I looked downtown with terror in my eyes. The bomb had gone off barely two minutes ago, at exactly three pm. Devastation had taken control of the city. I felt a surge of guilt run down my spine. I could have saved lives. I could have got the area evacuated sooner. But I was so intent on finding Lucas that now, I’d probably helped to destroy the lives of so many innocent people.
I let the thought pass. I didn't want to make myself feel responsible for the bombing. Just the fact that I knew about a bomb in the area will most likely get me banged up in a cell. I kept running. Lucas had to be around somewhere.
It suddenly dawned on me that he could still be down at the market stalls. Alive or dead, I needed to find him. A voice coming from huge speakers was ushering everyone to leave the area. Not today, I thought. I ran as fast as I could back down to the ruins of the market. My heart skipped a beat when I saw bodies lying motionless on the rubble of candy stalls, tattoo stalls and some free food bags from the Future Party’s food stall. I fought against the flow of people running away and squeezed through gaps between them.
As I ran past the free food stall, I caught a glimpse of something lime green that burned my eyes and contorted my vision. I tripped and fell to the vast, grey surface below me. When I finally got my bearings, I could almost see straight through the smoke. Smoke I thought, as if only just realizing I had run right into it. My lungs filled with the stuff and I coughed and spluttered.
Through the haze, I could see a girl with long, dark hair hunched over an older woman, who was lying with her eyes closed on the ground. The woman must have been her mother and, again, a surge of guilt shook through me. This girl may have lost her mother because of the bomb. The bomb that I had known about. I stared at the girl, studying her face. She was crying and her cheeks were red. Finally, she noticed me staring at her. Her vulnerable expression quickly turned to anger.
“Well don’t just sit there! Call an ambulance!” she screamed.
At first I was taken aback by her tone of voice. I felt sympathy for the girl so I didn't answer with aggression.
“They’re already on their way” I answered and went and knelt by her side. I put my arm around her. I could tell she was grateful for everything.
“I’m Nat.” I said to the girl.
“Thanks, I’m Charlie.” She said, still crying.
Behind us, sirens whirled. The deep voices of men came up behind us. One told us Charlie’s mum would be taken to hospital and would be treated as quickly as possible.
As the ambulance drove away, Charlie paced back and forth. The smoke had completely gone now, revealing the true devastation of the bomb. Bodies lay on the ground, covered in blood. Market stalls were completely gone, reduced to a pile of trash. It honestly looked as if the world had ended and there wasn't any human civilization left. A cold feeling rushed through my gut like a fast flowing river. Something else wasn't right.
“Charlie” I said wearily, “We have got to get out of here”.
In an instant, Charlie seemed to realize what I was trying to say. And we ran.
A huge explosion behind us sent up a cloud of smoke. There had been another bomb in the area. I may have known about the first one but definitely not about the second. Terror passed over Charlie’s face. She was scared, confused and emotionally in pain. Just the sheer experience of the bombings had shaken her up and dropped her off the face of the earth.
Luckily, we were far enough away from the bomb, we didn't get hurt. But as the smoke started to clear, I could faintly see a tall, skinny boy running away in the other direction. He looked familiar but he quickly ran out of sight. He’d looked as if he were looking for someone. Oh no. One name resounded in my head.