Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Fun IN THE Apocalypse
1. November 22nd 8:00 AM (3 weeks after Nuclear Holocaust)
(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((3 weeks until Judgment Day)
His body was crammed into the corner of the ground and a fence. The burnt sky fluctuating unbelievably fast above him; in amber waves of shade. He was clenching the wounds on his abdomen, in a self-comforting posture resembling that of a fetus. There was no green, only inanimate gray soil, particles of earth frozen in time. There was barely any life in him left. Stanley was lying there, practically dead, floating in and out of consciousness...
((((((((((......2 weeks and 6 days earlier, (November 2nd)......
When Stanley woke up he was stretched out on his back, in the middle of the street, smack-dab in the center of Times Square, New York City. He couldn't believe it! Stanley had never been he before. Or had he? He felt horrible. What had just happened? He tried to get up and look around, but he couldn't move his body. All he could move was his eye-lids, and (thankfully) his lungs. What he could do was look at the sky. It looked unrecognizable. No longer blue and white, it had a pale yellow earthy skin with scorching red burns slithering all around. Looking at it made him feel both severely disoriented and sick to his stomach. But the pain in his stomach was overshadowed by the pain encompassing his entire body. Stanley concentrated on his lungs and took deep breaths; in through his nose, and out through his mouth. Soon he got a tingling back in his toes and twitches in his palms. He could wiggle his fingers and close his hand. He was getting the feeling back in his body.
Stanley rolled over and pushed himself up with his arms. His legs were still fast asleep. Leaning back on his knees he could get a panoramic view of the entire square. It was a disaster of immeasurable proportions. The billboards were all either shattered or torn to shreds. The towering skyscrapers were splintered and ruined versions of their former selves. There was not another single human among him, living or dead. The few cars that survived the blast were totaled and in precarious positions everywhere, mostly lodged in what used to be the city buildings that made up Times Square.
Stanley crunched his fingers up and down his thighs and calves attempting to give himself a deep tissue massage, and by doing so, rejuvenating his legs. It seemed to be working, for the pins-and-needles sensation was fading away. While he was trying to get to his feet, Stanley heard three loud cracks behind him that sounded like they were some miles away. He watched as his silhouette, with a stuttered flash created from the immense light of the three blasts, burned his shadow permanently into the pavement. And the skin on the back of his neck tingled with the feeling like that of getting sun-burnt.
After a couple of seconds, Stanley got himself standing upright. But before he could take his first step, a massive blast wave threw him back down to the floor. He covered his head with his hands. Shortly after the first blast steamrolled over him, two more from slightly adjusted directions merged like the crossroads of Broadway and Seventh Avenue right on top of Stanley's back, and continued northbound. Again the horrible feeling was settling all over him; poisonous nervous energy. Before he regressed, Stanley shot back up to his feet, and tried to run. He spared one look back and tragically succumbed to a most predictable sight. He saw two mushroom clouds forming over the edges of the crumbling buildings. Mushroom clouds could only mean one thing... a nuclear bomb. Thousands of thoughts rushed through his head at the speed of light revolving around Is this the End? But one thought reigned the loudest...He only had about five minutes before the radiation from the nukes would reach him.
Stanley looked around, frantically trying to think straight. The best he could do was find a basement. But after a quick decision Stanley settled for the subway. He looked around for a subway entrance, but he couldn't find a single reference point throughout all of the wreckage. What used to be the center of Manhattan's metropolis was now a rubble dump. The city was turned inside out and upside down. It would not matter anymore to Stanley, as he noticed all of the buildings behind him, in lower Manhattan, collapsing like rows of dominoes towards him. For what it was worth, Stanley started to sprint north up Seventh Avenue. Two earthquakes were rushing by, each on both sides of him, crackling down the avenues, sweeping all of the dead buildings and wreckage down into the abyss; clear affects of the blasts.
The concrete and pavement in between the earthquakes had become compromised, and soon the unstable waves of street were bullying Stanley's feet as he ran his heart out. The remains of the square's towers were crashing together above Stanley's head. He now had two fates ahead of him: The first was to be squished by the collapsing buildings. And the second was to fall with the rest of the debris into the hungry abyss. With fire under his feet, Stanley managed to get four blocks, before the earthquake's effects finally caught up to him. And right before the buildings came crashing down on top of his head or the ground caved in underneath his feet, a metal door snapped below him, collapsed open, and Stanley slipped and tumbled into the Forty-ninth Street Subway Station. His entrance was immediately clogged by the ruins raining down above him. And the earthquakes just narrowly missed the subway, eventually bearing off into the rivers Hudson and East. Stanley was safe, for now...but, the fallout radiation was still on its way.
Once down in the subway, he kicked open a door labeled, "Mechanic's Office". There he immediately changed out of his clothes, and into a navy blue jumpsuit, that he found, with the word, "maintenance" stitched in white on the back. Stanley also found two towels, a bottle filled more than halfway to the top with water, and a dead body with the name Roger, stitched on the front of his uniform. He looked down to see what the name was on his jumpsuit. It read, "Stanley" and he said out loud to himself, "hm...Look at that." He found a backpack in one of the lockers and stuffed the towels and water bottle into it. He strapped the backpack tightly on his back and ran out of the office. Stanley continued down the stairs to the actual subway tracks. He hopped down on the tracks and began jogging down the tunnel. It got real dark. He should have looked for a flashlight. This is when Stanley realized that mental lists were going to keep him alive. The first on the list was food, not for now but for later. After that was the flashlight. Also he took a mental note to keep his eyes opened for a radio or phone. So Stanley ran down the dark, damp, empty tunnel repeating, '...Food, flashlight, radio, or phone...' in his head.
Stanley ran for a while. He tried to keep track of the blocks above him. He had estimated about ten blocks without being stopped by any obstructions. There were barely any bodies. That was until he reached a derailed subway-car. He pulled himself up to the crooked door and pried it open. Once inside he made sure everyone was confirmed dead, before he started to scavenge for supplies. Becoming a temporary profiler, Stanley searched each body according to what their image would be most likely to obtain. He found what he thought was a gangster and searched him for a gun, but couldn't find one. Little did he know, a women he classified as a, "business-type" lying right next to the gangster, was strapped with a .38 Special up on the inside of her thigh, underneath her secretarial-looking white miniskirt. Instead he probed some fat guys for candy-bars and grabbed any bag that came across his path.
He pulled out cellphone after cellphone, but they were all dead. It must have been because of the electromagnetic pulse. It fries anything electronic. He did manage to find a roll of duct-tape and a buck-knife in a Northface backpack that he switched with the pack on his back. He also found some clear plastic folders in a briefcase, and a flashlight in the conductor's box. Stanley opened the door on the other end of the subway-car from where he entered, and jumped back down to the tracks. He flicked his flashlight on. It worked! A brief victory. He pointed the light up ahead. About a block away there was another station.
Stanley heard someone cough up ahead. With little hesitation he ran over. There, right below the platform, was a man lying on his back, coughing up blood. 'What...happened?" he gargled. Stanley knelt down beside him and said, "I don't know. Nuclear holocaust... or something..."
"Have you seen my daughter?" he said to Stanley as he looked around. There wasn't another person in sight. "Is she down here?" Stanley felt weird asking.
"She's still alive!" the old man answered both incoherently and adamantly.
"the zoo....Niki's there....I know..." he rambles on.
"Niki? zoo? You're not making sense. Save your breath, old man."
"Can't...too late....too late...for...me. Find her...must....find her...she's alive." The old man barely got out the word "alive" before he started convulsing and threw up a bloody mess of scar tissue and vomit. The radiation was decomposing him. Stanley stood up and took a step back from the man. He was dead.
Now Stanley had a decision before him. Continue on in the subway tunnels where he might survive, or... risk going back to the surface to find this dead man's daughter? The difficult choice was heavy with factors supporting both sides. What was the point? He didn't know her. She's probably dead. The old man was delirious. There might not even be a Niki. But above it all, Stanley held on to the possibility that there was someone else out there. For all he knew, this could be worldwide...Both sides were equally important, just in different ways. He knelt back down beside the man, and took his wedding band and his license. It felt good to Stanley, running with purpose. Millions of people were just eradicated in a series of quiet instances. Out of all the old man's ramblings Stanley could decipher the clues to Niki's location. He could be humanity's only hope. Stanley would go to the Central Park Zoo.