Time has a funny way of distorting for those who find themselves trapped in a disaster, suffering from a loss, or experiencing unbearable pain. Seconds stretch into minutes, minutes into hours, hours into days, and days into eternities untold. Survivors later recount every detail as if waking from a frozen world where they’d had time to record every minute bit of information available.
So it was for young Mario Morelli, the oldest of two brothers who, before this moment, had been nothing more than a couple of plumbers carrying on their family business. At the moment the brick crumbled from the corner of the building, he heard, more than felt, something bursting up from the concrete below him. He held onto a majority of the brick, still clutching to it for dear life, while the rest rained down on his face and flew around him into the darkness which had swallowed two before him.
He cringed as something ricocheted off of the ground and into the side of his face, tearing a long gash that begun just behind his right jawbone, crossed over his nose, and ended over his left eye. Seconds later, though he could only watch from behind the shroud of slow-motion now covering his senses, his arms pulled in to cover his newly wounded face.
The darkness reached hungrily for him, and a part of him even heard it sigh contentedly as it’s cold embrace wrapped around his legs while pulling him in. Like a beast of myth, the darkness swallowed Mario in one gulp.
To his relief, the darkness wasn’t as complete as it had looked from the outside. There was as much visibility as one would expect on a foggy night, near a large body of water. Though only a few feet were visible around him, he at least had the comfort of knowing that he would see what was coming in the end.
Through herculean effort, he managed to tuck himself into as ball, pulling his limbs as close to his body as possible, as he prepared for the blow that was sure to come. He could feel his body accelerating as it was drawn by the unseen force into whatever hell awaited him. The ground whipped by in a blur beneath him, and the darkness crept in. His gut told him that he was farther above the ground than when he had started, though now it was impossible to tell, except that he had just passed a window that could have been a few, or several, feet above ground.
“Mama mia,” he exclaimed in falsetto. His voice cracked near the end, and before he could even take in another breath, he was no longer in motion.
Debris floated in the air around him, as it, too, was halted as suddenly as he. As he drew a shaky breath, the ground below exploded as a large, green pipe extended-
air, and just as suddenly, sucked him, and the debris around him, into the darkness below.