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The world wasn’t always like this. Long ago the world was a whole lot cooler. In fact 10,000 years ago, during the last ice age, a massive wall of ice covered everything that today makes up Canada, and a fair bit of the northern half of the US.
As it grew it acted like a giant snow plow. One icy inch at a time, from northern Canada southward, pushing before it a giant wave of sand and gravel. This long dune would mark the end point of the ice’s journey. The far eastern remnants of this mound created Cape Cod.
Cape Cod, tourist Mecca, was nothing more than a gigantic pile of sand. Just like that stuff snow piles leave in your yard in the spring. This is an important fact to know, because when a swirling mass of heat fueled destruction blows into it at over 250 miles per hour, that sand is going to move.
If you would have been standing on the southern shore of the cape when Ophelia arrived there are several things that would have concerned you immediately. First, you would have noticed that it was raining, a lot. Then the wind would start to push and pull against your flesh.
Soon the wind would be howling, hoping only for the chance to throw your fragile body into the nearest hard surface. If by some miracle you didn’t blow out to sea or become a mangled wreck of bone and tendon in the nearest oak tree, you would notice that your flesh was melting as millions of tiny grains of sand started to impact you at almost half the speed of sound. Once your flesh had been sand blasted off your skeleton, your bones would be ground into powder and washed out to sea.
It is no surprise then that not a single human soul survived on the Cape or Islands. Most people drowned in the giant storm surge. It was only the unlucky few who survived long enough to be ground into gristle by the blender that was broken trees and pleasure yachts.
The Cape was gone. Ophelia violently erased years of hard work by map makers. In its place was a series of small islands situated in a shallow sand bar. Ophelia paused briefly as she devoured and destroyed, and then slowly turned north and began to take aim at Boston.
No one thought Ophelia would make it past The Cape; the city hadn’t even been evacuated. What had been a tiny category 2 storm was now an unstoppable juggernaut of destruction.
Boston was experiencing the stark horror of a metropolis in the grips of full on panic. People do horrible, ugly things if they think it will keep them alive for a couple more hours. Gun shots rang out as people stole and re-stole any mode of transportation they could find. Boston’s notoriously labyrinthine streets were crowded with a mass of humanity moving west.
A thousand tragedies played out on every street corner. Babies died, women were raped, and men were shot for their cars. Hell had set up a franchise in Boston. Ophelia was coming to absolve everyone of their sins.
We could do not but stare. The pictures on the television were eerily similar to the visions I had seen in my head. Later they would determine that Boston’s history of brick architecture would be its downfall. Brick buildings, brick sidewalks, cobble stone streets, all ready made projectiles for a storm like Ophelia. She would devour one building, and then hurl masses of bricks at over 200 miles per hour in all directions. Mother Nature’s Armageddon shotgun.
The entire city had been leveled. Ophelia had only paused briefly several miles off shore, and yet the fringes of her massive girth were enough to erase 200 years of human history as if she was wiping crumbs off a table.
Rain sobbed softly next to me. I reached out to embrace her, there was no awkwardness. She held me close, her head buried in my shoulder. Her entire life had just been ground into splinters by the worst storm in human history.
“Rain, I am so sorry.” Words couldn’t make it better, nothing ever would but I still had to try.
We walked outside to sit on the bare concrete behind the gas station. The winter sun was low in the horizon and yet it was still uncomfortably warm outside. Rain sat and sobbed. She removed her aviatrix helmet and let her surprisingly long hair fall free across her shoulders. I held her, and we sat.
When it started to get dark she looked up to me, her eyes puffy and raw. “Can you find them, Q?”
I didn’t understand.
“If you got enough information, about like casualty rates, and shit, could you tell me if my friends were dead or not?” Her voice had a sick desperation.
“I can try.”