Raphael’s Earthquake

Presenting my latest 750 word challenge story. This week’s picture prompt is a photo taken by famous artist Banksy.

This challenge was set by Miranda Kate, please find her on twitter @PurpleQueenNL. The challenge is part of her #MidWeekFlash game on Facebook, and the link is below the story.

Raphael’s Earthquake

Sometimes life can change in dramatic and terrifying ways. For Irina, it began with Raphael the little, white Maltese dog barking and whining. She saw him staring at the floor. Irina instinctively looked to the chandelier; it was swaying.

“Raphael, come – under the stairs!” Irina barely made into the cupboard before the tremors began in earnest and Raphael’s barking ceased. It was like standing on a tumble-dryer on its fastest spin. The whole house, the earth rocked and rolled in stomach-lurching fashion. Cracks raced along the walls and across the ceilings. The rumbling, reverberation noise was permeated by the constant cacophony of destruction. Ornaments, falling – breaking. Furniture tumbling and rubble cascading to the ground.

Irina cowered in the corner of her cupboard under the stairs without Raphael; she didn’t know where he went. She screamed amid thunderous bangs and fell to the floor as the whole house heaved as if it were on water. Windows shattered, car horns blared, doors fell in with the walls crashing to the ground – Silence.

The Earthquake was over leaving only the sound of water gushing from burst pipes in its wake. Irina rose from her corner, stepped over debris to reach the door. It no longer led into her kitchen. The door stood alone in a sea of rubble; Irina’s house was gone. She felt her heart break as she dropped to her knees and held her head in her hands. Her tears were silent but she could hear people around the neighbourhood screaming and crying; all suffering similar fates.

“Raphael! Oh, Raphael where are you!” she cried.

There were no answering barks, no whines, nothing the Maltese seemed to have vanished.

Irina climbed out of the cupboard, noticing the house next door was more or less intact. It was a much older building, which may have saved it. She picked up a picture of her late husband and saw it was torn in two. Fresh tears left track marks in the grey dust that coated her face.

“Raphael! Where are you?” she called again. Her voice choked with as much emotion as the dust billowing around her. Desperate to find her dog, she mantled a section of the kitchen ceiling and discovered her bed buried in half the front of the house.

Something cracked, she felt it go beneath her. Irina cried out as the debris collapsed, pitching her off her feet. She slammed into a pile of bricks and rolled through a cascade of roof tiles.

“Geez, madam! Are you alright?” said a strong male voice.

Irina opened her eyes to see a friendly fireman peering down at her. “I … no, I lost everything …” she lifted a shaking hand and saw it bleeding through her curtain of tears. Letting it flopped back beside her she felt weary. “Please … find … Raphael.”

“I’m Andre, I promise I’ll find him.” The fireman blew his whistle. It summoned paramedics to his side.

Irina felt them kneel beside her.

“You’re going to be okay.” One said as they began checking her injuries and extracting her from the rubble.

“I don’t … want to go … not without Raphael.” she managed numbly.

The paramedics rolled her onto her side, placing a spine board beneath her. As they did, she glimpsed the firefighter Andre searching through rubble. He dropped to his knees, crawling beneath a collapsed section of a ceiling. Then Irina was lowered again and couldn’t follow him anymore.

“Okay, Madam. Let’s get you into the ambulance and safe,” said a paramedic as several lifted her onto a stretcher.

Irina felt herself bump about as she was wheeled to the roadside. Then she saw the roof of the ambulance slid across above her as she was loaded inside.

“We’ll soon have you safe in the hospital,” a blonde female paramedic smiled at her. “You’ll be fine.”

“No … I’m not … going. I won’t … go without—” Irina heard a whine. Scrabbling on back of the ambulance. Claws clicking on the floor. Then a flurry of dirty white fur blurred her vision as the dirty, white Maltese licked her face with excited whines.

“Is this, Raphael?” asked Andre.

“It is.” Irina smiled and hugged both the dog and the fireman in floods of tears. “My house means nothing; the friendship of Raphael sustains me. Now, I know I will survive and be okay.”

Irina fell asleep with a smile on her face and an arm around her dog. One day she would indeed be fine again.


The End


Do you fancy writing a 750 word story for the above photo. Head over to Finding Clarity, follow the instructions and have fun.

Feel free to check out more of my tales in the Short Stories tab too.

Thanks for reading my friends.

5 thoughts on “Raphael’s Earthquake

Add yours

    1. Thanks, Jim. I enjoyed this one. I felt an earthquake myself and have seen aftermath so it was an interesting time conveying it with so few words. Glad you liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

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