People had no idea what would happen when the end came. No one did. People assumed that they’d act courageously… running straight into burning buildings to drag the elderly and infirm to safety. Mounting the high ground on a rooftop to send a stream of brass into the sidewalks to deter looters from the family business… I think that’s the general picture most would wish for. Sacrificial bravery. Living on in songs and stories. Picture it. Long after the great sleep descended on the earth. Fire light. Windows barred with brass locks and brandy. “Kids. Shhh! Sit quietly. Let me tell you a story about your crazy cousin…” Alas, this probably would be the exception and not the rule. No one saw it coming and no one knew what started the whole slide into oblivion.
It came… and there could be no doubt. Phone service and electrical went first. The power grid was decimated. Long dull explosions marched across the earth. Crump! Crump! Crump! Giants in black boots. Freeways were littered with the fleeing… as people screamed and scurried. Running for nothing. No safe harbor. Squirming and impotent. No where to go… death turned its face toward the dark night. It beckoned… “Come with me.” Fire came rapidly. Rats and other animals were seen pouring onto the city streets. They ran ahead of the heat. Maddened. People flailed through the inferno blindly. No plan, just panic. Smoke hung on the horizon like a leprous thing. It smelled pungent. Acrid and biting.
The five men sat quietly inside the motel room. They had sheets over the windows and duct tape surrounded its edges holding it in place. It kept the worst of the smoke out when the winds shifted. It had been their refuge for the last few hours. The fires consumed the hills around them and boiled towards them on every side. Hours earlier, they had tied a rope to each other and wandered out looking for an exit. They frantically searched for a break in the doom that scorched the land in every direction. Nothing. Now, their eyes were the only thing showing above the bandanas covering their noses and mouths. Outside. Hell. Ash dropped like snow… ashes from the burning world they no longer believed in. One of them had heard a radio broadcast several days ago that told of relentless horror. No government. No help. No future. They drank deeply from water bottles and then poured water over their bandanas. They wrapped them around their heads again.
They grabbed skateboards and slipped out the door. The heat pushed at them… a wall of pain. One by one, they moved into the old abandoned swimming pool behind the motel. This was it. They skated one last time. Like they did when they were kids… when the world was a better place and a new day was dawning.
Thank you to MRZ for the images. Skate and send positive thoughts to the Santa Clarita area and its firemen. – Ozzie