I emerge from the glacial water, in shock and surrounded by darkness. As I breathe in the cold frigid air, I try to blink the water out of my eyes and make sense of my surroundings. It's raining, and with each passing second the drops get heavier and harsher. I realize I'm not fully clothed, my top is missing, all I have is a small tanktop. Are my shoes missing too? I stare at my body in the water, my jeans are clinging to my legs as my feet desperately try to keep my head above the surface. My eyes finally adjust to the darkness, and there is a faint glow somewhere in the distance, illuminating the night sky. The waves are strong and powerful, shielding my view, only allowing brief glimpses of the horizon. My eyes desperately search for anything, anyone, to help me. I soon discover I'm not alone, there are maybe 5 or 6 other people in the water. The chaos threatens to engulf me, preventing me from forming any coherent thoughts. What am I doing here? My heart feels like it's trying to escape through my rib cage, my throat and lungs burning because of the salt water. I glimpse a large metal object a few meters away, the waves dragging it down into the depths. I manage to make out the helicopters rotor blades before the ocean swallows it entirely. I spin around in the water, attempting to swim away from the sinking helicopter, hoping to out-swim the chaos surrounding me. Beside me a young man appears, he can't be that much older than me. He grabs hold of my hips before I can speak a single word, and throws me up and out of the water with incredible strength. As I plunge back into the water a few meters away, I turn my head back towards the young man. He simply looks at me and nods before swimming in the other direction. I look away from him and start swimming. After a few strokes, something envelops my arm. I start to panic until I realize it's a item of clothing, a top. I awkwardly put it on and continue swimming. After a short while, I see a ship in the distance, and a glimmer of hope sparks inside of me. I use every ounce of strength I can muster, and push myself through the waves. My entire chest is burning, desperately trying to catch my breath as the ocean waves crash against me. I finally make it to the ship. It's an industrial container ship, rusty, it's paint beginning to peel. My arms and legs feel like noodles, shaking and weak. I manage to drag myself onto the deck of the ship, each movement even more difficult than the last. It feels like eternity. There is a man on the deck, hesitant and keeping his distance, observing me. I know him. Eventually I stand up and make my way towards the edge of the deck, "What are you doing here?" the man asks quietly. There is sadness in his voice. I simply reply "It doesn't matter". I cross my arms and continue walking with my head down, towards the railings at the edge of the deck. I wait. The man stands several feet behind me, silent and waiting. The stormy rain suddenly stops. I look at the horizon and see a city on fire.
Summer Read, September 2014.
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