The Flood

February 14, 2008
By Stephen Nolan, Ft. Riley, KS

The Westend Mall was filled with its usual shoppers that Saturday; Parents out with their children, teenagers enjoying a break from school, and the one or two older folks looking lost in the bustle. The Westend Mall was your typical mall; its various stores sold a multiple of gizmos and gadgets and its food court was comprised of a multitude of fast food shops. The ocean was only a few hundred feet away, and yet when it was constructed nearly a mile had stood between its shore and the parking lot, the thunder of the surf acted as a background for the scene. The three stories of the mall that day seemed more crowded than usual. The parking lot certainly verified it, there were hundreds upon hundreds of cars in the slots, each plugged into its own outlet.

Up on the second floor, Sara Handley was pushing around a bickering pair of twins in a stroller. Sara’s husband of three years was in the Army and away on a deployment to the deserts of Iraq. As she quietly calmed her children down, she passed by a teenage boy whose fate was about to become entangled with her own. She paused to push her long brown hair out of her face and gave a polite smile to the passing boy.

On the second floor, there was a small electronics shop with a pile of TV’s in the window. They showed a picture of a grinning politician gesturing towards a large object in the distance with the words Little Boy 2 emblazoned in bright yellow upon its side. The man’s speech was distorted so that only a few words reached the ears of the disinterested people passing by. “… testing………double that of previous models………destructive prowess…..Atlantic Coast………………no possibility of casualties…….better……could have hoped for.” The picture panned around to show the bomb being loaded into a plane and a few moments later, that plane taking off.

Almost without being noticed, the sound of the surf began to die off. For a moment it was almost completely silent. Anyone looking out the window would be amazed to see the sea where it had been almost fifty years ago, about half a mile away. The shoppers however were oblivious to the subtle changes in their environment and went on about their shopping as usual. Then all hell broke loose.

Waves tossed open the doors of the mall and flowed through its lowest level. The surge picked up everything in its path: people, clothes, chairs, benches, even the animals from the pet shop. There was a mad rush for the stairs as the people on the first floor ran screaming up unto the second story. The people who couldn’t reach the stairs were dashed against the wall. On the second story, Heather, an inquisitive teen, peered out of the now deserted food court’s glass windows. The ocean had swelled and surrounded the entire mall; indeed, most of the countryside that she had driven through that morning to get there was under water. Out in the distance, in the direction that the coast normally would have been, she saw a cloud of smoke, seemingly rising out of the middle of the ocean. This fact hardly registered though as her eyes traveled upon something much closer: another wave. She ran to the stairs and climbed up them. The water was still rising, and a thin plane of water was now beginning to cover the second floor. On her way up she passed the tall blonde, youth that she had driven there with, Apollo, rushing down the stairs. She screams at him but he pays her no heed as he rushes past.

Still on the second floor, Sara Handley was fighting to get her still blissfully ignorant and still bickering children out of their stroller. Their harnesses were entangled and she was trying desperately to get her children out of them. As she felt the water rise up above her ankles, a wave of panic swept over her and she began clawing at the straps as though an inhuman being possessed her. Without warning a man’s shadow fell across the stroller. It was the tall youth that she had seen only an hour ago. The blonde Californian cowboy pulled a pocketknife out and easily cut through the straps locking the two children into their seats. He handed the little girl to her mother and grabbed the little boy. They raced to the stairs just as a second wave hit the building. As they raced upstairs, the water began to engulf the second floor, and as the water arose above the TV’s in the store window, the grinning politician’s picture became blurred as the tail end of his speech proclaiming ‘nothing was happening’ and ‘everything is according to plan’ faded beneath the dark waves.

In the calm following the storm, the survivors gathered in groups on the third floor. They sat together and tried to piece together the whole picture. One man knew all of tidal waves and the manager of the appliance shop was able to fill in the rest of the details of what happened from what he had herd on the television. They berated the scientists who made the bomb in the first place and the smirking politician who had gotten its construction approved. They sat in numbed silence doing the only thing they could to pass the time… wait to be rescued.

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