Uncle Peter is still inside the house!

One thought swam through the murk inside her head and finally breached its forefront: UNCLE PETER WAS STILL INSIDE THE HOUSE!

Sara vaulted into action and sprung back into the house.  She was mindful that the whole thing could collapse around her at any moment, and this realization made her heart pump maniacally within her chest.  Uncle Peter had raised her as his own since before she could remember.  She had never known her father but Uncle Peter had spoken of his departed brother with nothing but glowing praise all her life, and though she would have liked to have met her father, it was Uncle Peter she thought of as "Dad."

Her breath burned in her throat with each running stride she took as she sprinted up the stairs, "Uncle Peter!"

She thundered down the hallway and pulled up at her uncle's closed bedroom door.  She pounded on it and called out again, this time with greater urgency, "Uncle Peter!"

No response.  She tried again, "Uncle Peter!"

Nothing.  She opened the door and peeked in, but realized the room was empty.

Now Sara was beginning to feel the icy fingers of fear tighten their grip around her airways.  Breathing was a struggle and the surge of adrenaline made her hands tremble.  She looked down at the doorknob in her grasp and saw that tremble, too.  Shocked, she let go of the knob and retreated from the door until the staircase opened up just next to her, at which point she turned and rocketed down them, three-at-a-time.  She built up so much momentum that she lost control of herself and she nearly missed the bottom step, however, and her heel slipped off the edge of the last stair and slammed her foot into the floor of the first level, when her leg buckled.  She cried out and fell awkwardly into the wall by the front door.

Pain throbbed up and down her left leg, to the knee, but she had no time to take stock of her injuries; she needed to find Uncle Peter.  Desperately she called out for him again, and he emerged from around the corner, holding a dish towel in his wet hands, "Yeah.  What is it, Sara?  You sound weird.  Is everything all right?"

Sara wanted to blurt out the perils of earthquakes and their impending doom should they stay inside.  She wanted to grab his hands and forcibly remove him from the premises.

But she couldn't.  Instead she froze and pondered his odd reaction.  Hadn't he felt the world warbling around him?  It wasn't as though they were tiny, imperceptible tremors after all.  What was wrong with him?!

Or maybe... what was wrong with her?

Suddenly, all of her energy left her body and she plunked down on the floor in front of the sofa.  She tried to warn him somehow, but her lips proved useless, and she could only stammer, "The -- the... earthquake."

"Oh no.  A bad one?  Where?"

"Ummmm... here?"

Uncle Peter looked at her as though she'd just sprouted antennae, "I... don't... think so, kiddo.  Are you sure you're okay?"

Sara looked miserably down at her left foot, where the nail of her big toe looked horribly mangled and gushed blood at a good clip.  She looked back up at Uncle Peter and released a flow of tears.

"I don't know," she replied.

The End

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