When you are younger, and you dive into the deep end of the pool, it's important to reach the bottom. Even if you can only touch the floor with your hand, you've accomplished something of real worth to yourself. You have performed a feat of endurance, of strength, something to be proud of. And when you get there, the pressure from the water, it pushes in on what feels particularly like your head, and only your head. Your heartbeat becomes amplified, but sounds as if it is coming from a deep place, muffled, but pounding with the ferocity of a lions paws chasing its prey. And just when the darkness starts to creep into the edges of your vision, at the pinnacle moment when your lungs are just about to burst inside of your chest, you rotate and claw at the water to breech its surface.
Elisha was clawing madly at the sides of her mind to maintain her equilibrium, to maintain her footing, to take that first sweet breath of the freshest of air. The darkness had crept into her vision, but she was in no body of water. Not in a swimming suit, not partaking in recreation, and yet drowning all the same. Her uncle had born witness from the moment she revisited her breakfast from that day, until he rushed over to catch her before she evaded consciousness entirely. He wrapped his jacket around her and led her away from the crowd. He was talking to her but she didn't hear him, he was reasoning with her but she wasn't there. When the world became real again, she was sitting. Cup in hand, jacket on shoulders, staring blankly. It was only moments until her Uncle noticed.
"Elisha, honey, are you ok?" She looked up at him, nodded.
"What happened?" he asked.
"Christian didn't make it out." His face fell.
"We knew that some people would refuse to leave their homes, and we warned them. They do so at their…"
"HE DIDN'T CHOSE TO STAY!" she shouted frantically at him. The exertion forced her to take a deep breath and close her eyes to stop the world from spinning again,
"I'm sorry Uncle Tony. But Christian didn't stay for some noble purpose, he slept through the deadline." She placed her face into her hands. Uncle Tony shook his head,
"And you know this for certain?" When she replied her speech was slightly muffled from her palms being placed on her cheeks.
"Not completely no, he won't answer my calls. But I know him," she looked up at Uncle Tony,
"What time is it?" she asked.
"It's 3:45" he spoke into his wrist. Elisha nodded her head,
"He's probably just woken up." Elisha sipped at the water her Uncle had previously given her to calm her, so it took her a moment to notice the look of grave realization that washed Uncle Tony's face as if he had been caught in a rainstorm of the worst case scenario.
Uncle Tony was a decorated member of the city's S.W.A.T. team, and the picture of what a S.W.A.T. member should appear. Close cropped greying black hair, tanned slightly scarred skin, and muscles for days. Not to the level of that guy that used to be a body builder and then became a Governor of a west coast state, but enough so that his bowling ball tipped high on the double digits. Everything about him exuded authority, from the way he walked to the way he would stare you directly in the eye like he was attempting to read your mind. Formerly a marine, he sported the classic "Semper Fi" tattoo on his forearm, and did so proudly. He was a leader, he was strong, he was respected, and he was never seen with a look of worry etched upon his features. Always cool and confident in his training, in his ability, the poster boy for S.W.A.T. very quickly became the poster image of concern.
His team was assembled to exact the evacuation proceedings and ensure that everyone who wanted to exited the city safely, and without "contact". They were previously praised for doing a "Phenomenal job maintaining public safety in a crisis situation." S.W.A.T. or no, any beat cop would have concluded the worst case scenario here.
"Elisha, tell me he knows." The severity in his voice was like a command to an executioner.
"Knows what?" she seemed confused at first, and then she followed his map of concern directly to the X that marks the spot. Little digging was required to unearth the treasure trove of horror within Uncle Tony's eyes.
"Elisha, tell me he knows what's happened!" The darkness began to creep into her vision again. Christian doesn't read the local paper.
Christian doesn't watch the news.
Christian doesn't listen to the radio.
"Christian doesn't know."