The wind blew through the cracks and crevasses of Jose’s drafty windows. It sounded like a dismal and out of tune harmonica playing a funeral dirge for some fallen tyrant. It hummed high to low, dissonant and cruel. The sound was flat and harsh, rough and jarring and woke Jose quite successfully from a deep sleep.
Sleep had overtaken Jose and he had nodded off on his couch the night before, television on, living room lights still on. He was powerless to resist the lure of the Sandman. Yet he’d gotten his full six hours of sleep. He was up before his alarm clocks yet there was still an irritating noise that roused him. The wind played its flat music through the drafty windows as Jose sat up and rubbed the sleep off his face.
He looked up at the still blaring TV, some infomercial about how to have fantastic Abs with little or no work as recommended by “Doctor” Sharma Gulligenesh. Staple of late night/early morning infomercial quackery, Jose had seen “Doctor” Sharma several times in various other “health product” infomercials. This time the good Doctor was extolling the virtues of electrical back stimulation for use on a person’s trouble body areas. He was demonstrating this technique on an attractive blonde who probably didn’t have a problem area on her whole body.
“I bet her personal life is a mess though,” said Jose to the TV.
He shook his head at “Doctor” Sharma’s smiling face and started feeling around for the remote control. Jose found the remote on the floor. He likely brushed it to the floor while sleeping. He flipped the channel over to the morning news to find out why his apartment was being played like a pan flute by the wind. He was lucky enough to catch the well-respected morning news meteorologist just getting into the Wind Advisory Alert.
“Winds will be gusting up to 70 miles per hour throughout the day with the possibility of even higher speeds,” said the TV weather guy, “We recommend caution if you have to venture out today as these high winds can be very dangerous.”
Jose stood up from the couch and went to his leaky, musically disinclined windows and looked out. The trees were bent in the strong wind and there were swirling tornadoes of trash twisting through the streets and lawns. Jose shook his head at the amount of litter strewn about. He wondered where all the anti-littering campaigns had gone. The world seemed a great deal dirtier than he remembered.
The wind howled through the leaks around the window trim and blew the hair back from Jose’s face. He took a step back from the windows. He wasn’t afraid but he was cautious. He turned back to the TV to see other live footage of exterior camera views of various locations around the city where the wind was churning and battering buildings. The new casters continued with the regular news of the day.
There were overnight shootings and murders, fires and riots, all the normal things you become nearly immune to after living in the city. All the constant attention to the worst of us can desensitize a person. Jose hardly gave all the hell going on much more than just a passing thought. And that thought was simply a monosyllabic, “Hm.”
Jose looked at his alarm clock and realized he had been woken up ten full minutes before he was supposed to. It was actually sort of a comfort since he had such a hard time avoiding the snooze button when he was actually in bed. There was something about sleeping on the couch that seemed wrong so getting up off it in the morning didn’t seem so hard. It was almost a pleasure.
Jose shut his alarm clock off so it wouldn’t start beeping. He turned back to the TV. It had suddenly gone dark. He figured the wind was causing some interference. He started to get himself ready for work. His cell phone started to buzz with weather warnings and alerts. He gave the messages a cursory glance but didn’t really pay any attention. He went to his bedroom and looked at his still made bed. He wanted to crawl under the covers and just go right back to sleep. It was a perfect day to do it too. The sky was gray and the wind was chilly.
A beeping started. Jose looked at his alarm clock quite certain that he had turned it off. It wasn’t the alarm clock. His TV started flashing the Emergency Warning System Alerts. An automated voice started repeating a message of imminent danger for the city area and to seek shelter immediately. Jose was in his underwear standing in his bedroom, listening to the EWS and barely conscience of the rumble growing in the distance. He thought he should probably put some pants on.
His building started to shake. A mirror fell off the wall and shattered on the ground. The TV turned to static; the clocks started blinking 12:00. Jose could hear a terrible sound, far worse than the musically challenged wind through his windows, it sounded like a tearing, like something was being ripped in half with chainsaws and jackhammers, or torn apart by wild beasts. Jose dropped to his bedroom floor and covered his head with his hands.
Lightening flashed outside and the building rattled. Jose could feel a vibration through the hardwood floor. The floor actually felt alive and was slightly rolling. Jose got to his feet and staggered amid the movement and noise. He got to the window in time to see a pillar of fire spinning down from the clouds and blasting the ground just a few blocks from his apartment. Jose was thrown back toward his couch as the blast struck the building. His windows burst and molten steel heat poured into Jose’s apartment building. Jose’s couch caught fire and the once leaky window frames were now just molten twisted shards.
Jose turned to run but there was nowhere to run to. He’d gone into survival mode, scrambling toward the door to his apartment, trying to turn the handle that was too hot to touch. Jose realized his hair was on fire and he tried to bat it out. His lungs scorched. He fell to the floor.
The building shuddered against the heat of heavenly wrath. The pillar of fire continued to twist down the street, melting the asphalt ahead, leaving nothing by charred ruins behind. The winds whipped smoldering ash into great clouds. All was silent but the wind.