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.


2. The ruins

          I can hear my own blood throbbing in my ears and pain unknown of its origin forces me to open my eyes. With vision blurry as though I'm underwater, I struggle myself into a sitting position. Every inch of my body protests against this, but my fear and curiosity is greater than pain. I look around in horror.

          My first impression is that I'm in some kind of psychotic hospital, hence the two other bodies laying not so far away from me, but I quickly rule out this option. I run my gaze through the place and it takes some time for me to realise that I hadn't been kidnapped - I'm still in the Waldorf Astoria. I can merely tell this because I recognise the chandelier on the floor - after all, it almost crashed into my head.

          Other parts of the fairly big space look more like a battle field. The ceiling is crashed in at more than one place, ruins of walls and the marble floor are everywhere, and everything is covered in grey dust. I'm so lost in thought that I don't even notice the two men until they spoke in unison. 

          "How do you feel?" 

          I jerk my head up in surprise and immediatley wish I didn't. I feel myself wince in pain and start a confused argument in my head whether I have gone mad or it is truly Jake Ryder, asking about my feelings.

          "What happened?" is all I dare to say, not trusting my common sense at the moment. The bald monstrum from earlier - the one who jumped over the singer - gives me a concerned look before answering. 

          "One of the heavy armchairs raced against your head. Unfortunately, the former got out as the winner," his voice is deep and raspy, as though he is chewing on shattered glass. I look at the surrounding and really hope this is not the case. 

          "I mean, what happened here?" I ask with gesturing around. Having absolutely no idea about the recent events, I feel tension and panic building up inside me. The living wardrobe dries the sweat off of his forehead before he starts to speak, glass crunching as he does. 

          "There was an earthquake. I pretty big one to speak, there haven't been a quake with such magnitude since 1960. Half of the USA is in ruins, including" he gestures around, "the Waldorf Astoria. If you ask me, there must be someone up there who really likes us, because hundreds of people died." 

          I know my mouth is open in horror, but I can't get myself to close it. Hundreds of people?

          "How do you know all of this?" 

          "My headset was still working for about ten minutes after the quake stopped," he gestures to the small, shiny, black thing on top of a concrete panel. I stand up uneasily, ignoring the throbbing pain in the back of my head. Moving around, I try to estimate our chances while he keeps talking. "I could talk to my superior, he told me all of this. They are going to try and get us out of here alive as soon as they can. Unfortunately, the headset stopped working." 

          I run my finger on the surface of another concrete panel, examining the grey dust on my bare skin. I can't think straight. As I look up, my gaze meets Jake Ryder's. I know very well it is him, the superstar, standing only five metres away from me. My brain is able to process the information, and still, I can't seem to find it appealing to scream and ask for his autograph. His whole identity seems indifferent now. What would I do with his signiture, anyway? It's not as if we are going to survive. 

          "For how long have we been here?" I manage to ask. 

          Jake Ryder looks at his wristwatch, and I involuntarily think that there must be some kind of magic about celebrities, considering that even his watch survived without so much as a scratch. 

          "It's been an hour now since the shaking stopped," his voice is as deep as the ocean, elastic and firm at the same time, and it reminds me of his latest song I've been using as my ringtone ever since it came out. 

          "My phone!" I shriek, snatching at my pockets, drunk with hope. The bodyguard, now with blood-stained, dirty suit on, shakes his head as an apology. 

          "We searched for phones, you didn't have any. Either way you lost it during the shake or someone already pickpocketed it in the crowd. It wouldn't be the first incident."

          I sigh with disappointment, sliding down to the floor, picking up a piece of a shattered mirror and pressing the cold material against my sore head. Jake Ryder stares at me for a while before he sits on one of the panels, shutting his eyes tight. He looks older this way, and I suddenly realise what gives him the look and energy of someone much younger, the mysterious aura and that little something that you can't really put your finger on - his eyes. There is something about his eyes that makes his whole being a lot less human. A lot less fragile, a lot less vulnarable. 

          We are quiet for a while, the two of us sitting, the monstrum pacing slowly up and down. Finally, I break the oppressive silence. 

          "Scara Millman, by the way." 

          The bald man stops with a halt, staring at me suspiciously, for whatever reason. At the end, he sits down as well, completing our triangle. 

          "John. John Whitham."

          "You know my name," rings the ocean-deep voice, his inhumanly perfect eyes open again." But if we are going to stay here for a long time, I would prefer you calling me simply Jake." I manage to hide my grin, but I know that my eyes are laughing at his superiority. He stares at me consideringly, and I try my best not to blush under the pressure of his gaze. It feels strange, unnatural even, as though he could see my deepest and internmost feelings with those eyes. "How old are you, Scara?"


          "Just like my daughter," he murmurs so quietly that I'm not sure I heard it right. 

          "You have a daughter?" I know I sound accusing, as though he was supposed to inform every one of his fans personally, but I can't stop myself. Before he can manage an answer, someone else speaks in thick accent behind us, and we spin around as one. 

          "I think we have bigger problems than Jake Ryder's family issues," it's the guy from behind the reception desk - one of the bodies I saw laying next to me earlier - and he is pointing upwards. We turn our heads up just in time to see the remaining of the ceiling cracking dangerously, and the only thing I hear is John swearing loudly before half of the concrete above us give away. 

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