Tuesday, August 16, 2011

2014: The Way the World Ends (Chapter XXVIII: Too Many Babies)

written and owned by Greg L. Miller 2011
Full Version up to date can be found:

Chapter XXVIII: Too Many Babies

Fred didn’t make it one block before the water from the reservoir alters their path. Hundreds of people rushed pass them a couple of blocks previous. Many yelled to them to turn around because the reservoir is flooding the streets but Kyle kept going. Now they are in a mess. A large wave a couple of stories high took out the block which separated their group a few minutes before. Kyle is currently across the street. Two thirds of the street kids are with him and Fred can’t tell where they are. Colon and two others are with him. Between them in a roaring river full of death and despair, they had to temporary entered an unsafe building to escape the initial wave. It’s as if the earth surged up and sent the tidal wave one way but nothing more. It wasn’t the Tsunami he and everyone else fears.

Or at least not yet, it’s coming. I can feel it.

Colon excitedly points out the obvious, “We should go up another level or two.” He sounds very boyish; Fred thinks the kid must have broken a few hearts in his day.

One of the lads retorts, “I want to see out a window! What’s happening out there?”

“John hold up, let’s ask Fred.” Fred is brought into their conversation; he doesn’t even know where they are. Looking around he sees it’s an apartment complex, light streams into the hallway down the hall. Fred is startled in a couple of feet as he tries thinking of a solution. The buildings second half doesn’t exist; it’s just empty space with a river moving fast. They walk to the edge of the first story hallway which abruptly ends. The sun disappears behind clouds, the water looks cold as ice.

The fourth kid stutters, “That question is answered, now what?”

Colon replies, “Sean, I don’t know. It seems the water has already carved its out a path. What’s the point in going up another level?”

Fred lights a cigarette, “There isn’t any. Let’s go back the way we came and see what it looks like out front.” He pauses as he watches a person drift on the very fast current which is less than ten feet away. Someone holds onto a wooden door as they shriek for help. Within moments they are out of eye sight. A few bodies bang lifelessly near the building. A woman is stuck in a car Volkswagen twenty to thirty feet away. She’s still alive and shouts for whoever will listen.

She sounds youngish and innocent, “Help me, my baby and I am stuck in the car! Someone help us!” Her vehicle is stuck between a tree and a small section of a collapsed wall. Makeup smears her face as she winds down her window as far is could go. Her car is on a tilt, the river isn’t flooding her vehicle yet. Fred hears a child howl and cry. His heart goes out, so does Colons.

Colon screams at Fred, “We must safe her and the child!” Fred agrees. Looking around he sees roughly six feet distancing them from the trapped woman. A heavy duty cable for telecommunication cable goes from the side of the building to deep in the water. It looks secure.

Fred finishes the cigarette, “I have an idea.” He has to outstretch his arm but is happy to find the cable taunt. The black cable crosses the car.

If I could climb the line I could rescue the baby?

He tries lifting himself up but isn’t tall enough. Sean goes back inside looking for something to use. John is no help, he keeps on repeating to himself the end of the world came and there’s no way out. It’s as if the kid is putting himself into a deep isolated bubble.

Colon puts his hand on Fred’s shoulder, “I understand what you’re trying to do. Let me do it. I’m half your size and much taller.” The woman shrieks as her some water goes into her car from the open window, the baby stops crying for a moment and then continues much stronger. Fred gets the feeling the baby just got splashed by water.

Fred tries comforting the woman, “Help is here! Hold tight!” The woman shouts she is grateful and pops her head out the window. The water is inches away from flooding her interior. She is a brunette and looks not more than 20 years old.

She flashes a smile but doesn’t stop begging them for help, “My baby and I are stuck, and water is coming in. Please help us, I will do anything!”

Colon demands John’s belt. It’s made from leather. “Fred, can you please bless me?”

Fred stalls a moment; he then feels the warm bubble from early respond as tranquility washes over him. He reaches for the bible in his own belt as Colon wraps his belt around the cable line. The woman in the car puts her window back up.

He hears her shriek, “Please hurry, I’m scared.” No new water rushes past the old. The water looks not much different than a stream in Minnesota.

Well, not exactly. In Minnesota are trees, birds and woods. This is a city.

Fred opens the bible and reads the first passage he sees. He isn’t good at this type of thing; he feels a little shy at first but is too tired to pay that insecurity any attention.

It’s Psalms 91:15, “When he calls to me… I will answer him. God Jehovah, please walk and protect Colon. We are all trying and we glorify you lord in all your magnificence. Please bless us and always protect us from evil and harm.”

Colon gratefully concludes, “Amen.” He wraps the belt around the cable and launches himself forward. He painstakingly has to inch forward. No new tremors or tides change anything.

God, please don’t let something bad happen to Colon or Kyle.

Fred looks around and is in awe the building is still intact. A picture of a meadow hangs on a wall. It’s off by a inch. Fred reaches out and puts it back in place.

He yells to the woman, “We are almost there! Don’t do anything but be ready!” The carpet underfoot is brown and looks not inviting. Sean comes back with nothing useful. He’s drinking some pop and offers one to Fred. He looks at Colon who is half way to the car and his mouth drops.

Sean blurts, “Oh my God, why is colon doing that? I think I saw some rope but it was too heavy. Fred wonders why Sean didn’t get him sooner. It doesn’t matter. Colon is over the car, he hits the wind shield with one hand as he wraps his feet around the cable. He doesn’t let go with the other. The woman unwinds her window, she thrusts her baby out.

She cries, “Please safe my baby!” Colon can’t grab onto the baby without losing grip of the cable.

He pleads with her, “You need to come up here. I can’t reach.” Despair enters his voice.

The woman with the baby responds, “I can’t do that! I’m sorry, please safe my baby."

Fred looks at Sean, “Take me to the rope.” John stutters for them to not leave but Fred tells him and Colon his plan. Colon wraps his body around the cable as water hits him but not with force.

Moments later Fred finds himself in a room looking like a janitor’s closet. A plague outside the door calls it the Maintenance Room. The room itself isn’t that big, it’s hard to look around. Light from the hallway shows a fairly large industrial rope on the floor near a mop. It takes both of them a few minutes to drag the rope back down the hallway. Everyone is where they left them. Fred hears Kyle shout his name from the distance.

Fred tells John his plan while tying the rope into his tool belt buckle, “Find my son and the others and bring them here. I’m going on the cable.” In theory his idea would have the tool belt take majority of the stress from his weight which should give him leverage to help get the woman and the baby. “Sean, I need you to anchor the rope and keep it secure. He gently places the bible and cross on the ground.
Sean stutters, “I can do that.” Sean takes the other half of the rope and ties it to a side railing. Fred doesn’t worry about failing as he grabs Sean’s knapsack.

God, please send your angels to help me safe the woman and baby.
His belt holds under his weight. Fred pushes up and out. He slides down the cable three feet before coming to a stall. He almost loses the knapsack but doesn’t. He does however lose a few tools as they splash into the river.

Was that the hammer? Human life is more valuable then tools.

Fred is surprised how easily he slides down the cable, within moments he is near Colon. Colon hangs on the cable, his legs and arms shake from too much physical stress.

It’s amazing the kid didn’t fall into the water. Thanks God for protecting us!

Fred near the car windows, the woman inside shrieks, “Take my baby before it’s too late!” She opens the window, the Volkswagen wagon looks like a wreck up close, the water ruthlessly pounds into its side, he doesn’t know why it hasn’t been pulled along with the current. Fred thrusts the knapsack into the car.

The woman cries, “Richard, you need to be a big boy and grow up strong.” She puts the baby in the knapsack and thrusts the crying little person towards Fred. Fred grabs the bag and starts inching his way back.

Colon strains from all the effort, “Lady, I need you to leave the car and climb to the cable.”

She cries back, “I can’t, please take care of my baby.”

Fred annuls his quietness, “Stop this insanity and please do what Colon says.” Kyle and John appear near Sean.

Kyle blurts, “Why in the hell did you let my dad go out there! What’s wrong with you people?” Sean and Joe try to explain to him what’s happening but he doesn’t care. His son’s voice is beginning to give Fred a migraine; he can’t wait until he can smoke another cigarette. Hand over hand Fred inches his way back to the hallway.

Colon tries a new tactic with the woman, “Come out half way and take my hand. I will help you. It will be fine.” His voice takes on new urgency; the current in the newly made river takes on a new velocity. Fred reaches the hallway and happily hands the baby to Kyle.

Kyle doesn’t want the baby, “I don’t like these things. Here someone else take it.” John takes the baby. Fred looks back. The woman has half her body out of the car.

Colon tries reassuring her, “Everything will be fine, take my hand?” He reaches with one hand. She never makes contact. The woman tries stretching her hand to Colon but the raging water finally moves the Volkswagen.

The ill fated woman cries, “Please take care of my son!” The vehicle fluidly breaks off from whatever obstacle was holding in place. There is no noise, the vehicle smoothly moves with the current, the woman winds up her window and within moments is out of eye sight. The street kids murmur and in hushed tones say how much that sucks. Fred reaches for his cigarettes; he can’t stop shaking from the adrenaline rush.

Kyle tiredly attempts to redirect the group, “It’s weird out front. Half the street was missed by the wave, look!” Kyle points to their right. Fred is surprised to see the water that looks like a raging river starts near something looking like it was a river in the back yard. He continues his observation, “The water is surging from sewage's and from ponds and rivers? Is it possible?”

Fred and the others watch as millions of gallons of water surge from the sewage drains connecting to the river. He doesn’t know if the river is man made or natural, he doesn’t care. He does however see the danger in being near water ways with the current earthquake. The water does not ebb, it seems to be picking up speed, the baby cries.

Fred finishes his cigarette and he no longer shakes, “Let’s see what it looks like out front. This building isn’t secure.” He picks up his bible and cross. He tells John and another, “Let’s take the rope with us, it might come handy in the future. It might take two to carry it.” The others congratulate Colon and Fred for their bravery. No one mentions the woman who was swept away; there isn’t anything anyone can do.

Fred takes the moment to give credit where it deserves to go, “It was out Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that saved the baby and who is keeping us safe.”

The street kids approve with many, “Amen’s.” Kyle is learning to keep his negative thoughts to himself; no one supports his flippant behavior. His son fondly caresses his back pack. Joe and Sean seem to have the baby under control; they gently make baby noises with the boy. Fred feels nostalgia; he wants to be home with his family in Minnesota. He keeps him emotions in check as he leads the group of the building.

The front street is nothing like the back yard. It’s apparent a wave crashed through but it left very little deep water. There’s a lot of destruction and small pools of blackish water here and there. The block across from them is strikingly empty. Nothing is left in place, the terrain looks flat. A few street kids who don’t fear getting hurt trudge through the water which is only a few inches deep. One points at the obviously empty contrast of this block and the next. The wave left nothing in its path for about thirty to forty feet. Fred assumed wrong in thinking the water was following the Street and had any order.

It’s like the wave has a life of its own, this is freaky? This means our logical and rationality does not make one bit of difference. How are we going to get out of this?

The only things standing across the street are lamp posts, it’s like the buildings and block were simply erased. A dozen vehicles are in various poses of metal carnage, someone yells from an upturned truck near the opposite end of the street.

The yelling isn’t sharp, it sounds as if the person is injured. Fred shuffles forward towards the turned truck, he’s in a daze and everything appears to be fuzzy and surreal.

Jehovah? Why have you forsaken us? What did we do to you?

Misery and death lay all around them.

Old and young don’t deserve to die. Everyone was minding their own business when the day first started. No one deserves to die in natural disasters. Why God?

Fred is near the vehicle, peering in he sees a thin man strapped firmly in the driver’s side. The man’s body is crunched forward; his head and neck appear to be bent unnaturally. The front glass shield isn’t anywhere to be seen. A metal pipe pins a female passenger to the seat. She is dead.

The man looks like he has a broken neck.

Fred jumps when the man turns his head just fine.

The man groans, “Help…” Colon comes up and pokes and prods at the front door, it doesn’t budge. Fred feels it’s futile to try to help and is about to walk towards the block that no longer exists when he hears the baby cry. The little light voice comes back, he feels tranquility, and he sees the world a little different.

Jesus, is that you?

The light vibration confirms his question; he feels a pull to look back in the vehicle.

Is that a baby seat in back? Jesus, help us. I can’t do this alone.

A muffled cry comes from the back seat. Colon yells, “There is a baby back here! What’s happening, are babies raining from the sky?” His boyish voice takes on wonder, followed by urgency. Fred looks around, he sees he might be able to break the window and get the baby.

Kyle huffs and puffs which remind Fred of a grumpy evil dragon from a Disney cartoon, “We don’t have time for this.”

Fred retorts with less patience then earlier, “Shut up.” He is afraid to break the window; he doesn’t want the glass to injure the baby. It’s not like the baby can cover his or her eyes. The baby is quiet but moves its arms.

Jesus, now what, how do I save her? Is it a female?

The baby is dressed in pink. The sun goes dark as much of the light leaves the street. Fred looks up, he can’t see the sun. The cloud in the sky looks dirty and not right. The light vibration becomes a deeper bubble which appears to be a mix of blue and white. He can see it without closing his eyes. Fred gets the impression he needs to get to higher ground. A roar in the distance can be heard, it sounds massive, it easily blocks out the emergency siren.

Kyle storms, “This is ridicules and we need to get out of here now!” He pushes past Fred and Colon and with a roar brings a metal down on the window.

Fred and Kyle blurt, “Stop.” Kyle doesn’t listen to them as he breaks the window.
With ease he removes the straps holding the baby in place and takes her out of the car. The man with the broken neck breathes his last breath; Fred thinks he hears the man say thank you before dying.

He gives the baby to Sean and John, everyone including Fred is amazed Kyle rescued the baby girl. Kyle flippantly tells the group, “As I was saying. We don’t have time for this. We need to get to higher ground! The hospital is a couple blocks north.” Now they have two babies, one male and one female.

Jesus, I need to get my grandson. Thanks for the two but how about the one I came half across America to get? Thanks for being with us.

A half a dozen stragglers wander close. Fred hears them talking of gangs and poor shooting each other a few blocks away. Fred hears gun fire in the distance. It doesn’t bother him for they are heading north while the gun noise comes from the South. It sounds like fire crackers, but here and there Fred can distinguish rifles from pistols.

The block intersects with 1st NW, the pass the destruction. Ahead Fred sees a large blue bus on its side. Kyle mutters, “Look, it’s the CNN bus. I saw it once in New York during the presidential campaign. A man with crutches crawls out a side window.

He sees them, “Oh God, thank you for letting me survive that.” The man talks like a surfer, “Hey you guys, there are a few people that need rescuing on the bus. Come help us dudes!”

Kyle sighs in defeat, “Oh look, more people to rescue, I’m not going to bother to try to stop you dad. Go play hero.”

Fred blushes; he doesn’t understand why Kyle is so rude. Colon and a few others run forward, they reach the bus within moments. Fred wants to tell Kyle to shut up.

Colon helps the man with crutches out of the bus. The fat surfer falls and scrapes his elbow near the end. No harm done.

The obese male gratefully chit chats nonstop, “Oh man, the wave was big! Berry didn’t make it nor the woman or her baby. But there are two in the bathroom that might still be alive. Oh man, sorry if I smell, I will change as fast as I can. I have had a very miserable day and I can’t seem to find my lighter…”

Fred rolls his eyes, “What’s your name? If you move we can get the other two.”
The man stops his rant for a moment, “Vince. Mike and April are in the bathroom, I don’t know where Susan went.”

Kyle pipes, “Susan Bishop the CNN reporter? Was she here?”

Vincent looks confused, “I think she got out of the bus when the wave came. Do you have a lighter?” Fred goes inside the bus which is on its side.

Fred yells, “Mike, April, anyone alive in here?” A woman swears from somewhere which must be the bathroom.

Fred answers without knowing what she is saying, “Help is coming, hold on a moment.” Fred makes his way; he grimaces when he sees a man and a woman have dead. The woman was strapped in but the man wasn’t. They have glass and other things best not thought about sticking out of them. While passing the woman he hears a soft gurgle sounding like a childish meow.

Fred startles when he sees two little feet dangling from the dead woman’s lap. Fred gingerly unwraps her arms and is surprised when a new toddler blinks back at him. The baby is unharmed.

Fred calls out to Colon, “We have another child in here. I need some help.” Colon comes into the bus.

It takes Colon a minute to navigate the broken seats, “Hey, how can I help boss?”

Fred dryly responds, “Look, another baby. There are two others in the bathroom, I will get them.”

Colon warmly looks at the toddler but avoids the dead woman, “Aren’t you cute. Is it a boy or girl?” Fred doesn’t know what sex the child is, he simply shrugs.

Fred yells, “Anyone in the bathroom?” There is a muffled noise which sounds like girlish. The bathroom is on its side; Fred has to crawl on his knees a couple of feet.

A woman miserably cries, “I can’t see, I don’t want to die…” Fred tries opening the door but it’s not budging. She continues, “I don’t know if my husband is alright, please get us out.” She sounds terribly distraught. Fred doesn’t have time to smoke a cigarette but he does have time to pray, he shuts his eyes for a moment.

Lord Jesus, there has been a lot of death, please let me save these trapped city folk.

Fred feels the familiar tranquility answer his prayer. He is balanced and opens his eyes. There is a crack in the door, a seat somehow got loose of its screws and is securing the door shut. It’s one of those doors that bend at the middle on a swivel, its colored blue with CNN etched it red, the door itself is course with many small bumps molded into the plastic.

Fred tries comforting the woman, “It was just one wave. It wasn’t the tsunami. Hold tight.” He tries lifting the seat but it doesn’t move.

Jesus, I need your help. What do I do?

A slight tremor moves the bus as Colon exits; Fred uses the opportunity to push the seat with all his strength. It moves a little. He switches position and puts his back to a secure seat; Fred pushes out with both legs. The seat rolls of the entrance.

On Colons way out he shrills as he finds the news camera, “Hey look a camera, I have to come back in for that in a moment.”

Fred grunts and tells the woman who is stuck inside, “Almost done, try opening the door.”

April cries, “My husband is blocking the way. I don’t know if he’s dead! Please help, I think I feel a pulse.” Fred tries opening the door but its bend, he sees a small crack. Fred takes his wrench and shoves it in the crack, a few tight pushes and after many curses he gets the door open. Light streaks in the mini bathroom. Two disheveled adults are cramped inside. Fred reaches for and drags the man out.

Half way through the man wakes up screaming. Fred has to let go as April explains to him what happened. Fred takes the moment to smoke a cigarette. He remembers them from earlier. They don’t recognize him yet.

Kyle screams from the street without patience, “What the hell is going on in there, the tsunami is coming and we need to get out of here.” No one answers him. Colon gets back on the bus and gets the camera; one of his friends hopefully took the new child.

Fred tells April and Mike, “That’s my son Kyle; you might remember him from the Smithsonian?”

Mike stutters, “Hot damn, I remember you now.” Mike reaches for his wife and they both weep in joy for a moment. Fred finishes his cigarette.

Fred’s knees hurt but he doesn’t pay attention, the light bubble in him gets complete satisfaction in helping fellow human beings in time of need. He tells the couple, “We need to go.” They agree, together they make it off the bus.

As soon as they get off the bus Fred hears Vincent tell Kyle, “So there I was dude, the canvas covered me and I thought I was going to die…Hey Mike, this is the righteousness bro who recognized me earlier. Glad you guys made it.”

What’s that smell? Is that shit and pot?

Vincent is smoking weed while altering his crutches from his right hand to left. A couple street kids surround him and partake in his medical drug. Fred is grateful when he sees John and Joe happily take care of the two infants from earlier. The new one is being held by a new street whose name Fred doesn’t know.

Fred interrupts Kyle’s and Vincent’s conversation, “We need to get to my grandson, let’s go.” Everyone agrees and as a group they head north. It’s hard for Fred to pass many vehicles with people who need help. His inner voice tells him it’s time to get to higher ground, the buildings around the highway don’t look safe. The hospital is supposed to be a few blocks ahead according to the street kids. Many street signs are no longer in place; each block begins to look the same.

Many rivers appeared which did not exist earlier in the day. Storm drains and sewers overfill as water gush out many of them. A lot of side streets are destroyed, many blocks simply aren’t standing. Other blocks are still intact, they are lucky as none of the new bodies of water block their path. The tidal wave looks like it mowed the buildings in uneven lines; Fred gets a brief flash of mowing his lawn on weekends when he was a teen in MN. He laughs at himself as he envisions a bird’s eye view in a third person perspective of Washington DC with water mowing the city. A blond woman runs to them from one of the side streets. Fred recognizes her from earlier.

Susan runs fast for a small girl, “Mike, April! Is Berry alright?” She sounds concerned for her camera man and doesn’t give her bus a second glance.

April cries, “I’m so sorry, he’s dead.” Susan breaks down on the street.

She slams her fist into a ruined black sedan, “No, this can’t be. We made it through the Iraq and the middle east together!” The owner’s body shifts from his slumped position on the steering wheel, the weight presses down on the horn which makes its noise. Susan swears and hits the sedan again, “Shit, I’m sorry I ran, I didn’t want to die when I saw the wave coming. I’m so sorry Berry.” She cries, Fred walks to her and puts his arms around her. She gratefully accepts his compassion as she repeats her pain.

Colon walks up to Fred and Susan, “Mrs. I have something I think is yours.” He offers Berry’s camera. Susan cries harder.

Fred tells Colon, “You ever use something like that? Maybe the reporter could use some help? We need to move forward. The distance roar is gets closer; everyone looks at each other uncomfortably as thousands of birds pass by. A few military jets speed over the birds. A few news helicopters can be seen in the way distance. Everyone is heading north.

Colon in awe, “I want to be a reporter! Err; I want to be a cameraman for a reporter! Can I hold your camera Mrs. Susan is it?” His voice pleads and his eyes take on a lost puppy expression.

Susan stops crying, “Whatever, here I will show you how to use it.” Fred directs his group forward. The newly acquired children cry for their lost mothers, he can’t afford to think of their pain at the moment. He sees the forerunner of the hospital buildings in the distance. Fred panics as he sees thousands of people on the street ahead of them.

Jesus, how am I going to make it pass all the people? Please help us.

A dark cloud covers the strange two suns. Deep down Fred thinks the two suns have a role in what’s happening, he does however expect to see Jesus come from the heavens and is saddened it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t change his belief or make him doubt his faith. The masses ahead of them are hysteric, they rush the fences the National Guard and Reserves put up. The soldiers don’t fire on the civilians; rather they abandoned their posts for higher ground, or maybe they were ordered to retreat. The hastily erected fences don’t stand under the weight of thousands of people who want to get inside the hospital buildings. The distant roar feels close, his group stalls at the rear of the masses, Fred see’s a burning building in front of him.

The light voice from deep inside tells him to run into the burning building.
Fred yells back, “I know this is stupid but God is telling me we have to get inside that building!” Its only four stories tall, half the building is on flame. None of the masses touch that specific infrastructure, the sirens abruptly go off. The street kids follow without question.

Kyle swears but doesn’t stop. In defiance he counters, “The building is burning dad! We are so close to Junior, let’s not do this! You’re insane.” No one listens to Kyle, he eventually sputters off into silence. Fred prays as he walks into a hole in the wall. The entrance to the Children Hospital has been destroyed but a new entrance gaps near the original entrance as the fire reshaped the building.

Jesus, I don’t know why you’re directing us in here but please keep us safe.

Stairs near the entrance lead to a higher levels. Fire has eaten much of the color inside, no one is around. The roar becomes a giant boom and Fred feels his body pitch towards the floor. They are inside and have access to no windows as all becomes dark. Street kids and April yell the tsunami finally came. Fred gets up; there are many more stairs in front of them. Fred is terrified as he reaches for his bible; he puts one foot in front of the other.

He tries directing his group as he screams, “Go up!” He can’t see clearly but he doesn’t stop. The building sways but remains intact.


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