Friday, June 19, 2015
A Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge.
The screaming. The crying and caterwauling raked his nerves. Mind-numbing. Shards of glass, twisted metal, and pain kept him from moving most of his limbs. The dead body laying across his chest made it impossible to wipe the concrete dust from his mouth.
“Fuck of a subway ride this morning wasn’t it?”
Labored words wavered from out of the dark.
“Wha- What happened?”
The voice sounded close and pained. Rob moved the only part of his body he could. He groaned as he slid his arm in the direction of the voice in the dark.
“My name is James, James Bell, is that your arm?
“Rob. Yes…hand, I can’t feel legs. What do I feel in your ha-nd?”
“It’s a gold pocket watch, my wife gave it to me. I don’t know what happened. Earthquake, bombing, structural collapse, train accident. I have no idea.”
“Someone's on me James, I think they’re dead. Blood dripping on me. If I don’t make it, out tell my wife...”
Still wheezing, Rob breathed but stopped speaking.
Rob zipped his fingers between James's.
“If it hurts too much, just squeeze my hand, if you can.”
Rob squeezed. He couldn’t have forced toothpaste out of a tube. James reciprocated.
Dripping liquid marked time. Drops crashing on his chin, it soaked into the collar of Rob’s business jacket.
“I’m just going to talk Rob, don’t respond if it hurts too much.”
James cleared his throat.
“It was raining this morning, left my apartment. I was bitching about the weather, seems pretty trivial at the moment. Rob, I walked down the street like…”
He could hear people in the distance but he couldn’t make out what they were saying.
“Hey! Hey! Here!”
The voice were getting more and more distant as he grunted out his words. A tear moistened the corner of his dusty eyelid.
“You hear that Rob? They are coming to save us. They probably needed to get some tools or something. You’ll see Rob. Fuck yeah, tax money at work.”
James closed his eyes and drifted off.
“Fell asleep, how long was I out? Can you hear me? Can you hear me? Squeeze if you can. It sounds like a swarm of bees up there. They must be on their way. I would suck donkey balls for a glass of water right now. How fucking long does it take? We are in a city for fuck sake. Surely they know we are here. Oh, god, let us make it out of here. So hot. I can’t even feel my arms or legs. Oh, fuck. I just want to see my family.”
“Can anyone here me!”
He squeezed Rob’s hand, this time hard, there was no response from the cold stiff hand.
His heart pounded thunderous-hope as he was startled awake by distant voices. He could barely hear them but their sweet voices echoed brightly from then end of the tunnel.
“Do you think anyone survived in this part?”
“I am ALIVE! Help me!”
“No chance, shit man, you gotta focus on the job. A mile stretch of street collapsed in on this motherfucker!”
“This shit is fucked. Just glad the alarm didn’t go off. My wife was supposed to have left for work from that station. Hard to believe it’s been a week and we still haven’t found everyone.”
“Help me! Please!”
“Well, we better start working. Demo guys are coming in tomorrow to level the...”
Weeping as the voices faded, he heard growling gas engines and whining hydraulic motors chatting back and forth throughout the next several hours.
He closed his eyes.
“God. If you are up there, for fuck sake send help. NOW.
The debris shook. Pain shot through his torso. The dead body seemed to levitate. Light rushed in. He closed his eyes. Through fluttering lids, he saw the yellow maw descending upon him. Visions of the steely-toothed mecha-reaper flashed in his brain. He heard a shriek.
The concrete-chomping teeth of the excavator heard him not.
“Good morning class. Welcome to Parapsychology 101. I am Maggie Bryne. This morning we will start off our course with a presentation from a special guest.”
The heavy oak classroom door squeaked open. A long-haired legless man in a business suit rolled his wheelchair over the threshold. As he continued toward the front of the room, Maggie closed the door.
The presenter, pant legs hemmed to the knee, looked toward the floor and cleared his throat before pivoting his head back and speaking.
“To start off with, I should warn you, I have no legs.”
The students stared wide-eyed at his attempt to break the ice.
The two-limbed man smiled.
“My name is M. Robert Cray. My friends call me Rob. Two years ago my life was normal. I had a wife, a career, and two legs. I ran my own law firm. I also had no problem dismissing the paranormal. One Tuesday morning, I woke up and decided to take the subway instead of driving my car. That’s when everything changed. The tunnel collapsed. Pinned under the dead body of a woman, named Roxanne Polsin, in the wreckage caused by the earthquake, I heard a voice. The man lying next to me introduced himself as “James”. We talked for days, well he talked, I mumbled when I could manage it. Consoling each other we held hands. I am pretty sure he fed me something. Crunchy, tasted like corn chips. I drank what little water dripped on me. Nasty water. My rescuers insisted that I was delirious. They told me I was eating cockroaches. They also told me there was no one else in the train but Roxanne and I. They had all the answers, expect for one.”
Rob weaved his hand into the pocket of his trousers and pulled something out. He raised his hand above his head. A gold pocket watch inscribed “Dr. James H. Bell”, swung in front of his face.