Precipice and Prospice: Of Earthquakes and Tidal Waves

Kaiih opened his eyes. His vision was blurry; his head hurts from all the information he had to take in. He held his left temple and shook his head. He blinked his eyes, thinking it will help him recover his vision. He waited for a while until he could see clearly. He breathed, a long and a really audible one. He checked his wristwatch; it was almost 11:45 in the morning. He was in front of his computer in his office. The monitor was staring blankly at him.

“I can’t believe I dozed off,” he muttered, shaking his head slightly in disbelief.

“Yeah, you did,” a girl answered him. It was Ulan, his cotrainee. “If you’re going to sleep, sleep as a ninja. Make sure nobody else sees you, especially our trainer.”

Kaiih smiled at her. “Sure,” he whispered. “What page are you in? All this indexing lessons are killing me.”

“I don’t know,” she answered. “I have been reading some e-books here. Screw this lesson.” She snickered.

Kaiih snorted. “Fine. I’ll entertain myself here as well.”

He started reading his indexing module once again, hoping this time he won’t doze off.

Kaiih had started working in a publishing company as an editor, and part of his job is to index certain books. This lesson on indexing is killing his brain cells, as he puts it in his words.

This day is just another rainy and gloomy day. Kaiih thought. A perfect day to be sad and extend the mourning process of my sister’s death. He smiled to himself, thinking how stupid his last sentence was.

He blinked a few times and looked at his watch hoping for lunchtime to come; it’s just 11:49. Suddenly, he felt a shaking. His computer’s monitor started moving back and forth, like it was doing some head-banging. He grabbed the back of his chair with his left hand and the side of his cubicle with his right hand. He scanned the office. Some people had gone under their tables, some had started showing signs of panic—shrieking, praying aloud, grasping the walls. The shaking continued.

Kaiih’s grips tightened. Seriously? He asked himself. Earthquake? This strong? At this hour? He closed his eyes and tightened his grip even more.

“It’s done, it’s done.” He heard one of his colleagues yelped in panic.

“No, it isn’t. It’s still shaking.” Another one snapped, panic was in his voice.

Kaiih opened his eyes and fixed his stare at his monitor; it was still shaking. Please stop . . . please stop . . . please stop . . . he prayed silently.

A few more moments and the lights went out.

Damn! Kaiih cursed silently.

What followed was people’s different reactions. People yelled, people stood and ran, people asked each other, albeit all were in the same confusion.

“Everyone, do not panic,” a man announced. “The main entrance is locked because we have no power. Stay calm and follow me through the fire exit. And again, stay calm. Everyone, this way.”

By that time, the shaking stopped. Kaiih scooped his things from his table—his wallet, his cap, his jacket, and his tumbler—and followed everyone else as they made their way to the exit.

They hike down the fire exit ramp was fast, despite the fact that they were on the sixth floor. People were swarming just outside their building. Most of them in panic. Some of them were making frantic phone calls to their families.

Kaiih pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialled his mom’s number, but he couldn’t get through the line. The network was busy. “Damn! Why at this time? This should be the time network providers should make sure their line is up.” He cursed.

Kaiih and his team waited at the evacuation area for a few hours. Kaiih could’t help but think of his families safety. He still was not able to get through the busy network line. He was shaking, worried sick about his family. He couldn’t get a word from them.

“Okay, listen up, everyone,” a man in the emergency uniform announced, “it is now safe to go back to your offices. We had word that the earthquake is over.”

Finally. It’s almost two thirty anyway. Kaiih thought. Kaiih gathered his things lying on the grass and stood up. He made his way back to the sixth floor of their building. He simply gathered his remaining things from his locker and asked permission to go home from his superior.

Soon, Kaiih was on the street, on his way home. He waited for the next bus. People around him were talking about the earthquake. Some were still hysterical while others had moved on and already calm. Kaiih entertained himself with a song to play in his head. He hummed the tune over and over till the bus came. He seated near the window so he could see what would soon transpire, whether it be good or bad. He knew too well the effects of earthquake; this was not his first time. Kaiih put his earbuds on and entertained himself with some music.

Along halfway of the trip, Kaiih noticed something alarming. People were running against their bus’s direction. It was odd. A lot of people. The bus came to a halt.

“What’s wrong?” A passenger asked the driver.

“I don’t know,” the driver responded. He opened the window and asked the panicking crowd. “What’s going on?”

“Water! Water!” One of the crowd responded.

The driver was confused. “What? Hey, what’s wrong?” He asked another one from the crowd.

“Run already! There’s water nearby! A tsunami’s coming!”

Kaiih heard that. His eyes widened. He was alerted.

“Everybody get off this bus, now! The driver yelled.

Those words struck panic to the passengers, and everyone moved out of the bus without even thinking twice. Kaiih watched the bus moved to the opposite direction as well.

Kaiih scanned the streets. Terror was there. All vehicles from the other side were coming as fast as they could, all shouting that water is coming. That tsumani has indeed happened. He ran as fast as he could. He pulled my phone out of his pocket to send a message to his brother living near the area. He pressed the Navi Key, and his phone flashed the message “Battery Low.” He continued running while dismantling his phone to replace the battery so he can contact his family and friends. He kept on looking back, hoping that water hadn’t reached them yet.

People from all directions were coming. All in panic, crying, terrified. All trying to save their lives and their loved ones. Fear, confusion, chaos were racing through the streets. He was shaking. His hands won’t follow his orders. His legs were to frail he couldn’t even strand straight.

“What’s wrong? Why are you running?” A police officer pulled Kaiih toward the side of the road.

“I don’t know!” he blurted, almost ready to cry. “They say tsunami is coming.”

“Did you see the water yourself?” he asked.

“No,” Kaiih responded, “but everyone is running. Panicking. I ran, of course, to save myself also.”

By then, he noticed a lot of rescue cars and police patrols were running all over the street.

Perhaps, the tsunami is true, Kaiih thought. He felt his body shook even more. His eyes went blurry. Vertigo sets in. He broke loose from the police officer’s grip and continued running till he came to a hotel.

“Listen, everyone. There is no tsunami. It is a false alarm.” A man announced. He is one from the rescue groups who dropped by the hotel. Kaiih did not notice him earlier. “Get logical. Our city is far from the shore. It is impossible. We are not a coastal city.” The man went on to explain the impossibility of the scenario.

Kaiih ignored him; instead, he completely changed his phone’s battery and desperately wished that the network wasn’t busy. After multiple attempts of calling his brother, I finally made it through the line.

“Josh!” Kaiih yelled as he heard his brother picking up the call. “How are you! Where are you?”

“Am fine. We’re fine. And you?” His brother answered from the other line. “Where are you.”

“Just here. A hotel near us. What’s happening? People are panicking. Tsunami.”

“I know. People are all evacuating. The streets are packed!”

“Come here now. Come home. Take the other route, the one near the mall.” Josh instructed him.

“I can’t get through the streets,” Kaiih responded. “But I will try.”

“Be careful not to get yourself in a stampede.”

“Listen, pack some important stuffs already, we’re going to the hill top.”

“Fine idea. What do you wan—”

“What?!” Kaiih yelled. The line got disconnected. “No, no, no. Not now.” He redialled his brother’s number. No response.

Ahhhh! A woman screamed.

Everyone followed the woman’s gaze, and there, they saw a wall of water rising. Twenty, or maybe, twenty-five feet tall. Massive and fast. It moves.

“Holy . . . ” Kaiih muttered as he witnessed the destruction that is imminent.

Everyone started running away from the wave. But Kaiih knew it is hopeless. In a matter of seconds, the wave will devour them.

Tears formed in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks. Silent sobs were Kaiih’s only reaction. He reached for his ID in his pocket and tied it securely around his belt.

At least, they’d identify my body when they find it. He comforted him self with what was for him was the only hope left. He went outside and walked slowly toward the wave. Running and panicking bodies brush against him.

Bravely, Kaiih closed his eyes and raised his hands sideward, as if welcoming death in open arms. He sobbed, tears falling down his cheeks. Kaiih did not see the wave, but he felt a massive force enclosed him. The weight of it almost crushing his body. His final thought was he died not trying to escape death. Breathing started to become difficult. His head started to spin. He choked. Darkness set in. And nothing followed.

Kaiih opened his eyes. His vision was blurry; his head hurts from all the information he had to take in. He held his left temple and shook his head. He blinked his eyes, thinking it will help him recover his vision. He waited for a while until he could see clearly. He breathed, a long and a really audible one. He checked his wristwatch; it was almost 11:45 in the morning. He was in front of his computer in his office. The monitor was staring blankly at him.

“I can’t believe I dozed off,” he muttered, shaking his head slightly in disbelief.

“Yeah, you did,” a girl answered him.

This short fiction is loosely based on my personal experience of an earthquake and a tsunami scare that happened exactly a year ago today. That was perhaps the worst day of my life. It was not my first earthquake, but the misinformation and induced panic made me crazy. To read my account of that day, click here.

7 thoughts on “Precipice and Prospice: Of Earthquakes and Tidal Waves

Add yours

    1. Thanks! Hahaha . . . I will. I am actually challenging myself to publish at least one short fiction or poetry, one informative/instructional article, and personal experience or opinion article every day. But for today, It seems I ran out of ideas what to write. Maybe tomorrow. 😀

Tell Me Your Thoughts About What You've Just Read

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: