Chapter 12

Arecibo, Puerto Rico

Event + 28 hours

An unknown’s death is sad, but detached in feeling.

The death of someone close to you is a disaster, and hearkens only the broken heart.

Your death is the end, you know no more, and it is, simply, final.

The death of all you knew is an apocalypse, unknowable, and permanently dressed in black.


Pudge woke lying atop a mountain made of steel and aluminum, a hazy sun directly overhead. He lifted his head until his chin hit his chest and looked left and then right, no other part of his body stirring. Even if he could immediately remember where he was it would be unrecognizable to him, for he saw trees under mounds of earth, and smoke rising in thick tendrils. He could smell the ocean nearby and rain on asphalt. He could hear a constant rumble and an epic silence all at once.

He laid his head back and stared at the sky. This he could not recognize either, as it was striated with half a dozen perfect lines made of straight red clouds, the sky a darker blue than he had ever seen. And here, slightly to his right he could see a hole in the sky the size of a full October moon, its edges giving way from blue to wispy white to the black of night. And there, just a little further right, another hole, a twin, a second eye in the firmament. He could feel the rumble through his back and legs and his teeth, a feeble, constant tremor. His thoughts were not yet his and he closed his eyes and slept some more.


Ithaca, NY

Event + 29 hours


His eyes were burning in the dark. He rubbed them and felt the grit under his eyelids scratch at his cornea, but he scratched some more trying to decide if he was blind or just unable to see. A large block was pushing against his left side. He passed his hands over it and felt concrete. To his right he felt a light breeze and he turned in that direction, scrabbling on all fours for a direction. He kept blowing his nostrils and inhaling more dust through his mouth, panic setting in from wont of breathing. He climbed over small mounds of dirt and grass and rebar, feeling his way. His eyes watered and cleared a bit and he wiped them with his shirtsleeve and covered them with grime again. His ears, still ringing, let him know from the sound of a whistling wind to keep going forward.

Along the way he felt a hand. And blood. And nothing attached, and he stifled a scream, knowing that all-out panic meant death. His eyes watered again and he used the inside of his t-shirt to wipe this time. Now he could see a grayish light up ahead.

Through his knees and hands he could feel the ground move, vibrating softly, a muffled sound emanating from the earth. The ground felt alive, and dying. He rose over a tilted book shelf and fell over rolling on rubble. Incessant, he kept going, following the whistle and the ghostly light. Around him noises of pieces falling from the ceiling and water running somewhere to his left disoriented his brain. Ahead the light and wind gave him guidance.

He reached a hole and scrambled through onto the limb of a fallen Cedar. He breathed and cleared his sinus and breathed again. He saw a forest of rubble all around; Upended trees with crumbled buildings and green turf mixed like a tossed salad. He turned and saw the tower that sat upon the Uris Library standing perfectly still and erect on the ground with no building under it. This incongruence, above all else, allowed him to begin to cry.

He stood up with great care and in a reverie began to circle the tower, expecting to see something holding the tower up behind it. Something logical. Anything that made sense right now would help to ground him and keep him from falling to pieces.

Behind the tower he saw only three huge holes in the sky. The holes were black and resembled an orifice to a cave or the maw of a dragon. They were equidistant and lined up, in line to eat the rest of his sanity.

Michael Livingston fell to his knees and fell apart.




Washington, DC

Event + 34 hours




“Alan, get up.”


“Alan, please, we have to get up”


“Alan, you are hurt. I can’t carry you. Do you want to die here?”





Chapter Thirteen