Here’s Suzanne Burke’s Week #15 “Fiction in a Flash” Image Challenge. Haunted house and earthquake came to mind first. I went with an earthquake.
Note: I don’t visit anyone’s sites with their challenge posts until I get mine done:)
The Day the Ground Moved
It jolted me from a deep sleep. Belongings were tossed around like feathers in a windstorm. My wedding picture crashed into the back of my head, but I had no time to worry about the bump as my bed moved toward the dresser that was lodged on its side. My black cat, Sissy, dug her claws into my leg, and I could hear the dog howl from his bed.
“It’s okay, Max!”
It was unlikely he heard me over the growl of the shifting landscape and shattering glass. I pulled myself to the side of the bed as Sissy edged up to my chest.
“It’s the earthquake they said would come, Sissy.”
Hanging on to the cat, I slipped on the leather mules my wife of 35 years had given me last Christmas. I lost Nancy three months later to breast cancer right before everything changed. I pushed down my pain, grabbed our wedding picture, and attempted to run. I found the floor was like a carnival funhouse. I could barely keep upright. My stomach flipped as a powerful wave surged through the house. I grabbed the closet door frame.
“Hang on, Sissy.” She buried her head in my neck. “I should get the go bag in case…”
Tightly gripping the wood structure with one hand, I snatched the bag from the closet, tucked the picture in it, and slung it over my shoulder. Sissy’s claws deepened, cutting into my skin, but I barely felt it as I navigated the dark hall to the creaking steps. The rising sun was peeking through the broken front window, and the neighbor’s car alarm was blaring.
I clung to the shaking railing and made my way down the wooden stairs. Halfway the wall cracked open with a loud pop.
“Crap.” I quickened my pace. “Max! Here, boy!”
The sweet German Shepherd slowly walked to me with his tail between his legs. I grabbed his collar.
“It’s safer outside.” I tried the front door. It wouldn’t open until I used all my weight against it. We burst onto the porch and raced out into the morning dawn. I stood on my front lawn as the brick fireplace crumbled to the ground with a dusty thump on the side of the house.
“Is this ever going to stop?”
As if on cue, the grumble gave way to silence.
A weak cry for help came from across the street. The houses’ two levels were now one.
“I’m coming, Bert!”
The young couple who had just moved in last month stood pale and bloodied by their car.
“Bert and Kathy need help,” I yelled to them and set Sissy down, who immediately hid under my car.
“There’s nothing we can do. We need to get to a safety zone.” The husband replied. They got into their car and left.
I shook my head in disbelief; I knew there was no place to go. In the distance, I saw smoke and rubble as far as my old eyes could see. I rushed over the uneven street. Just then, I heard a screech and saw the young couple’s car fall. It was half in and half out of a large hole. The husband pulled the wife out, and they raced around the corner. Gone.
“Adam, can you hear me?”
“Yes, Bert, I’m coming.”
Thankfully, he was in a pocket by the front door, and I could lift the debris with a crowbar. Bert’s wife, who had been Nancy’s best friend, was crushed under a beam. She didn’t make it. We buried Kathy under her favorite maple tree. I understood his pain.
Bert took over that young couple’s house, and all that was left of our once beautiful area was two old men trying to survive each day. We lived in a world where no help would arrive. Our leader challenged the new directive, and as a cruel example, they detonated our earthquake fault. Later we found a renegade radio channel and learned part of our state was in the ocean.
It was a war no one had wanted. Luckily, Bert and I had a healthy supply of food, water, and weapons. When the time came, I would defend our old ways against the new directive. I knew Nancy would be proud of my stand, but I couldn’t wait to be with her again—when that time came.