Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Current Affairs (05/31/12)
TITLE: Shattered Earth
By Ruth Neilson
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He was confident that nothing could ruin his good mood. So, he flashed her a sloppy grin—he looked forward to the time that they would be able to spend together that evening. "Hear what?"
"The militants finally got tired of making idle threats."
"Wait... What happened?" Simon's grin quickly faded as he watched Elaine pound up the steps to their landing. The militants had been making threats against the US government. Threatening that if the government didn't bow to their irrational demands, the militants would do something that no man could do: cause natural disasters.
She paused, a step below him. Her eyes were oddly bright. "It's all over the news. They are claiming that the earthquake this morning was their doing!"
"I didn’t think..."
"I know, Honey," She took the last step up onto the landing.
He let out a ragged breath before running a hand through his hair. His hand went up onto the scanner, and waited for his handprint to be read. The door clicked open and the young couple walked into their apartment. Simon firmly closed the door before turning to Elaine.
Her back was to him. As he watched she robotically began to fold their laundry.
Silence filled the room before Simon cleared his throat. "You know it's a matter of time..."
"Simon, I know, and that's what worries me. What are we going to do when the government finally bows to the militants' demands?"
Simon closed his eyes. Their demands went against everything that he stood for and fought for. They wanted every form of religion to be banned. Elaine finally looked at him; her face was a mask that couldn't conceal the worry.
"I guess we'll just have to make a decision as to where we stand and hold on to that together." He finally offered. It felt like a cop out to him, but it was the best one he could come up with. She gave him a sharp look. Her posture was tight, drawn up and defensive. And, he knew they had to do something more, but Simon wasn't sure what.
They stood in silence for several moments until an idea crossed his mind.
"Until we are forced to make that decision, we will prepare and help others prepare as well."
Elaine nodded, setting her jaw. From this moment on, Simon realized that both of them were prepping for the encroaching storm. He needed to reassure her, so he reached out for her hand and squeezed it gently.
"Don't worry, Love," He tried to reassure her, "we're in this together." He lifted her hand and pressed it to his lips. "Now..." Simon paused and looked up at the light fixture above them.
He thought that it had started to sway, but now, there was nothing. Probably nothing more than his imagination...
A low rumbled filled the air. Elaine broke eye contact as she looked up at the swaying light fixture.
The rumbled continued as their furniture bucked violently against the wall. Simon grabbed her wrist, propelling her towards a doorframe. Somewhere in the back of his mind he remembered that in an earthquake to stand in a doorframe. That was one of the safest spot to be. He pulled her into his arms as the rumble grew into a growl. She pulled away and made a run for the door.
The lights went out, plunging them into darkness. Elaine's scream traveled over the constant rumble.
And then, all was quiet once again.
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