By: Bruce Levine
They all gathered after the storm to assess the damage. Only once before, as far back as anyone could remember, and probably in all of recorded weather history, was there so much intensity for such a prolonged period. They’d all been through hurricanes and blizzards, but this one just seemed to be so much worse. It almost seemed as if it wouldn’t stop until there was total destruction, complete annihilation.
Bethany looked out what had once been a window at the debris scatted everywhere and wondered if there were some premeditated plan to it all. She wasn’t religious, but this seemed to be like the stories of the great flood in the bible that she’d been told. It hadn’t lasted forty days and forty nights, but the destruction seemed almost as devastating. Trees, lamp posts and houses were torn from the ground and thrown everywhere. One house looked like it had been lifted by the tornado and twisted in the air like in the beginning of the movie The Wizard of Oz. If it had landed on the wicked witch it would have been an exact replica.
They had no idea of the total damage since all forms of communication were destroyed: no television, radio and no cell phones. It was a total communication blackout and they all wondered how they would manage, even for a short period, to function without the technology everyone was so totally dependent upon.
Bethany was the first to look at her smartphone which she still held in her hand; it was as if by the sheer act of maintaining the physical connection she might also maintain the cyber-connection. In point of fact, the phone almost never left her hand. There were a few people who asked her if she slept and took a shower with it, but, in the age of technology, having a cell phone in one’s hand at all times was so ubiquitous that almost no one thought anything of it. The age of technology ruled their lives and controlled everything they did.
Now the question was, for however long it took for the reconstruction, how would they, everyone else, and probably the world function?
Was this another great flood? Was it a cleansing act by the technology God? Had Zeus come down from Mount Olympus, looked around and decided to send some new God to bring back some sense of sanity to the world, sanity lost in the miasma of the binary system.
Bethany started down what had once been a suburban street of homes and now looked like a war zone of debris along with the group who had gradually gathered. It seemed that everyone was walking in a trance, semi-comatose, lost in a new reality that no one would have ever imagined could have taken place. No one spoke. No one did anything but slowly walk and they had no idea where they were going. They just walked.
An hour later the group had grown in size, but no more communicative. It was almost as if the storm had taken the power of speech from their being and hurled it, along with the other remnants of society, into a heap to be bulldozed into mounds of land-fill.
One thought finally crossed Bethany’s mind – maybe this is the end of the world. Maybe this is the Armageddon that was predicted. Maybe they’d grown so overtaken by the technology that the world’s population would never be able to function without it again and therefore it would be impossible for reconstruction to take place.
The assembled mass of people that had formed now seemed stunned into a state of suspended animation and suddenly stopped moving, as if a signal had gone off and told it to go no further.
There was no further to go.
Bethany turned and started back toward what had once been her home and now was barely a structure. There was nothing else to do.
Time alone would have to provide any answers of the future, if there were any.
Bruce Levine has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional. A 2019 Pushcart Prize Poetry nominee, a 2021 Spillwords Press Awards winner, the Featured Writer in WestWard Quarterly Summer 2021 and his bio is featured in“Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2020.” Bruce has over three hundred works published on over twenty-five on-line journals including Ariel Chart, Spillwords, The Drabble; nearly seventy print books including Poetry Quarterly, Haiku Journal, Tipton Poetry Journal; Halcyon Days and Founder’s Favourites (on-line and print) and his shows have been produced in New York and around the country. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin. A native Manhattanite, Bruce now lives and writes in Maine.