This is one of my two stories for Dark Media City Friday Frights. It's the first two chapters in a soon to be released novel. It fit into this week's prompt "apocalypse," so I added it. I hope you enjoy it.
Time was running out.
Charlie stared at the clouds building in the west. Once more the forces of nature were about to unleash their fury on the residents of Cheyenne. Since the early days of this infernal devastation of the planet, this city had appeared to be safe. Six thousand feet high, far removed from the coastal flooding which had obliterated entire cities from the face of the Earth, the ravaging tempests of the oceans would not affect life here.
Not so . . .
Cause and effect. It was happening again.
The skies turned almost black, even though it was early afternoon. Lightning struck the surrounding prairies, leaving beautiful, but garish, displays of the power within the clouds. Thunder boomed, rattling buildings. This was no ordinary thunder: it resonated with a fervor of vengeance, shouting to all who would listen that the skies were king. Humans were frail beings unable to withstand the onslaught of destruction; and the devastation was seconds away.
Twin tornadoes came in on the city, throwing cars into buildings, any unfortunate souls trapped inside screaming as their vehicles became airborne. Some of the fortunate ones were able to holler out after a violent impact. Others were not so fortunate. Only silence surrounded them.
Entire chunks of façade rained down onto the streets from the older buildings. The newer buildings did not fare much better. Steel beams twisted and snapped from pressure. One building collapsed into itself as if demolitions experts had cleverly done their task.
And then the rain, not normal rain, but a horizontally flung deluge, came in, flooding the streets, carrying chunks of debris which clogged the sewers. Some roads became raging torrents, a twenty foot wall of angry river, eating away at the buildings and taking cars and people along with it. The currents met and forged in depressions, creating swift eddies and violent whirlpools which dragged everything trapped there into its center, the vortex destroying everything.
The ground shook, and a gap in the earth split Central Avenue in two, water from the flood pouring into the fissure. A hookah shop across the street from Charlie’s office building leaned precariously towards the center of the street before a gigantic explosion catapulted it out onto the sidewalk, the lack of a firm structure causing the offices overhead to tumble down to meet it.
Charlie rushed to the street as soon as the water levels dropped and stared in amazement as the overpasses of Central and Warren Avenues shook violently before coming apart and crashing down on the rail lines beneath them.
A giant of a man, easily six feet five and powerfully built, rushed past Charlie and started tearing the rubble of destruction aside, freeing people trapped within, carrying them to safety. He worked fast and said nothing, intent on his mission. It was too late for many, but he managed to get numerous others out of harms way. The wails of fire engines filled the air, but they would have to wait to reach this part of town. Between the flooding and the huge cracks in the streets, getting to survivors was not going to be easy. Downtown Cheyenne was destroyed. For now, this giant was the only hope for the unfortunates.
“Let’s get to work!” a voice shouted.
Charlie looked at his wife, a frail looking lady, short in stature, but huge in spirit, and nodded. “Storm needs us to help him, Raven.”
She grabbed the medical bag from her husband and dashed off towards the closest of the wounded. Those requiring minimal care she patched up on the spot, and directed those able to assist to carry the more seriously wounded into the office building where her husband was waiting to help. Two doctors, working as fast as they could in the streets and a makeshift hospital were the only medical help these people would have for awhile. The hospital was eight blocks away, but would be no good for any of them. Not for a long time. Perhaps never. That building might have suffered enormous structural damage. Nothing in this area was constructed to withstand this kind of cataclysmic Armageddon.
The tornadoes moved to the east, but the rain and horrific thunderstorm remained. More tremors shook the ground but not with the intensity of the previous one. Bolt after bolt of lightning attacked the buildings, many of them bereft of their lightning rods because of the super winds tearing them off the structures. Cheyenne is a city of high winds, but the recent events in the world produced some in the two hundred mile an hour category. Some probably higher. Whipping across the plains, they had torn entire towns apart. Many of those people had moved here, only to be killed in this storm and some of the previous ones. To escape only to perish.
A gigantic explosion cut through the air like a huge sword, a stench of unbelievable proportions permeating everything, making it almost impossible to breathe. The sky became a myriad of reds and yellows and the ground refused to stop shaking. More buildings shook apart, this being their death knell.
The refinery had exploded! Cheyenne was now hell on earth . . .
Flames rose hundreds of feet into the sky, obliterating everything to the south from view. The last great vestige of the city was history.
“My God, Raven!” Charlie shouted as Storm carried his mother inside the makeshift hospital, her jet black hair cascading across Storm’s massive arms, drops of blood falling onto the carpet.
“She’ll be okay, Dad,” Storm said. “I was there in time to stop the worst of the bricks from falling on her. She’s unconscious, but she’s breathing well.”
Charlie looked at his son, standing before him, holding his mother in his arms. He took his wife into his arms and told Storm to sit down.
Raven was unconscious but appeared to be alright otherwise. Charlie placed her on a couch, made sure she wouldn’t roll off, and returned to his son.
“You need to be treated, you know.” he told him.
“I know, Dad, but there’s a lot more work to be done. People … people are hurt out there.”
“You’re cut up pretty bad. From the way your eyes look, you’re in shock. You sheltered your mother from the rest of the debris, didn’t you?”
Before Storm could answer, a weird look came across his face and he lurched forward. Had Charlie not been there, he would have fallen to the floor.
“Oh, my God! I’ll take care of you son!” Charlie shouted, as if he could hear him. He positioned him on some cushions he placed on the floor, elevated his head because of the bleeding, and wrapped a blanket around him. The bleeding wasn’t too severe; it could wait to be treated until Storm was a little stronger and more under control of things.
“How is he?”
“He’ll be fine,” Charlie said, looking at his wife. “You know Storm. His powers of recuperation are amazing. You should be lying down, you know.”
“And miss out on all the fun?”
“Well, Mrs. Stubborn Lady, I have to make certain your head has stopped bleeding first.”
She smiled at him and gave him a big hug. “This time you work outside and I’ll work in here.”
Charlie nodded and patched her up, feeling guilty for not having reversed the order earlier. He had placed his wife in jeopardy.
“I know what you’re thinking,” she said. “Don’t worry about it.”
She always knew. It was as if she could see inside him. The Cherokee blood. That had to be it.
Once he was sure she was okay, he checked on Storm and returned outside. The storm was abating, but the skies were still on fire, and the wounded were everywhere. The flood waters were starting to recede and he hoped that some kind of rescue people could help them out here before too long. Someone would have to get over to the refinery area, too. The main viaduct was destroyed and he was sure the secondary route was gone. Probably, help would have to come from the southern section of town. But how would they get to the hospital? The main section of road would be flooded: it bordered Crow Creek. All this flood water would surely channel its way over there. Things were not looking good.
He was treating the last of the victims he could find on the eastern side of the street when the ground shook again. This time it wasn’t a tremor; it was The Plains Hotel: no more than twenty feet from where he was, it was crumbling, and it was happening fast. He hollered for everyone to run north towards the office building, but he stumbled as he tried to assist those around him and watched in horror as the roof came crashing down in his direction. Just before impact, a strong hand grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him back, running away from the building as he did so, dragging Charlie’s legs on the ground.
“Looks like I have to be the Guardian Angel around here today,” Storm said. “You and Mom better get with it. I’m not sure how many lives I have left.”
Charlie shook his head. “You should still be resting. You’re in shock.”
“I’d be in even more shock if I hadn’t gotten to you in time. Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. Let’s get all these people to the office.”
It was a good thing Charlie and Raven had bought this office building. Originally, it had been one of the historic landmarks in Cheyenne. It had taken some money to purchase it, but the top floor was converted over to lofts. They lived in one and Storm lived in the smaller one. The building had been gutted and reinforced to make it more stable. Had it not been, it would be in the same state as the others in the area. That was all a moot point now. Yes, they were able to treat the wounded there for the time being, but one more calamity and this building might topple over as well.
Charlie and Raven went back to work, treating the wounded, working as well as they could without any power. Thank God it was daytime and they could see at least. When darkness came, it would be much more difficult. Would the power come back on soon? The devastation this time was enormous, and it wouldn’t be easy to reach the power station. It was only five miles from downtown, but that is a huge distance when dealing with floods and fissures.
Storm stood still in the center of the room, completely oblivious to everything around him. An intense look of concentration came over him and he started to tremble.
“Oh, crap!” Raven shouted. “Something’s going to happen! Look at Storm, Charlie.”
Storm came out of his trance and shouted to Charlie, “We have to get everyone upstairs now! There’s no time to waste.”
Charlie looked at him, strangely. “ Do you mean the second floor?”
“The lofts! We have to go to the lofts.”
It wasn’t easy, but they managed to squeeze everyone into the apartments. A deafening sound approached fast, and then they saw it for what it was.
The dams at the three reservoirs outside of town had given way. A thirty foot wall of water was poised to slam into the building!
The beginning of the end!