From the Beginning: The Old World

FROM THE BEGINNING

PART I – THE OLD WORLD

BY

TIMNA KURTZ

All rights reserved. Copyright © 2016 Timna Kurtz

 

Reproduction in any manner, in whole or in part, in English or in other languages, or otherwise without written permission of the publisher is prohibited.

 

Translated from Hebrew by Lauren Rozenman

 

Contact information:
[email protected]

 

 

Chapter 1

The old world was washed away by waves of floods.

After decades of repeated warnings of global warming, melting glaciers at both poles and slowly rising sea levels, it finally happened.

Pestering persistent rain started coming down somewhere in the Scandinavian region, spreading to Europe, and then to the rest of the planet. Even the most barren of deserts, that had received the first drop of water they’d seen in ages, were completely submerged in water, taking them back to their creation state of a sea’s sandy floor, just like millions of years ago.

Everything happened just as the apocalyptic scenarios predicted: coastal cities vanished first, and the first level was entirely covered with water. In the beginning, humanity was prepared. Shelters were built on mountain tops, and people crowded together on the world’s lower peaks. But, many did not survive the sudden lack of oxygen or the frost they encountered at these heights.

Slowly, the lower peaks were also covered with water. Many decided to keep on crowding onto large boats that were sailing the seas with the hope that, with time, the waters would settle. In retrospect, that was the right choice.

After a month, two-thirds of the earth’s land was covered, engulfed by the newly-forming great ocean. At this point, the rain had ceased, and for a few days, we were positive that we were finally saved. Soon the sun would come out to dry everything, and the water levels would decrease—but no. Storm clouds covered the skies, and in place of the long awaited sunshine, hurricanes and typhoons were striking all over the sea. 

Soon the remainder of humanity was facing a new nightmare. Those who didn’t perish from the cold or drowning were carried away by terrifying winds. Even the snow on the highest peaks did not withstand the fierce winds, and powerful avalanches swept a great many helpless human beings with them into the deep. Together with the powerful winds, the seas raged, and huge waves tossed and turned the ocean and our boats that, by now, seemed completely small and defenseless—that only by sheer miracle they withstood the horror.

 

The seas raged, and the winds blew for many days to come.

Only after eleven nearly impossible to bare weeks, the sun came out again. Stunned and in awe, we stood basking in its pleasant warmth. No one could budge nor did anyone try. Who could guarantee that the sun wouldn’t disappear again when it sets that evening and darkness covers us all? Shaking and fearful we waited for the next dawn. Would the sun shine again…?

As night drew in, the rain clouds disbursed, and we were able to once again see, for the first time in many long and stormy weeks, the sky dome and stars canopy glittering above us. A moon sickle, foretelling the beginning of a new month, was smiling at us from above. The time that had lapsed since this terrible ordeal began made it difficult for us to accurately calculate which month it was.

 

As first light rose from the east, sighs of relief were heard all around.

Shattered cries of joy were bursting from the mouths of those who could no longer contain themselves. The air which stayed trapped in our lungs since the sun rose and set about a dozen hours earlier, all the anticipation and tension contained, was now released as the new dawn came and the first rays of light were slowly spreading across the silvering sky. The sun shone with all its glory after the long and nerve-racking night.

Heartbreaking cries and joyful merriment were intertwined. No man could stay indifferent in the presence of this most ancient spectacle which is etched in the human race’s collective memory.

We stood there, huddled on a piece of a bare rock for three days straight—each morning awaiting the return of the sun. We carried a prayer in our hearts that this miracle would be repeated, but in fact, we all dreaded tomorrow.

During the hours of daylight, we stood there, basking in the warm light of the sun, devoting ourselves, with great pleasure, to tanning our skin, with no sunscreen to protect us. No one cared at this point about the devastating effects of UV rays. At nightfall, we would once again settle into the lifeboats, attempting to rest our legs and trying to sleep a little—but sleep was far from happening. All around, whispers and prayers were heard, barely escaping dry, chapped lips. All we wished for was that the sun would keep on shining and start drying the water. Four days after the downpour stopped, our prayers were answered. At first light, much to our amazement and joy, we noticed the water levels were starting to go down.

Wondering if we were observing the work of a hidden hand, an imaginary giant pump pumping the waters somewhere. As the hours went by, the sea levels were diminishing in front of our very eyes.

By noon, about three meters of mountain rock layer was revealed, uncovered by the descending waters. Half a meter in half an hour we quickly calculated. We presumed that at this rate, land mass would be revealed very rapidly; but in light of the catastrophe we experienced in the past weeks, no one dared to predict an exact timing. Indeed, the next disaster was just a pace away…

* * *

Chapter 2

But let me regress a few weeks back.

When the water rose, flooding the coastline of the Mediterranean basin, we were still under the impression that we had found the perfect solution: at the Straits of Gibraltar, being the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, an enormous dimensioned dam was erected.

During the first few weeks it seemed that the great dam would stand erect; but, once again the most advanced human technology could not withstand the powerful force of nature. The water, which had already covered Spain and Morocco, was now spreading beyond both sides of the straits and over the dam that stood at the mouth of the straits. At first, the water flowed in small streams, as they do when the snow melts at the beginning of spring, but in a short time the water’s volume became bigger and bigger, and the paths of the streams grew wider, turning into raging rivers, flowing from every possible direction. Instead of a barricade, a flood stopper, the Gibraltar Strait turned into a bottle-neck, to which vast amounts of sea water wanting to breach all stops with its mighty force, giving in to nature’s law of communicating vessels.

When told of the dam’s imminent collapse, true panic broke across the Mediterranean basin. Ports along the shores were filled with boats waiting to take in the refugees. It was crystal clear to all, that once the dam collapsed, we would have but a few hours before the waters would strike with a force so powerful, the likes of which the human race had never seen before!

Try to recall the famous scene from the movie “Titanic,” where hundreds of people were running around in a desperate attempt to find a lifeboat before the ship sunk into the deep; multiply that amount of people from hundreds to thousands and millions even!—and you will have a clue as to the chaos happening all over. Or, imagine a crushed ants’ nest and all the millions of little ants scattered about, possessed, trying to find their way back into their nest which is no longer there.

 

On that fatal day, my child was not with me. All my attempts to track him via satellite or telephone failed. In my heart, I knew that my chances of ever seeing him again were almost nonexistent.

People were frantic around me, trying to save themselves, dragging their bags and suitcases, well aware that most of their worldly possessions were about to be washed away. My own family tried to drag me with them, but desperation paralyzed my legs. What was the point of saving myself if my child was not with me? As it was, the chance of any of us surviving was slim to none. Everyone knew it deep within, but no one dared voicing the obvious. I confirmed by looking at my family; they could go on without me.

“I’ll catch up with you later on. I have to try and find Idan, or I’ll never forgive myself. Save room for me o.k.?!” I winked, trying to cheer them up, forcing a smile. I could hardly bring myself to hug them all. The crowd, moving like a stampede, did not enable anyone to stay in one place, and my family was swept away. I was left alone, struggling to make a path to the side of the road, where the human tidal wave wouldn’t carry me with it. My meager possessions that were packed in two suitcases and a backpack were now reduced to one backpack, but even that turned into an unnecessary burden when thousands of people headed for the harbor were bumping into me. From all around, frantic civilians fleeing for their lives were pushing me. I stopped and lowered the backpack from my shoulders, pulling out my little travel bag. I always knew how to pack for survival, and when I traveled, I packed only what mattered most to me. I raised the travel bag over my head and hung it diagonally on my shoulder. I left the backpack behind.

 

As the crowd moved west towards the harbor, I was trying to move north—the main objective was to leave this never seen before human flight route! All I wished for was to reach an open space where I could sit quietly to mourn my beloved child, and wait for the waters to take me too.

On my way out, not only was I pushed, shoved and taking many blows, now I was getting swears and foul language from impatient people as my opposite direction was interrupting theirs.

But I couldn’t care less about that anymore. The only thing I felt at that moment was the excruciating pain of losing my child. Blind to the direction of movement or the punches thrown at me, I kept on moving forward toward my destination, all the while tears streaming down my cheeks and my chest being torn from the inside out by my heart.

 

I stumbled to the ground more than once, almost being overrun by the crowds, but I managed to make it to the side of the road. I looked around. My eyes caught the harbor’s administration office sign. Without thinking twice, I ran towards the building’s entrance. I assumed that the communication devices inside of the harbor’s administration office were still operational, surely they’d let me use them. But, as I tried to open the entrance doors, they were locked! Filled with rage and frustration, I forcibly rattled the entrance doors’ cold metal handles. When my attempts failed, I stopped for a moment, pulling myself together, trying to come up with other solutions.

The heavy entrance doors were framing large glass panes. Looking through them I could see there wasn’t a living soul inside. Who is the fool that bothered to lock these doors? I wondered.

I pulled a bottle of water from my pack, and mercilessly shattered the entrance doors’ glass. Carefully, I reached inside releasing the inner lock.

The anxious and panicking voices faded behind me when I walked inside. Silence welcomed me as I walked through the entrance hall and corridors. Indeed, the place was empty and deserted. Without hesitation, I raced up the stairs to the top floor, to the control tower, where the communication radios and telephones were. Here too I was welcomed by a locked door; again, I had to shatter glass panes to enter. Much to my surprise, the place was buzzing with telephone rings and cries from the radio devices. Red lights were flashing all over the control panel.
At least they didn’t power off the devices like they locked the doors
, I thought to myself as I sat in the radio operator’s chair. Only now I was dizzy. How was I to operate these devices? It’d been years since I worked as a telephone operator for the emergency and rescue services, and the technology had changed a great deal since then. The equipment was all new to me, and I couldn’t recognize these sophisticated devices.  Tears of despair filled my eyes.

I leaned back onto the chair’s padded headrest and burst into tears. What was the point of all this? If only I’d insisted that my child stay with me during the first few days when it started to rain! But, his father was adamant about taking him to Europe on a family vacation, insisting the rain would be most likely to stop soon. When I had demanded they come home, he rejected my request claiming they had a pre-arranged shelter to go to. Only after insisting profusely, he told me the location of this secret shelter. Alas, during our last conversation, he told me that before they managed to evacuate to the shelter, the whole place was flooded and covered by water. The line had static and noises that made it almost impossible to hear what he was saying, to a point when all I could understand was that they had changed their course of evacuation to one of that country’s larger ports. I knew that the distance they had to cover to reach that port was great and the odds of them reaching the awaiting boats was slim. Maybe they’d reached it anyway? A glimpse of hope was awakened in me once more. I sat up. A strange vibe from somewhere tickled my spine. I took a deep breath and all of a sudden I knew how to operate the devices in front of me, as new knowledge rushed into my brain. My hands, moving out of my control, were operating the elaborate equipment.

I didn’t stop to wonder where all this knowledge suddenly came from; I simply let it guide me on my quest.

I switched channels, one by one, calling repeatedly into the radio and telephone mouthpieces for help. At the most part, all I could hear was white noise, which made it clear to me that the listeners or the devices on the other end of those lines were getting scarce. Even when I’d managed to establish some contact one way or the other, I was answered by a frantic voice that there was absolutely no time to check the lists of refugees on the boats right now, and then the line was rudely disconnected. I tried to dial my ex-husband’s cell phone every few minutes, but all I could hear was a busy ring, and it dawned on me that the line was no longer in service.

The more the time passed, there were fewer and fewer blinking red lights on the control panel. Slowly, silence took over the harbor’s control tower. The telephone rings died one by one, and the clicking of the radio faded into a complete silence. Again and again, I pressed the call button of the radio communicator, desperately calling out to anyone who might hear me—but the same white noise was all I got in response.

My heart plummeted. Despair squeezed the last drop of hope out of me, slapping the horrific reality across my face. I started sobbing again, my legs barely carrying me as I ran down the stairs. Because of my crying and blurry vision I tripped more than once, nearly falling down and breaking bones. Blinded, I stumbled again and again, grief-stricken, somehow finding my way to the building’s entrance.

By opening the shattered glass doors widely, I was faced once again with the turmoil of the crowds in the harbor. With the last of my strength, I walked towards a sign pole in front of me. My vision was clouded by tears, but the closer I got, I realized it was a road sign, still standing erect, not brought down by the stampeding herds of people. Exhausted, I hugged the cold metal pole as if it was my own child, and like the rain that kept on pouring, I slid down the pole with the sign that read “Dead end Road!”

 

I sat there, sobbing with the rain, hugging the road sign as the crowds passed me by, observing the terrified, despaired and fearful look in their eyes. At times, it seemed as if this human stampede was coming to an end and the number of people was reducing rapidly, but after just a few minutes, a new wave of panicked, shouting and shoving people, trying to save their lives came along.

 

It was clear and known in advance that there wasn’t enough room to contain that amount of people—but it was the last remaining shelter, and no one was willing to pass on the chance that they may still find a place on one of the last remaining boats in the harbor. No one but me of course.

In order to catch up on the status of the water levels or the progress of the collapsing dam in Gibraltar, all I could do was listen once in a while to the calls of the crowd, shouting the latest updates. The last update was that it would take no more than an hour for the dam to collapse, which leaves about two more hours before the waters flood the Mediterranean basin, overflowing it completely.
Three hours to the end of the world
, I thought to myself.

But my world had already ended.

Idan
[1]
, I named him, my beloved child. I believed he was born in a better era, an era when love, peace, and brotherly love filled the world. I believed he would be a part of mankind’s new age. Alas, instead of peace, brotherhood or love, water engulfed the world and the “Great Flood Era” took my son with it.

A hand on my shoulder woke me from my sad pondering.

“Grace?! What are you doing here? Why aren’t you on a boat like everyone else?” Edward’s worried expression appeared before me, his eyes reflecting his love for me, even after all these years.

“I…I…” I muttered, confused. I tried, in vain, to explain that there was no point in saving my soul, now that my darling Idan was taken and no longer with me, there was no use. The words jumbled in my mouth, as I was still wondering where the hell he came from.

“This is Idan, my son,” I pointed at a photo I took out of my pocket. The rain drizzled on the photo, damping the face of the boy in it. “I can’t find him anywhere. He was with his father on the other side of Europe. No one is answering the phone, or any other form of communication for that matter. But you, what are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be with your wife and little baby? Why aren’t you with them Eddie?” I redirected the questions to him.

“Come,” he said. “You can’t stay here. I’ll explain on the way.”

“Right now we need to get to the other side of the harbor, where there’s less commotion, to arrive at the ship we are expected to board.  They are waiting for us,” he started to explain as he was lifting me off the ground.

Since I had been sitting for so long, my legs were soaked, cold and numb. I could hardly stand, let alone walk. “Us? Who’s us? No one is waiting for me!” I protested in frustration. His rescuing ideas did not sit well with my unwillingness to live. Why did he have to show up and ruin my plans? “Leave me alone Eddie, I don’t want to go. I already lost Idan, so it doesn’t matter now if I drift away with the waters,” I tried to resist. “Leave me here, and join your family, they should be your first priority!” I said as I pushed his helping arms away from me.

“Grace! I can’t leave you here,” he said with his eyes burning intensely as his hands tightened their grip. “You are coming with me, even if it means carrying you. I’m alone, just like you! Helen and Robbie were in New York when all of this started, and you damn well know where New York is right now…” his voice cracked for a second. He held my face with his two hands, stroking the rain drops away from my cheeks. Suddenly, he kissed me, a long, soft and moist kiss. When he held me, pinning me to him, I could feel his pain and despair, but mostly, I could sense his sheer determination and hope his love for me had sprouted. I felt my body come to life as my legs thawed.

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