Survival Chapter 2

Drawing of a spacecraft burning buildings with a light beam. Caption reads: "Survival (work in progress)"

Fever Dream chapter of work in progress by Iris Carden

Angela was reading with her feet up on the lounge, a thing that would never have been allowed in her parents’ home.  Luci was sitting beside her, leaning on her and purring.  

This was the adult life her father had always told her she was too weak to handle.  She worked part time, studied part time, managed to just barely pay her rent, and still had time to relax and read.

Even with all the competing demands on her time and energy, life here with Luci was the best her life had ever been.

Then she heard the hum.  It was faint at first, but grew louder.  The television in the background changed to a breaking news story, about strange flying objects, presumed to be alien spacecraft appearing above all of Australia’s capital cities simultaneously.  They hadn’t been seen on radar, and hadn’t appeared anywhere else in the world.  

Then the television signal was lost, and the power went out.  The humming noise grew louder, and Angela went out on her balcony, to see what she could only call a flying saucer, hovering above the building adjacent hers.  As she watched, a light beam shot from the saucer, and split that building down the middle, fire shot up people. She was frozen in horror as she saw people falling from the open gash in the building as it slowly crumbled.  

As the spacecraft moved to hover over her building, Angela threw on her shoes, grabbed Luci’s cat carry bag and put him in and ran down the stairs.  

Two floors down, she met a young woman, struggling with a twin pram.  “Forget the pram,” she said to the young mother.  “You take one baby, I’ll take the other.”

With Luci on her back and one of Jamie’s twins in her arms she ran down the next two floors to the building foyer.  

People were beginning to crowd around the automatic front doors, some trying to get out and others trying to get in.  

Angela, and Jamie with right behind her, skirted around them, and pushed the fire safety door open.  That caught the attention of some of the crowd, and others followed them out.  

They were across the street when the roaring sound of the building collapsing behind them stopped them in their tracks.  The air, already full of dust and debris from the next-door building, was now too thick to see clearly.  Angela adjusted the baby’s wrap to cover its face, and Jamie did the same with the baby she was carrying. Each pulled their own shirts up to cover their faces. They looked at each other, passing an unspoken message that could not have been heard over the wall of sound of the panic around them, and they both ran, toward the mall, from there to Post Office Square Park.

Then Angela stopped and sat for a moment to recover and look back over the devastation. “I don’t know what we do now,” she said.  “Are we safer in the open if they’re only destroying buildings, or do we need to find a building to shelter in.”

“There’s that walkway under the buildings that leads to Central Station,” Jamie said.  “I’m Jamie, by the way.”

“I’m Angela.  I wouldn’t want to be trapped underground if the buildings on top were destroyed.”

They watched as the UFO moved to another building and demolished it, more dust and debris thickened the air further. People around them were screaming and yelling, and running in all directions.

Jamie shook her head.  “What the hell is going on?  I was just putting the twins down for their nap, and then I heard the noise next door and something told me to get the babies out.”

“I wish that something would tell you what we should do next.” Angela said, then she filled Jamie in on the news story.

There was a roaring noise as another building collapsed.

“Let’s at least get under a tree so we’re less visible from the air,” Jamie said.

Around them, people were still screaming and yelling and running, dust and smoke were making them choke and making it harder to see.  Angela closed her eyes a moment to shut out the dust.

She opened them to see she was lying on her sleeping bag back in the railway tunnel.  Luci was on her chest, his velvety black nose almost touching her chin, his piercing blue eyes watching her intently.

As she became more aware of her surroundings, she realised Martha was wiping her forehead with a damp cloth.  

“I think the fever’s broken,” Martha said. 

By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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