before she heard the sparks of electricity. Flames engulfed the world around them. They began running faster, headed to the exit, finding a crowd of people.
“They’re saying that the south exit collapsed in the last shake.” Andre informed them when he asked people why they were waiting.
“How long will it take for the officials to get it open?” Layla asked.
“Soon.” Andre said. “They have protocols for these things.”
Heia’s skin began to prickle. She felt soft drops of water on her nose, as the water system overhead refused to turn on to put out the fires. Fires took oxygen. Talking took oxygen. If the water did not fall, then the fire would… Had the sprinkler system been broken in the shaking? Would they asphyxiate?
“We need to get out.” Heia looked back. Her eyes darted to the other sides. West? East? No. North. She could see the sight of rain and smoke in the direction. The water system was working. They might be flooded, but she could swim.
“We will wait.” Layla told her.
“No. We need to get to the North exit now.” Heia’s gut turned, telling her to run and to run fast.
“Heia.” Layla glared at her.
“Andre. We need to go.” Heia pleaded with her brother instead.
“Heia you are scaring Karla.” Layla said. Heia looked at Karla who gave a look of indignation. Heia was scaring Layla.
“I’m going if you aren’t.” Heia glared at her sister.
“Heia! Heia!” Head heard her name and turned to see her boss from work and her baby. “Are you headed out?”
“I’m going North.” Heia answered.
“Take Liam with you.” The woman handed her, her baby. “I need to find my Husband on the west. And this will take too much time to find my family if I wait here.”
“I…” Heia wasn’t sure.
“Okay.” Karla took the baby. “We will meet you up there.”
Heia’s boss nodded and hurried off west. Karla then spoke to Heia. “We are following you.”
“If we just wait…” Layla disagreed.
“We aren’t.” Karla snapped. “We aren’t babies, Layla. Heia said north, we go north.”
“That will take hours.” Layla disagreed.
“Then we go.” Heia started off towards the north exit followed closely by the triplets. The four began to hurry away from the crowd, towards the streets again. At first they moved slowly until the fourth ripple came and the world began to split apart. The sound of the rock splitting in half was unlike any other that Heia had ever heard. Heia pulled Kori from the crevice that formed, tunneling miles deep. The jagged line stretched for miles, bringing houses down with it. Heia felt her heart rip apart. She dropped to her knees yelling down. “Layla! Andre!”
“We are here.” Andre called out to her from another location. Heia looked up and jumped to her feet running towards the house where Andre said, holding Layla’s hand, as he held onto a pipe. With Kori, Karla, and Kony’s help, they pulled the two up and out. Layla sobbed as she collapsed to the ground.
“We need to keep moving.” Kori warned them, forcing Layla to stand. “It’s only going to get worse.”
Heia wasn’t sure how much worse, but worse it was.
“Let’s go.” Andre, said, picking up Layla on his back, and beginning to run.
Fires, collapsing buildings, children who had lost their families. Screams. Shakes. Little oxygen. Water flooding through streets. Smoke. So much smoke. Dead bodies.
Heia had never seen a dead body before, outside of television and movies. Seeing the real thing was unlike anything she had ever seen before. Everyone that they could save they saved. Anyone that they could grab and ID for, they grabbed. The first body that Heia touched was still warm. The life was gone from the eyes, and when she found the identification card, she swore to collect them all.
Their group of six turned to sixty, all holding IDs of the dead that they found. When they reached the North Exit, they found it barren, but open, and trudged up the muddy slope to the surface world where they found officials. Immediately they were given blankets, checked for injuries, and handed over the IDs. Heia gave a list of locations they did not check for survivors, but no one seemed to care.
Heia pulled out her phone, when she was released from the official’s control with his family. She dialed Shawn’s number, and looked around, finding him standing with others searching for loved ones. Eyes red, sleep deprived, ten years older in spirit.
“Heia?” He whispered her name.
“Shawn!” Heia raced to him, falling into his arms. He was alive. He was safe. He held her tight. “How did you know I’d be here?”
“It is the only exit.” Shawn hugged her tighter as the words sank in. She tried to break away from him, tried to see his face. He pulled her closer, and then it hit.
“But the other exits… The others…”
“It’s the only one.” Shawn repeated.
“No.” Heia grasped him. “But my parents. Trace. Robee!”
“No…” She began to sob, the knowledge hitting her like a sledge hammer.
“What?” Heia gasped as she looked at him. “The other exits?”
“East is open, but only a few made it through because of the massive hole before it. All the others collapsed. I knew if you survived, you’d get out this way.”
“All the others…” She repeated. Her parents? Trace? Robee? Her boss? Her neighbors? “No.”
“No…” She started to cry. She had seen the destruction, the dead bodies. Her parents couldn’t be…
The UnderCity of LakeLost was hit badly but far from the worst. The Eastern district was ripped from the rest, with a five mile gap in most places, but a save few that Heia would find later, when they made the location their new home. While the Eastern exit never collapsed, there was a two mile gap between the land and the exit, making it near impossible to access. The Wester exit collapsed. The Northern exit never was reopened. The death toll would rise, many of the names listed as those that Heia had found. Most were never found, assumed dead.
Her parents would be of those lost.