Vignette:Chaos on Catalinastraße

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Chaos on Catalinastraße
Catalinastraße U-Bahn Station, Alvastadt, Imperial State of Alva
May 1st, 1977

he had to get out.

Every pained breath Sofie took in stung her lungs as if a horde of angry bees had nested within her. Her ears still rang like cathedral bells at noon, and the smoke obscuring her sight dried her eyes to the point of irritation. Despite all of that, she could still hear the screams for help, see the sight of limp bodies on the station floor, and the taste of blood mixing with soot in her mouth.

The high heels weren’t helping.

She stumbled barefoot towards the staircase, shuffling forward as far as she could before she came into contact with the back of another disoriented and panicked commuter. The ringing in her ears had been replaced with the muteness of adrenaline as she dashed up the steps, each foot only lightly making contact before being lifted away.

She could feel something dripping from her forehead.

The panic was bewildering. Even as the entrance came into sight amidst the hundreds of shocked commuters rushing towards it, she still felt like she had lost her sense of direction, being carried away by the raging flow of people. She could hear the cacophony of muted sirens rushing to congregate towards the station grow louder and louder as she hurriedly stepped outside.

Everything in her body hurt.

She could see people collapsing onto the street, noses bleeding, eyes streaming with tears of horror and fear. The man in front of her now lurched over, spilling the contents of his stomach onto the concrete pavement. She sat down on the curb, watching the flashing lights of emergency vehicles creep ever closer.

The world around her began to dim.

Her legs ached from the panicked stair climbing. Her eyes still burnt from the smoke, and the blood dripping from her head was being stemmed with a keffiyeh held by a shocked passerby.

“What happened?” asked the passerby, with shock in her voice. “What’s going on?”

She opened her mouth to speak, but the tears in her eyes spoke a thousand words.

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