I was very pleased I wore jeans and boots to work on Tuesday. It was a coincidence that made getting back home easier. It also helped that I was on the right side of town when it exploded.
I was looking in a shop window when the glass flew inward and a heavy heat pushed me to the ground. It was very quiet for a second and then the noise. Loud doesn't begin to describe it; it was more than deafening. The noise didn't stop after that, there was screaming and sirens.
When I stood and looked around, the only thing out of place was the broken glass. Whatever had happened in the middle of the city must have been rather small – contained where most people were. I didn't head back to look or hang around to find out. I started home and that was when I was pleased about the boots.
In those six hours of walking I saw many strange things. People fleeing in cars or rather, trying to. The streets were clogged with cars, packed with people and belongings. People were talking about evacuation and fleeing. There were words of terror attack and bio-weapon. It was a relief to turn into my street.
The street was full of people packing up, leaving. Twice I was offered a lift atop a packed car – I had none of my own. I declined, walking would be faster in the chaos. I knew where I would go. My sister had a farm a few hours out of the city. I had no real idea of how long it would take to get there on foot.
I packed tins of food and an extra warm top. I didn't know where I would sleep – outside; would it get cold at this time of year. I also needed something to carry water. Emptying a milk bottle did the trick, I had to fill it with hot water from the geyser – the water was off. I took the kitchen knife before I left, locking up securely.
Once out the city and some way along the road I settled for the night in a ditch. It wasn't cold so I used my top as a pillow, sleeping on my pack. I woke early, cars were still passing but so few. I ate for the first time and drank some water before starting out again.
The air was very still and the world simmered around me. There were clouds over the city but I continued forward. The dry air was making my nose bleed – it was annoying. I imagined falling into my sister's pool, being surrounded by cool blue. The following afternoon I tripped and cut my leg. It wasn't bad but bled for a while. I stopped early that day and slept. I hadn't seen any more cars nor people but was on the lookout. Morning came very quickly and I struggled to rise. Didn't eat, couldn't face the beans again. I thought that the last tin must have been off but I could keep water down.
All the walking had caused my feet to bleed; the cut on my leg had got worse and by midday I decided to sleep again. I tried to get comfortable on the pack like before but my skin was too sore. My own fingers were leaving bloody welts. I thought I would feel better when I woke up.
But I didn't.