I have this strange feeling in the pit of my stomach and I know something is going to happen. For too long it has been quiet. We’re at war and quiet is never reassuring. It makes you believe you’re safe, but in reality, you are not. You are mere moments from death. All the time. I have no idea, why we aren’t all going insane and slaughtering ourselves mutually, instead of waiting for the silent killers. Maybe it’s only the fear that keeps us sane.
It’s getting dark as I walk down the street. The gravel crunching underneath my feet is all that can be heard and for a moment, I am lost in thoughts. For a moment, I am not afraid. For a moment, I am at peace. I hear a piano play while I walk out of the little village that I am passing. It’s soothing. It’s a little normalcy in a life that became too restricted lately. I needed to run and break free and now I am here. Tired, hungry and covered in grime. You see, I don’t have the patience to stay in one place for too long. I can’t stand being with the same person for too long before I get bored. I need a change of scenery quite often. I need my freedom. I need my independence.
My skin gets prickly and the hair on my arms stand on end. I knew it. Too quiet. Too peaceful. And that’s when I hear that now so familiar sound. Bells. The single alarm sign that tells us, that the bombs are coming. I hear the planes and then, the first bomb is going down. I see and explosion on the other side of the village and I run.
I have no idea where I am, but I run. Screams. Explosions, that are in quick succession. Where am I supposed to hide? A woman comes running out of a house. She wears no shoes, but she doesn’t care. The look on her face is one of pure horror. It’s the horror of war. Politicians deciding from safe places to kill innocent civilians, because of greed and to have more power. People die, children die. Families lose sons and their entire existences, but the war goes on. The only thing we all have in common is fear. Constant fear. We don’t want to loose, but we the civilians, we the poor, can never win.
I keep on running and looking for shelter, but safe space is sparse and I am a stranger. Who wants a stranger in his shelter? I understand them, I really do. But I just want to live through this air raid and get on with my life.
On a field left of me, I see a shadow walking down into the earth. I shake my head at my own stupidity. There must be a bomb shelter, how else could he walk down into the earth. I know that it’s a matter of living and dying now. Fear. The noise is deafening and I start running faster. I stumble a few times, but that won’t stop me from running into the field. I have to get there. Maybe it’s my only chance of survival now.
The door is about to close, but I am in time and pull it open again. A man stares up at me. If his face is a mirror of mine, he is a scared as me. He lets me in and with joint forces, we close the door above our heads. A loud rumble erupts over us. I’m still standing on the ladder and I feel it shaking. I pray to every deity in heaven to make this shelter safe. I climb down the rest of the ladder and hear a loud explosion again. I duck and put my hands on my head in a shielding manner. Nothing happens and I look at the man. I don’t really see him as a man. Not the way I usually watch men. I can’t say if he is handsome or tell the color of his eyes. It’s not important now.
The stranger and I, we walk a little further into the shelter. There is another door and we close that one too. From one moment to the next, it is silent. Eerily so. We both stand in the dark, looking at the door as if we could see through it. See what is happening on the surface. Maybe it’s just as good, that we can’t see anything. We can’t see the devastation and the destruction. We can’t see the pain in people’s eyes and we can’t smell death. I feel my heartbeat in the vein on my neck. He must hear my blood pumping through my body.
We don’t speak. We just listen and wait. In the dark. Unconsciously, we move closer together. I can feel the heat of his arm against mine. It’s reassuring that I am not by myself. He must feel the same.
My legs are starting to get heavy and my neck is getting stiff from looking up at the door. It is still silent. No noise at all. I am not sure what is more frightening. The bombs or the silence. After a while, my companion announces, that he wants to go up again. I follow him closely. I don’t want to stay behind. Be alone. At the top of the ladder, he tries to open our only way out, but he doesn’t succeed. He pushes harder and still, nothing happens. I get up too. Space on the ladder is very restricted, but maybe two can move more than one person alone. We push. But nothing moves. I have a vivid vision of one of us falling down the ladder and the other having to spend the rest of his own life with a rotting corpse. It makes me shudder and I push harder until the muscles in my arms refuse to cooperate. Sweat runs down my face.
“Stop it. Gather your strengths. We are trapped.” He hangs his head and walks down to the room where we were before. He is giving up. Why is he giving up? I need to get out of here. Then, realization hits me hard;Trapped! It resonates through my head. My worst nightmare is coming true.