OV Chapter 16

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Chapter 16 – Calamity


Can’t get out! It hurts! Can’t breathe! Move! Can’t get out! Stop! Want to live! Run away! Can’t get out!

I felt dizzy from the massive panic echoing through the family heart. Although many had perished from the great quake, just as many were trapped or broken, dying very slowly and very painfully. Family holes that had once offered protection now cut them off from escape. Some desperately clawed at the entrance hoping to find escape, others knew what their once loving-home had become; a grave.

I tried to pull myself out of all the pain and sorrow, but I couldn’t just close myself off; I needed my connection. More danger was yet to come. It would take time, but it would be there all too soon. How could I rise above all the emotions clamoring within me? They were begging for help, or begging for release. Desire fueled their strength to help their families and their colonies. Though they spoke no words, the myriad of voices was deafening. I was being swallowed by the mass hysteria.

I couldn’t concentrate. It was too much. I felt myself slip below the surface of the flood, carried away by all the voices. I felt a thousand lives worth of pain all at once. I couldn’t do this alone, I needed help.

And then the Little Leader came to me, bringing with him all the other stars that resided in my heart. They coalesced into a great power, shielding me from the mess of emotions, but still leaving me connected, and I was finally able to speak.

‘Sea’, ‘Danger’, ‘Run’. I flashed the words through the hearts of every lizard. It passed through them almost as if it had been their own scales flashing the words. The words were powerful, a great warning, and it nearly drained me to give such message to every single lizard. But I would not faint back into the world. I had to see them through this. The stars of my dearly departed ones gave me that strength.

It was heart wrenching watching as many of the lizards, despite the warning, chose to stay beside their trapped family members, not wanting to leave them in their final moments. I could do nothing to change their minds. As much as it pained me, I understood their devotion. Others took the burden of their family, bearing the feeble and newly crippled upon their backs to higher ground, some in spite of their own injuries. Some in the sea chose to swim far along the shore hoping to outrun what was yet to come. Those left in the forest that could still climb found trees still standing to seek safety from, carrying those that could not climb themselves anymore. The ones that were not buried in the rubble on the mountainside stayed where they were, afraid any movement might shake the rocks that had finally settled.

Those that stayed at the shore colonies watched as the water receded, drawing back along the black porous rock, leaving numerous tide pools behind. The forest colony nearest the shore watched from the tops of trees as the water pulled away, a prelude to the distant disaster that was to come.

It was only a matter of minutes, ten or twenty at most. They could see it slowly rise upon the horizon. It began as a low faraway murmur, but as the rising ocean came closer, the roar gained volume, its anger clear. The wave started breaking upon the newly bare rocks, the crashing sounds rang in the air, but its rampage was not slowed. A mass of frothing white raced ever closer. Those that couldn’t move hugged each other for comfort as the great wave finally touched the shore. To the lizards, the crest reached into the heavens, a hand of an angry ocean god come to smite the land.

The newly exposed cliff face by the shore colonies got its first taste of seawater as the wave nearly breached the top. The crash upon the cliffs sent the white water high into the air as it desperately tried to climb the rock face. The lower shore that bordered the forest fared worse. The water swept through the trees. It did not stop nor slow for the bodies that braced themselves against the incoming wave, treating them the same as the rest of the dislodged debris from the earthquake. The wave reached as far as its fingers could go, and came close to the mountainside on the other side of the forest. Rocks that had never seen the sea got a taste of salt water as it filled every crack in the ground. Some trees loosened by the earthquake succumbed to the pressure of the ocean and met with their fallen brothers.

The sun shone high in the sky, beautiful against the clear blue sky, unaware of the calamity that occurred below its rays, reflecting on water that seemed to have forgotten where it belonged. Broken bodies floated among the debris just below the surface, never to rise. Most were swept back to the ocean when the water finally receded, the placated sea god granting them a single solace for all their pain.

At that, I let myself drown in all the cries and sorrows, adding my own anguish to the flood of torment that swept through the lizards. So many were lost. So many new stars filled my memories, and I embraced them all as I choked and sobbed in my own disembodied way. There would be little comfort this day. We would all need time to mourn before we could look to the future once again. Sorrow would fill the coming days, but light would eventually return to our lives, though a little darker for the great loss. And if it became too much, we could rely on one another for comfort.

But until then, we would mourn.


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Author's Notes

The beginning of this particular chapter was influenced by one of my favorite animated movies, Watership Down (1978). There is a particular scene in the movie that is both terrifying and heart wrenching. At the beginning of the movie, a small rabbit has a premonition of something bad happening to his warren, and convinces his brother and a few others to leave, while most stay. Later in the movie, a single rabbit that had stayed in the warren comes to find the group that departed, and his tale of the event that occurred after they left is incredibly tragic.

While the movie has a rating of PG, it has been strongly suggested by many to raise it to PG-13. Despite being a cartoon, it is particularly violent and graphic in the real lives of wild rabbits. If you readers enjoy the melancholy of this story, I would recommend this movie to you. And when you see the part where Captain Holly finds his group and regales them with his tale, I hope you’ll think of the Overseer and all its visions of pain and voices of fright, as that is what I imagined when writing it.

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