Thursday, July 25, 2013

November 1



Well, All Hallow’s Eve was appropriately evil for me.  I think the Church would have approved me getting into some trouble.  At least I’m alive.  That’s what I keep reminding myself.

The Academy suffered another attack.  This time the Earthers on the outside launched a rocket at us.  Yeah, I’m talking big boom, and wouldn’t you know it landed on the path not too far from my dorm?

I was on my computer, putting the finishing touches on editing Clan Dusa’s clanning ceremony, feeling pretty darn good because it turned out so nice.  Those lapel recorders really did do the trick.  Suddenly there was a kind of whining sound, then a huge BOOM.  Everything around me shook with the force of it.  I fell right out of the bed where I was being lazy.  Good thing too, because if I’d been working at the little dining table by the front of the room, there might not be a Shalia to note all this down.

That’s where everything caved right the hell in.  The wall just flat out crumbled before my eyes, and then I got moving, so I didn’t see the whole collapse.  I ran, still clutching my computer though I wouldn’t realize it until later.  I jumped into the tub in the bathroom.  I’m not sure why, except isn’t that what they tell you to do if you’re caught in a hurricane?  Anyway, that’s where I ended up, huddled and screaming as the world shuddered violently all around.  Everything went dark and finally stopped shaking after seconds that felt like hours.  I could still hear the ceiling over me groaning, and I realized there were more rooms on the floor above mine.  I screamed for a little while, convinced the whole shooting match was about to fall in on top of me.

Even though I couldn’t see anything, I realized the collapse in the front had sent a bunch of dust flying.  That’s what got me to stop shrieking like a hysterical banshee, because you can’t go all damsel-in-distress when you’re coughing your lungs out. 

I crawled out of the tub and went feeling around for a towel or washcloth.  I found the small hand towel hanging by its usual spot next to the bathroom door and felt around until I had the sink’s faucet running.  I wet the towel and put it over my nose and mouth.  That helped with the choking at least, and I managed to calm down.

I bumped my way out of the bathroom.  There was no light at all.  It had been beaming in through the window only seconds before, but now I was blind in what seemed to be an eternal night.  Meanwhile, the ceiling kept right on groaning, like it was a damned soul in torment.  I really thought it was going to collapse right on my head at any moment.

I stumbled back into the bathroom.  I noticed a small green light in the tub area, and recognized it as my computer’s power indicator.  It was then that I realized I had brought it with me.  I headed for that tiny spark of illumination, sobbing like I’d been given the keys to heaven.  Being in pitch black fucks with your head, especially when you don’t know how bad the situation is.  I was happy to see that tiny dot of green.

I re-activated the vid, which had apparently shut down when I made my wild dash to the bathroom.  It sprang up, illuminating a shifting tide of dust in the air.  The picture showed a frozen moment of Esak and Weln looking at Dusa as he recited his vows.  Seeing the boys, even through the haze of particles, gave me a shot of courage for some reason. 

I could at least see the bathroom now, and it remained whole.  The ceiling in there showed no sign of damage despite its many complaints.  Holding the computer so that the vid floated in front of me, I left the room.

The whole front of the main part of my dorm was a pile of rubble, right up to the edge of the bed I’d been lounging on.  While I watched, a chunk of ceiling came down to land smack in the middle of the bed.  Oh man, this was bad.  I knew I was in big trouble. 

The back of my room butts up to the back of another room on the other side of the dorm.  I had no windows, no doors, no way out.  All my escape routes had been at the front of the room ... the now-destroyed front of the room, where stuff was still shifting.

So of course I did something stupid.  If you set aside moments when I huddle in bathtubs and scream like a girl, I’m not the kind of woman that waits to be rescued.  I lay the computer on the floor, well back from the pile of debris.  I ventured forward slowly, trying to keep an eye on everything as I searched for some way out.

That bit of bravery ended rather quickly when another, bigger chunk of ceiling fell and grazed my shoulder.  I yelped and jumped back, then screamed and jumped again when something beeped right next to me.

It was my com beeping for attention.  Willing my speeding heart to slow down before I dropped from a stroke, I picked it up.  Clicking it on, I breathlessly said, “Yes?  Who’s there?  I need help.”

Nang’s voice was possibly the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard in my life.  “Shalia, thank the ancestors.  We’re right outside.  Are you hurt?”

“No.  Nang, I can’t get out.”

“I know.  The entire front of the building has collapsed, and your room is blocked.  The whole thing could crumble at any moment.”

“And here I thought you’d be giving me bad news.  Thanks for the uplifting message.”  I was pissy, but it beat being a crybaby.

“Shalia, go to as far back in your quarters as you’re able.  We’re going to have to clear this out as fast as we can before the entire thing comes down.  The machines are arriving now, so we’re getting to work right away.  Hang in.  I’m not going to let you die.”

You know, it’s incredibly hard to be strong when your life is hanging by a thread and someone promises he won’t let that thread get cut.  I was suddenly bawling my eyes out.

“O-okay,” I sobbed.  Stupidly, I said, “I’ll be here.”  Duh.  Like I was going to be anywhere else but that tomb.

“It’s okay, sweetling.  I’m on my way.”

When the machines started clearing the front of the building to get to me, Nang was forced to click off.  We couldn’t hear each other over the noise.  So I waited, sitting in the tub again.  What the heck, if I was going to die, it beat my body being found sitting on the toilet.  Meanwhile I stared at my still vid of Dusa’s happy clan, listening to the sound of crashing bits of debris, screeching of the building supports, and ominous thunder of falling building.  It only took them fifteen minutes to clear a way through, but it felt like fifty million years.

At last the room beyond the bath brightened with sunlight.  I switched off my computer and hugged it to my chest, scrambling out of the tub.  I crept out to look into what had so recently been my bedroom in time to see Esak dart through a large hole where the ceiling used to be.  He dropped to the floor, his eyes were wide and his lips pulled back in a snarl as he came until he saw me standing there.

Relief made him sag all over for an instant.  “Mother of All.  Shalia, I was so scared for you.”

I dashed into his arms, crying again to feel his strength.  He held me tight for a moment and then picked me up.  “Let’s get you out of here.”

He boosted me up to the hole where both Dusa and Nang waited to haul me out.  A moment later I was outside, still alive and well.  Nang carried me away from the half-demolished building while Dusa helped Esak out.

“All the rooms are clear, Commander,” someone told Nang. 

“Good.  Keep everyone away from that building until we can take it down safely.  What about that rocket?”

“It detonated fully and is no longer any kind of threat.  Fortunately, it went halfway into the ground before going off, which kept the effects of the explosion from being worse than it was.”

Dusa and Esak hurried up.  Nang was still cradling me in his arms, and the two men looked uncertain.  I thought perhaps they wanted to snatch me from the commander, but with him outranking them, I guessed it wouldn’t be a good thing for them to do.

Fortunately, Nang wasn’t a jerk.  He handed me off to Dusa with the instructions, “Get her to Medical and have her checked out by the doctors.”

“Yes, Commander.  Right away.”

There was a tremendous crash at that instant and I yelled, thinking another rocket had found us.  Instead, it was the dorm collapsing into a heap.  Dusa clutched me so hard to his chest that he actually left bruises from his fingers digging into my skin.  I had come within seconds of dying.

As Dusa was carrying me to a shuttle, Matt King rushed up to the scene.  He gasped to see the carnage.  “Shalia!  You weren’t in that building, were you?”

“Yeah, I was.  They got me out though.”

“Thank God.  Was anyone else hurt?”

“Shalia was the only one there,” Dusa said a little impatiently.  “I’m taking her to Medical right now.”

“I’m okay though,” I reassured Matt, who looked ready to fuss over me.  “They just want to make sure.”

“Of course, of course.  I’ll check on you later.  Thank God no one was killed!”

He hurried towards the Kalquorians gathered around the blast site.  It was nice to see him so concerned.

I checked out as perfectly fine, of course.  Dad was almost embarrassingly thorough in the examination, insisting on deep tissue contact scans to reassure himself I was in one piece.  Weln showed up to hover too, then Candy came running in, screaming my name at the top of her lungs.  Even after we told her I was perfectly fine, she carried on in near hysterics until Dad threatened to sedate her for a week.  Now she’s insisting I move in with her until we leave for Kalquor.

Last night was spent in Dusa’s quarters.  To top off an already messed up day, we found out he and Esak will be leaving in three days.  Weln’s transfer has still not been verified, though Dusa refused to let anyone worry over it.

“Shalia is alive.  We will be happy because of that.  Nothing else is important,” he told his clanmates.  They nodded in agreement, though Weln looked a little lost.  I don’t blame him.  I’m glad to be alive, but I really don’t look forward to losing my boys.

I really can’t write anymore about this right now.  It hurts too much.

7 comments:

  1. Now this was an exciting scene!!

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  2. I agree. I think Matt King is with the rebels. Or maybe even leading them.

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  3. Matt King present again at another crisis. Mmmm, if he is not guilty, he is starting to look that way reguardless.

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  4. Only Shalia was in the dorm at the time? I hate to sound paranoid, but I think the rebel Earthers are targeting her. I'll bet either Matt King or Candy is behind it. Or both.

    Shalia and Eve need to go with Clan Dusa to Atlanta before heading to Kalquor...

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  5. "Shalia and Eve need to go with Clan Dusa to Atlanta before heading to Kalquor..."

    YES!!!!

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  6. YES INDEED!
    I don't trust Matt or Candy either.

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