We have to squish together more with the strangers that also are helpless. The fire is so close to engulfing us all. The tornadoes seem to enlarge in a blink of an eye. And then I see a lightning bolt strike a person.
Everything gets more chaotic. Fire suffocates us. People go up in flames. They try to run away from the fire, but we are all so close that if they ran near us then we’d all go up into flames. So the craziest thing happens. Strangers throw the people up in flames back into the fire, so that they stay safe.
“Oh my! This is the end!” Aspen screams.
People get picked up by the tornadoes and fly into the flames. They land on other people in our big crowd. Some of the flying people try to catch the ones that are being thrown around like rag dolls by the tornado. So many people are dying.
Out of nowhere I feel this force push me down. Someone lands on my head and someone else lands completely on me. Screams fill the air for a split second then there is silence.
When I am able to ignore the pain I’m experiencing, I force myself out from under the stranger on me. I see that everything has stopped. No rain. No wind. No tornado. No lightning. No fire. No chaos.
"Wow," I say.
“Julia! Are you alright?” Henry asks as he pushes himself up.
“Yes, I’m fine. Aspen?” I say.
Everyone, okay not everyone, but all those who are still alive, stands up and takes in their surroundings. People shout the names of their loved ones and it is back to chaos. People push others in the panic of trying to get back to their family. I get knocked around a bit until Henry is at my side and he squeezes me to him, protecting me.
When the commotion settles, Henry slowly releases me as he looks me over.
“We need to take care of those burns,” he says.
“But how?” I ask.
“We will find a way.”
I look around for Aspen and find her walking towards us. The tornadoes have completely destroyed the ground. Trees are burnt to ash and out of the ground. There is no sign of a forest or grass. The sky is still gloomy. And we stand in mud.
"Beauty, huh?" Aspen says.
"It's not like the grass won't grow back," I say defensively.
"Still, there is no beauty," Aspen says.
Henry is to my left and Aspen is to my right. I don't look at either when I talk. "The fires, the lightning, the earthquakes, and the tornadoes are beautiful because of the power they have. They are so powerful and it scares everyone. It is amazing! And tornadoes and lightning and earthquakes are all natural disasters. They are natural! Only the things within nature create them. They are so interesting. It is just wonderful being able to experience them."
"But they weren't natural."
"I still got to experience it. The real ones are probably better than this. But at least they seemed real."
"You're so strange, Julia. I never really noticed before."
"Nobody really knows me. Not even Cort."
"I'm sure Cort does, I mean he se-"
I cut her off. "I don't express myself. Even though he can see my past actions, he can't see my thoughts."
"Hmm, okay. I guess you're correct."
"So you going to go find your family?"
"Yeah. Do you want to come? Your parents aren't anywhere near us."
The earth shakes. This is the biggest earthquake I've experienced, and even though I don't know much about earthquakes, I'm sure this is the biggest any one of us has experienced. Henry pushes me to the ground, which doesn't take much because I was already falling down. But he made it so that I landed on him instead. Aspen is down on the ground beside me after another second. The ground rumbling under us makes me want to laugh for some reason, but I just lay there with a blank expression. Aspen looks scared. I've never seen Aspen so scared. I never have been close to Aspen and Cort much. They are nice and all, we just don't talk that much. Seeing Aspen so frightened makes me feel bad for her.