Footage. By: Brittany Zuick.
By: Brittany Zuick
The sound pierced my ears. Our screams were of pure fright, confusion, and basically because it just felt like that was the right thing to do at a time like this. As I kneeled, crouched between the corner of the room and the sofa, I waited. I heard a BANG! Then a few minutes later I would hear it again……BANG! The sound of engines rumbled through town. In the faint distance I could hear the shot of a pistol. I blinked every time I heard it, clutching my hands, for I knew that someone in the wrong place at the wrong time was now gone.
I never imagined that in the year 2051 we would be attacked. Out of all the places, Willow Town got hit. I thought about why I had agreed to house sit my parents home while they were on a cruise in the Caribbean, during me reading break. I could hear my mother now, “Well! You didn’t have to Patricia, you could have stayed on campus.” I hadn’t heard any sound for over an hour now. As I looked at my watch, I realized that I had been crouching on the floor of the Village Hardware Store for two hours and forty one seconds. When I stood up to reach the light I flicked it a bunch of times, not instinctively realizing that the power wasn’t working. I peered through the store window looking for the reassurance of passersby. I saw no one. I opened the front door and took a few tentative steps, growing more distraught with each stride, taking in the devastation around me. It was complete, utter silence. There wasn’t the sound of children frolicking around, or birds chirping, or cars driving by, Willow’s town had become a ghost town.
At the corner I saw the store manager and told him I was going to return home to contact my parents. He seemed like he was in a state of shock as he stood there, nodding at me in a remote way. I ran with my shirt covering my nose and mouth screening me from the toxic, filthy air. I dodged trees lying on the streets and only once stopped to look at a home that had the door ripped off, the windows shattered, and a portion of the house caved in. While I was franticly running I had little hope that there would be my parents home at my destination. I was relieved and surprised that everything was in tact. The door right side up, and a house still standing. Neither the phone, television, nor the lights were working when I got inside. My video camera sat beside the table. It was at that moment that I grabbed a towel, and an apple, and ventured off with the video camera. I needed to leave and find out more information. Is there going to be another attack? Who were we even invaded by? When can I get out of here? So I left, with a new memory chip in the camera, in search of people.
I tied the cloth at the back of my head and as I did this I noticed that I needed to hurry. It was dark due to the atmosphere and every hour that went by I knew it wasn’t going to be long before it was pitch black out. I walked blocks without seeing anyone, though I could smell some. The smell was distinctive. I had never experienced it before, though I knew what it was. Some areas of streets had a stronger scent than others. I captured what devastation I could see while I walked briskly. Winding corners, passing the post office, I had no reassurance, no sense of direction, and no one to comfort me.
After I had walked five kilometers into town, I was ecstatic and relieved when I saw a man and woman up ahead. I sprinted towards them. Tears of joy and relief rolled off my face. The woman threw her arms around me, embracing me like an old lost friend. Looking at her face she seemed just a little older than me, maybe twenty five, as she smiled to her husband. I couldn’t make out what the smile resembled. It was odd how they looked at one another, and then glanced back at me; I decided it meant there were three of us now, three was always better than two. Margaret, Eric and I walked ahead in search of shelter since they said their home was destroyed.
We decided that it would be best to walk to HCC, in hopes that medical care and police would be there to assist and give us answers. We reached it forty minutes later. My legs ached, I was hungry, and by now seeing the town in ruins I wanted to escape Willow Town, “Do you think there’ll be a ferry to transport us out tomorrow morning?” I asked. I was very optimistic in the tone that I said this, though inside I felt hollow, I knew that there was no way we’d be rescued that quickly.
“Well, they’d better,” Margaret said. “Honestly, we’ve been a part of history wouldn’t they want us to live and tell our tale. Besides, I can’t live in this grimy town for another second, right Eric?” Eric nodded; he seemed disconnected as he did this, gazing around at the town.
“Not to worry, not to worry. You three can sleep here and eat till the boat comes. There are two other survivors, myself and three police officers. Come in, this air isn’t good for our lungs,” the police man responded solemnly. He had told us that evening that the next morning there would be an available boat ride to the nearest island of Burrow. Burrow was approximately twenty three kilometers from land. We were all told to expect a fishing boat. We could either wait a week to get transported by helicopter, or go to the Burrow and then take a helicopter to Rupert and from there fly to anywhere in the world. Due to the dense, thick smoke helicopters weren’t able to reach land for a number of days here in Willow town. I blurted out, “yes!” before I even realized what I had said. Everyone looked at me in unison like I was insane; insane to go on a boat and have water on one side, on the other side, and not see any land. Then each of the four survivors echoed their reply,“Yes, yes, yes”, they all shouted. It was settled. At eight pm. we would set off.
I was in a pair of shorts and a sweater, I could feel the coolness wrap around my legs. There was a subtle breeze, but even so, it stung my face as the boat took off from the harbor of Willow town. The farther we travelled away from shore, the wind that was once a breeze howled, bouncing off of my ears. The driver had to slow the speed down to avoid hitting little waves that to us felt huge and rocked the boat. Then the engine stopped. I sat upright in disbelief as I watched him try over and over again to restart the boat. Ebony colored clouds engulfed the sky. When I looked up a drop of rain landed on my nose. Then one after another the rain fell. It was like New York rain, torrential. The wipers were moving a mile a minute when the boat started up again. I saw a strike of bright light. Then forty seconds past and I heard the CRACK! Then it rumbled in the distance. I was terrified; out in the middle of nowhere, on a boat, during a thunder storm. The boat plunged over white caps as our bodies jumped in the air. I was holding on for dear life, my fingers clenching the handle on the side of the boat. Eric, who had shown no sign of humanity, was praying. Heck I was too……….
My legs trembled uncontrollably. I took a few steps before throwing up my breakfast. I felt utterly sick. I had left the town I had grown up in. The homes I passed, with manicured lawns, now with smashed windows and broken doors, no longer ones I once knew. I didn’t stay to help search for people under ruins! Parent’s homes that I had once been in with my friends, laughing, playing, doing school projects, I knew them. I had known the students and the parents in Willow Town. It then just hit me, like a smack in the face. Margaret had looked at Eric, and then both glanced back at me. Susie Margaret Eathwood was her name. She had been a year older than me and had dated my brother during high school.
She changed, I changed, not just since high school, but after the war ended too. My perception of life that I was always going to be safe because of where I had lived vanished. For some reason, I can’t describe why, but I felt responsible for the lives that were lost in Willow Town during the war. I kept thinking to myself what I could have done. I had only watched what I had documented back in 2051 once. I now live in Willow Town, Margaret and Eric live down the street with their kids. Memories of this past continue to haunt me-but not as often anymore. The hollowness in my soul is slowly healing.