July 22, 2017



Below the city’s cobblestones it shifted, restless and hungry. I could feel the tremor beneath my feet. At first I thought, Earthquake? A sinkhole? An inferno blazing underground that would yawn fully awake to demons flying loose from the fires? Again, the cobblestones rattled beneath me.

Then came the rumble like mountains wrenching free. I was certain now it had to be the end of the world. All around me uprooted trees shot through the air like giant wooden arrows of war, shattering glass, demolishing cars that only moments before were parked motionless against the curb. 

Stepping lightly but quickly over the moving stones, I spoke aloud the defeatist’s mantra, “I’m going to die.” I had no doubt of it. 

Then I managed to calm myself, suspecting, not the world’s end, but the rupture of the time-worn underground water pipes each incoming brood of politicians promised for so long would be replaced. But contenting myself with realistic possibilities was short-lived.

The clamor of cars and houses spinning in maelstroms, the screaming bedlam of the fearful and the victims buried under whatever broke free of the speeding circle and then crashed down into rubble.  

Uncle Ron told me when I was a boy not to believe the Sisters of Charity who taught us about Hell. “What kind of charity, is that, to keep a kid up all night worried the devil’s gonna come snatch him into the fires?”

Now, as the scaly creature, slobbering blood and flesh from its huge mouth, ascended from the cobblestones, I wondered where Uncle Ron’s last peaceful sleep led him to. I doubted Heaven; Hell was not a far stretch. Just because he said there was no Hell, didn’t mean there wasn’t one. And here, climbing out of the fiery pit? One of those minions of Satan? A space traveling extraterrestrial here to collect a few human beings for the return trip home?

I hid in the ruins that hours before had been St. Mark’s Church. 

And I prayed.


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