"Take my hand!" I narrowed my eyes as I stared into the darkened shaft. I knew what she was clinging to, hope that we could somehow get our son out. That he would somehow be okay if we could just stop and resuscitate him. We couldn't wait any longer. We had to get further away from the city. Maybe the cellars had worked for a few days, but as the rubble started to shatter around us, I knew our situation was beyond desperate. It was hopeless.
And she didn't want to try without him. She reached her right arm up, our fingers barely touched. She coughed and held his body closer to her legs. He was nuzzled there, like he always did when he was scared. But he wasn't scared anymore. He wasn't anything anymore.
"Diane, you have to let go."
Mist invaded her green eyes and she looked back down at our son. "Matthew, I can't." A loud creak came from inside the mound of rubble. It was only a matter of time before the last beams gave in. We were losing time.
"Diane, please, I can't do this without you."
"But we're so close... and he might."
I grit my teeth, ready to cry, but more desperate to survive. To get us out of there. "Please, take my hand."
She stroked her son's hair and sobbed. She kissed his head and it seemed like she was finally ready to let go. But then this girl scrambled her way out of a small opening in the rubble. Her blonde hair was black with ash, and she gasped at the air. She glanced from my wife, my son, and me in a second. She grabbed my outstretched arm, and I hoisted her up.
"Diane!" I yelled. The girl was already scurrying off to safety.
Diane curled her hands around Keegan's head. "Okay... I'll come up." The ground rumbled and shook. I lost my foothold and had to scramble backwards to avoid being sucked down the shaft. The wood cracked and splintered. It all happened so fast. The small hole out of the cellar was there, and then in a moment's hesitation, everything collapsed. The hole was gone.
I screamed her name and buried my fingertips in the shards of glass, broken wood, nails, and ash that covered the whole mess. "Diane!" My hands bled and mixed with the soot that covered my fingers. It was a blackened red mess. She had to still be down there, she couldn't just be gone. I was just talking to her. I screamed and pounded my fists into the earth.
A hand curled around my shoulder. It was the girl, tears stained through the soot on her face revealing pasty skin. Her eyes were the color of the sky before it had grown black with pollution. Her lip trembled when she opened her mouth. A high-pitched squeak escaped, and then she formed the words, "We still have to get out of the city." She sounded so far off. This girl wasn't real. Everyone was dead. My wife and I were the last survivors. This must have been my mind playing tricks.
But when she pulled on my arm and nearly yanked it out of socket, I snapped back into reality. The hiss of a bomb sounded in the distance before it hit the earth. And our feet pounded on the ground. Away from the chaos, away from the bombs and destruction, away from my wife. All my instincts kicked in, and they told me to survive. I had to keep going. I had to keep going for her. If Diane couldn't live for us, I had to live for the both of us. Something had to go right.
When the bomb hit, the whole earth shook and flames licked towards the sky. Debris pierced the air with a choking mushroom cloud. Another building collapsed and more screams echoed in the night. We might be the only people making it out alive.
We scrambled over the road blockade that was upturned. It was the government's last try to keep us inside. We thought we would be safer towards the outskirts of the city... but they started bombing here first. But we had no idea how far they were going to go out. Everyone outside the city thought they were safe, but judging by the smoking ash that choked the air, no one was safe anymore.