The beginning of disaster for unnamed families. The beginning of the end for everyone.
Stacks of smoke, hundreds, thousands of feet in the air. Fire engulfed the entire horizon as ships sunk one by one. Behind us was the port of South Padre, what was left of it at least. Buildings that once rose twenty stories or higher, now gone. The grass lining the sandy shores were burnt black and the sand was hotter than an oven. If anyone had told me the world would come to this, I'd think it was a sick joke.
Briskly, I sprint through the sand with my mother, along with hundreds of families seeking a way out of this misery. I couldn't help but look around at the various structures I had once been to. Each summer since I was eight, I would come here as a kid. The beach would glisten in the sunlight as bunches of clans swarm the shore to dip their feet into the salty gulf. Every time, recalling my memory, it would be a vacation to remember. Swimming with my mom and sister was something I would never forget. Now, it seems like a dream. A dream I want to go back to.
I felt a jolt of pain course through my arm as my mom tugs on my coarse left hand. "C'mon honey! We have to go or we're gonna miss it! We don't wanna be left behind, do we?" She says in the most placid tone she could manage. It didn't work, I could feel the panic oozing out of her aura and demeanor, but that's besides the point. She was right, staying in my daydream will only get me killed. At any moment, a bomb could land on the shore. Right on top of us. It could just be a matter of when.
Along the shoreline, we saw what seemed to be a large boat of some kind. A vessel as long as a freighter, yet shaped like a submarine. We hurried with the twenty plus families to reach the destination. Various soldiers dressed in a blue and green garb that seemed to add thirty pounds each were scattered around the ship, about forty in total. Thirty or so were watching the inner shore, holding different rifles in a peculiar formation. The remaining troops were running across the sand, shouting orders too drowned out to hear. As the herd rushed towards the ship, two soldiers approached. One was a tall dark skinned male with dark hair and various tattoos lining his arms. The other was a female as pale as a sheet of paper who couldn't have been taller than I. Both held clipboards and were shouting gibberish at the whole lot of us. We slowed down to a panicked walk as they started lining us up to board.
If it weren't for the emergency television broadcast that rang through our house moments after waking up this morning, we may have never known about this scheduled arrival of the ship. I began to wonder about those who didn't hear the message. It's very unlikely they made it out. However, where else could they go? The island isn't very prodigious, so where could they run? Are they ok? Did someone else save them? How many- "LISTEN HERE KID!" A loud shout rang through my ears as the tall male soldier stood slightly over my frightened, hunched body. Although his scream was frightening enough to make me nearly jump a few feet back, I knew it was time to stop thinking and start listening. His loud, cracked voice continued, "You're going to follow that man into the ship and he's going to take you to a secure room to strap in for takeoff!" He pointed to an older man in the same garb who had a bald head and a vintage anchor tattooed to his left bicep. His face was banged up, but the most distinguishable out of the bunch. "Once you're on, stay quiet and listen to what he says! Your mom will be on the next ship!"
Instantly, confusion and panic settled in. Next ship? Before I could argue, my mom butted in and shouted at the man. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN 'NEXT SHIP'? HE IS MY SON!" I CANT-" BOOM!
A bomb lands a few hundred yards away from our location, knocking sand and water across the sky and into our defenseless bodies. The shock send a massive shiver down my body. As me and my mom both face the bomb's landing, our faces covered in fear, I couldn't help but think, I might die today.....
"LISTEN, WE HAVE ORDERS MA'AM! ALL CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 18 IS HIGH PRIORITY!" The soldiers' shouting was barely audible, my ears were still ringing from the blast. "You will be on the next ship coming in five minutes! As for now, you must stick with us until it arrives. We will escort your child to safety and you will follow! We need you to comply, NOW!"
For a second, the only thing I could hear was gunfire and radio chatter. A chill coursed through my spine, I was more nervous than I had ever been in my life. I'm going to die. I'm going to die. It was all I could think about. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, but my voice was caught. I couldn't feel my throat. Was this really how things were going to end? Who could do this to us? To my family? I couldn't stop my body from shivering in absolute fear. Dots started to appear in my eyes. This really WAS it. It had to be. There's no way we could escape in this... This thing. It was much too big a ship to go unnoticed. How the hell could we NOT die? This just wasn't fair! To die this young is cruel! WHY?
"It's okay son." My mother puts her arm on my shoulder. For a moment, everything stops. The world around me seems to pause, and the only thing I can see is my mom, kneeling in front of me, her graceful beauty taking up most of my vision. I feel like I'm in a state of unconscious bliss. I can't feel or hear anything other than her. I lose all sense of fear and the only thing I want to do is listen to my mother. "It's gonna be okay, I promise. These guys are going to take you on the boat, and your mom is gonna board the next one, okay?"
"B-but I don't like them-" I try to retort, but my emotions catch my breath before I can.
She begins again, "Neither do I, but they're here to help us. Without these people, we can't be rescued. Trust me when I say that we should trust them. It will be fine." As I stare into her eyes, I get caught by the immense beauty of the rich blue color that makes up her eyes. Staring at them is enough to lower my guard just enough. I continue to look at her, making sure to save an image of her before anything happens. The red burns aren't enough to make me think any less of her elegance. She was amazing.
"I won't let anyone hurt you. That's a promise, alright?"
Her voice was so peaceful and soft, it felt like a blanket keeping me safe from all the other noise and pain and fear. I couldn't help but shed a river of tears. My face felt wet with sobs and my voice was choked up. What was once terror was now warmth and silence. In the back of my head, this felt like the last time I was ever going to see her.
"Aw, don't cry sweetie, what did your mom always tell you?"
In a mass of sobs, I tried my hardest to give her the right answer. "D-Don't cry. I-I-It makes me l-look weak." In an instant, I leaped into my mothers' arms and gave her the biggest hug my twelve year old body could manage. I clung as tight as I could, hoping I would never have to let go. I close my eyes, expecting any second now for death to approach me. Luckily, it never comes. "I'll be right behind you. Don't worry." She ever so slightly lets me go and leads me to the anchor armed soldier. In an instant, all the outside noises emerge and flood my ears. I know what I have to do.
With urgency I run to the bald man and grab hold of his out stretched hand. "C'mon kid, you're last, so make it quick." His voice was gruff, just like my fathers' from years ago. In a swift motion, I turn around one last time to see my mother, her eyes releasing floods of tears. Her long brown hair flowed with the wind sailing right of her elegant frame. The silky beach robe she wore was covered in sand and debris, her skin was burnt red. Yet, despite what many would consider a mess, I thought to be the most beautiful person I had ever seen. I never wanted to look away knowing we may be separated for a while. I clenched my heart and shouted "I LOVE YOU!" At the top of my lungs, making sure no matter what, she could here my voice.
"I love you too sweetie!" I couldn't hear her, but I read her lips just as well. I imagined her distressed voice calling my name, hoping it never leaves my mind.
Before I had time to place it anywhere in my brain, my neck was shot back by the anchor armed man. He tugged hard on my shirt, making sure I go with him deep into the back of the ship.
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Before I get a chance to breathe, I'm strapped in tight to a seat along the back of a very narrow room somewhere in the ships interior. The side of the room opposite of me was lined with windows, each large enough to see the ocean outside. My side was filled with seats, each occupying a child of varying age. To my left sat someone who couldn't have been older than I. He was about my height, dark hair, brown skin and a plethora of scars on his right arm. He wore an orange shirt with brown cargo shorts that had pockets large enough to fit a tablet. He wore no shoes, instead his bare, cracked feet were about 1 inch from the floor. His head hung back along the headrest, seemingly unconscious. I wanted to call his name, but chose against it. I didn't want to wake him to the nightmare we were currently going through. In fact, I envy him.
To my right, sat a girl. She seemed older. Her stature alone spoke volumes. She seemed, confident. Seeing this made me wonder how differently this must be for every kid on the boat. Examining further, I noticed her hair. A mix of blonde and pink, wavy and spontaneous. Even more strange, she wore a black sweater reading "Only Cool Kids Don't Do Drugs" with a massive X over what seemed to be pills. Her tattered blue jeans and black converse made it seem like she was dressing for winter. She can't be comfortable, I thought. Not in that.
Reading her was hopeless. It was like she was sleeping with her eyes open, yet she was vigilant to everything around her. I tried to look closer, and closer. "Are you okay?" I ask as politely as I can, still slightly rattled from the events just a moment ago. Nothing. No movement, no words, I couldn't even hear the sound of her breathing. It wasn't till now I decided to get a wide view of her face. I stretch as far out as I can to see the front of her. That's when I got my answer. She wasn't confident, nor was she ignoring me. She was in a state of shock.
I wheel back into my seat. It's pointless. I feel tears begin to well up in my eyes. Everything I knew, everything I had, is now gone. Now I'm on a boat going, somewhere. I have no idea where. A place that will hold me and my mom till everything blows over. But when it does, what then? New school, new life, but where? How?
An intercom cracks into a speaker right above our heads. "Take off is a go, leaving the shore."
In an instant, the boat rocks violently, knocking my head sideways and into the brown kid to my left. Pain courses through my back muscles as I try to gather myself. In an attempt to say sorry, a feeling of immense force sends me back into my seat. The ship, somehow with its massive frame, soars to a speed to rival that of a jet ski. How is this even possible?? I try thinking to myself before settling back down into my chair. "Take off is clear. Destination marked, ETA fourteen hundred hours," the intercom announces before switching off once more.
As I nudge my body back into a comfy position, I try to look out the window, hoping for a glance at my mom one more time. Unfortunately for me, the entire beach was too far to distinguish anyone. Their bodies were the size of an ant. Nevertheless I try. Extending my torso as far as the seat straps let me, I focus more on the bodies outside. My eyes squint with remarkable strain, enough to instantly send a weak headache through my skull. Where is she.... where is she....
There she was. It was almost impossible to see, but that was without a doubt, her. Her burnt red body was so far away, yet shined so elegantly. If it weren't for her glistening robe, I may have never been able to see her. Her beauty was boundless, despite the distance. If only I could leave the ship and swim to her in an instant. If only I could be there and not worry her anymore. If only.
At the end of my line of sight, I see her seemingly tiny arm swing, as if to wave goodbye. At me. She's trying. for me. I lift my slightly weak arm. Hoping that somehow, some way, she can see me wave goodbye as well. When this is all over, and I see my mom again, I can tell her how much she means to me. I can apologize for any trouble I may have caused. Let her know that no matter what, I will always be her son and I will always love her-
RING. White. A light so bright, so gigantic suddenly appears outside near the beach. It nearly makes me blind, yet I can't look away. For seconds, it rages, before dimming into a distinct orange. Although the color was more friendly to the eyes, it was still bright. A shape was forming along the horizon. A very round shape, kind of like....... Like a mushroom.
A clap, a thunderous roar so loud, it collapses my ears into unbearable ringing. Despite that, however, my eyes were glued to the gargantuan cloud outside. So large, so unreal. In an instant, a massive wall of smoke and debris plowed through the city and eradicated the coast. So fast, so unreal.
I was right, huh? This was the end. It had to be. It was telling from how everything played out. No matter how much we ran, it was going to end this way. Everything from before was just the beginning. Now they are giving us our end. I don't feel like I'm ready for death, but if I'm not ready now, when will I ever be?
I look to my left and look to my right, both of the people next to me were in the same position as before. Lifeless. Empty. Maybe they were ready. Maybe they knew this would happen before hand. Heh, so it's just me. I couldn't help but smile. I really was alone in the end, wasn't I? The only one conscious and able to understand my fate. Instantly, however willingly, my life spins before my eyes. I watch my baby years and toddler days pass in front of me. Watching my family set up for family pictures, watching my sister laugh at me as I stumble down the stairs after I ran too fast and busted my head open. She really was an evil sister, but who am I to say that? I pretty much made her go through hell to baby sit me. My smile grows bigger.
I remember my little league soccer games. My dad practicing with me endlessly hoping I became an athletic freak despite the truth being I wanted to be the next Chopin or Mozart. Of course, he would never understand. He was just a stubborn father. And yet, I loved him. My smile grows bigger.
I remember, well, my mom. Everything. She was everything to me. She treated me like I was special, like I was meant for something. She never gave up on me and even payed for my piano lessons. She made my lunches. She tucked me in every night despite me telling her I was too old for that. Of course, I still wanted her to do it. I wanted her face to be the last one I saw before I slept every night. Without her I am nothing. My smile grows to its biggest. Tears escape my eyes. I can only think of one more thing to say. I hope my mom can hear this again one day.
"I love you."
I close my eyes. knowing any second now, will be my last. The massive dust cloud soars to the ship and smashes the same side as I, tossing us seemingly in the air, as my vision fades to white.