Saviors of the Reborn Worlds - Part 1: Rude Awakening
Zak awoke on fire. He tried to reach the flames and pat them out, but the one arm that wasn’t pinned, wouldn’t move. He tried to roll, but couldn’t. Instead he screamed for what seemed like hours as his consciousness fluctuated.
Eventually the fire went out, plunging him into darkness. The pain slowly subsided and his arm regained its function.
He tried to move whatever was pinning him down. Fortunately the rubble he lay in was quite broken apart. As he struggled, his mind was finally free enough to wonder. He called out every few minutes, growing increasingly worried about his father. At times he simply stopped working and cried. Some of the debris fell away easily and some he could only move centimeters at a time before his muscles grew too weak. They recovered quickly, however, and once his other arm was free progress came faster.
Still, it seemed it must be around noon before he was able to wiggle from under the last of the rubble. The sun was high overhead, but mostly obscured by thick gray clouds. As he stood, he started to look himself over. His clothing was destroyed to the point that he might as well have been nude. Much of his skin was stained in blood. However, as he looked down at his hands he saw no sign of the many scrapes and cuts he had felt gathering throughout the night. In fact, as he surveyed the rest of his body he found himself to be quite intact. There were patches of skin that looked like weeks old burns and signs of deep cuts that were closed up and healing nicely.
He wondered if he had been in that hole for days or even longer. As suspected, there were signs confirming he must be in the basement of his home, but most of the ceiling above was lying around him along with the furniture and everything he owned. The walls above were all but gone.
He cried out as loud as he could “HELLO! Can anybody hear me?” As he climbed around in the destruction the tears flowed freely again. His father had been preparing dinner when everything went black, so Zak headed for the area below where the kitchen had been.
Thoughts racing, with confusion being the dominant emotion, he had no idea how to begin his search. At first he was simply flinging debris at random, but when he began to calm down he noticed something. Up against the wall there was a large section of what used to be the ceiling positioned in such a way that it had kept the floor beneath fairly clear. So Zak started there and began systematically clearing the floor in front of him by moving everything behind him. Some slabs were too heavy to move, but he could clear things well enough to know his father couldn’t be trapped beneath them.
After an hour or so he came across something he was not prepared for. It was a lone slipper, bloody and charred. He fell to his knees and tried to scream, but his throat was too tight. Frantically he rooted around the area, finding only bits of his father’s clothes.
Eventually he resumed the more methodical search. ‘They’re just clothes. Where is HE?’ When he came upon what was once his bedroom he dressed himself from the contents of his shattered dresser and went right back to work. He went on until the sun was gone. The task wasn’t quite complete, but he couldn’t see well enough to continue. He had given up all but a glimmer of hope that his father was alive.
The sofa cushions were nearby so he laid them out in a relatively flat area and tried to go to sleep. After roughly half an hour Zak realized he was not the least bit tired. He had been awake for nearly 20 hours performing intensive labor the entire time, but he felt as if he had just awoken from the best sleep he’d ever had. It was the thought that finally caused him to ask himself ‘What the hell is going on?’
In the faint moonlight he looked over his hands again. He knew he cut his hands dozens of times on sharp pieces of metal, wood, and who knows what else throughout the day, but there was no sign of any of it. With a sharp piece of mirror he found he took a deep breath and sliced open the back of his hand. The pain had him clenching and unclenching, shaking his hand around. When it subsided he wiped away the blood and saw angry pink flesh, but the cut was closed and the bleeding had stopped. He simply stared in a near mindless trance and minutes later when he snapped out of it there was no sign of injury at all.
He also realized he hadn’t been hungry or thirsty this whole time. Collapsing back onto the cushions and staring at the night sky, he began to suspect he too was dead. However, he was breathing and had a pulse. After several hours of testing his body and pondering the new nature of his world, he finally started to wonder what was happening beyond the hole he sat in.
In a corner of the ruined house the wall above was completely gone and the rubble appeared easily climbable. After a few failed attempts to pull himself up the last five or so feet, Zak dragged a mostly intact kitchen stool to the top of the pile and managed to crawl out of what used to be his home.
The not unusual quiet of his small town in the middle of the night brought about a deep loneliness. The streetlights were on, but the houses were dark. The neighbor’s house was mostly burnt down as well, but across the street they seemed untouched.
He sprinted over to one resuming his cries for help and beating on the door as hard as he could. So hard, in fact, the door popped open. Hesitantly he entered. He’d been in the Murphy home plenty of times and knew his way around. Going room to room he turned on lights and called out for “Jacob...Mr. and Mrs. Murphy?”
In the living room his eyes quickly shot to Mr. Murphy’s recliner, with bloody and shredded pants hanging over the footrest and shirt crumpled in the seat. He thought of his father’s slipper and collapsed once again. “What could have caused this? There was no explosion here.” He was afraid to continue his search, but also felt compelled. He found a similar pile in the bathroom that must belong to Mrs. Murphy. As he reached Jacob’s room he took a deep breath in worried anticipation and entered. He blushed and let out a nervous laugh when the video playing on Jacob’s monitor caught his attention. He walked over and turned the monitor off, finding what he feared on the floor. When he heard “ooh daddy” from the dangling headphones he bolted from the house faster than he had ever scrambled in his life. Upon reaching the middle of the road he stopped and began dry heaving.
‘Everybody is dead. This is Hell.’ he thought.
He laid down in the street, the coolness on his back providing a peculiar comfort. Hardly any stars were visible between the thick clouds. It began to rain. The slight chill it brought didn’t bother Zak, but the fat droplets hitting his face got annoying quickly. Just as he was getting ready to get up he saw a light dart from one cloud to another, disappearing just as fast. ‘An airplane! This town may be dead, but the world is still out there.’
He reached for his pocket before realizing his phone was lost and most likely destroyed. Unable to face the growing certainty that the houses around him were home only to the remnants of the people he’d known his entire life, Zak headed downtown.