Aftershock

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Cover image: Elia Pellegrini on Unsplash.

Aftershock

The earthquake seemed to go on for ever, although in reality the ground could only have been shaking us around for five minutes or so. Long enough to scare the life out of us all. Long enough to cause some structural damage too. Someone was going to have to go outside and take a look.

Drew,” my father called to me, “I need you to go down to the lower level. Look for cracks, because they are what are going to bring us down.”

I nod. I know exactly what to look for. A crack above a certain width is going to need pretty much instant filling or it will spread. If it spreads too far the structure will collapse and take us with it. It has been dry for the last few weeks and there is no floodwater to cushion any sort of landing. Just concrete and tarmac, and a fall from this height would be fatal.

Sophie, hit the roof and take a look around. See if there’s anywhere nearby that has fallen, because if there is, we’ve got to get out there and help dig for survivors.” Our father turned back to the radio, our one form of contact with the outside world.

I opened the hatch and began the climb down the ladder that led to the lower level. This was where we stored stuff that wouldn’t be ravaged by the constant damp. What was left of it, anyway, for the floods had been sudden and a lot of stuff had been lost. We’d had to adapt quickly, building up, and that had been okay until the earthquakes began.

I began making my way around the walls, eyes scanning from top to bottom while I made a mental note of exactly where the cracks had appeared. I’d not come across anything worrying when I felt the judder coming up from beneath me. The floor seemed to tilt one way then lurch back again. Not once but over and over again. Aftershocks!

We’d never had any before, although we’d listened to the reports where more devastation had been caused by these than by the earthquakes themselves. The earthquakes made weaknesses and the aftershocks exploited them.

I knew I should seek something to shelter beneath, but the undulating floorboards wouldn’t allow me to. I was hit by boxes, cans, anything that could move, and I lost my footing, had to lay flat on the ground.

I couldn’t though... there was something urgent, if only my mind could clear enough to think. My teeth rattled and I swear my bones did too. And then it hit me – Sophie! Dad had sent her up to the roof. Would she have made it back down yet?

Crawling on my hands and knees, I dragged myself towards the ladder. I pulled hard against it and it seemed to be firm. With the warnings playing through my mind about the dangers of using the ladders during a quake, I began to pull myself up as fast as I could. The ladder was shaking, rattling against the bolts and clamps that held it in place. Almost at the top, one side of the ladder broke free and began to swivel away from the hatch. With no time to think I made a grab, hauled my way in.

Dad looked at me, as did my mother. I don’t know what I expected to find, but it wasn’t the calm that I threw myself into.

Where’s Sophie?” I gasped out, struggling to get up on to my feet.

You know where she is,” our father replied. “Up on the roof.”

But... you’ve got to get her in!”

She’ll be back as soon as she’s ready.”

No! Didn’t you feel it? The whole place is about to fall.” I look around. Why is everything still in place. The amount of movement going on down below should have tossed everything from its place.

Sit, Drew.” My mother pulls out a chair. “Let me look at your head. Maybe you got hit by something in the quake.”

It wasn’t the quake but the aftershock. Didn’t you feel it?” I push her hands away and begin to walk towards the upper ladder. Even now I can feel the trembling, hear the creaks and the groans. It’s not stopped yet, hasn’t finished with us.

I’m going to get her in,” I say, beginning to climb again. I push my head up through the hatch and shout out her name. She can’t be far, but the wind is whistling, snatching my voice. I’ll have to climb all the way up.

She’s there, calmly looking across from the roof, while the landscape around us appears to be swaying to a dangerous degree. What’s wrong with her? She should know not to be anywhere near the edge during a quake. And this is worse... so much worse.

I’m up on the roof and I can’t do more than squat. Anything more and I’m off my feet. I keep on shouting out my sister’s name and I’ve almost reached her when she starts to turn. Too slow... too damn slow...

Get away from the edge,” I shout, incredulous that she hasn’t done so already.

Drew? What’s wrong?” Sophie smiles at me, and then begins to lean away.

The building is screaming along with me, as the rumble works its way up from below. Only that’s not what’s happening. We are falling.

I lunge towards my sister and reach out to catch her. My hand reaches her arm before gravity intervenes and wraps us both in its deadly grip and flings us... hurtling towards the waiting solid ground.

 


Submitted: February 02, 2021

© Copyright 2021 hullabaloo22. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Mike S.

A fine scenario-rich tale, Hull

Tue, February 2nd, 2021 8:25pm

Author
Reply

Thank you, Mike.

Tue, February 2nd, 2021 1:00pm

Mark A George

Good story, Hulla. I used to live in San Francisco so aftershocks are indeed scary, the ground rolls and roils like one of those county fair rides with the gyrating floors.

Fri, February 5th, 2021 2:50am

Author
Reply

Earthquakes are something I've never experienced. It must be pretty scary. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

Sat, February 6th, 2021 11:01am

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