It was all around me. Smoke. Fire. Everywhere I turn, there it was. My ears ringing from explosions and the sound of the splitting Earth. It’s happening just like in my dream, only this time, it’s real. The sudden explosions were the catalyst. The earthquakes started right after the explosions. The screams of terror and panic of the victims shatter against the silent night, sounding like some kind of morbid symphony. Here I am, standing in front of the remains of my school. The charred brick buildings begin to crumble and collapse under their own weight.
The surrounding city is in ruins. Houses fallen into the Earth; office buildings torn open. Plant life burnt to blackened mulch. The screaming has settled for now, but the worse has yet to come. I explore the rest of the campus, not sure what I’m looking for, but I’ll know when I find it.
The planet punishes humanity for its transgressions. I can hear the oceans churn and crash into the beach homes. Tell me that I’m dreaming. This is too horrible to be real. Please, wake me before the final catastrophe hits.
Without the illumination of street lights, the school is completely dark. I can’t see further than a few feet from me. Even the flashlight I brought with me isn’t doing any good. I seem to be where the lunch court used to be. Picnic tables and benches twisted in obscure shapes that remind me of something seen from the Twilight Zone. Most of the classroom buildings hung open like a rotting wound. Some were still in good condition, well good enough to not collapse on itself.
The cold air nips at my neck. It’s funny since we’re in the middle of summer and are suffering, or have been suffering, from a heat wave. The sky is covered in clouds, and according to my dream, that is not good. Something moves from behind me. I turn around to see what it is. It’s a dog searching for food, it seems. After the screaming stopped, that dog is the only other form of life I’ve seen in the last few hours. I haven’t seen anyone I know. I fear for their safety and well being.
I look up in the sky to try to determine how much time I have left, only to find out that I have none. The sky reveals a red full moon. People emerge from alcoves within the rubble. I see hope in their eyes, the kind of hope that says they have survived the worst of it. They have no idea how wrong they are. A little kid shouts, “I see something coming down! Is it God, mommy?” Kid, that’s something coming down, alright, but it ain’t God. This is how my dream always ends: a rain of rock and fire. As soon as they begin to realize what it is, panic ensues once again. Everyone begins to run everywhere and nowhere trying to dodge the meteors crashing in every direction. I look up one last time as a meteor descends upon me…
Beep. Beep. Beep. My alarm clock? My bed? Was it just another dream? I open my curtains and see that my neighborhood is intact. It was just another bad dream. Man, I’m soaking in sweat.
“Santiago. Ya levántate,” my step-mom yells, telling me to wake up.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m going. I’m going.”
She comes into my room and asks why I’m sweating. I (naturally) lie to her and tell her that it got hot during the night. What day is it today? Thursday. I have a quiz today and papers due. Damn, not like I have enough on my mind already. Oh, well, by the end of the day I get to hangout with my girlfriend, Emily. That’s always a plus.
“Santiago, se te va hacer tarde,” my step-mom yells again.
“Well, tell your daughter to get out of the bathroom.”
After the bathroom becomes available, I rush in to do my morning stuff: potty (yes I said potty. Deal with it), wash my hands (Duh!), brush my teeth, wet my hair, and shave. I rush back into my room, put on my blue denim jeans and black tee. How’s my hair? I run my fingers through my ear-length brown hair just to get it looking nice-ish. I grab my backpack and head out the door.
The school day passed a lot faster than I thought it would. I sit at the usual spot on the stairs and wait for Emily to get out of her math class. It seems as if I were waiting for a long time, only because I got lost in my thoughts. A few minutes pass since I got there before she came walking up wearing her favorite blue jeans with the butterfly-design on the back pockets and her black Corpse Bride tee shirt. She wore her long black hair down, like always.
“Hey, bubble-butt,” she calls to me.
“Huh? Oh, hey,” I respond, shaken from my daydream.
“Still having that dream, James?” She calls me James instead of Santiago as a way to poke fun at my atheistic ideals, since my name translates to “Saint James” from Spanish to English. That and because she’s too lazy to say my full name. Typical lazy Mexican I’ve also told her about my dream and how it’s been recurring for the past few weeks.
“Yeah,” I said. “It gets more and more intense. I don’t want to close my eyes anymore. If I do, I might dream it again. And you know how serious I take my dreams.”
“Shit, I would be scared, too, if I kept on dreaming about the world blowing up. And I know they mean a lot to you, but you have to remember that they are only dreams. You can’t let them get to you. But in a way, you’re lucky. I don’t have any dreams, and if I do, they’re just stupid dreams like my cat kicking my ass.”
“Doesn’t she do that anyway?” I ask.
“Shut up, that’s not the point. But, yeah she does.”
“You are a dork, you know that, Em?”
“Yeah, and what? What are you gonna do about it? Huh? Nothing. That’s what I thought.”
“Dork. C’mon, I’ll walk you to your class.”
After I took her to class, I stopped and asked her if we were still on for tonight. She responds, “Even if the world was ending.”
That night we went to the downtown area for dinner at this one restaurant that I can even pronounce the name of. After dinner we head over to the theater catch a movie, and then suddenly a small tremor shook the surrounding area.
“What was that?” Emily asked.
“It felt like an earthquake. That’s strange, even for San Diego.”
I spot people running away from something while some are running in the opposite direction.
“OK, now I’m confused,” I said, “where is everybody going? It was just a small earthquake.”
“Why don’t you ask someone what’s going on?”
I pull aside a person who was in the “running away” direction and asked him why he is running.
“Dude, can’t you smell the smoke and ash? There was a massive explosion a couple miles away.”
“An explosion,” I asked, “Where? How? Wait, you ran this far?”
“Hey, if a giant glass and steel building blew up, you’d run away a far as possible, too, till you were safe. Shit, what if it’s another terrorist attack? I’m fucking gone. Screw you guys.” And he left into the running throng. The sounds of sirens can be heard.
“Well, that was one cheery guy, don’t you think, Em?”
“James, c’mon, let’s forget about the movie. We should just go home.”
“Yeah, we should before the air gets filled with the ash and smoke.”
And, suddenly, another explosion roars, closer this time. It burns bright and hot, together with the chaos of panicking citizens.
“I can’t be having déjà vu, can I?”
“James, you are not having déjà vu. Now, c’mon, let’s get out of here! C’mon, let’s go!”
I wanted to tell her that there is no point in running. If this is really happening as in my dream, then it’s pointless to run away. Then earthquakes started shaking the Earth. Catastrophe number two.
“It’s happening, Emily. Just like in my dream. The world is ending. Everyone is going to die!”
“Look at me, James. God dammit, mira me, Santiago! This is not your dream, ok? This is all just—”
Her voice is drowned out as the ocean waves begin to crash violently and washing people out to sea. Panic ensues even more as people begin to take shelter while others take advantage of the chaos to loot stores and mug helpless people. The sky overhead, just ten minutes prior to the first explosion was filled with stars, is now shrouded in darken clouds of smoke and ash.
“The blood-red full moon should show up anytime soon. Then it all goes to hell after that.” I begin ranting, but Emily still tries to free me from my delirium. “It’s all my fault. I should’ve warned people. I could’ve done something to prepare them for this.”
“James, this isn’t your fault. Look at me. You didn’t cause any of this. You did nothing wrong, you hear me? Nothing!”
As if on cue, the clouds begin to part to reveal the red moon in a star less sky. Everything suddenly stops; earthquakes; explosions; panic. Everything is still. Everyone looks up in the sky as if hope would rain down on them like an arid desert asking for rain. While they are gazing up above, Emily begins to take me away from the scene.
“Mommy, Mommy. Look. I see something in the sky,” said a little boy, wiping his tears away, “It’s getting bigger. What is it?”
“I don’t know, sweety,” replied his mother, trying to be brave for the both of them.
“I think it is God, because He is from Heaven and Heaven is in the sky and it’s coming from the sky.”
One of the bystanders saw another light in the sky and realized for what it was as it was speeding up towards Earth.
“Meteor!” he screamed as the first made contact with the ocean followed by dozens more. The rains of fire continue to pour down on the defenseless victims as they scatter around and start running, getting nowhere fast. The meteors crash into buildings adding broken glass and debris to the showers. Explosions and tremors continue on; a chaotic symphony of death and destruction.
Downtown San Diego, once an area filled with lights and crowded with people, now lay in ruins. Fire hydrants spewing water, broken pipelines flooding the streets, glass and steel litter the ground. Fire continues to rain down. If I wasn’t scared I would’ve made a connection to the area with Camelot after the final battle between Arthur and his son Mordred. If I wasn’t scared, that is.
“We can’t hide from this, can we James?”
“No, we can’t. I can feel it is happening all over the world. The entire planet is being affected,” I responded in a voice void of hope.
I take one last look at the sky above and I see a meteor come towards us. Instinctively I threw myself over Emily to shield her from the impact and waited for its final descent.
“‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.’”
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. My alarm clock?! My bed? I was dreaming again. It was just another dream. Just a dream.