By: Roger A Wilbanks
I have been down here for two days. I think it has been two days, that is. Hard to tell time on a watch you can’t see anymore. It’s dark down here and cold. I shouldn’t be alive and I doubt anyone will find me before I die.
My legs are trapped under a large chunk of floor. They are crushed and I’m pretty sure I am going to lose them both. The pain is just a constant companion. The pain and the dark. I remember hearing stories of people who had survived long periods of time in the wilderness without food or water after suffering serious injuries, but how many of them were claustrophobic? How many were actually trapped in their own coffin, buried under eight stories of 1920’s art deco office?
My legs hurt bad and I don’t care about anything else. That is a good sign, I think, the pain. I hear the occasional bang and clatter overhead telling me that they are looking for us. There are others here. I can hear two girls crying, one above me and one to my right. One of the girls stopped crying a few hours ago. I think she’s gone now. There is a guy below me, trapped in a pocket like mine, only big enough for him to move around. I am sure it is a guy based on the movement he’s making and the fact he’s not crying. He’s making a lot of noise moving around. I think he’s trying to dig himself out. I hope to GOD he doesn’t shift anything that makes my pocket collapse. I would warn him but I have lost my voice. Damn my luck to get buried with a sinus infection. That’s the good thing about my legs hurting so bad. It takes away from the pain from my sinus infection.
I would bang on the debris if I could move my hands but they are pinned. I lost feeling in my right arm and have to shift my weight every hour or so to get a tingle back in my left one. The backlight on my watch wore out about an hour ago. Shifting my left arm a bit I could get it to turn on, but that’s gone now. I am in the dark. I am timeless. Were it not for the sound my neighbors are making, time would be standing perfectly still.
There was a shift in the ground just now. Is that asshole under me moving something or was that the searchers? Does that mean I am going to be saved? GOD I want to live! I have so much to live for God. Carol and I just got serious. She just got me a dog for crying out loud. Jesus, she must be beside herself now. Help her through this, God, please. Keep her safe until I get out of here and come back to her.
I think I am getting out of here. That is a good sign. That is assuming that Dumbshit under me stops moving things about. If you could hear me I would scream at you, pal. You need to stop or you will end up with a few tons of me on top of you. I am sure you don’t want that.
Vibrations. Jackhammer or saw? That’s definitely above me… I know it! Dumbshit under me hears it too! He’s moving about more. STOP you moron! For the love of God keep still! Make some noise, bang on metal but don’t pull out the legs from under my table! The other crying girl is quiet now. I have no idea what happened to her. Wait! That crash! It came from her direction. Holy Jesus, that scream!
She…she’s gone. I know it. I only wonder if dumbshit’s moving about caused it or if the guys above us did.
They heard her! They’re moving their work away. They’re leaving me! Come on Dumbshit, make some noise! Banging. Good. Make it loud man and I’ll buy you dinner when we get out of here. Steak and chophouse, my treat. Just keep up the action and we’ll both get out of this alive. I can hear them getting closer. Come on man! Make the difference in both our lives. You will be a hero.
That sound, down below us. It sounds like creaking, groaning, twisting metal. It is coming from Dumbshit’s hole. He’s screaming now, but not in pain. That’s fear. He’s losing it. His hole is closing in on him. Hold on man…they’ll get us out of here. He has to keep up the noise though, that’s how they’ll find us.
More creaking. Their machinery must be too heavy for the pile. They’re leaving!
Come back guys. I would rather you crushed me trying to save me than just leave me here to die in the dark. Silence now. They know I am here, they HAVE to. Dumbshit’s banging got their attention, I know it. Now it is time to wait. Let them get the crane onto the top of this pile and start peeling it away like an onion layer. You’ll get to me if you do that boys, but you might want to hurry. I’m in pain.
I’m actually crying now. The tears have a bitter, salty taste but they won’t last long. I’m too dehydrated to maintain them. My legs won’t stop throbbing and I’m sure I will lose this arm.
God it is dark.
Must have dozed off there. No idea how long I was out. Wait…what is that? Light? A tiny speck of light right above me. They have started digging again with a vengeance. They must know I’m here. That’s what woke me up. Dumbshit under me is silent now. That’s useless to me, but for all I know, he’s dead now. I’m not. At least I don’t think I am. Could that ray of light I see be the afterlife? No way. I’m alive, I know it. I have to be. The beam above me moved just then. I can’t see it, but the dust just landed on my face. It’s caking the tears to my face. OW! Something just hit my head. I’m bleeding. I can feel the warmth trickle down my neck. No idea how bad it is…just let them patch me up when they dig me out of here. I’m coming home Carol, I believe that now. These guys are right on top of me and they are making progress. It’s only a matter of time before they get to me. Just have to wait a bit longer now. I can tell the debris on top of me is shifting. It’s moving. They’re getting closer every second. Any minute now one of these guys will peek down here and see me looking up at him. I’m going to try real hard to smile at him, I really will. It’s been three, maybe four days down here I think. That’s nothing. A Labor Day Holiday to the Gulf.
I can’t see now, it’s too bright. Am I dead?
(Salvage workers pulled Perry Harding from the collapsed rubble of the Wainwright Building in downtown San Francisco. He was given up for dead and spent eight days trapped beneath a mountain of twisted steel and broken concrete. The workers assumed he was a corpse until they noticed him smiling up at them. He was carefully removed from the building and taken to the nearest hospital. His legs were crushed beyond repair and amputated. His right arm suffered severe nerve damage and was permanently disabled. After three months of treatment and rehabilitation, he was released from the hospital and married Carol Deevers who never gave up on him. She had maintained a constant vigil at the collapse with the couple’s dog Zero and refused to believe him dead. Perry says hello and hopes you are well. )
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