Thursday, November 27, 2008

Witness: Final Strikes

It was a night of grievance and mourning for those people who lost their lives at the first strike...

I arrived home, immensely relieved that my family was safe. Surprisingly, our area and the areas around us received only minimal damage from the rain of fire. I figured that the first strike was centered on the downtown area of the city.

When morning came, an ominous feeling lingered in the air and the sky was gloomy. I couldn't hear birds chirping anymore and the surroundings were quiet. Too quiet. A feeling of dread washed over me as I wondered what would happen next. My eyes widened in terror when I remembered that vision I had last night. Was it going to happen today? I thought that I could almost feel the breath of death in my ears.

It was almost 10 in the morning but the sky was still gray. I decided to help my father and grandfather repair the damages to our house. While I was carrying a piece of plywood outside, I looked up and didn't like what I saw. There was a huge gray cloud, one that I recognized as a cumuliform cloud from watching the National Geographic Channel. It was the cloud whose base was where tornadoes usually start to form.

And, true, soon enough, I felt the wind around me become still for a moment, then a mass of swirling wind slowly descended from the base of the cloud. The other parts of the sky were also clouded with the gray mass and it was a horrific sight of wind tunnels descending to the ground. The second strike.

I dropped the plywood I was carrying and shouted to my father. We needed to get out this place while the tornadoes still haven't touched down. Hearing the panic in my voice, my father turned on the ignition of our rusty but trusty jeepney and I called my family and relatives to get on so we can escape.

The winds were howling in our ears when we finally got the jeep going. My father was driving at full speed. I looked around dizzily. The wind tunnels have already touched down and are now wreaking havoc everywhere it passed. And it just hit me that a vehicle was the worst place to be in during tornadoes.

I didn't think this day would come, I thought desolately. I had always wanted to see a tornado up close, but not like this. This was too much.

By some miracle, we managed to escape the revolving winds and were now inside the shelter of a building that was used as an evacuation center. The city was devastated with the sudden turn of events and people where nonetheless panicking and clueless as to where to go and what to do.

When my family was already settled in a room with some other people, I went out to the large lobby of the building to hopefully get a breather from the terror. The lobby was crowded with people, people whose faces were etched with worry, panic, sorrow, and more evidently, fear. There were no tear-stricken faces, no angry voices, just hushed whispers here and there. The whole lobby was enveloped in a tense atmosphere, an atmosphere so fragile that it seemed that even the smallest whimper could start an outbreak.

"Kate!" Someone called me from the sea of people. As I looked closer, I saw Charmaine emerge from the crowd and walk towards me. I managed to greet her with a tired smile.

We talked for some time, until I noticed that there were now fewer people in the lobby. I looked out the glass walls just as the sun was beginning to peek through the clouds. I wondered if it's over now. Just as soon as I thought everything was going to be alright, screams from outside the building startled us.

"What's that?" Charmaine asked. "Listen."

I strained my ears to listen for that sound Charmaine was talking about. I couldn't hear anything in particular at first, but suddenly, the sound of raging water sparked the panic in the lobby. As people ran around to find a safe place, Charmaine and I were frozen in our places as we watched gigantic waves sweep away cars, posts, and people outside the building.

The third strike, I thought, an overpowering feeling of dread washing over me. Just like in my vision. I was really going to die.

I heard Charmaine give a small gasp beside me and we couldn't do anything as a big wave slammed against the front of the building, shattering the glass and madly pouring into the lobby. I stood still and watched the people being taken in by the raging waters.

As the water welled up towards me, I felt my chest tighten. It was coming.

It was coming.

I closed my eyes and braced myself. This was how I was going to die. This was my goodbye. In my mind, I was screaming silently, Please, let it stop! Let it stop!

At the last moment, I decided to open my eyes and there was only one word that I could utter before I felt the impact of the water as it swallowed me-

"Sorry..." Then darkness.
.
.
.
I blinked my eyes madly. It was dark, but there was a familiar sound. My heart skipped a beat when I realized that it was the sound of our electric fan. I drew in an unsteady breath. I was in my room.

I was alive.

It was a dream. Just a dream.

Or was it?

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