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Laws of Gravity: Prologue
I do not know where my feet intended for me to go. A barge? A desert? An island? Perhaps a dark, still grave, where it would open and I could just fall in. Fall in and allow the maggots to feed on my cold, dead flesh as I slowly wither and weave into the unknown beyond where all souls go when they are sick of the light.
I wonder if they have tacos in hell?
I don’t even care if they are the delicious, crispy ones with beans and meat and melted cheese and sour cream. They could be the squishy, crappy kind you get in a kiddie meal at Taco Bell for all I care. I’m just so very hungry.
How long have I been walking, you ask. I don’t know, I answer. If I did, I would be on my way to a nearby cemetery, where I would let the open arms of mortality suck me into the never-ending black hole of death. If I knew where the hell I was, I’d be munching on the s*** hell tacos and I most certainly wouldn’t be covered in excess dirt and grime, scraps and bruises, the remnants of--
The thought wheeled around and struck me in the face with the force of a lapdog Frisbee. With such unbelievable power that it knocked me off my feet, face-down into the wet grass, letting the rain downpour on me, drench my core in it’s biting cold.
Mom…Dad…Joshua…little Noelle…even Jolie, who didn’t want to be there in the first place.
I remember getting dressed this morning. It was a special night, so I put on a special outfit. On with a spaghetti-strap red tank, with the golden image of a dragon going across the front. Jeans, the least ripped pair I owned. Converse sneakers, in exchange for my usual Hawks. A black denim jacket with a Happy Bunny pin under the collar for good luck. My raven black hair twisted around one finger coated in hair gel added that whole Lindsay LohanMary-Kate Olsen look I loved oh, so much. To complete my ‘nice’ look--I wasn’t used to wearing anything that didn’t end at my naval or wasn’t ripped into mere shreds--I had walked over to my dresser drawer and dug around until I found the thing I had buried down there, so many years ago. A wearing silver chain, plain and simple. Attached to it was my tiny amulet--not a real amulet, mind you, just a coin I had crafted with my grandmother when I had been eight. Silver and copper swirled into an unrecognizable, yet appealing, color, with a floating crescent moon carved into the heads part, and on tails, a melting clock. Neither one of us knew what the pictures meant, but that is the mind of an artist. You begin with a line, and then only the line knows what it is meant to become. That is how it was, how it is, and how it will be forever more. I just wish…
I just wish I hadn’t subscribed for Quote of the Day emails.
Such fun I had been having. Everyone in town gathered for the joyous occasion, dressing in formal yet casual attire, free to jump and dance and sing and have a splendid time.
In one instant--I was with them all. Enjoying the town concert, taking place in the gigantic building used as a high school. And then--
It was gone.
I had to wander down to the basement, like a magnet was drawing me to it’s musty depths. I had to let my eyes adjust to the darkness, to see that--that--thing.
A shinning orb, hypnotic and entrancing in it’s purple glow, streaked with shocks of electric blue in the form of lightning. The currents danced a ballad all their own around the orb, swaying to a silent rhythm.
Now, I’m not usually the type to let my curiosity best my common sense--but if you’d seen that ball of lavender, the ribbons of lightning fluttering about, you’d have reached out to touch it too.
I let my fingers hover, just out of the licking bolts’ reach, for a moment. Dare I? My mind screeched for me to go back up to the festivities, alert an authority figure like the good little girl my parents wished me to be--but my fingers sang another song. They were itching to probe the fireball obsessively, until boredom came and they could close.
You don’t argue with possessed fingers, man.
A burst of wicked light engulfed me in it’s cruel wave, slamming my body backwards into the wall of the dusty school basement. Whether this disturbance was heard upstairs or not, I do not know. The only thing that I could see was an oddity that my brain could not decipher, could not fathom, that only lasted for a split second before a total eclipse of pitch darkness abruptly overcame my knowing.
I woke…I don’t know when I woke. Not more than an hour, I’d assume. Rubble surrounded me, bite into my arms and legs, ripping the fabric of my clothes into tatters of what they once were. I see a dark pool of crimson gathering, and, with an air of horror, I realized it is mine.
I was slumped against an intact southern wall, the opposite end of where I was before…it. The orb…
The blasted thing was gone. Right in the center of the room for the world to see, and then, so suddenly, it had vanished into the wind like a loved one’s ashes.
What happened? The inquiry raced through my thoughts as I numbly and painfully picked myself up, not bothering to locate the source of the bleeding, though I desperately wanted to assuage the sharp pain it injected into my body.
Devastation surrounded me. The floor was cracked beyond recognition, leaving it resembling brown, choppy waters. The ceiling had caved in, inches from where I was at the time, and onto the school’s heater. Steam whistled out like the mangled rot of metal was a teakettle. At my feet, thousands of pieces of debris and survived clutter lay scattered like corpses after a deadly tornado. Several stairs leading above-ground had been splintered into hazardous spikes. With tentative and alert steps, I slowly weaved and bobbed my way through the horrors, to the bottom steps of the butchered staircase.
Step back and jump.
I made it to the top with only a few scathing marks, but upon seeing the mayhem that awaited, it took all my will power not to jump back down.
The hellhole that was once the main hallway was in pieces, the pale yellow walls torn down like Play-Doh, the doors ripped apart, the art club posters reduced to ashes.
I dodged a falling cable, sparking with electricity, and made my way down the destruction. Except for the deathly silence, there came no indication that anyone was alive.
“Hello?” I yelled, only to have it cruelly thrown back in my face. When no response came, I continued down the maze, to the heart of the school. Where the cafeteria was--and they all were. A sense of dread overwhelmed me--of what I might find. I somewhat wanted to run thee other way and live my life never knowing. Obviously, the devastation was ghastly, and a survivor could be considered a miracle.
I ignored my brain and kept walking, until I reached the battered cafeteria entrance.
What I saw was so horrible I threw up. I threw up every ounce of hotdog I’d had that day, threw up until nothing was left, and then I dry heaved, all the while shaking like a spastic bumper car.
Bodies…so many goddamn bodies…
I could see Jolie’s corpse, my best friend‘s corpse, just by the door. Her light blonde hair was soiled by dust and waste and blood. Her eyes--eye--was still open. One was red and revolting, like someone scooped it out with a spoon and put it back with the pupil on the inside. Her skirt, once a solid black and up to her ankles, had disintegrated to her thighs, leaving the tips an irregular-patterned brown. Her feet were…they were just gone. Torn off by an unknown source, leaving only bone and bloody nubs.
Horror and disgust brought forth another empty gag when I caught sight of Mom. My mother--mangled and broken. It seemed she had been hurled back into the opposite wall on impact of the apparent bombing, neck snapped like a twig, leaving her shocked face twisted to an unnatural degree. Her pantsuit--the one she had worn to her client’s trial that morning--was burned through to the skin, leaving bloody patches spotted about the silky blue fabric. A pipe had impaled itself into her arm, snapping the bone in two, letting one of the halves jut outside the split skin. Her right half had been completely burned to a crisp, a shriveled hunk of jerky.
I could tell you about the bodies of my father, of my brother Joshua, of little Noelle, my sister. I could tell you if I had stuck around.
But I didn’t.
I ran. I heaved until I couldn’t heave anymore, at the gruesome scene, and then, panicked and traumatized tears falling down my grimy cheeks, I burst into a run, ignoring my firing side and leg and--body in general.
I lapped about the school, desperately screaming for human life, for comfort, for closure. No hallway went unsearched. I ripped a charred leg from an upturned table and madly beat a locker to bits, letting it’s contents rain down at my feet. It was my locker.
A science textbook came down, pulled a picture with it.
Me and Jolie, smiling and giving piece signs to the photo booth camera. Me and Mom and Dad and Noelle and Joshua, at the carnival. Me and…
I screamed. I screamed so loud I could hear my ear pop and my tonsils beat against my throat. I fell to my knees and shrieked like never before. The pictures had fallen from the book I had stashed them in, scattering around my torn and bloodied jeans.
Sirens roared in the night air. Of course they’d be here. A school f***ing exploded. Ambulances and fire trucks and cop cars and detective SUVs. They’d all come and see the horrors and they, too, would cry.
Except, wait. The whole town was here, in the school. Dead, in rubble, burned and torn. So…
The next town over. Only an intersection away. They would surely be curious. They would know the situation. They’d send someone over in time to see what, no doubt, must’ve been a spectacular explosion. Then they would’ve sent every single car and truck and van they had. The media might’ve been called.
I madly scrambled for the photos. They weren’t getting their hands on them. No. They were mine.
Mine, damn it!
They couldn’t take them. Oh god.
My necklace. The one me and Grandma made. It was still there. It was still around my neck, charred, blackened, but there.
A new light is what made me run. That necklace made me run down the stairs, unaware that they crumbled when my feet left them, and through the hazardous hallways. Until hot and smoky night air hit my face, soaked me, made me warm and chilly at the same time.
I was shocked to see that the outside, besides smoke and broken glass, had been undisturbed. They now were lined with countless cars and vans and trucks, swarming cops and medics and firemen. None noticed me, too busy waiting for the bomb squad, perhaps.
I still shook. I still cried. I was still in hysterics. And I didn’t know what to do.
My side scorned, still bleeding. My right pants leg hugged tightly against my swollen shin, nearly ripping the denim. Blood clotted on my skin and clothes, making an unpleasant crinkling sound.
What did I do?
I ran past them, faster than I’ve ever run in my life. Zoomed past the startled cops and grabbing medics, people trying to get me to stop. Screaming for backup.
“Who is she?”
“She just came out!”
“Is she bleeding?”
“What’s she holding?”
The chair leg still clasped between my red and white knuckles, I shoved past outstretched hands and ran down the empty street, rapid yells in my wake. I do not look back at the school.
I run until my legs give out underneath me. By then I don’t know where I am.
Certainly not anywhere near town. I am surrounded by wet grass and nothing else. Dark, ominous clouds loom heavily in the pitch sky. Blood dries on my person. I feel nothing as the rain begins to fall.
And now I am here. Face down in the mud, unable to see where I am. I cannot see the town. I cannot even see my own hand.
Nothing inside. I feel nothing. My cries have stopped, but my shakes have blown full-force. Whether it be my demons or the frigid ice drops pounding me deeper into the ground, I am shaking uncontrollably--perhaps hypodermically?
Will death come?
I don’t know.
All I know is the mud. And the dark, as it engulfs me in it’s warm embrace. Quote came to mind, a mantra my grandmother lived by:
Only the dead are at peace.
Life is just melting snow.
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Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.