Survival, by Kish
Abhay pushed the heavy steel door open and half-closed his eyes against the blaring sunlight. The sky was a crystal blue and puffy white clouds floated above him. It was a beautiful day. He walked on the cement roof and sat cross-legged beside Katie.
Katie wore a pink tank top and khaki cargo shorts, she fiddled with her braids as she lay warm roof. Her back felt toasty, reminding her that she was still alive. She turned her head toward Abhay. He was quite lanky and the combination of the green bowling shirt over his copper skin made him look like a twig. She smiled at him, ‘Is the generator working?’
Abhay paused for a moment and listened to the careful vibration of the generator as it whirred away giving the convenience store some much needed electricity. ‘I just filled it up.’ It was a good thing that they sat by a gas station, a veritable gold mine of power and provisions. He pulled out two plastic pouches and handed one to Katie, ‘Breakfast?’
‘What do we have today?’ Katie pulled herself up and took one of the bags. It was green and white, and labelled Sour Cream. ‘Chips again?’ she asked.
‘It was either this or month old hotdogs.’ Abhay pulled open his pouch and munched on the potato spud.
‘Well it doesn’t matter if I get sick. We are going to die anyway.’
‘Come on Katie don’t say that, there is still hope.’
‘Oh really? Don’t you remember?’
Abhay knew what she referred to, the image was imprinted in his memory. The famous red-haired announcer Ruby Vermont repeated the last line of her announcement several times, ‘We are doomed!’ Moments after she uttered these words, the picture shook and the screen turned to fuzz. A tremor had shaken the station, and viewers assumed that the building had collapsed, killing everyone including the beautiful Ruby Vermont. The world was about to end, the Earth was tired of being thrown aside and was ready to explode any minute, the government and scientists with all of their resources were powerless to stop it.
Katie picked up a small transponder radio and turned the knob. There was only static, no truckers, no children, static. ‘It’s a ghost town out there.’ Katie locked her arms around her knees and peered over the short cement block where the radio sat. Across the gas station was a small strip mall. The donut shop was smashed in and everything had long been looted from it, including the large donut on the building. Beside it was a row of smaller stores including a bead shop Katie frequented.
Abhay took another chip and chewed carefully, making sure not to make any loud noises. He hated the fact that he was eating stale chips for breakfast. He missed the hot parathas and yogurt that his mother used to make for him back in India. He didn’t want to come to America and leave his whole family behind, but his uncle had promised him riches beyond his dreams at the land of opportunity. Now the world was going to end, his uncle who had left for India couldn’t be reached.
Katie smiled as she watched Abhay nibble at his chips. She thought that it was cute how he tried to be so polite. She hadn’t noticed it before but Abhay had gray eyes. She wanted to ask if they were natural or contacts. Not that it mattered anyway, there was no one around them to impress. Katie scooted next to Abhay and rested her head on his shoulder. ‘Do you really think there is still hope?’
Abhay dropped his chin to Katie’s blonde hair. He knew there was no hope. Tremors had shaken the entire world. Most of Asia had already fallen, crumbling into the ocean, or succumbing to volcanic eruptions. ‘There is always hope Katie.’
A loud screech followed by a crash shook the quiet couple from their serene moment. A car crashed onto one of the pillars of the gas station and almost hit one of the pumps. Abhay stood up and watched as the black SUV tried to back away, but the roof of the gas station had collapsed and blocked the path.
‘What’s going on?’ Katie asked. ‘Is it an earthquake?’
‘No,’ Abhay shook his head. ‘A car crashed into the gas station. Some people are stuck. I’m going down to help them.’
‘Don’t leave me Abhay.’
‘Never.’ Abhay pulled Katie up and led her downstairs, holding her hand as he did.
The tires of the SUV screeched as it tried to get free from its hold. A man sat inside, with a panic stricken look on his face. In the rear seats were two children crying.
Abhay walked out of the entrance of the convenience store and screamed. ‘Hold up!’ He raised his arms. ‘Stop it! You are not going anywhere with that thing behind you.’
The man in the SUV cracked his window open and stuck out his head. ‘We have to get out of here!’
‘What is the rush?’
‘Are you fucking insane!’ He pointed his arm westward. ‘The whole city has gone under. We are the only ones who got out!’
‘What?’ Katie shrieked.
‘We didn’t hear anything on the radio, are you sure?’ Abhay asked.
‘You fucking idiot! Everything has gone under! There is no radio, no phone lines, hell we are trying to get as far away from here as possible.’
‘Can you take us with you?’ Katie asked.
Abhay looked at her with an arched brow. He leaned close and whispered. ‘Do you believe this guy?’
‘Everything is going under. If he is right then we might be next.’
‘Everything is going to be…’
‘It is not going to be fine Abhay! We have to get out of here.’
‘Listen I know that promised your uncle that you would take care of the store while he was away, but you haven’t heard from him for over a week! He’s dead!’ Katie realized at what she had said. Abhay’s uncle was the only family that he had left. His hometown in India was the first city to have gone under, before the world realized what was happening. ‘Listen Abhay,’ Katie rubbed Abhay’s cheeks, feeling guilty. ‘We have to get out of here. Both of us, we have to survive.’
Abhay looked at Katie’s blue eyes and nodded his head. ‘I promised not to leave you.’ Abhay grabbed a crowbar from the tool shed behind the convenience store and ran back to the pumps. The roof creaked lower and squished the roof of the black SUV. The man in the car gave up trying to move the car free and was now trying to open the doors. The SUV was in a precarious position as it was jammed up at the rear by the falling roof, at the front by the pillar and on the sides by the gas pumps.
Abhay walked closer to the SUV and tried to come up with a plan, there was no way he could pry the doors open with all of the obstruction. The only way was to break the front window and pull the passengers out to safety. Abhay climbed on the front hood of the car and raised the crowbar above his head. ‘Get back!’ As Abhay quickly lowered the crowbar, he slipped off balance and fell on the concrete. ‘Ow!’
‘Abhay are you ok?’ Katie rushed to Abhay and pulled him up.
‘Yeah, I slipped.’ Abhay looked at the ground and bent to pick up the crowbar. It shook and jumped an inch to his right. He reached for it again but now he was shaking as well. He looked up at Katie. ‘What is going on?’
Katie ran to the main road and covered her mouth at what she saw. ‘Abhay!’
Abhay ran to Katie and held her close. The tremors continued and a large crack appeared on the street. Slowly lamp posts and parked cars started shaking and fell into the constantly enlarging chasm. ‘We have to get out of here!’ Abhay took Katie’s arm and pulled her away from the crack.
‘What about them?’ Katie turned toward the black SUV and shrieked as she saw the rear of the car dip into the chasm.
‘Help!’ The man screamed as he repeatedly kicked the front window trying to create an opening.
Katie took a step forward but Abhay pulled her, ‘It’s too late for them.’ Katie shook her head and ran behind Abhay, wiping her tears as her legs ran on the shaky ground.
Behind them the crack grew larger, the man in the SUV had finally smashed the window open, at the same time the car had fully fallen into the chasm and he could only hear the frightened screams of his children as they fell straight into the dark abyss.
Abhay ran frantically at the opposite direction of the crack, he needed to get out of the growing chasm. He recognized the empty lot to his right. He knew that this connected to another set of streets that led to the highway. With any luck the otherside was still in one piece. ‘Over here.’ Abhay yelled.
Katie continued following Abhay, her bare feet ached under the hot pavement. ‘Stop please.’ Katie fell on the ground, rubbing the soles of her feet. ‘I can’t do this anymore.’
‘Just on the other side Katie.’
‘No I can’t!’
‘We should be safe over there.’
‘We are going to die! Like that guy and his kids.’
Abhay crouched and held Katie’s face in his hands. He looked at the freckled dots on her face and kissed her.
Katie felt the chapped lips of Abhay against hers and trembled. ‘I…I’m sorry.’ She bore the pain of her feet and stood up. ‘I can’t run anymore…I just can’t.’
‘Just a little bit, come on!’
Katie nodded her head and followed Abhay into the empty lot and fell down on a grassy patch next to some rocks.
Abhay held her tight and hummed a tune that his mother used to sing to him when he was sick. He hoped that this would settle Katie down. The tremor stopped for the moment and the neighboring building had fallen on the road.
Katie rocked under Abhay’s arm and thought of the kiss on the road. She savored it and loved the fact that Abhay was there to protect her, that he was there to help her. She didn’t know what she would have done without him. She would have probably been dead if he wasn’t there to save her. ‘Abhay…’
‘Kiss me again.’
Abhay looked at her.
‘Please, I need you to kiss me again.’
Abhay leaned close and kissed her, he could feel her tongue passionately intertwined with his. He wondered why this had to happen now only, when the world was about to end.
‘Please don’t leave me.’
‘I am here for you Katie.’
The tremors started once more, this time it was stronger than the last. The rubble shook and bounced off one another like a pinball machine. ‘We have to get out of here Katie.’
‘I can’t run Abhay, we can’t outrun the tremors!’
Abhay looked around and he noticed a large sign with the letter P surrounded by a blue background. ‘Do you know how to hotwire a car?’
Katie tilted her head.
Abhay pointed on the building to his right. ‘Over there.’
Katie smiled. She noticed a shiny red Ferrari parked near the exit of the lot. ‘There are a lot of things about me that you have to learn my sexy Indian.’
‘We have all the time in the world.’ Abhay smiled.
Katie hobbled toward the parking lot with Abhay behind her and walked around the scarlet red machine. Abhay removed his bowling shirt revealing his scrawny frame and wrapped the cloth around his hand. He smashed the window with one punch and slid into the driver’s seat. He unlocked the passenger door. ‘Get in.’ Katie slid in and instructed Abhay on how to cross the wires under the steering column. In a moment the car came to life and Abhay stepped on the gas. ‘Put on your seatbelt.’
Katie leaned back into the comfort of the soft leather and felt the power of the engine lead them to safety. Behind the car, buildings collapsed, a second chasm had emerged on their road. Abhay drove faster shifting gears as quickly as he could. The car reached an intersection and a third chasm grew on their right. Abhay turned left and punched the car as fast as it could go. He zoomed past falling debris and sliding cars. Pieces of road had cracked into jigsaw pieces as more cracks emerged, creating different chasms along the way.
‘Abhay look out!’ Katie yelped and stretched her hand on the dashboard. A piece of the road had cracked infront of them, pushing it into a makeshift ramp. The car zoomed onto the piece and flew into the air.
Abhay continued stepping on the gas and hoped that he would continue picking up speed when he landed. He looked at the crystal blue sky and thought of Katie’s eyes. She was beautiful with her freckles and crooked front teeth. The buildings on their side started falling down, barely missing them. The car stalled in the air for what seemed to them as hours, and in a moment began to descend. Abhay held Katie’s hand. ‘Katie I’m sorry.’
The car fell down quickly into a large chasm. It was dark and swallowed everything in its path. Rubble fell into the chasm together with other cars, small vendor karts and the hearts of Abhay and Katie.
It was the end of the road for them. There were no clear blue skies or sunsets embracing them for one more day. Katie turned to Abhay and kissed him for one last time before they disappeared into the abyss together with millions of others before them.
Kish has walked the path that no one walks, he swim with crocodiles, rewires toasters and even dances with iguanas. He considers himself to be multicultural and an observer of the human psyche, he is multiple personalities, eccentriic, shy, adventurous and drunk with life. He loves writing stories that delve into the emotions of the characters, this part of the story is where the adventure lies, where reader (and writers) curiously walk in the characters shoes as the story evolves. He wishes the reader with a fun filled adventure with the characters of his stories. His episodic fiction can be found on his blog, DowntownLegends.
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Tags: apocalypse, Kishore Mohandas Daswani, romance