The Man Who Broke into my Bombshelter
A rusty can of fade labeled food stuffs crashes to the floor.
It wakes me and I think, what day is it? I turn beside me. There is a black box I personally painted for such confusion. I stare at the thick jagged lines of white. Hm…supposedly it’s February 14th; talk about irony.
The box gets another crudely drawn calendar slash and I think, should I have voted Democrat? Eh, it’s too late now.
There is another quake and more cans rattle. My hand moves about until it lands on my lighter. Still kicking after all of this time, Made in America. I light a stubby creme candle and stare at it. For a moment it brings peace to me. I am glad for the glow. It is the glow I imagine emerges from underneath ashes, embers rising up, stirring in the wind. It is the glow I will have, when the quakes are over.
My thoughts are interrupted by a grinding sound. Whipping towards the door I watch flakes of rust sprinkle to the floor. A creak fills the silence, a horrible creak, a terrible, life threatening creak. Then, I hear the snap of a chain being broken.
I never thought it would end this way. I had prepared, done everything I had been told, watched every PSA, Fire Marshal Bulletin, and News Conference. It wasn’t fair. Not after everything I had given up to get down here.
I scream as I’m blinded by light, pushing back into the shelves like a burning vampire.
“Are you alright?’ he asks. His voice is gruff and authoritative like a soldier’s, but with a soft undertone like a country singer.
“Stop it! Stop, we’re all gonna die!” I shriek. My eyes can’t take real light, not after all of this time. They water madly as I push away. I feel his finger on my arm and I gasp. The first touch in over a year. Would it be my last?
“Close the door,” I command, pointing to where I believe it should be. “We can stay here together.”
“I’m not here to stay,” he chuckles. “I’m here to take you out.”
My fear is renewed. The booms still sound, the ground still quakes. It can’t be over.
“If it’s not over, we’ll die from the radiation,” I say.
“Yeah, that’s the point,” he says. “Come on.”
His words frighten me. I pull away from him, knocking my heels into something hard. I’ve hit the wall.
“No,” I say. “I’m safe here.” A crash booms overhead and dirt sprays into the shelter.
“But, you’re not,” he says.
“I don’t want to die.”
“Everyone dies. At least we’ll be tog–”
“Not me,” I say. “N-not today.”
For a long time he is silent. I pry my eyes open. I can’t see his face, not past the black shadow. He stands over me. For a second, I reconsider. The sound of gunfire changes things. I squeeze my eyes shut.
“Not me,” I whimper. “Leave me alone.”
He waits, before letting out a long heavy sigh. “Alright maam, if that’s what you want.”
I hear him moving away. I squint. The man climbs out and locks the steel door behind him.
Above, I can hear the sweep of fire as it ravages the land.
A day or two passes while I huddle in the dark. For a while I cry. Then, I forget he is there, busying myself with melting candles.
Time passes, seconds, minutes, years. The chalk runs out when the sound runs out. I run out when the food runs out, when there is no more hope.
I step out of the shelter. The land is burnt black and the sky is a haze of gray. I could breath it, whatever it was.
I called out. “Hello?”
There is nothing, the man has probably died.
I am alone, alive but alone.