again, don't read too much into this, even with the recent events in my life.
I blinked. It hurt. It hurt so bad. I collapsed and fell. I have no idea what happened other than it hurt. My world was pain and the pain embraced me, held me close and crushed me into her bosom.
I was curled into a fetal ball, small and wracked with pain. There had been an explosion. I saw the light! Oh! Oh! Whitney! An my team. I lifted my head, hoping against the painful throbbing I might see someone else. Someone. Anyone. My team. My wife. Everything went wrong and maybe someone survived. Other than my self. But it wasn't likely. I should not be left alive.
My head throbbed with sensations unknown to all human tongues. Yet, I was alone. And I didn't know where I was. There was definitely noone I could see ... alive.
Obviously, there had been an explosion. However, it was not in our lab. It was not in a part of town I knew. I knew I needed to find my way back. Perhaps, perhaps someone was somewhere and I could save them...perhaps. My head...
I rose and staggered, crashing into the wall, but the wall didn't care much. What was left of it would never feel like a wall again. Bricks tumbled and fell to the ground. Fortunately, away from me.
The irony would have been delicious otherwise, survive an enormous explosion and die from a falling brick.
I staggered forward and retrieved my phone. No signal. Odd, it survived, bit cracked, but functional, but no signal. Where was I?
Then I saw in a pool of light. Bodies. I limped that way. It wasn't close and I was not going to get there fast, I had to be careful, the light was bad. I couldn't see much through the pain and the world certainly wouldn't be able to see me.
I saw her body. Whitney. My wife. She was dead. The woman who had comforted me, held me, helped raised my first kids and then the woman who had gifted me with two more. She had rebuilt me from the broken man I had been. She had loved me despite my flaws. Or perhaps because of them.
I dropped and wept, wept the tears of a man who has lost everything. Twice.
I could hear a voice, calling out, calling for help. I scrambled forward, rushed in my broken, shambling state to the voice calling out. I hurried. As best I could with torn body.
My Whitney was gone, but maybe, maybe I could save someone, someone...
I, the crooked, shattered man, stood in shock. That voice. I'd not heard it in 20 years.
There was someone kneeling next to the person on the ground.
"Take care of my John," the voice told the kneeler. "He is so strong, but so brittle...take care of my ..." the voice faded.
I rushed over and all but pushed to her, pushing aside the woman already there.
Leanne. My first wife. She had died in an attack. An attack...attack?
"John. You look so old. I...I...I feel so cold. John. I love you."
And I wept with the loss of a man who has lost thrice over.
"Is there anyone else here, sir? I'm sorry to ask, I want to run back to my house to call the police back. I already called 911."
I mumbled something incoherent and didn't even look at the woman. Nearly a girl. I waved my hand at where Whitney lay.
The young woman ran over to Whitney while I finished my collapse into incoherence, the pain, the loss, Whitney...and Leanne again.
How could I see Leanne again? I'd never seen how she died. I just identified the body. I must be dying and hallucinating in my last moments. No, I had to be. I had to be.
Bitterness welled up. I was supposed to see my kids before the end. I was supposed to see my life. All I saw my dead wives. Both of them. Separated by 22 years. That would be the image I took into oblivion.
Then I heard a scream and the young woman ran without caution back the way she'd come, running so hard and so fast. She tripped and fell, my head was already up from her scream and she fell before me, and I could see.
And I could see. I could see her face.
Whitney. 22 years younger. Terror torturing her soul, she rose and ran.