Shadow in Glass

By J. Rose Alexander

March 2010

Prologue

A moment before the walls started to crumble, there was an enormous explosion that shook the entire building. People screamed at the sound, and everything went dead silent for only a heartbeat. When the ceiling panel fell on top of Brian, the screaming began in earnest.

Everyone watched at the plaster began falling in great chunks. They could hear the steel beams of the infrastructure start to scream with the employees. The floor began buckle a moment later, heaving everyone and everything around as if they were toys. One by one, the windows at the end of the office began to explode from the pressure of the twisting building.

Too frightened to scream, Marie managed to get over to Carrie's desk. She looked at Carrie, and Carrie saw her friend's head had been gouged badly by a falling object.

"What the hell is going on?" Marie demanded.

"The building is collapsing," Carrie said. "I think there was a bomb in the basement."

"Are we going to die?" Marie said, starting to cry.

"Depends," Carrie said, guiding her friend through the twisting wreck of a building. "We're fairly safe out here by the windows now that they're gone." She spotted Brian, who despite the ceiling tile was quite aware and relatively undamaged. She screamed for him across the noise. He managed to get across the office.

"Let's push some of these desks together, and we can hide underneath. That'll at least give us a chance," Carrie said.

He nodded wordlessly and the three of them began to shove the desks around. They were shortly joined by a dozen other people in the office, and soon they had several groups of desks together, creating little islands under which people would be able to hide. The building began to settle down from its heaving. Brian, Marie, Carrie, June, and Bart all crawled under their group of desks.

"How did you think of this?" June asked.

"I read some extreme survival guide once," Carrie said. "This just made sense."

The building heaved again and the renewed screams died when they realized it was the building settling into its new precarious position.

"How do you stay so calm?" June asked.

"I think I'm too shocked to react," Carrie said. "I'll probably collapse in a fit of tears sometime tomorrow."

"Think it was a bomb?" Bart asked.

"Most likely," Brian answered. "Buildings don't normally just give out. Even if they are built on the rubble of another building." He leaned over to Marie, and gentle brushed the hair out of the gash on her forehead. "My, that's lovely. That could be a real problem if we're in here too long."

"It's just a little cut," Marie said.

"No, it's not," June said, as Bart managed to rip the sleeve off his shirt. He offered it to Brian who tied it around her head tight enough to stifle the bleeding.

Marie touched the sleeve. "So, what do we do?"

"We wait," Brian answered, "unless and until we smell gas, fire, or trouble."

Carrie barked a laugh. "Trouble? We're sitting in a building that could collapse at any second and you don't think we're in trouble?"

Before he could answer, there was a deep basso rumbling beneath them. The building began to vibrate, and whatever was left attached to the beams of the structure seemed to leap off and rain down on them. The screaming of the beams began again, and this time, they all knew there was no way to get out.

"What the hell is this?" Bart yelled.

"Another bomb," Carrie yelled back. "Probably a series of little ones set to knock this place to the ground."

The building lurched violently, and sent the desks flying toward the window, exposing Carrie, Marie and Brian to the chaos around them. The three of them clawed desperately at the rubble, trying to get back under the relative safety of the desks. Marie managed to get under another set of desks, and Brian grabbed Carrie's hand to haul her under another.

Carrie looked up, and saw a huge chunk of concrete getting ready to release from its precarious hold. "Brian!" she screamed, flinging his hand from her arm. The motion sent him tumbling backwards into the rubble, and he landed on his back in perfect view of the block as it fell.

Brian was the only one who saw the strange, serene smile spread across Carrie's face as the block came down directly on top of her. She didn't scream when it hit her even though she was looking straight at it.

*

Carrie looked up, and saw a huge chunk of concrete getting ready to release from its precarious hold. "Brian!" she screamed, flinging his hand from her arm. The motion sent him tumbling backwards into the rubble, and he landed on his back in perfect view of the block as it fell.

Carrie watched as the block let go it's hold and came tumbling straight at her. She began to scream, the only thought in her head, I don't want to die.

A flying body came at her from the side and tackled her out of the path of the chunk. She and the other person hurtled dangerously close to where the windows used to be. Finally, they were brought to a halt by more rubble and another body. She looked up at a face she had never seen before and simply passed out from the shock.

4