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Fiction Sad

The U.S. Bank Tower building in Los Angeles suddenly collapsed on a Monday morning at 10:30am. 

Cheryl was walking to the printer -  for another mundane task as a clerk - when it happened. The only thing she could remember before the collapse was a loud noise and all she could think was, “Earthquake!” before she blacked out.

When Cheryl came to and tried to move, she discovered her leg was pinned under rubble. Her head throbbed and she put her hand to her forehead, where she felt a huge bruise. Her clothes were utterly covered in dust and her body hurt terribly. 

“Help Me!” she screamed and realized that her throat felt raw, dehydrated.  How long had she been here?  And she was still alive? She remembered going to the printer to make copies of something and oh yeah, the building had collapsed.  A Los Angeles native, she had been in small earthquakes, but nothing this major. She worked on the fourth floor and although she felt searing pain all over, she felt grateful to be alive. The “Big One” had finally happened.  “I hope my parents are okay,” she thought, as they also lived in LA.  “I have to get out of here.”

“Help!” she yelled out hoarsely and coughed immediately from all the dust and debris in the air. All around her was dark and she could tell that her leg, somehow stretched perfectly straight out in front her, was unmistakably pinned under a huge piece of rubble.  She could touch her thigh, and then realized that the rest of her leg was under a huge piece of concrete.  Oddly, her leg didn’t hurt, but the rest of her body did.  She yelled out once more hoarsely, “Help!”   She steadied herself, struggling to hear anything at all, but it was silent.  With tears rolling down her eyes, she passed out again. 

This time, when Cheryl awoke, it was unbearably hot and her whole body was awash in sweat. There was a sliver of light to her right and she could take in more of where she was trapped. 

A huge piece of concrete rested on her once white thigh, which was now black from being covered in dust. Of course

she just had to wear a skirt today,

she giggled, thinking to herself. 

She could feel small objects right by her right hand, and her left leg had just enough room to stretch out before hitting the same concrete slab that had her right leg pinned.  Resting against something that caused her to half recline in an uncomfortable position, she realized it was  part of a printer.  “Guess the printer was going to follow me no matter what!” she laughed.  To the left of her was a small two-foot space in which she could extend her left arm and maybe shift her butt a couple of feet if it didn’t cause her excruciating pain.  

The air felt hot, heavy, and it became hard to breathe. At 25-years-old, Cheryl felt a little sad that she hadn’t found love like her parents, married for 30 years.  Sure, she had flings with some pretty hot guys, but no one had made her life fuller, happier.  She wanted to experience that and she found herself suddenly bawling, realizing that she may die here.  She cried herself into a heat induced sleep. 

“Hello!  Anyone out there?!  Hello, can you here me?!”

Cheryl awoke to someone shouting and the panting of a dog, somewhat close by, and tried to shout.  Her mouth, now devoid of moisture,  and now seemingly filled with dirt, didn’t allow her to speak and she start coughing when she tried to yell for help. 

“I thought Chester found someone out here,” someone yelled out. “He’s been circling this area for quite awhile.”

Cheryl didn’t want them to leave.  Stretching her right hand out as far as she could go, she found and enclosed her hand around a stapler and, although it caused her whole body to seize in pain, she contorted her body to be able to bang it against the printer behind her. 

The people above her stilled and the dog started barking. 

“Chester, quiet,” said the same man as before. 

“Is someone out there?”

“Yes,” she thought as she banged the stapler against the printer.  It was probably a faint sound considering all the rubble well, everywhere, but she hoped it would be loud enough for someone to hear.  

“If you’re out there, tap two times!” yelled the man again. 

Tap.  Tap. 

“Someone’s alive and down there!” shouted the man. It came from around this area!”

After several several taps later, a crane to remove the rubble, and the unfortunate news that her right leg could probably not be saved once the large piece of collapsed building on it was removed by the same crane, she was extricated and rescued. 

Crying, she hugged the first guy who picked her up to put her in the ambulance. Giving her a water bottle, she chugged it very quickly, the dehydration in her throat lessened. 

“Thank you so much for rescuing me!  How long have I been down there?“ she whispered, still trying to get her voice back. 

The man appeared thoughtful and explained, “you’ve been down there for five days since the bombing.”

“The bombing?” Cheryl was confused. 

“Yes,” explained the man. “In retaliation for  helping Ukraine, Russia bombed the U.S. Bank Tower building.  Four blocks were destroyed and many people have died or were injured.  You’ve been the only survivor at the actual U.S. Bank Tower building so far.”

Shocked, Cheryl opened her mouth to speak, but then finally collapsed out of exhaustion. 

The United States declared the Los Angeles bombing an act of war and went on to declare war on Russia. France, Ukraine, the UK, and several other countries aligned with the United States to attack Russia. Russia, aligned with China, India, Syria, and other countries, fought back against them .  Starting in 2022, World War III officially began. Even today, in 2026, it continues. Millions of lives lost, millions of acres destroyed, and everyone’s lives have been forever changed. 

Cheryl, now fitted with a prosthetic leg, sometimes looks back and can barely believe it.  No other survivors were ever found in the U.S. Bank Tower building in Los Angeles, the epicenter of the bombing. She stands as a symbol of resilience as the war rages and ravages on. 

September 12, 2022 15:58

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1 comment

20:29 Sep 17, 2022

As someone who used to live in LA and have gone through quite a few earthquakes, I think you captured the scenario very well while weaving current events into the story. Well done!


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