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Monday, December 16, 2013

Manhattan Megastorm, Part 2: A Science Fiction Story

This is the conclusion to yesterday's story, Manhattan Megastorm, Part 1. The narrator is Troy, age 12.

So here's the rest of my story of what happened when the megastorm hit Manhattan back in 2072. In case you missed the first part,  I'll tell you that my Dad and I were just about to reach a subway station when the flood waters came rushing down the street full blast. My Dad threw me onto an awning to save me,  but he got swept by the flood waters down the stairs of a subway station.  He took shelter in the little fare booth near the stairs, but was then trapped down there as the flood waters submerged the whole station under water.

There I was, lying on the building awning as the flood waters rushed past me. The rising waters reached my knees. I held on to a piece of metal so I wouldn’t be carried away by the water. Even though I could swim, I thought if I was carried away by the waters, no one would ever see me again.

After a minute or two, I saw a window open about 30 feet above me. Someone stuck his head out the window. He yelled, “Hold on, kid! We’ll try to save you!”

A little bit later I saw the man lower from the window what looked like a rope. It wasn’t actually a rope, but a series of thick electrical cords tied together. The man lowered this series of electrical cords down to me.

“Tie the cord in a loop around your waist, and make a knot! We’ll pull you up!” he hollered.

This seemed like a kind of crazy thing to do. What if the knot came undone, or I slipped out of the loop around my waist, when they had pulled me most of the way up to the window? Then I might fall to my death. But I couldn’t just stay there and let the rising flood waters rise above my head. That would be even more dangerous.

As the flood waters rose up to my waist, I made the electrical cord into a loop around my waist, and tied it into a knot. “Pull me up,” I yelled. Then the man above me started to pull.

There was nothing I could do now but hope for the best. The man pulled me higher and higher into the air. This is not a situation you ever want to be in, when your life depends on some stranger, and there’s not a thing you can do to make yourself any safer.

As the man pulled me up in the air, I could see more and more of the destruction caused by the hurricane and the flood. All kinds of stuff was floating around in the water, and people were being carried away. Seeing all this scary stuff as I got pulled higher and higher up in the air, I got more and more scared.

Finally the man pulled me up to the window. I was about 40 feet up in the air. He reached out his hands, and pulled me into the office behind the window. I plunked down on the floor of some office.

“Thank you!” I said. There were two men there who had pulled me up. I later learned their names were Tim and John.

“This flood is horrible,” said Tim. “The flood barriers must have been breached."

“My Dad got carried away by the water," I moaned. "I don’t know where he is now.”

Tim saw the blood on my arm, and he ran and got a first aid kit. He wrapped a big bandage around my arm, and taped it up.

Sitting by myself on the floor, I started to think some angry thoughts. Why didn’t the grownups stop this kind of thing from happening when they had a chance? They knew for a long time that this global warming thing was going on, that the sea levels were rising, and that it was caused by all the pollution. They had many years to fix the problem by cutting the pollution. But they hardly did anything. Now the rising oceans had punched out our city, and I didn’t know whether I’d ever see my Dad again. How could the grownups have been so stupid?

After a few minutes, my cell phone rang. I thought it was going to be Mom, asking me if I was okay. How could I tell her that Dad had been carried away by a million gallons of water?

But it wasn’t Mom. It was Dad!

“Troy, it’s me,” Dad said.

“Dad, where are you?” I asked. “Are you safe?”

“No, I’m not," said Dad. "I’m anything but safe. The flood waters carried me down the stairs of the subway station. I got into that little fare booth, you know that little room where they sell the subway cards. But now the whole station is underwater. I’m trapped here!”

My heart sank. “I’ll try to get some help, Dad.”

I told what had happened to Tim and John, the two men who had pulled me up from the flood waters. Tim said, “Let’s call 911 for help.”

Upon calling, we found the line was busy. The line said that due to a surge in calls, we would have to wait.

“This won’t work, kid,” John said. “Look at the street below, the whole thing's flooded. A big part of the city is now underwater. The policeman and firemen and ambulances must have got a thousand calls at the same time.”

“We can’t just leave my Dad down there, underwater!” I screamed. “We have to do something.”

“Let’s go down to the second floor,” Tim said. “We might be able to find a spot that’s close to that subway entrance.”

We walked around a bit on the second floor, and finally found a window that was just above the subway entrance. We could look down into the murky water, and see the stairs leading down to the subway. We were thinking about what to do next when my cell phone rang again.

It was Dad. His news was not good.

“Troy, I’m in real bad trouble here," said Dad. "The flood water is seeping through cracks in the front wall of this little glass room. The booth is filling up with water! I have to get out of here soon or I’m going to drown. The water’s up to my waist already.”

Horrified, I asked, “Dad, why not open up the door to the booth, and swim up the stairs?”

“I can’t,” Dad said. “When the water carried me down the subway stairs, it injured my legs very badly, and my left arm is hurt too. If I push open this door, I won’t be able to swim fast enough to get out of here before I drown.”

I felt like crying, but there was no time for that. I had to act fast, or my Dad was going to die.

“Do you have any rope here?” I asked Tim and John.

“Hold on, I’ll hit the supply room,” said Tim. “Run!” I hollered. Tim soon came back with a ring of thin cord, that yellow type that’s very strong.

While Tim was finding the rope, I had thought up a plan, and I told the two men about it.

“Here’s what we have to do," I said. "One of you has to tie this rope in a loop around your waist. You swim down those subway stairs, open the ticket booth door, and pull the loop around yourself and my Dad. Then me and the other one of you will pull up the both of you.” It was kind of a crazy plan, and it was way too dangerous. But it was the only idea I could come up with.

“I can’t do that,” Tim said. “I don’t know how to swim.”

I looked at John. He seemed like my last hope.

“Kid, I can’t do that,” John said. “I can swim, but I can’t go swim way down there and risk my life for a stranger. There’s a darn good chance I could drown trying a stunt like that. I have a wife and two kids to look after, and who knows what kind of trouble they’re in during this flood. They’ll need their father to help them get through this thing.”

I put my hand on my forehead, and groaned. At first I thought my Dad was doomed. But then I realized there was one last hope.

“Then I’ll have to do it myself,” I said.

“Are you kidding?” Tim said. “That has to be a 40 foot swim down to that fare booth. You’re likely to drown on the way down, or on the way up.”

“I have to do it!” I yelled. “When the flood waters came, my Dad saw there was an awning he could reach to save himself. But he didn’t climb up there himself. He threw me up there. He risked his life to save me, so now I’m going to risk my life to save him!”

My cell phone rang again. It was Dad again.

“Troy, the water is up to my neck. Goodbye. I love you.”

“Dad, I’m going down to get you!” I said. “When you see me, open the door of the booth.” I knew he would tell me not to come, so I closed the cell phone.

I tied one end of the rope into a loop, and I put it around my waist. I gave the other end to Tim.

“Hold on to this,” I said. “When I get down to my Dad, I’m going to put this loop around both of us. Then I’ll pull the rope two times. When you feel me pulling my end of the rope, start pulling your end like crazy. Keep on pulling until you pull us all the way back up.”

“Don’t do it! It won’t work!” Tim said.

I opened up the window, and climbed up to the opening. I had only a few seconds left to save Dad.

“DO LIKE I TOLD YOU!” I yelled as loud as I could. “When you feel me pulling my end of the rope, pull your end!”

I climbed out the window, and then plunged into the flood waters, down toward the subway stairs.

When I hit the water for some reason I bit my tongue very bad. But that was the least of my problems. I had to get down those subway stairs real quick, or I would drown. Luckily gravity was on my side. After dropping out the window, I just kept plunging down pretty fast. The water was icy and dirty. I was scared as hell. But I had to find that fare booth, or my Dad was going to die.

After about 15 seconds I had swum to the bottom of the subway station stairs. I looked around in the murky waters. I almost panicked, because at first I couldn’t recognize anything. But then I saw Dad just outside the little glass fare booth. I swam a few more feet toward him.

subway swimmer

So much water had seeped into the booth, that it had risen above Dad’s head. Dad had now opened the door, and was trying to get out, but wasn’t getting very far because of his busted legs.

My lungs were now aching real bad, but I had to go on. I swam up to Dad, and pulled the rope loop off of my body. I pulled the loop around both of our bodies. Then I pulled the rope two times, as I had told Tim I would do. I had done all I could do. Now it was up to Tim and John.

I felt the rope pulling me and Dad away from the fare booth. It was working! But then the two of us hit the stair rail at the bottom of the stairs. We were stuck! For a few seconds, we stopped moving upward, even though Tim and John were still pulling the rope.

I had almost blacked out, but I used my last bit of energy to push our two bodies away from the stair rail. That got us unstuck. We then kept going up the stairs, as Tim and John kept pulling the rope.

And then I died.

Well, not really. Just sort of.

I lost consciousness completely. I totally blacked out.

I have no memory at all of Tim and John pulling me and Dad out of the water, and back up to the window on the second floor of the building from which I had jumped.

The next thing I remember I was laying on a floor, coughing up a bunch of water. I saw 3 faces above me. One of those faces was real close. It was Tim. He had been giving me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, like the lifeguards use at pools to save someone who has almost drowned.

My crazy plan had worked. Tim and John had kept pulling on the rope, and had pulled both me and my Dad out of the water.

Lying on the ground, I looked up at the three faces looking down at me. There was so much muck and sludge in my eyes, that it was hard at first to recognize anyone. But then I recognized the face of Dad.

“We made it, Troy! You saved me!” he said.

For a few seconds I just lay there gasping for breath. Then I finally found enough strength to say:

“I did it. I did it!”

Up until this moment I had pretty much always felt like a little kid. Now suddenly, for the first time ever, I felt like a man.