"Hey! Hey you! Miss?"

A voice, a stern voice, a man's voice. I opened my eyes from my dozing.

Had I been drinking again? No, I stopped that after‒

"Miss, can you speak? I need you conscious. Can you do that?"

A hand gripped the side of my face, forcing me to look him in the eye.

I saw a flash of hazel before I flinched away, immediately seeking out the blue sky behind him. A greyish blue sky covered in trails of long clouds, or was that smoke? I focused on the billowing blackish clouds again, smoke. Why was there smoke? A flash of blue eyes and a double zero paint brush entered my minds eye.

"The plane, the plane crashed?" My voice croaked, like I had spent the better part of the day smoking pot with my friends in the backyard. That would explain my foggy memory.

"It wasn't a plane, Miss." The man said, he grimaced, which I caught out of the corner of my eye, and looked over my head, "Can you sit up? Is that your blood? Are you injured?"

I remembered the red paint on my yoga pants. Dammit, laundry day was going to be expensive this week, I shared in the mans grimace. I lifted myself up from my prone position on the ground, shrugging off his irritatingly helpful hand. It made my skin crawl to be touched by other people.

"It's paint." I groaned to the ground as I forced my legs to bend underneath me. My right knee was stiff, and swollen, I might have strained it in a pot induced yoga session again, I needed to tone my usage down. A distant yell filled the air, its feminine shrillness was sure to be heard for miles.

"Incoming!"

The man grabbed my head and body tugging me into his broad chest as a loud explosion echoed around me. The ground rumbled beneath my feet in its fury, sending shock waves up my already weakened legs.

"Brace yourself! We've got another!" Another cry this one closer.

Another explosion.

I could smell the mans sweat, feel the moistness of his dark blue work shirt on my left cheek and ear. I wanted to throw myself away from him, but his grip around my arms and back was too strong. I ignored the fact that the sound of his racing heart beat matched my own, I struggled to breath through my suddenly constricted lungs and the uncomfortable sensation of bugs under my skin. I squirmed frantically and slipped out from under his hold, unable to bare it anymore. I used the excuse of looking around the neighbourhood in a panic, in hopes he wouldn't question my reaction. Under the guise of brushing my wild hair away from my eyes, I wiped my left cheek and ear of any sweat he had left on me. I closed my eyes, breathing in the hot, soot filled air, clearing my nostrils and mouth of his scent.

I coughed, choking on the dust unexpectedly.

I opened my eyes to the surrounding destruction.

More smoke, more dust. Buildings where flattened. A fire three houses down was raging, its flames reaching the skies, spreading its thick black smoke toward the heavens. More fires further away, each with its own pillar of smoke. Chaos. I watched people running back and forth between the destruction, some with purpose, others hopelessly standing in front of piles of rubble, kicking pieces of wood or chunks of old brick and mortar. I could see bodies being pulled from the wreckage, some of them clearly dead, others, covered in blood, clinging to their rescuers. An old Greek woman, who lived down the road from me, was sitting not far away, covered in dirt and ash, wailing like a banshee.

What the fuck had just happened.

"We don't know yet. Someone was saying it's the Russians, but I heard another man say it was the satellites falling from space. All we do know for sure is it's not stopping any time soon." The man said, I must have said that out loud, I swallowed my nausea and pursed my lips closed. He grabbed my arm, I jerked away and fell backwards into an almost crab crawl. I wanted a shower, and a good soap to scrub myself down with. He sighed in what could only be irritation, "Look, I need to go find more survivors, go to the nearest emergency shelter, give your name, get medical attention if you need it. The hospital is half gone, what remains of it is packed, but some of the schools and churches are still standing, they should have nurses and first aid on site." He stood up swiftly and dusted his jeans off, for all the good that did them, the air was full of smoke and dust, and began sprinting toward the house on fire, where more men were calling for assistance.

I sat there, listening to my neighbour wailing and another explosion in the distance. I could feel the panic welling up in my chest, the burning in my eyes. I stood up again, ignoring my knees protest and stumbled up the street. This is how a civilian in a war torn countries must feel like, I swallowed tasting dirt in my mouth. I didn't know where I was going, but I was going to get as far away from the endlessly haunting wail.

What the fuck was happening.

I might have wandered for an hour, maybe only a couple minutes. I don't know. My thoughts were chaotic, I had to stop myself twice from turning back around to close my apartment door. Rather stupid as my apartment was spread all over the front lawn and asphalt, the open door wasn't the problem, it was the lack of a door, a destroyed duplex, that was the problem.

Did house insurance over plane crashes, or whatever the fuck this was?

I didn't have a place to sleep anymore, the bitter taste of coffee filled my mouth once more, covering up the taste of dirt. I puked all over the sidewalk, I didn't know which was better, the taste of bile, or mud. I stumbled forward again hoping no one saw my moment of weakness, I needed to find a quiet spot in all of this mess, I needed to meditate or start my yoga. I needed order, I needed four walls and a roof.

I would go to my fathers house, I decided in a moment of clarity.

With a plan in mind I felt calmer, I had something to focus on other than my wet feet.

I looked down in confusion as my left paint smeared sneaker sunk into what had previously been a dry debris covered sidewalk, it was a watery mess now. The metal fence next to our large steel water tower was now scattered across the road, its posts and chain links twisted and burnt. I looked up, squinting my eyes against the sun and the harsh breeze carrying the smell of fire and road dust. The water tower was a twisted mass of burnt metal, half of it was now covering the intersection up ahead, the other half was delicately balanced over a large water filled crater, waiting for a strong enough wind to knock it down.

"What the..."

"Asteroids, that's what. Coming down from the heaven's." An old greying woman, in a long ankle length floral skirt said as she stood next to me, shaking her head as she stared at what remained of the water tower, "God's Wrath is what this is, we have to pay the price for our sins now."

I stepped to the side sharing the watery sidewalk with her. I watched her out of the corner of my eye as she signed the cross against her chest and said a prayer. I wasn't religious by any means and felt awkward watching her, like I was intruding on something private. I prepared to keep walking, intent on reaching my father.

"Come with me, girl. There's my church up ahead, we'll be safe there as long as we pray for our salvation." Faster than I thought possible, her old wrinkled claws gripped my upper arm and began to tug me around the water crater, and what fractured remains of the water tower were left standing. "It's not a proper church of course, you'll only find those in the South, but it will do." I was unable to break free from the woman's surprisingly fierce grip, no matter how obviously I tried, or loud my noises of distress became. I sighed, and grit my teeth against the feel of her dry wrinkled hands and resigned myself to being dragged to whatever church was hers, there was at least a dozen in this town. She grumbled under her breath as she trekked though the ankle deep mud and water, her skirt was getting soaked and muddy, my own yoga pants and sneakers were wet up to my knees, and every step in the mud threatened to keep my sneakers.

The Church, was Roman Catholic and its large oak doors were cast wide open. Dozens flocked inside, some of them crying silently, others clutching bandaged limbs or heads with stricken facial expressions. Everyone was covered in varying degrees of dust, soot, or mud, some of them were splattered in blood or burn marks, all of them moving with single minded focus, much like the woman holding my arm in her vice like grip. A middle aged man, was standing to the right of the doors helping people through, whispering words of comfort into their ears as they past him, patting others on the back, or sharing looks over others.

A young blonde haired girl in a blue frill dress was sitting on the third step leading up to the door, everyone was walking around her silently, some looked down at her in passing, but no one stopped. She was clutching her right arm tightly to her chest, it rested at an odd angle‒ broken, I winced in sympathy. No doubt feeling my gaze, her large hollow blue eyes stared right at me, I recoiled, children shouldn't have eyes like that. Instead, I looked at the top of her little white blond head.

"What are you doing sitting on these steps, Emily. Get into the Church where it's safe!" The woman clutching my arm snapped. She gave my arm a sharp tug, punishing me in place of the little girl, I tugged back, the old woman didn't budge.

"They're dead Mrs. Bedford. Mom's dead, Dad's dead, my little brother‒ he was supposed be at a friends, but I can't find him no more. The house was gone." She sniffed, her small face twisted in grief before it settled back into blankness. It was unnerving. A sudden twitch in life shook her body because the next second she was standing up yelling at us "It's because I kicked him isn't it! It's cause I kicked him! He wouldn't stop stealing my toys! And now the Lord is punishing me!"

"Now you listen here, Emily Shaw, this ain't your fault. Your brother is pro'lly at another church or at some school! You wait now, he'll be aroun' that corner over there all teary eyed for you!" At last the woman's grip left me, seeking out the little girls shoulders and holding her in an embrace. "You wait now, you'll see, the Lord has a plan for all of us in this mess."

The middle aged man came down the steps, a worried look on his face as he took in the crying 10 year old in Mrs. Bedford's arms, he looked down at me from his perch on the stairs enquiringly, I pretended not to see him and focused on the little girl awkwardly. I immediately began nodding my head in agreement, and twisted my face in what I hoped looked both sympathetic and understanding to the situation she was in.

I felt like a really bad actress in an intense Broadway drama, I probably looked like an idiot, I certainly felt like one, nodding my head like I was. I kept nodding anyways.

"There's another one incoming!"

I looked up just in time to see, and hear, a roaring fiery streak whip through the sky, exploding somewhere in the commercial district a kilometre down the road. The ground rumbled as a plume of rubble and dust shot up into the air. My heart beating into my throat, I watched the people around me begin screaming, some hit the ground with their hands over their heads, others began to pray, and even more scrambled to get into the church faster. I hadn't the slightest clue what I should do, duck and cover, or begin running. I stood there frozen in indecision.

"Everyone calm down! Johnson, Richards, and Madison keep an eye on the skies, everyone else get inside the church! We have some food and water and two nurses inside. You'll be safe as long as everyone remains calm!" The man standing on the steps called out, "Mrs. Bedford, lets take her inside to see one of the nurses, you too Miss."

I cringed as I followed the crowd into the even more crowded church alter room. My heart still racing from watching the fiery rock whip past me, began to speed up even faster, my stomach rolled but I had nothing more to puke. I would be avoiding the food and water apparently.

I found myself shuffling in behind the last pew and the pristine white walls to the far back corner, it was occupied by a fake dust covered tree, but I was certain no one would mind me repositioning it to the left of me. I wearily braced myself against the corner walls in a slow slide down into a seated position, where I kicked my shoes and socks off of my feet. It was a horrible habit, and my mother used to yell at me for it, but she wasn't here, and no one was watching.

I let out a long shuttered breath and relaxed, closing my burning eyes into a meditative state, ignoring the dozen raised voices, the crying children, and the sobs around me.

And to think, I thought to myself, it was probably only noon.

"Miss, is that your blood? Are you injured?" I opened my eyes, irritated at being disturbed from my doze again, it a young red haired woman in a nurses uniform, a stethoscope was hanging from her neck. Before i could reply she was already rolling up my pants looking at my leg.

"It's paint and mud" I shook my head in the negative, pulling my leg away from her, intent on closing my eyes again and ignoring the hot muggy church. I gagged at the thought of sharing the air with all of these people.

"Miss, that's not paint or mud, it's blood." The nurse wrapped her gloved hands around my thigh and began to press down on it, straightening it, "Do you feel any pain? Can you move your foot for me?"

"Janet, we need you over by the Mr. Johnson's wife, she's panicked herself into a faint again. Oh it's you, I've been looking all over for you girl." It was Mrs. Bedford, hiking up her skirts as she navigated the many boxes and bags to reach us.

"I'm assisting this young woman right now, Mrs. Johnson can stay fainted for now." With that, nurse Janet turned back to me, eye brow raised and lips pursed, "Well? Are you injured? You'll do yourself no good playing hero here."

I shook my head but before I could reply in the negative again, an RCMP officer in uniform stumbled dramatically over some of the boxes piled up near the door, drawing everyone's attention with the noise. He looked around and sheepishly waved, "I'm okay! Sorry! Nothing to see here!" He looked around searching for someone.

"Over here Eric." Mrs. Bedford called out. "And the girl can walk fine, found her wandering around in a daze near the tower crater, I dragged her here before she could fall in and drown. Poor thing looked lost." I frowned in irritation as I looked up to the old woman, I wouldn't have fallen into the crater, and I did in fact know how to swim, thank you very much.

"Possible head injury then." Nurse Janet turned back to me, her hands grabbed my head and began to feel around, I resigned myself to having no personal space until she was satisfied. "Do you have a head ache? Nausea? Any trouble seeing or dizziness when you stand?"

"Mrs. Bedford, I went down to that grey duplex on 105th street, completely flattened, the hospital asteroid no doubt," He paused as he drew in a deep breath. I froze as Janet started to reach to the back of my skull, delicately pressing down every so often. He was describing my apartment, it was the only duplex on the street, I strained my hearing to catch what he said next. "I found Emily's brother, preschooler right, Alec Shaw? Blue eyes, blond hair? Wearing a race car shirt?" Oh god. Oh god. My mouth opened in horror as I stared at the red brown stain on my yoga pants. Big wide crystal blue eyes, a game of soccer. I was the awkward giant. Alec. Alec the little boy who picked up the soccer ball and tossed it. "... chest was crushed by something heavy, didn't stand a chance."

The something soft that I had fallen on. The wet pants after I crawled out of the heap. I let out a long choked whimper. Little Alec pointing at asteroids in the sky.

I dry heaved.

I had crushed his little chest as I fell, it was his blood I was coated in, not paint. Good God I had killed a little boy. Little Emily Shaw sitting on the church steps waiting for her brother to come around the corner. I heaved again. Choking on the air.

I had two hastily gathered grocery bags, en lieu of a bucket, tossed to me by a helpful Mrs. Bedford, while Janet rubbed my still heaving back. I couldn't tell them, I couldn't let them know, I would be a murderer, my named dragged through the press. It didn't matter that it was an accident, people would want blood. I had run from my old city to escape the rumour mill, but this was worse, this was a hundred times worse. I looked around myself, at all the parents and grandparents, they would probably all attack in sudden rage if the truth came out. What could I do.

"Well, I think you have a concussion, there's some dried blood in your hair and a bump near your forehead. Nothing bleeding and you seem to be cognisant, but if you think you need it we can get a volunteer to help you to the hospital where a doctor or nurse can look at you. Keeping in mind we're in the middle of a meteor storm." She patted me on the back one last time, " What's your name and residence? We're trying to organize a survivor list."

I looked up at nurse Janet, wide eyed in fear, the first real emotion they had seen on my face in over an hour. The blood I was covered in, the blue eyes, the body in front of my apartment, would they piece it all together? Panic was welling up in my chest again, the air hot and muggy. There were to many people in my corner. They were breathing all of my air.

"Miss, calm down, you're beginning to hyperventilate. Deep breaths, dear." She held my hand, thinking it would help, it wasn't. I didn't want to be touched, I was already covered in an innocent little boys blood, I didn't want anything else even near me that was human. I backed further into my little corner, snatching my hand back from nurse Janet and tucking it behind my knees.

My knees were covered in his blood.

I opened my mouth, then closed it. I needed a fake name, maybe when I met up with my father I could figure something out, have something planned. I opened my mouth again, or should I just come out and say my real name, pretend I knew nothing about Alec? I looked at my blood covered pants. Yeah, good luck with that. What about the other children, they would be able to point me out as the adult who was playing soccer with them.

Were they even alive?

I closed my mouth.

Were they dead too?

What were their names?

"Dearie, do you not remember?" Mrs Bedford asked softly, gently. I stared at her blankly, still breathing heavily. I made a horrible choked noise as I exhaled looking up at her with tears in my eyes. "That's alright dear. You looked awfully lost walking up that street. We'll find someone who knows you. It's a small town. We'll take you down to the hospital, get you all checked out. Don't you worry about a thing, dear."

I doubted that, I had just moved here a month ago and barely left my apartment. The only people who even knew my name in this town were my landlady in Edmonton, and my father, he even bought me my groceries since I didn't own a car. An idea began to dawn on me, I could do this, I could pretend to have amnesia. I would just move to another town, escape during all the chaos, the asteroids were a perfect excuse.

I kept my mouth shut.

And dammed myself to a life of lies, I was a murder on the run.


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