Underneath the ruins

An internationally famous singer with not so internationally famous secrets, an average doorman rescued from the dodgy part of Mexico, an enormous bodyguard with even more enormous agression-maintenance problems and two women from two different point of the world, sharing a common enemy. But what do they all have to do with each other? Winner of The Backstage Story competition.

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3. Slide to the second floor

          I shut my eyelids tight and cover my ears, and for the second time that day, I wait for my insignificant life to flash before my eyes. But it doesn't, and I take it that I'm still alive. With my back to a cold material that can either be a wall or the ceiling, I open my eyes. 

          The whole room is grey due to the loose dust and suddenly even I am covered in it, and it feels like it's trying to choke me. I cough mindlessly, and so does someone else at the other side of the room. As the visibilty gets better, I try to figure out what just happened. A good piece of the ceiling is caved in, forming a surprisingly even slide that leds to the second floor. The four of us are at various points of the place, either sitting or just coughing loudly, but definitely alive. 

          "Told you," the hawking voice belongs to John, who seems to have problems with standing up "that there is someone up there who really likes us." 

          I manage a smile, and want to ask if everyone is alright when a fifth, surprisingly familiar voice cuts me off. 

          "Holy crap, we are all going to die!" and with that she starts to scream, a horrible sound that could have easily been used as a torture during the 16th century. I notice that she is one of the three women from earlier, and she doesn't look like she intends to stop screaming anytime in the future. Jake Ryder struggles onto his feet and combs his dark hair back from his forehead with five fingers before he speaks. 

          "Would you be so kind as to stop expressing your feelings in such an earsplitting and rather irritating manner?"

          She stops with a halt, cut in mid-scream, as if someone slapped her. 

          "What?"

          "He said shut up," John translates willingly. The woman, who accidentally possesses not only the voice, but the features of a pig, looks around in horror, then starts her aria again. The two watery-mud coloured eyes are bulging out of her dust-covered face like golf balls, and I can't help but grin. 

          "What the hell do you find funny about this?! What did you do to me? We are all gonna die! Where are my friends? Answer me!" and with that she starts to run around, like a poisoned mouse, her few hair flying after her as a flag. We merely stare at her before John shrugs and announces that he is going to try and get to the second floor with the help of the additional slide. As no-one feels like accompanying him, the three of us just stay where we are, still looking at the obviously crazy woman. 

          It's the guy from behind the desk who drops his gaze first, only to turn his face, which is equal in colour to the mad-woman's, to us. I have a feeling they are not the only ones with dust-covered skin, so I smear the grey powder on my sweaty forehead before I extend my arm for a handshake. Oh, how feminine! 

          "Anthony Miguel" his smile is around 200 watt, probably the most light we are going to get in here. I introduce myself, then introduce Jake Ryder as well, mainly because he is still busy staring at the fifth member of our group. She stops running at that moment, only to turn to a surprisingly rigid wall and to start banging her sooty fists on it. I have a feeling that the wall is originally from the second floor, and for some reason, this idea makes me sick. 

          "Camilla! Camilla, are you there?" she is shrieking again. Just as I decide to tell her - mainly from humanity - that she shouldn't get her hopes up regarding her friends, a muffled voice rings on the other side of the wall. For a nanosecond, the four of us stare at the concrete panel in silent surprise, before the woman falls on the wall with the possible intention to get it to pieces all by herself.

          Fortunately, Jake Ryder seems to get back to the present quickly enough to inhibit her from doing so, simply by dragging her as far away from the wall as he can, and pressing her into a sitting position next to the slide. 

          "For God's sake, calm down! Causing the ceiling to crash on us is obviously not going to help." 

          The woman stops screaming her friend's name, and in the next moment slushy sweetness takes over the panic in her voice. 

          "Oh my God, you are Jake Ryder! I cannot believe I'm this lucky!" she grabs the singer's hand so suddenly that he jumps in surprise. "I'm Grace Nordell, your biggest fan in the world. Can I please, please, please, get an autograph?" 

         I turn my face to Anthony, not wanting Jake Ryder to see my grin. 

         "Well, I guess this is gonna be fun," I say, not because the situation promises any fun at all, but because I don't want to laugh. He glances back at the pair, looking truly concerned.

          "I'm not sure I can spend hours near this woman."

          I chuckle, then ask him whether he has the faintest idea of what's going on, and because he doesn't, I bring him up to speed on the earthquake. By the time I finish, John appears on the slide, elegantly falling down from the second floor. Jake Ryder, probably being glad for an excuse, runs to the bodyguard and gets him into a sitting position. Groaning angrily, the man accepts the helping hand. 

          "There is nothing useful up there. I just took a brief tour around, looking for possible exits, but there is none. It's a fairly bigger space than down here, and there are some hotel rooms accessible, which means that starving to death is luckily not an option for us, and...-"

          Grace Nordell, the woman who has less grace in herself than anyone else in the room, cuts in. 

          "You mean there is food up there? And you didn't start with this? I'm dying of hunger!" and with that, she starts her poisoned-mouse run again, up on the slide. 

          "I wouldn't," is all John says, but she disappears without another word. I feel like there is a beehive in the pit of my stomach, and not because of hunger. 

          "What's in those rooms?" Anthony asks before I can, and the next second Grace the graceless answers the question, with so far the worst of her screams. She goes on and on, the inarticulate shrieks of someone in shock mixed with the sound of furnitures being pushed and crashed, and a second later, she falls off the second floor just the way John did. The three of us stare in horror at the woman lying at the end of the slide, while John inhales a good amount of air. 

          "Dead bodies. That is what's up in there."

 

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