He said that he would follow, that he was right behind me. Now, I stand in the galleried section of a large interior space, while he remains below — I can see him, moving between rows of parked cars with that canvas backpack a peculiar khaki lump strapped against his spine. But he does not follow me, and never intended to — this is evident after the blast. So thunderously loud, it shakes the structure’s foundations, unhinges the roof above the parking lot so thoroughly it crashes down with a great whump on all beneath it — cars, trucks, him. All is compressed in an arch of sound, of flying debris, dust, ash.
Silence settles. Outside, beyond panoramic windows, the scene is pastoral, unaffected — sweeping lawns of bright green; wide blue skies and luminous white clouds. Inside, destruction. And though I am safe, my son is on the other side of this complex, separated from me by the collapsed parking deck. I need to get to him, to be sure of his safety. The only way to do so is treacherous — I must pass through a compressed, elastic tunnel. It is banded with silver support rings, will expand to permit my passage and extend as necessary to transport me geographically. The difficulty is that I must not breathe while within, or I will be crushed.
Inhale, fill the lungs, draw the breath deep into both lobes. I step up to the tunnel — a flat vertical disk suspended mid-air and filled with concentric circles. It gives at my touch like a membrane, envelopes and swallows me whole. The tunnel contracts around me, completely, painfully, then I am out the other side. Great, desperate gulps of air. Another tunnel. Inhale deeply. Enter.
On the other side night has fallen. The darkened, grassy expanse spreads out in all directions. I huddle within a canvas tent with a small group of others. We warm our hands over a bright fire. Shadows move erratically over the tent walls, shifting, hurrying. Beyond the tent’s thin canvas — noises…furtive, stealthy, hungry. I lift a corner of the tent, see the circling wolves, their heads low, eyes reflecting gathered light. Quickly, I drop the flap.
“Deep Breath” — C.Birde