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RESCUE

Home
THE EARTH SHOOK
PANIC IN THE STREETS
RESCUE
SEVEN MINUTES
THE WORLD AWAITS
TIME ZERO
Infinity and beyond
Through immortal lips


After joining a rescue group, we went looking for survivors amidst rivers of mud. A man, blood pouring down his face, laid buried behind a wall.

He must have broken his arm in a few places, because he screamed every time we touched it, calling for his family.

“They must be under the masonry,” he said.

Looking at the rubble around us, we didn’t know whether they had survived the earthquake.

“My baby daughter was only a few days old,” he said.

“We’ll find her,” I said.

“Alive?”

“I don’t know.”

It broke my heart to give him the bad news, but we couldn’t expect anything else.

We carried him along the road in a stretcher we made using several sheets we found amongst the ruins. They must have belonged to someone else before the tragedy had changed our lives.

“There is a makeshift clinic in the corner,” a big man, wearing a hat said.

I could not see the other side of the street through the fog, as we carried the man in the stretcher under the rain.

The front room of a house served as hospital, where naked people surrounded us, their souls destroyed by the tragedy, and a woman shouted obscenities before collapsing on the floor.

A child muttered to himself, blood pouring down his clothes, as a group of people congregated around a fire by the front door.

Passing a bottle of aguardiente around, they sang rancheras out of tune, ghosts from another age when the sun had loved us.

I looked after a few patients clinging to life in spite of their wounds, while waiting for death to come amongst the mist and the rain.

"Why has he punished us?" an old woman said.

"It must be his second coming," another one said.

I shrugged. "Help must be coming soon."

"We'll be dead by then."

Tired of all the suffering around me, I retired to a room
I found a room at the back of the building, almost intact amidst the ruins.

On opening the door, I saw a table, with some books and papers. Its owner had to be dead, buried somewhere in the city.

Sitting down at the table, I wrote the account of the terrible things that had happened since I ran out of my house an eternity ago. Then I listened to the radio I kept in my bag.

A small mountain had formed between the cities of Palmira and Cali and the capital of the republic had been completely destroyed. New York, Florida and Mexico had also vanished but they didn’t know much about Europe.

I wanted to have my old world back where the sun never played tricks with us.

Feeling cold and wet, I dozed on the table amidst piles of rubbish, where I dreamed of suns exploding, and seas of blood drowning the city.

The voice in the radio woke me up later.

“Scientists think our sun might explode as a nova. The word means new, because stars appear in the sky, where nothing was there before. We have an alarm to transmit all over the world if this is true. You must go to a secure place when we give the alarm.

After we give instructions in different languages through the radio, you will have seven minutes to find somewhere safe, and lie down with your head on the floor far from rivers and buildings. We will say over the radio and in all languages: We have seven minutes.

“Attention” Attention! We have some more news. Attention! Orbital observatories and artificial satellites have been destroyed. Mercury, the closest planet to the sun has exploded, according to some Australian observatories. We repeat the latest news: Mercury has broken in a thousand pieces. One of these fragments might come close to earth according to calculations.

“Our orbit around the sun has suffered some changes. The moon over Australia is much bigger. We believe our satellite has come closer to us.

“Attention! Attention! You’re listening to the Spanish speaking radio for the whole world. The planet must be ready as we transmit this alarm: We have seven minutes.

We must lie down in a safe place far from houses and rivers. If you follow these instructions, we will have fewer victims.”

“…Ibague has been almost totally destroyed. Here are the names of the victims we have identified up to now…”
I hoped the seven minutes never came or the sun stopped playing games with us.

I saw a few books about the sun on the table. The picture of the corona engulfed in fire adorned the cover of one of them.

Leafing through its pages, I learned a few things about our star, its age, composition and all the chemicals it burns before its end.

The sun has not enough mass to be a supernova, and will expand into a red giant in four billion years time, before turning into a white dwarf, where it will remain for billions of years.

It wouldn't explode yet according to the book, but the scientists talked of our star having some kind of transformation leading us to the end of the world.

I took the book with me, but I was hungry.

After leaving my refuge, I saw naked people looking for bodies in the ruins with rudimentary tools.

A drunken man snored inside a coffin he had found on the road, oblivious to everything around him, as people danced at the sound of music, while shouting: hurray to death.

It seemed like a party, where everyone had gone crazy.

A beautiful girl, dressed in rugs, moved at the rhythm of the music, her breasts quivering with her movements.

“Drink, comrade,” she said, pushing a bottle of gin against my teeth. “This is the end of the world. Can you see that rubble? That is where my family died. I only heard a knock: Bang! And then it finished. Drink comrade. Drink! UUUUUIIPPPAAA!!!”

A tall man put a gun to his mouth before pulling the trigger. On falling down to the floor, his brains poured out of his head amidst the vapour and the rain.

Then a woman shot herself in the heart with his gun, leaving a pool of blood by my feet.

The rain and the mist had cleared a bit, showing a soggy landscape full of craters and rubble as I moved away from the carnage, and bodies burned on fires in a field, their faces crying for the end of humankind.

I moved down the road, wishing to wake up from the nightmare.

The city had ended, giving way to the countryside full of holes and a few new mountains. The fat man I had seen before, moved down the road muttering to himself.

“Won’t it stop raining?” he asked.

“I’m hungry,” I said.

I ate a piece of bread he gave me, even if it tasted funny.

Then the shadows came, praying aloud while carrying something resembling a saint on their shoulders.

“Alleluia,” they said.

They begged God to prepare them for his second coming after the seven minutes, when we would go to heaven or hell.

“Pray for your souls,” they said.

Their voices got lost in the wind and the rain, as they disappeared in the distance.

“Come with us,” the fat man said.

“Where?” I asked.

He shrugged. “To wait for the seven minutes.”

We sang, as vultures looked at us amidst dead bodies. Someone shouted: “Hurray to the vultures.”

“Hurray to the vultures,” we said.

The animals remained indifferent to our suffering. I missed my family and my mother.

I wanted to tell her about the terrible things happening to us but she had to be buried under the rubble, as I cried for myself, humankind and the end of life.

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