See the end description for details, but for now, all you need to remember is this: This happened. Yes, it was a dream, but unlike everyone else … I have to live in my dreams; they are not just memories. So, this is not a written “story” per se. Instead, I will type this half-in story form, half from my perspective, to give you both the story and hopefully impart some of the emotion that occurred (and keep it short as it could fill an entire novel).
The Thirteen of Us
I first became aware that I was sitting on the bus when I looked out the window and saw the buildings, cars, and chaos of people zipping past us. We were racing through the streets, trying to get away from the city and the beach. I suddenly remembered that we had been on a school field trip to the beach (back in the 80’s when you could still do that), and now a group of 12 – 13 year old kids were being sped away by a bus driver trying to desperately save our lives. I don’t know what happened or why – just that, everything around us appeared to be flooding (or sinking, I wasn’t sure??).
As we reached more rural areas on a long, windy road following the coast line, I watched in terror, along with the other students, as buildings were being swallowed up by the rising water. Ships had been thrust into other ships and structures and were on fire and sinking. People were mostly gone, but many of them I had just presumed by this point had drowned. Everyone on the bus was terrified.
I felt the bus jerk at each corner. The bus driver was using no caution as she screamed at other cars and the road. I heard crying behind and me and turned in my seat to calm the girl behind me. It was the popular girl – you know, the one that every young man “falls in love with” and dreams about? Of course, she and her friends were huddled crying about what was happening and worried we were going to die.
“It’ll be alright, just calm down,” I said gently.
Through her sobs, she looked up whimpering and helpless, nodding and brushing her hair back when all of the sudden I felt everything change. For a brief moment, we were weightless. I no longer felt the rumbling vibration of the tires on the road or the bus driver screaming. I saw the terrified look in the faces of the boys and girls in front of me. I knew in an instant that we were in the air. From another perspective, I saw the bus careening over the side of a 20 fit cliff, off the road, failing to turn with the curve of the road. I also noticed that –
The bus driver was gone.
I had no time to turn around in my seat as the bus smashed into the ocean waters beneath us. Had the water not been rising, who knows how far the fall would have been? My back smashed into the seat behind me, the “popular” girl was thrown over her seat next to me and students all over the bus were thrown around in every direction.
I could see behind the bus, up on the land, a strange distortion as if some effect of light had caused a giant oval area (that looked like a “door” of sorts) to show a different colored sky (no clouds / smoke and a different hue of blue). But, hitting the water took my attention immediately away and onto the immediate and present danger. I looked out the window and saw that we were sitting in the ocean. Everyone started screaming, many froze. Fear had gripped all of us. I began screaming, “SHUT UP! STOP IT!” For a moment, their screams died down and I more calmly said, “Get OFF THE BUS, NOW!”
But, everyone just looked at me and each other, confused. I said, “C’MON! Get OFF the bus, right now! It’s sinking!” I could feel the cold, piercing water leak into my shoe as I looked down and saw that it was filling it up. One of the students asked, “How?” I yelled back, “Just open the doors and jump!”
“But, the water will get in!”
“The water’s GETTING IN! We’re going to drown. Just swim up and back to land. Do it!” The water was getting deeper.
Nobody moved. They were all so terrified and confused. I ran to the front of the bus, pulling the girl next to me along the way (she resisted, but only because she was confused and scared). I threw open the door and water started pouring in. I yelled at the back of the bus, “DO IT! GET OUT!” The water was at our thighs.
I started grabbing the students closest to me and thrust them out the door against the current, them fighting with me the whole way, while I yelled at them, “Swim UP!” I was terrified. What in the heck was I doing? Why was I doing this? What was happening? I wanted my family. I wanted help. I wanted someone – please, anyone … help me. But, instinctively as if I had lost control of my own body, I kept trying to save people. The water was at my stomach…
“I can’t,” they replied. “Yes, you can, go up and go to land, we’re close!” People were already pushing each other out the back of the bus as I grabbed more students and thrust them out the door, knowing that we were leaving all of our possessions behind. Then, I looked behind me and realized the popular girl, Dawn, was not moving. I pulled her up, “C’mon!” She fought back, facing the ocean water pouring in and screamed, “I can’t! I’m scared.” I leaned forward and whispered in her ear, “I’m sorry. I love you.” And, I shoved her with all my might, holding on as we both escaped the building pressure. At the last second, I turned and looked back in the bus and through the pouring water I could see several students still sitting in their seats, not moving, the water near their shoulders…
I couldn’t think of it, now, I was terrified. Dawn and I were in the water and sinking. I felt the water pushing into my mouth and the air disappearing. I grabbed her wrist and began swimming up until finally, she took over for herself and swam up with me. We both gasped as we reached the surface. The water wasn’t overly torrential, but it was tossing us around. Students were everywhere, looking around. I screamed, “Swim for shore,” and began pushing my way back to land.
I was the first to reach the beach. Instead of the 20′ cliff we had careened from, there was some strange stone structure, like a boat loading dock, leading down into the water at sea level. I climbed up, spun around, and started helping others up with me. When the last of the students crawled up on shore, I fell back, crying. I was exhausted and in pain. The sun was beating down on us. I don’t know how long we laid there, but our clothes were already mostly dry by the time we woke up. I sat up. Some others had already awoken and just sat there, shaking and terrified. The bus was gone. I don’t know how deep the water was, but for maybe 30 or 50 feet, I could see through the crystal clear water to the sand and the strange vegetation below. The water was eerily still as if it had never been torrential. I looked around and there was nothing. No no buildings, no trees, and no clouds in the sky. It was dirt as far as the eye could see except for the beat up, old (and overgrown) road that followed along the coast line.
There were many questions about what had happened. I took a head count: there were 36 of us. There were 42 students on the trip. I remembered the faces looking back at me through the water, terrified, crying, and alone. Had I left them? Did I kill them? In my own terror to save myself, did I abandon them? I could hear their screams as the water rose around them and they drowned, each voice as clear and horrifying as the worst sound you could imagine. By the tears on everyone else’s face, I knew that the others were also already aware that their friends had died.
After a while longer, and our clothes totally dry (except for my socks), one of the girls (Allison) stood by the edge of the beach and asked if someone should try to swim down and get our belongings. Thomas, one of the young men in the class stood up and said, “I can try.”
“No,” I replied.
“What?” Someone snapped at me.
“Yeah, why not,” Allison asked?
“Because, look around! This isn’t our world,” I said. Their bewildered faces probably looked as confused as I did. “Do you see any trees? Do you see the road? There’s nothing here. We don’t know what may be down there.” No one argued. No one responded. They had no retort or idea of what to say in return. “We need to keep going,” I finished.
“Go where,” Thomas asked?
“We need to keep following the road.” And, so, we did. Nobody had any better ideas and everyone was exhausted. We traveled for hours. Everyone was dehydrated and starving and then, in the horizon, we saw it, the top of a building!
“We’re saved,” Freddie exclaimed. But, as we got closer, it only looked more dismal for us. The buildings had been pretty badly beaten up. Vegetation and overgrowth also showed us that no one had been here for a while. We found shelter (an old beat up store) and took the broken wood and lit a fire. We discussed what a “post apocalyptic” world meant and what could have possibly happened. I finally found a newspaper that read, “New York Times”, and was from 1968, 20 years before the date we went on the beach trip. I speculated that we had passed through a portal and that perhaps, that’s why the oceans rose – someone had opened a portal under another planet’s ocean. Everyone else thought me crazy, but they had no other explanation. Somehow, I had become the group leader.
Eventually, we found a half collapsed building with the stairs leading down to its basement exposed. Following it down, we found an underground bunker – unused. It had food, supplies, water, and everything we needed. As everyone was exhausted, of sleeping on a dirty, hard cement floor, having beds and sponge baths was a welcome change. We had barely spoken and it remained so for several weeks. Finally, we decided to start looking around the city. That’s when we became aware there was “something” in the shadows and darkness, lurking around every corner. We never saw what it was, but we knew we were being stalked. It was decided that we would always stay in groups and travel together. I knew when the creatures were watching us. The others would freak out, trying to tell me, but I would always quietly say under my breath, without looking up or acknowledging whatever these monsters were, “I know. I’m trying to pretend like I don’t see them and stay CALM.” No one appreciated when I did this, but I didn’t know how else to react to this threat (and I was terrified and shaking the whole time). While we armed ourselves and lived in terror every night, hearing them crawl all over the surface above us, we did not see them. There even came a point that I wondered whether or not the “shadows” zipping by out of the corners of our eyes were not some psychological effect of what we had gone through and now being stuck in this apocalypse.
Eventually, the unpleasant conversation came up again about whose fault it was that some of us died on the bus. This cause an irreparable split in the group. Four people, two boys and two girls, went their own way, taking supplies with them. Another conversation finally came up about whether or not we should try to find civilization (we had restored radio and were broadcasting and listening for signals, all with no luck). This resulted in the typical argument of “who put who in charge” and were we going to rot or grow old, what about families, and so on. Six more people left the group. We were now down to 26 people. I opted to stay, but after all the fighting, the heartache, and the horrible silence of that dead city with no animals or vegetation in sight, even I wanted to leave. Two months had passed by. The radio signals from the others who wandered away were heard no more. Two others disappeared, in the late of the night. We eventually found their bodies, where they had jumped from one of the few tall buildings left. Another couple disappeared, but we don’t know what happened to them.
Then, one day it happened. We saw another one of those odd light things that looked like a portal. This one stood out like a sore thumb. It was pitch black in the middle of a brown, sunlit ex-park. We approached, but the closer we got, the more we felt a “pull”. I ordered the group to stop and threw a stick at it. Sure enough – the stick never hit ground. It was sucked through. Returning home, I began tearing apart all sorts of electronics and with about 50 engineering books open in front of me built the first “drone”. Using remote control and a long wire, we sent through the drone. I had been right. This was a door to another place in space and time … dimension … I didn’t know … but on the other side we could see a black hole and our sun being slowly sucked into it, debris all around. After some research, arguing, and theories, I finally came to the conclusion that we were lucky it opened so far away from the event horizon and was probably stuck there in time and we would forever see the other dimension with the universe dying.
But, we learned something else. The portal interfered with certain broadcast radio frequencies. So, we worked together, with more books and a lot of fighting and failure, and set up a machine to help us identify when we were near a portal. No one wanted to be sucked into the darkness and we were all terrified. It was crude and fortunately, required no power (as all we had was the propane generator in the bunker), since it seemed like the portals put out enough energy that they turned on the radio and we could see the specific radio frequencies were playing the same static sound.
Finally, the group fought one last time about control, who was in charge, and the like. This time, 8 more people banned together against us. They wanted everyone to leave with them. We just weren’t ready. They scoffed and left, taking what they could. We heard their screams that night, banging on the door and begging us to let them back in. But, we heard something else, too. It was a terrible, horrifying bellow with a high pitched screaming sound on top. We listened as “the monsters” drug the kids back away from the shelter and their screams eventually, stopped. It was too much. Finally, I said, “There’s 13 of us now.”
“What do we do?”
“We leave here.”
“But … but we fought to stay and be safe. We’re safe down here, aren’t we? I mean, aren’t we?”
“This is no way to live.”
Another girl, Grace spoke up, “But … I don’t … I don’t want to die. Please!”
“You WON’T! I guarantee it.” I went on to explain my plan. We knew where there was a bus and diesel. We had even tried to start it a few times after we first went out – and although it needed fuel, it worked. We would leave during the day, well armed, and stay together. In fact, we made a pact, that from now on, we would never leave each other, go out on our own, or let ourselves be separated. As long as we were together, we were safe. There were far fewer of us now and if we didn’t leave soon, we would become easy targets for the “things” out there. We promised to never speak of who’s in charge or discuss whose fault was whose. I made everyone prick their fingers and make a blood pact. I don’t know why, but it seemed like the thing to do. The plan was to get to California and see if “we” were there, or if we were in another dimension already. Obviously, we couldn’t go back home. That portal was flooding out water into the ocean of this planet and that meant that everything (as far as we knew), had flooded. We even wondered if some idiot had opened a portal to the bottom of the ocean in another world and that’s what flooded ours? Unfortunately, we would never know.
Two of the girls used the sewing machines and cloth that was down there to make all of us floor length, hooded robes out of the black material. In case we found ourselves trapped in the sun, we needed shade and in case we came across bandits, we needed to make sure they couldn’t tell we were children. A lot of planning, stocking up the bus in short runs back and forth during the day and in a week’s time … we left the safety of the shelter. I even clicked the radio signal off. No one had ever answered and for all I knew, no one ever would.
We traveled South, first, seeing the ruins of Washington DC. Then, we headed West. I forced us to go North as I didn’t know the conditions of the bridge at the Mississippi and didn’t want to get “stuck” anywhere. And, we made it to California in a week and a half (remember, we had to also “learn” how to drive). We went to where our homes should have been. We found a school yearbook with strange and missing faces. This was not our world. It looked like ours might have had there been some world-ending event, but this one, wasn’t ours. We set out for Texas (why? we didn’t know). Somewhere in Nevada, our radio machine turned on again. That’s when we got the idea to go check it out. If everyone was dead in this world, we needed to find somewhere where there were still people. This time, the portal didn’t look black. It looked like the Nevada desert. We used a drone, but saw no cities or buildings and gave up.
This happened again and again. We never discussed it. We didn’t talk anymore. Each of us had found someone to sleep close to at night (that made us feel safe), but we were always together and in a group, well armed. We never encountered those creatures, either. Every night – every single night I had nightmares about the screaming voices on the bus.
More happened. We encountered a species not human that was kind to us, but suspicious. They learned our story and while they believed us, we could see that they wanted to use the portals for some nefarious purpose. I explained that if they attempted to create their own … obviously, others also thought they could control it and the consequences are clear. We even explained that if they opened one closer to a black hole, what would happen. We encountered a race of humans from far in the future who found us too unintelligent to “permit” us to integrate into their society and would keep us as outcasts (we felt like “pets”). We refused and they thought we were planning on bringing back an invasion force of more stupid humans, so they came after us. For all their intelligence, they were way naive. We also found one door that either lead back in time to the era of dinosaurs, or to a world where dinosaurs still existed. We didn’t know since we were kids and could only make up stories as we went along.
And, that’s where it ended. Lost, alone, and afraid. We had nowhere to go, no home, and nobody wanted us. We were the last people left alive from our world (that we knew about). We’d never know about our families, friends, or anyone else. We would never get to see high school, play, or smile, ever again. All we had, was each other. The thirteen of us.
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed.
Brief Introduction / Description of What you’re Reading: As a severe narcoleptic, I have the unfortunate side effect of being conscious during most of my dreams. This means I am technically awake when I dream. I see, feel, hear, and sense everything that is happening as if it is really happening. The brain cannot distinguish reality from fiction since the brain’s job is to translate a world of molecules into actual shapes and sounds. It can therefore, recreate all of those from scratch, including every sensation and accompanying emotion. So everything you are about to read, “happened” to me and I will spend the next several weeks dealing with the emotional fallout, good or bad, as I readjust to reality. You can read more about my dark take on narcolepsy, here.