Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Load

It was a struggle, but he was going to keep going.  Sure he heard the voice in his head that said he was too big, that it was too hard, that he would never make it, but he wasn't going to believe that voice.  Giving up was not an option.  He paused at the top of the first flight of stairs and caught his breath. Only for a moment and then he was off again.

He could smell the fumes now, the smell overpowering even the stench of the trash and rotting food. As he climbed stair by stair he looked up to see if he could tell how far he had to go.  He missed the next stair and fell to his knees, gashing them on the metal edge of the stair and nearly dropping  Leah in the process.  Blood began to drip down his shins from the cuts but there was no time to assess the damage.

He resettled his burden and pushed himself to stand up and move forward.  Three more steps and he was at the next landing.  There was a door, the paint long faded and covered in filth.  Was this the exit?  He didn't know.  His hand reached out for the handle, but even before he touched it he knew, this wasn't the way out.  He was still far below the street level.  He tried the door anyway and the noises from beyond were deafening.

Quickly he closed the door and started up the next flight.  His legs were starting to burn and he was feeling weaker by the second.  One step at a time.  Left foot. Right foot.  Left Foot.  he made it to the next landing and had to rest, just for a few precious seconds.  He stood there his breath coming in gasps.  he couldn't get enough air into his lungs.  The fumes didn't help, nor the mucus collecting in his throat as his nose ran down his face.

His shoulders and arms were burning now as well, holding his load.  He tried to see if she were still alive but in the dim light he couldn't be sure.  He knew there was no way he was leaving her behind and with marginally renewed strength, started moving forward once again.

As he struggled up this flight he noticed that the air was slightly fresher, a little cooler.  he almost felt a breeze on his face.  looking up to the next landing he saw a sliver of light coming from under the door.  This had to be it, this had to be the exit he had been fighting to find.  5 more steps.  He struggled his legs getting wobbly and weak.  It was all he could do to make it up the last stair.

He pushed on the door and it moved slightly then hit something.  It wouldn't open any further.  He tried again, pushing with what little strength he had left and it moved another inch.  He collapsed on the floor, still cradling Leah.  His breath was coming in gasps.  in the sliver of light from the door he looked at his love.  He face was ashen.

He refused to admit what was obvious, the falling debris had done too much damage.  she was gone.  He still hoped for a miracle but it wasn't to be.  The last 3 hours of digging and climbing hadn't been enough.

An anguished cry broke from his lips as the truth of the situation filtered into his exhausted brain.  his love was gone.  he hadn't saved her.  he heard a pounding on the door and voices yelling.  His cry had alerted the mob outside.  More noise and the door was flung open blinding him with the intense light.

Looking up he thought he was looking at an angel as a young woman with wild hair was framed in the doorway with blinding light behind her.

That was the last thing he saw.  The blast from from the second bomb incinerated him, Leah and the woman in less than a tenth of a second.

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