Act II - Away from shelter
Cecil may be an animal, but so are you. If she isn’t allowed in, you won’t leave her behind to be burned by the ashfall. You take a deep breath, check your bag for supplies and once more look towards the skies, as if hoping to see the sign of it all being just a bad dream, but it isn’t. You pet Cecil’s head and unclip her leash, it’s you two against the unfathomable rage of nature now, so she may as well be free to move as she sees fit. There is no way you’re leaving her behind, plus you’ve heard that animals know about these kind of things, so who knows, maybe you two will get through this together, as always.
As you look down on Cecil with a nostalgic smile on your face, you hear a deafening boom in front of you. You look up hoping to see a magma red sky, but instead you realize that the noise was a gunshot. You hear screams and yells coming from inside the shelter and a shiver runs through your spine, Cecil starts to bark. More gunshots come, then the sound of bullets ricocheting against the ground and finally the screaming quiet. Cecil is growling, you decide it’s time to run. You command her to follow you and sprint back to the city. This time you are facing the terrible monster from which you were fleeing just minutes ago. A colossus taller than any building, with a face as pale as the full moon and a body as dark as the night sky; one that once awake won’t go back to sleep until his rage is sated. And his rage is fire and ash.
You steer your gaze away from the raging volcano and silently push forward. Back home. After the firsts few steps, you notice dainty specks of grey dust falling from the sky. After a few more minutes of walking, you are coughing and the pavement is covered in a layer of poisonous ash. As you’re climbing up the stairs that lead to your apartment, you hear a strange scraping noise in the floor above. Cecil whines next to you. You smile at her and walk upstairs to find your neighbor, a young girl of tan skin, making her best effort to move her wheelchair. You can tell that her luggage is weighing her down, but before you could say anything, Cecil excitedly begins to bark and jump around her, she pets Cecil and flashes you a smile.
‘Hey.’ She says.
‘Hey, Violet.’ You answer softly. ‘I figured Cecil and I would be the only ones here by now.’
She shakes her head in response.
‘Here. Let me give you a hand.’ You offer, moving in to take some of the luggage of her wheelchair as she pushes the wheels forward.
‘I thought I heard you leave earlier.’ She continues.
‘Yeah. I came back.’ You say softly, helping her down the stairs. ‘Something weird happened at the shelter. Seemed like gunshots. Cecil didn’t like it either’
‘Rioters.’ She informs you. ‘Didn’t you hear? They’re taking what they can, plundering business and houses.’
‘This happened at one of the shelters.’
‘From what my mom told me, they’ve been raiding even mobile hospitals. Mobile hospitals! Can you believe it? How can someone have so little respect for humanity! We’re all in this together...’ She yells as her eyes cloud.
You smile softly, not sure what to say. You’ve gotten to the landing of your floor now.
‘Is someone picking you up?’ You ask.
She looks away. ‘No… My mom is sick and dad’s breathing issues mean he can’t come for me with the ash falling.’
‘So you’re traveling alone?’
She looks up at you with a soft smile and begins to pet Cecil. ‘I don’t have to.’
‘You don’t have to travel, or you don't have to travel alone?’
‘That’s the question.’ She throws back at you.
‘You want to stay here? With me?’
‘Or you can come with me to my parents’ house if you want.’ She sighs. ‘Otherwise, I think the first floor neighbors are also staying, so maybe we can all gather up in a single apartment and wait for the eruption to pass.’
You scoff at the sky and look away... And you thought you were the only one crazy enough to stay in a doomed city. Can’t blame them though, home is home. The question is, whose home?