A strange warmth seeps through my pores, bringing with it an inexplicable sense of comfort. Its intensity grows with each passing second, until it escalates to a searing heat, threatening to arouse me from my stupor. The wet ground underneath holds onto my insensible body, nearly burning every part within its reach. The intolerable humidity pulls me back to consciousness. My eyes flutter open only to be forced back shut by a blinding light. My arms fly across my face instinctively and I stagger to my feet. The sun beats down mercilessly upon my pounding head. I sputter and spit out salty water. A sickening stickiness lurks beneath my drenched T-shirt. Beads of sweat trickle down my face, and my tongue endures a lingering saltiness. Carelessly, I wipe my fore head and wince at the subsequent shot of pain. A hideous crimson gash adorns my left arm. I feel my stomach churning at the sight of my own blood, and hastily turn away before nausea gets the better of me. Colored spots swim before my eyes as I try to make sense of my surroundings. Broken shards of glass camouflaged in puddles glisten in the sunlight. I’m surrounded by rubble. Heaps and heaps of brick red, crumbled rubble. Not a single building is left untouched by the water. Some are still submerged in watery graves. My wet hair slaps me across my face as I turn around. My mind is racing, memories of that horrible night leave my heart pounding.
Giant waves overpowering me and tossing me about, water infiltrating my nostrils and throat, my arms flailing against the force of the angry waters.
That all too familiar, impending fear of meeting a piteous end.
Memories I’d rather forget than remember. I try examining the area to calm myself down and take a step toward a rundown shop; dresses on display now soaked, lie on the slippery ground. I spot a green tunic, seemingly dry and stoop down to pick it up. A cold hand greets my grasp and a horrific scream tears out of my throat. I inch away from the body and break into a run.
I run as far away as I possibly can and sit down in sheer exhaustion, more tired from the looming fright than the cardio. Water splashes all around me. My heart skips a beat and I’m back in the waves, gasping for breath. I get back up. “It’s just a puddle”, I tell myself, but my memories are far too vivid to let me rely on my half-hearted reassurance. No matter how hard I try, I can’t remember where I am, or rather where I was when the tsunami struck. “Hello? Is anybody there?”, I shout. An eerie silence returns my call. That’s when I notice it, the silence. Not a cawing raven, not a barking dog, not even chirruping crickets.
Silence all around me.
My fear returns, I feel the air being knocked out of my lungs. I try running away again, a feeble attempt to block and negate the horrendous possibilities creeping into my head.
“PLEASE!!! IS ANYBODY OUT THERE??? ANSWER ME!!!”, my voice rises in hysterics. Not a single soul responds, and I keep running. Isolated. Am I the only one who survived this calamity? My heart pounds hard and fast at the thought, my feet drag my body forward without my conscious consent. A chilling breeze stops me in my tracks. It feels so relieving against my parched, sweaty skin. I breathe in the cool air and smell a familiar saltiness.
My relief turns to anguish. I take a step back and hear my worst nightmare rolling towards me in the distance. Fear grips me and refuses to let go.
The day turns to darkness. I hear screaming, echoes of a million feet running away from their inevitable doom, pushing each other as menacing waves overpower the horrified masses. People drowning, the air being knocked out of their frantic lungs, children wailing at the sight of their parents’ bodies being washed away like the rag dolls they cling onto, lovers staring into each others’ teary eyes, looks that signify their last goodbyes. I tap my phone hard, trying to call mom. To hear her voice one last time while I still can. No reception. I throw the useless device behind me, to the crashing waves, and run with the rest of humanity, cursing under my breadth, wishing I was more careful when I still had the chance, wondering how the whole world stayed so calm and indifferent despite years of warnings, praying that I’d be forgiven for destroying the Earth. Perhaps, I would be, seeing as I’d be paying for it with my own life.
The magnified sound of crashing waves snaps me back to reality and the sun’s rage is evident once more. I turn around and see foaming water in the distance. So this is how I’ll leave, I think. Alone, at Nature’s mercy. There was nothing left for science to do.
The repentance I felt last night, feels alien to me now, as I stand here disheveled and broken beyond repair. They knew their actions would have consequences, our ancestors were well aware. Only, each generation was sure they’d escape the wrath. This whole disaster wasn’t my own fault, so why should I be the one to pay the price? I’m not ready to die for their mistakes. I’m not eager to stay alive here either. No more running, I decide. Survival seems bleak and futile. My tired frame slumps down to the cold, hard ground with my back to the fast approaching waves. I look up at the sun. “Mother Nature, you’ve avenged yourself,” I whisper. Global warming is no longer a mere statistic in the news. Its reality, thirsty for revenge, and I, a mere scapegoat. Sharp yelps ring in the air, breaking my chain of thoughts. I look straight ahead and see a small group of people running towards me. People! I jump to my feet and wave my hands frantically, to warn them that they’re running straight into the throes of death and destruction. My arms freeze. Waves roll towards me, swallowing scurrying souls. Red hot molten waves….of lava. I hear gushing water behind me. Which way would I like to leave? Does it matter anymore? I have no choice but to die. My heartless ancestors made sure of that. Tears trickle down my face as I squeeze my eyes shut.
Ceaseless torrential downpours have rocked the southern regions of India, particularly Tamil Nadu throughout November 2015, leaving thousands displaced due to life-threatening floods. My deepest condolences to the victims and their families. The 21st century is witnessing adverse implications of environmental degradation. Climate change has never been more imperative, with Paris harboring world leaders and powering through the Paris Environmental Conference despite the recent brutal attacks on its soil. “No Choice” is a short tale of fiction, with the inherent potential to very well turn into reality.