Holes of Fire
Batuhan pressed his body up against the cellar door and pushed harder. This time, whatever was on the other side gave way and the door slid open.
There was a solid thud as it hit the pavement and then a ringing clang as it rolled into something metallic.
Before he could look to see what it was, a cloud of smoke rolled in through the opening and filled his nostrils causing a fit of coughing.
The young engineer quickly closed the door until he stopped coughing. He glanced back at the three, dark screens where he had been participating in an online meeting just a few minutes before. No lights indicated that he still had no power.
He brushed the soot off his once-white jacket and pulled it up around his nose before pushing the heavy iron door back open. He could see the large dent in the door where the chunk of something heavy had landed.
He looked down at the ground to see large chunks of concrete and twisted metal scattered around the exterior entrance of his basement.
Batuhan stepped carefully over and around the rubble toward the street. The eerie sound of silence seemed almost deafening in the wake of the blast. His ears still rang from the sound of the explosion.
For a split second, the young, twenty-two-year-old wondered if he had gone deaf. But the sound of gravel crunching under his black loafers caused him to sigh in relief. At least he hadn’t lost his hearing.
An acrid, metallic scent filled his nostrils with each breath. A foul, almost bitter odor mixed with the familiar smell of gunpowder.
Batuhan pulled the jacket away from his nose for a better whiff. Without the jacket to filter the smoke and stench, the young fellow almost gagged.
He stopped breathing long enough to spit out the foul taste it left in his mouth before covering his nose again.
He reached the main road that led to the center of the compound. It too was covered with rubble and debris.
The sight before him was so staggering that he dropped the jacket covering his nose and gaped at the apocalyptic scene that met his gaze.
A gaping black hole was all that remained of the huge factory that employed most of the citizens of his town. Batuhan had worked there himself a few summers during his high school years, and even while working his way through college.
He had only quit working there two short weeks ago, after getting a new job with one of their competitors that allowed him to work remotely from the home office he had set up in his parent’s basement.
Fortunately, his parents had been out of town visiting his sister for the week. He pulled out his phone to let them know that he was okay, but there was no signal.
He took a few pictures and videos to document the destruction that surrounded him. Then continued to stand there in a daze, unsure of what to do next.
The entire factory and surrounding warehouses had completely disappeared. And in their place lay a black hole encircled by firey orange lines that seemed to have swallowed up the buildings
Batuhan couldn’t get over how perfectly aligned they were, and there seemed to be some strange etchings or runes written in flames. Although he had no idea what they meant.
Flames had spread to other buildings in the surrounding area, and gray smoke rose from the destructive fires that consumed the city into the sky, blocking out most of the light from the setting sun.
The giant orange orb lay on the horizon opposite Batuhan as if in the same stupor as he. Still trying to understand what had taken place before it dipped under the horizon and lost sight of the scene.
Batuhan looked around for someone, anyone he could ask what had happened. But there wasn’t a single soul to be seen.
Surely someone besides himself had survived. Other homes in the city had basements. It’s not like the blast could have annihilated everyone he ever knew and loved.
As he turned to scan the area immediately surrounding him for survivors, Batuhan was struck by the fact that even the buildings this far up the road had been destroyed by the blast.
“Hello!” he shouted into the smoky stillness. “Is anyone out there? Does anyone need help?”
Batuhan turned his back on the bottomless pit that seemed to have swallowed up every last soul in the city. As he walked back past the home where he had grown up, Batuhan noticed the entire second floor was completely gone.
He opened the garage door and started his car. But as Batuhan pulled out, he realized that he wouldn’t make it very far. There was too much rubble for his tiny electric car to get around.
His confusion gave way to anger at whoever or whatever had caused this. As he focused his attention on imagining who or what could have caused this amount of destruction, Batuhan’s imagination began to run wild.
Anger quickly gave way to fear as sunlight faded and darkness began to fall.
Batuhan walked back down the road toward the outskirts of town, looking for a house that hadn’t been destroyed in the blast or a vehicle far enough past the debris that he could leave town.
He eventually found a house at the edge of the city that hadn’t been wiped out, but no one was around. Bathuhan found the keys to an oversized, gray 4×4 on the counter that allowed him to make it out of the city where the roads were clear.
Several hours later, he came to another large city. But again, all he could see was smoke rising into the night sky. Lit up by the flames from buildings that were still burning. The familiar orange circles and sigils surrounding a large black crater from where the destruction had emanated.
Batuhan drove through the night, coming upon city after city with the same familiar scene. Here and there, he chanced upon a survivor like himself. He stopped to chat briefly, but none of them knew any more than he did.
Smaller towns had been spared the circular obliteration. Panicked seized the townspeople when he told them what was going on and showed them videos. Most fled the town and fled for the hills.
But Batuhan was exhausted after a long night of searching for answers. He finally gave up and crashed in a small hotel. Batuhan paid extra and convinced the night manager to let him set up a small cot in the basement where he crashed and dreamt of strange creatures arising from the strange holes in each city to overrun the land.