Reactor three exploded, lighting up the night sky as pieces of cement and office remnants screamed into the air like fireworks. Dozens of people died instantly, caught in the spewing cement and radiation. Kevin’s brown eyes peeked back at her. “Okay, we run for the fence.”
The pair, joined by dozens of terrified souls, sprinted east across the open field. Occasionally, Nicole would hear a scream or cry as someone fell in the dark field. Determined to not die today, she picked her path carefully through the tall summer weeds, with Kevin right behind, matching her gait stride for stride.
The group was almost seven hundred yards from reactor four when it gave way to the build up of pressure. Perhaps it lasted longer than the others because it was the newest of the buildings. Perhaps the massive turbines, pumping water throughout the scalding cauldron, turned three or four more times than the others. Perhaps it was a cruel joke on the remaining humanity trapped in the compound – several groups of people, trying their hardest to get away from something that, almost to a person, they knew they couldn’t beat.
The explosion of reactor four dwarfed the previous three. Pieces of cement and fuel rods shot higher and further than the others combined. Even almost a half-mile away, Nicole sprinted to escape something moving so fast that she knew all of her efforts were most likely in vain.
Yet, she struggled on. Trying to make it beyond the far-reaching tentacles of the angry reactors core.
She stopped when she felt Kevin let go of her hand. Turning spastically, she found him laying in the grass, almost as if he were asleep. Kneeling next to him, she shook his body to end his slumber. When she pulled her hands back, she found them covered in a dark, viscous fluid. She knew instantly that he was already gone from this earthly hell. His face showed no pain, no torment, no rush.
Searching the field for others, she saw their numbers reduced by more than half. Where just thirty seconds previous dozens had been running, now no more than three were still on their feet. Maybe another half-dozen, like her, knelt next to lifeless bodies. But many lives had already been extinguished.
It was only then that she felt the rain of debris falling from the dark night sky. While the larger chunks had already come back to earth and accomplished their acts of death, now small pieces fell, pelting the temporary survivors with bits of radiation.
Nicole rose to her feet, unsteady at the realization of Kevin’s death. Looking up, away from the body, she witnessed Armageddon at its worst. Four buildings, more like skeletons than buildings, eerily ablaze in the otherwise black night. From above pieces of lighter debris fell like snow. Letting a shallow breath out between her pursed lips, she stared at the final monster.
Reactor five, the newest and largest of all, was ablaze. Though not yet officially on-line, it still housed more nuclear material than the other four, combined. Through minute breaths, she watched as the next explosion rumbled through the night air.
She fell to her knees knowing that the end had arrived. Shading her eyes, she watched until the second explosions brightness burned her corneas. Something, most likely a piece of cement from the cauldron, struck her chest, knocking her onto her back and taking away what little breath remained in her lungs.
She couldn’t move, couldn’t feel her arms nor her legs. Nicole coughed and felt something spurt up from her chest, perhaps blood, she thought – my blood. One last epic explosion rocked the complex removing all life forms for miles around.
As the last fatal chunks came back to earth, Nicole’s final breath slipped between burned parted lips, mercifully releasing her from the ensuing nightmare.