Soon as the sky was clear again, Orion's belt flashed with only two lights out of three, which made me wonder, "Was it a yes or a no?"
Orion normally answers with eunanimous decisions but tonight I had to play by majority rule. I had doubts but I had no time to question science stuff, so I went out of my cell and straight to the hallways.
There was a wide staircase at the middle of the hall and narrow ones on each opposite end. My eyes hardly made anything out of the darkness. All I heard were the whirring air conditioning systems and gentle footsteps, which were probably from a different floor. The left wing smelled of fresh-out-of-the-dryer fabric. Without hesitation I hurried to the right staircase. There were voices coming from below and happened to get louder. I drew back, nearly squealed as an elevator ringed and opened near me. I ran upstairs to hide from the forming crowd, checked if there was anyone, and crouched at the highest step where I could still stealthily peek.
A man and an old woman stepped out of the elevator and went into one of the rooms. Meanwhile, a guy walked noisily with his flip-flops away from my view.
My hairs tingled. That annoying way of walking was easily recognizable. It was my brother's! For all I know, he was supposed to be down at the first floor, making coffee as he spent an all-nighter. As soon as he reaches my room, my plan is just minutes away from failing.
"Stupid Cyrus." He said. "The Wi-Fi is still *worse* at the lobby."
I went downstairs as quick as possible and decided to make a risky diversion. I took off my left slipper and aimed above him so it would land in front of him. I flinged it and it went in between his feet and stopped on top of them. I grimaced. Still, it managed to stop his tracks when he accidentally kicked it farther away from him. I used the opportunity to use the elevator and increase my chances of escaping.
I kept silent. I was afraid I would jinx the moment if I made a single noise, but I was fidgeting at the thought I was so close to getting out of here. I'd been here for so long, I feel like I'm starting to smell like the patients who never returned. I still held my guard up, though. Surprises could just be around the corner.
In the middle of deciding the first thing I'd do once I get out, a moderate shake got me off balance. In fear that I might get trapped inside the elevator, I instantly stopped at the nearest floor. My heart was still racing when I got out. That was it. That alarming tremor would bust my cover. I began to accept the fact that tonight won't end well, but despite the small number of people around me, nobody seemed to notice the shaking. Shouldn't there be at least a few who felt that earthquake?
Distracted again. It took me a few seconds to realize the plan could still go on and so far I've been fortunately avoiding all the threats to my escape, including the people on this floor who didn't bother about me. But, it probably won't be long before my brother's hot on my tail.
The floor was brighter than the previous. I was probably two floors away from the lobby. I could act normal and take the stairs or use the elevator on the opposite side of the hall. Either way seemed safe to take. I took the risk and went through the stairs. A couple of nurses were too caught up in their conversation that they ignored me as I passed by. I was giddying with excitement as my eyes gleamed at the last flight of stairs. I took a step for it when a hand grabbed my arm and pulled me back up.
"What are you doing!" My brother said.
"Um, what does it look like?"
He scratched the back of his head then wiped his face. I thought I could slip away but he got me by the collar.
"Mama and Papa told you to stop pulling these stunts!"
"Yeah, but you didn't tell me that."
"Pilosopo!" (He meant I was being a smart aleck.) "Let's just go back and I won't tell them about this. Oh and by the way this is for tricking me." He slapped the back of my head with my slipper. "You made me waste five minutes of studying." He gave it back.
As he dragged me away another tremor occurred. It lasted for a short few seconds that was immensely greater than the previous that this time I fell flat on the ground.
"Cyrus!" My brother said. He helped me get up and shot me a concerned look. "What happened? D-did you hit your head? Does anything hurt? Tell me!"
"Y-you didn't feel that?"
"The earthquake! It's getting stronger and more alarming. How come none of you are noticing it?"
He scratched his head again and wiped his face. "You do know I'm smart enough to know you're clever antics to escape the hospital so stop it. You've made me too worried in one night."
"This isn't one of those!"
"Come on. Yeah, you're diagnosed but not with lunacy."
I groaned and pulled my arm out of his grip and ran downstairs. I knew he was chasing me--his flip-flops said it--but I didn't care. I was dead serious an earthquake was happening. Escaping would just be a bonus of evacuation. I'd rather have my parents berate me for escaping a hospital a third time than die in an earthquake.
I rushed to the exit, not minding the awkward stares people were giving me nor the sound of my brother calling security for help. I squeezed through people entering the building and ran a few more meters away past the sidewalks then hid behind a tree. My brother and the guards should be catching up within seconds.
For all the times I relied on stars in making choices, this was the only time I regretted it. My escape failed, an earthquake's happening and now my brother thinks I'm crazy. Orion's belt was always the most reliable but now I'm thinking maybe I should have trusted on Crux instead.
On second thought, maybe I made the mistake. Weren't there only two lights out of three? How's that possible?
I paused that thought and wondered shouldn't I be found by now? I sneaked through the bushes to take a peek. Nobody was following me. I went out into the sidewalks.
"Hello?" I said. No response "Kuya Paul?"
The earth apparently responded. This time, ruptures formed on the streets and windows shattered. I'll be darned if no one still noticed that. I couldn't see what was happening to the building but the sounds were unmistakable. Every crash and boom echoed within my chest. I cowered for so long but I ignored my numbing feet. Finally the shaking gentled down before stopping. Hopefully that was the last of it.
I looked up and the sight was unbelievable. The building was crumbling and looked like ruins. I admittingly hated these facilities but seldom to this point. I froze for a while, wondering if all this was real. Then I remembered I have a brother in there too. I went to the collapsing building, ignoring the risk.
I was worried that there was probably a lot of trapped or injured people inside, and I was afraid to find my brother one of them. When I got inside, I was darned. No one still looked like they noticed anything. Nurses were still working, not noticing the pile of rubble beside them, guards watching around in case some trouble happens, which already did, and the people went on normally. Then I saw my brother, talking to a doctor.
"Paul!" I said. He turned to me with a smile I never see him do like he forgot my recent mischief.
"There you are." He said "I was lookin' all over for you Antares."
"Yeah me too. Can't you see this place? We have to get out before this completely collapses on--! Wait, what did you call me?"
Then in a blink of an eye, I thought I saw him turn into a different person. I staggered back and fell on the ground.
"Woah, you okay? C'mere. Stand up."
"What's…happening to you? You're talking funny."
"What? D'you just hit your head or somethin'? Nothin's strange with me."
"No. This isn't you! G-get back!"
I walked away from the guy who seemed like my brother. As I looked for a weapon to defend myself with, I saw the nurse flicker into a different person too. The guard did the same. Soon everyone was becoming someone else but after a rapid blinking, their appearances stayed altered. They wore different clothing and styles I've never seen even on TV. All of them looked nothing like who they were. For a split second, I felt a heavy thump in my chest after a sudden thought of what if I wasn't myself anymore either. I checked my clothes and my vague reflection on the nearest unbroken window. Apparently I was the same person, which slightly relieved me. I turned back to the altered crowd, pointing a broken piece of wood.
"What and who are you? No more jokes. What's happening!" I said.
No one responded. I was about to open my mouth again but a ghastly scream left me agape. I glanced toward its direction but no one was there. Another scream followed and I caught a glimpse of it. The people were turning to a wispy form from head to toe before being drifting like smoke toward the sky. All of it happened in a blink of an eye.
All chaos broke loose when another powerful earthquake shook the building. It didn't last long but once it stopped, I had a feeling of lightheadedness almost as if we were rising. I looked outside and saw nothing but stars instead of roads. We were rising in the air! There couldn't be a tornado this strong. My brother's books never said it could uproot buildings. I tried to keep standing but the floor was leaning to different angles. I looked back at the people and one by one they were dissipating into the air. I saw my brother blink back into his true appearance. I chased after him, falling down every three steps. He was becoming more ghost-like than human. I tried to stand but I found out I fell onto shards of a broken window. My knee was cut but despite the excruciating pain, I limped towards him.
He looked back. He saw my wound and worriedly ran to my aid.
"Cyrus! You're knee is bleed--!"
And in less than a second he drifted like wailing smoke towards the sky. I was horrified. Was he okay? Where did he go? What is happening? My mind was aching out of all these chaos happening at once. People were becoming someone they're not, the building was uprooted by some immense force and now my brother just turned to smoke and disappeared. I had so little time to process everything and so far I understood one thing: none of these should be possible. All of the people around me were almost gone. Soon only four were left, then a couple, then no one. I was alone and I had no idea how to get off of this ride.
I thought I could take a breather so I sat by a fixed window. I inhaled deeply, which managed to clear my head by a bit. I looked out. I was noticing how the ground was starting to disappear but then I also noticed that there were other structures flying to the sky from afar. I saw a car, a stop sign, a tree and a lot else. It was like the whole town was being sucked into the sky. But for something to pull a whole town, what could it be? I haven't read enough of my brother's books to know what.
I suddenly had a crazy idea. I opened the window and put my head through. I looked above and gasped. An enormous translucent rift was drawing everything through its center, including the smokes of people I saw from other buildings. It was spinning gently from my point of view but for something giant to be noticeably spinning, it had to be moving in an incredible speed. I tried to focus on the rift even more and noticed it was showing a reflection of the town. As we neared the puncture through space, everything was becoming red. I didn't know what it could mean but hopefully not a tragedy to be shown in the news.
In a short moment, I was finally faced before the gigantic opening in the sky. I held on tight. I don't know what exactly lies ahead but I know for sure I was about to discover the impossible.
This is my first draft of this chapter. The story is initially titled "The Heaven's Premonition". I'd love to hear your comments and reviews, especially detailed ones, because I really want to develop this more. Hopefully you would also comment on my current title! Thanks in advance!