Monday, February 28, 2011

Family Reunion: Conclusion

Part 1

Dylan had been swimming for several minutes now.  He turned around and could just barley see the house behind him.  He knew his family was looking his way even though they would not be able to see him ether.  Looking around, he took a second to take in how different the city looked from this angle.  He knew exactly where he was, where he was going, but he had never seen it from above.  It’s like looking around the house standing on his head.  Everything looked the same but different.

The journey continued for almost an hour.  Dylan had to rest for quite a while on the hillside.  His continued training must not have been as good as he thought, but he had made it.

There was no one around, no sign that anyone had been here the night before.  The lights must have come from further inland.  He started walking and soon discovered the camp.

The camp was surrounded by sand bags.  Inside the perimeter were a few houses and many, many tents.  A few people could be seen walking around.  A few were wearing normal clothes, a few were in police uniforms, and a few more were in camo.  The soldiers were all carrying rifles, but they were at ease.  It seemed they were just there in case something went wrong in the camp, not because something did.

One of the soldiers saw Dylan standing on the other side of the barrier and called out.  He welcomed the new arrival into the camp explaining that it was created to gather resources and provide a relatively safe place to get away from the flooding.  The cops and the soldiers were only there to help prevent anyone trying to take advantage of the situation.



Dylan explained that his family was still on the roof on the other side of the water and needed rescue.  The soldier explained that due to the sudden flooding they weren't able to gather many boats, and the ones that they did have were out on patrol.  One should be due to check in shortly and once it does it will be sent with Dylan on board.

Until then he was invited to rest and get something to drink.  Dylan was grateful for the chance, he was still weary from the swim and he was glad to have at least part of the responsibility off his shoulders.  The soldier walked off to inform his superior and radio the returning boat on what to expect.

While he was resting he overheard a radio that a few others had gathered around.  It told a story about the flood extending around the world.  Millions were already confirmed dead, millions more were missing.  The report guessed that it was much worse then anyone could even imagine.

Vary few places had power, the few that did were gathering points for leaders and scientists in an attempt to find out what was going on.  Military planes had flown past the polar ice caps and found they were still there.  No one could figure out where all the water was coming from.  It had already risen beyond what all the water in the world should be able to.

The report continued, describing large groups that had gathered around churches to pray.  They thought it was a sign from god; man had been found guilty and is being punished.  Any other time, Dylan would have found it funny.  It was hard to ignore what was going on around him.  Even he started believing.

Only a few minutes had passed when another soldier walked up.  He let Dylan know that the boat had returned with a few survivors and was waiting for him.

Dylan climbed onto the boat and pointed the driver towards the house.  The boat was small, they would have to make at least three trips before everyone was safe.

On the relatively short trip back, the boat driver explained how they spent most of yesterday and all of last night looking for survivors.  There was a lot of ground to cover so he wouldn’t be surprised if there were thousands trapped around the city.  They had to search methodically so they didn’t miss anyone, so the search could continue for months.  The driver worried about having enough fuel to work for that long, but he was dedicated to search for as long as possible.

It only took fifteen minutes to get back to the house.  Everyone celebrated Dylan’s return, but their celebrations were cut short.  Dylan’s sister had a look of shock and terror on her face.  Everyone tuned to see what had shaken her.  In the sky was a dark cloud, from that cloud fell fire.  They weren’t anywhere near where the fire fell, but raining fire could scare anyone.

The boat driver hurried everyone he could get into the boat.  The boat was overloaded, but the driver felt it was the only way to get the trips done faster.  This way they should be able to make it in two trips instead of three.

The boat crept back to the camp.  It took twenty minutes, but it would still be faster then an added trip.  Dylan returned to the camp and let the boat captain return to the house alone.  He wanted to explain what he saw to the soldiers.

He found the first soldier he could and told of the raining fire.  He was instantly taken to the largest tent to see the captain. 

The largest tent was full of military hardware.  Dylan didn’t know what most of it did, but he did recognize radios and GPSes.  There was one large table in the middle spread with maps and papers.  Behind it was a man that was obviously in charge.

Dylan walked up to the captain who turned away from another soldier to give his full attention.  Dylan again told the story of the fire rain they saw from the roof.  The captain looked down sadly.  He explained that they had been receiving reports of similar things happening all over the world.  Earthquakes, tornadoes, extreme thunder storms, and even the fire rain were happening everywhere.  They were downplaying the damage in an attempt to avoid mass panic.

Dylan asked why he was being told all this, wasn’t it all classified.  The captain explained that most leaders had gathered in Pittsburgh.  It was large and hadn't been flooded yet.  However, fate seemed to have spared it for something much worse.  The city was hit by a meteor and is now just a large crater.  The dust cloud would be visible even here shortly.

Hundreds of millions of people are confirmed dead and billions are expected to be dead.  There really wasn’t a point avoiding panic any more.  May as well tell the truth and get the initial reactions out of the way.

While Dylan was still reeling from the story, the captain turned to his second in command.  He was told to spread the word that he was going to announce the truth in ten minutes and they needed to prepare for the worse.  The second in command ran out of the tent.

When the time came, the captain walked out of the tent and onto a platform to make the announcement.  The people there were understandably shocked.  No one was even able to move for several minutes.  No one said a word for half an hour after.  Soon, someone reacted and broke the silence.

Dylan was sitting in one of the smaller tents trying to get his mind out of the state of shock when he heard someone screaming outside.  He opened the flap to see a man running in circles yelling incoherently.  He charged a soldier and tackled him to the ground.  He picked up the dropped rifle and pointed it at one of the citizens.  The other soldiers instantly pointed their rifles at the mad man and ordered him to drop the weapon.  The mad man fired a shot and the soldiers shot back.  The first shot luckily missed everyone, but the following shots didn’t.  The man dropped to the ground, dead before he hit.

The shock of the extinction announcement broken, the remaining survivors were able to band together and work past the depression.

The rest of Dylan’s family arrived at the same time the soldiers were taking away the body.  Dylan explained the situation as best he could.  The reaction was to be expected.  Everyone was shocked and Dylan’s grandmother even passed out.  The medics saw her fall and came instantly, looking her over and taking her to the med-tent.

Another soldier led the family to two of the tents.  They were small, but they would hold the family.  They hunkered down and for the most part tried to stay out of the way.  Dylan let the soldier know that if they needed anything he would help as best he could.  The soldier let him know that they would ask if they did, but as of right now the best thing he could do was to keep everyone calm.

Dylan did his best to keep everyone’s spirits up, but it was hard to even keep his own up.  If what he had been told was true, the vast majority of the people on the planet were gone.  The planet seemed to be intentionally killing as many people as possible.  Like Mother Nature was cleansing itself.  It scared the hell out of him.

Several hours passed.  Dylan overheard many things, nothing new, but still depressing.  The supplies were short and wouldn’t be able to sustain this many people for long.  The captain expanded the boat patrols to include searching for food and clean water.  They were testing the water all around them to see if it was safe to drink, but the tests were inconclusive.  Until they had a definite answer, no one would be able to drink it.

They found few people.  Out of a city of hundreds of thousands, the refugees numbered only a hundred or so, maybe one hundred fifty with the soldiers.  While the numbers were small, the supplies would still only last for a few days, maybe a week with rationing.  Dylan had asked if they needed anyone else to go searching for food, but was told that all the boats were already out and the hill, now island, was already thoroughly searched.  There was nothing to do but sit and wait.

The sun was setting on the second day.  The sky shown with rich oranges and deep reds that would fit perfectly in paintings.  Fires started up all around the camp as the stars came out.  A sound started in the distance, it was music.  People on the other side of the camp were singing.  The song spread and soon most of the camp was singing.  Dylan didn’t know the words, but he had heard the song once before, when he was a child.  It was a prayer song he heard back when he went to church.

It was a simple song, but it was exactly what was needed.  Normally Dylan would have ignored it, but after all that’s happened, it was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard.

When the song was over, everyone had tears in their eyes.  Even then, there was a new feeling of hope in the air.  It was enough to get everyone to sleep.

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Dylan awoke to find the tent empty.  His family was outside gathered around the radio listening to the latest reports.  Since Dylan was the one to risk his life and save the entire family, they figured it was the least they could do to let him sleep in. 

He sat up and found a set of cloths placed on the end of his cot, a set of camo pants, an olive drab t-shirt and some underwear.  They must be spares from one of the soldiers.  He gathered up the clothes and found a pair of boots placed on the ground.  He rolled his eyes not happy for the opportunity to play soldier, but he was grateful for the chance to change out of his clothes that had obtained a foul odor overnight.

He gathered up his new outfit and headed out with the hopes of finding a shower.  Turns out the soldiers had set one up on the other side of the big tent.  Being one of the few heroes of the day, he was permitted to take a short shower.  They didn’t have much soap and the water used was coming from the flood, but he was able to get reasonably clean.

Dressed in a way that left him a set of dog tags short of a commission, he sat with his family around the radio.  At first the broadcast sounded like a repeat from yesterday until Dylan noticed that the names of the places were different.  The same disasters were happening again to new cities, killing even more people.  Fires to the west, floods to the south, tornadoes in the east, record cold in the north.  There were even reports of monsters destroying Tokyo, though they were dismissed as panic induced hallucinations.

No one spoke, there was nothing left to say.  Everyone just sat in depression, the kind of depression that only comes when one is losing to an enemy that can’t be found to fight. 

A soldier walked up to the group and asked Dylan to fallow him, the captain was looking for him.  The captain explained that they had an incident yesterday with a panicked civilian that capsized one of the boats and cost three people their lives.  The boat driver wasn’t able to handle the crazed civilian nor was he able to help everyone, they needed more people on the boats an all the soldiers that could be spared already were.

Dylan accepted the task, hoping it would keep his mind off of their seemingly impending doom, and headed down to the improvised docks.  On the way he met up with the boat driver.  In the middle of his introductions the driver stopped.  They had reached the edge of the water, but the boat was twenty or so feet out.  The driver started to panic a little.  When Dylan asked what was wrong, the driver pointed into the water explaining that the stick that could be seen about ten feet beneath the surface was the marker he had put there the night before to measure the waterline.

After making sure the driver was positive that was the correct stick, he headed back to the captain’s tent to tell him the bad news.  Instantly the captain recalled all the boats and told the soldiers to gather everyone together and pack up camp, they were moving further inland.

The second in command rushed off to pass along the information and the soldiers in the tent hurried to pack up the equipment there.  Dylan walked out of the tent to rejoin his family and help pack up that part of camp.  Just as he was walking out the boat driver ran up to him, the water was rising again rapidly.  It was already within sight of the camp.  The captain, who was walking out of the tent behind Dylan, started barking orders.  Everyone was to drop everything that wasn’t absolutely necessary and run.  Even in that short time, the water had already reached the camp and was putting out the fires that were still lit from last night.

As they ran Dylan could hear screams and cries coming from those ahead of them.  Somewhere along the line he had picked up a child that had gotten away from his parents.  For the life of him, Dylan could not remember grabbing him.

The run was short, they weren't far away from the highest point in the city.  It seemed to be enough, they were no longer running threw water.  But, as Dylan arrived, being one of the last in the group, he was able to see the water still rising behind them.  It was only a matter of time before they were once again ankle deep.

The captain had a defeated look on his face.  There was no where else to go.  The boats were still returning and the one boat they did have was still floating several hundred feet away where it was left in the panic.  Even if they did have all the boats, there were nowhere near enough for all the civilians let alone the soldiers.  There was nothing else that could be done.

As the water climbed so did those who were able.  Soon the branches of the few nearby trees were groaning under the weight.  Children were passed up to higher branches while the parents stayed on the ground.  The little boy that Dylan had picked up had run off to his mother and was sent up one of the trees.

As the water reached their waist, people started to violently fight for their lives.  Fights started breaking out over higher positions on the trees.  People were thrown down bouncing off of lower branches and people and falling into the water unconscious.  Some of the soldiers rushed over to make sure those who had fallen weren't going to drown, others forcefully regained order.  Orders where shouted, ultimatums were made, but finally it came down to shooting the most violent.  The captain ordered non lethal shots, but everyone knew that in this situation, nothing was non lethal.

The water kept rising now high enough that Dylan was just able to stand with his head above the water.  Others unlucky enough to still be on the ground tried their best to save energy while they floated.  The ones that had to be shot out of the tree were trying to stop the bleeding from their wounds, the blood sinking in the water instead of mixing.

In a matter of moments the water was too high for anyone to stand.  Dylan remembered his swimming training and was able to stay afloat while expending little energy.  He tried to explain the technique to others, but they were too panicked to listen.  Several drowned within the first few minutes and dragged others with them.

Eventually the people on the lower branches of the trees were forced out, unable to stay above the surface.  It wasn’t much longer before even the top most branches weren't safe.  People grabbed onto whatever could float, but there were few things large enough to support the weight. 

After fifteen minutes the boats finally returned and helped everyone they could on board.  Dylan passed up two small children he had been supporting that hadn’t learned how to swim yet.  The boats filled up quickly.  Even with their diminished numbers, there still wasn’t enough space for even a third of the group.  Dylan had seen this quickly and decided to stay off the boat and just hang off the side.  That didn’t last.  Once the boats were full they were unable to support even people hanging off the side.

Dylan tried to stay calm, tried to reserve as much energy as possible, but it was hard not to panic when he saw the ground was fifty feet below him now.  He knew that unless god intervened, the water would never recede in time.  His arms were already tired and the military boots made it impossible to kick.

He managed to hold out for another half an hour before his arms gave out and he started to sink.  In his mind he started cursing his body type; he was never able to just float.  He looked up at the people in the boats.  He could see his sister crying, she was being held from jumping in after him by one of the soldiers.  She had a child also on the boat, it was for the best.

His lungs started to burn, his chest involuntarily heaved trying to breathe.  He could feel a tingling start in his fingers and toes and spreading inwards.  His vision blurred and he saw sparks of black.  He could no longer hold it in and let the air in his lungs out and breathed in.  He felt the water pouring into his chest and calmness passed over him fading to nothing.

A long way away a small boy leaned back in his chair and stretched.  A bored look passed over his face as he glanced back at his computer screen.  On the screen was a grid, a map that had once had many cities and many people in it but now had mostly blue to indicate water and a few remnants of storms, meteors, tornadoes, and fire rain.  He put his hand on the mouse again and clicked on file then exit.  The computer pulled up a screen asking if he would like to save.  The boy clicked no and turned off the computer.

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