He was no longer certain where he was. He remembered the world trembling deeply at one moment, and then, simply knew only that he was not meant to be cold as he slept. He remembered he had not gone to sleep with his shoes on, nor did his bed have only a thin sheet that smelled of sulfur. Then, upon awakening, he knew, home was far away.
The earthquake had certainly done some damage, as violent as it felt. Like a child shaking up a poor frog in a box, it shook everything around him, and his mother's vase had dropped off the shelf to shatter on the ground. Yet, he didn't wake enough from the trembling to bring himself to crawl out of bed and clean up the mess. Strange, how it hadn't woken him.
But the earthquake couldn't have done that much damage. It hadn't been earth-shattering. It hadn't ripped his apartment in half. It hadn't transported him to a strange place.
He woke on a filthy mattress, the springs nearly ripping through the fabric to stick into his back. The sheet he cradled close to his face was old and yellowed, smelling of the earth. A cold gust blew through the air, tossing his hair about, and he became distantly aware that he had not left the air conditioning on - odd. The television gave off static, but there was no television in his bedroom.
Opening his eyes, the grey, stormy sky greeted him. It appeared as if it were early morning, with creamy clouds dusting the atmosphere, and leaves tossed about.
No, not leaves, he realized.
Sitting up, he went to push his glasses up and rub his eyes. No luck; his glasses were gone. A steady thump hit his heart. His hand fumbled around the nightstand, only to find - no, no nightstand, either.
He swallowed hard, squinting his eyes. What were those, floating delicately on the breeze? Thin, whispy shapes like leaves, but so much thinner, and solid black, tiny holes punched into them, rolling around slowly where the air took them. Some flashed orange. Debris, he realized, burning debris like that from campfires fed too much paper. Embers on the wind.
Then, he noticed he was not looking through the window.
Half of the room was missing, tilted slightly and over looking silver water. The stone walls were shattered. The floor had crumbled out on one side. And he was very, very high up.
A hotel, leaning over a bay, except there was no end in sight for this bay, and there was no way to reach the stairs.
He threw the sheet off himself and started toward the other side of the room. In little more than a tanktop and a pair of boxers, he stood a safe distance from the crumbled and uneven edge. The wind smacked at his face, raising cold goosebumps over his skin, and squinting, struggling to see, he took in a shuddering breath.
One, two, three floors, he counted, fifteen floors in total that were not submerged in some indiscriminate sludge mixture of bay water, ash, and rubble, and only one above himself, the only thing providing him with a roof.
Where was he?
A lone television, crooked on its small table and seemingly plugged into nothing, buzzed white noise. Stomach content to have him look away from the drop just beyond the slight angle of the floor, he moved to it and the petite sofa in front of it. Static blinked black and white pixels over the screen. He irritably reached out, punching at buttons until he found one marked by a circle and a line. Even then, it didn't shut off.
After turning his thumb sore pounding at the power button, he resolved that there would be no simply shutting off the television. Instead, he saught for wires, but found nothing, even though the television seemed a very old model, with a broad back end. Leaving it on until its electricity ran out would have to do.
Or, he could get out of here.
Wherever 'here' was.
He scrubbed at his eyes.
Striding over to the corner of the room, he found a bookshelf, devoid of anything but dust and pebbles. He gave a sturdy sigh, then found his way to what used to be a bathroom. Though privacy seemed to no longer be an option, the toilet was, thankfully, in the corner that had survived, meaning that he could veritably use the toilet. He rejoiced, silently, as did his panic-filled bladder. Once he had relieved himself - and, consequently, discovered that the water pressure was somehow working - he turned to fiddling with the sink. Though half of the porcelain was missing, the faucet was in tact, and he turned it on. Old habits died hard, and he briefly soaked his hands in the water, watching it cascade out of the side of the porcelain like a small waterfall.
He could see broken buildings cluttering the nearest wall, but nothing moved amoung the dead waste.
Outside the window by his bed, he was met by the wasteland.
It was desolate. Empty, void of anything but rubble and destruction, shades of grey, blue, violet, and black, marked only by the occasional fire. Had he slept through the apocalypse?
Swallowing hard, he looked around, praying for any sign of familiarity, any kind of landmark, but there was nothing. Skyscrapers lay smouldering on their sides, buildings left as nothing more than piles of gravel and dust. There were no skeletons. There were no bodies, no screams.
No one. Nothing out there, beyond the empty window.
He stumbled back, away from the space, praying he could unwrite the image from his head. What if it could just go away? What if he could scrub his eyes a little harder, and he would be in his own bedroom?
Where was he? When had he been taken? He was going to miss his sister's birthday. And where was she? She was going to be turning sixteen in a month, she was sweet and innocent, and if this was what the world had come to, she couldn't care for herself.
What if she was dead, lying in all that rubble, one of the spirits hidden by the ash and flood?
He threw himself back against the bed, curling into it to try and erase the thought. She was not dead, she would not be dead, much like no part of his family would be dead. This was a nightmare. He would wake up from it soon.
Opening his eyes to hot tears, he took in a trembling breath.
On the other side of the room, a little red notebook and a wooden pencil sat on the third shelf.