Just half an hour ago this was a simple Sunday morning. But the paintbrush held with ease has been replaced by the phone that hasn't left his shaking hands for a while now.
Ever since the alert message he nervously keeps on dialing the same few numbers over and over again, hoping to somehow get through, no matter how small the chance of that happening is.
All the lines are completely filled with countless amount of people trying to reach someone important to them on the other end in the middle of this chaotic madness.
Unfortunately, that's the most you can do being in any of their shoes. And so, subconsciously, he understands that.
there's no way he's letting go of hope that one of those calls will eventually go through and he will learn that they've found a safe shelter somewhere in the city or that
they're miraculously just around the corner, or, or...
The huge flash went off.
His hands became weak and the phone he was holding so tightly just a moment ago slipped his sweaty fingers and hit the ground, completely forgotten, just like many other things from now on.
Half blinded, heart pounding like hell, mostly trusting his own memory rather than eyes, he ran out to the backyard.
The wave of air, heat and debris was getting closer and closer every second, destroying everything it meets in its path.
The door to the underground bunker was left wide open by his own stressed self and so it didn't take him long to get inside and smash-shut the door.
And finally - safety. There is no rush no more, all the time in the world is his now. But what's the point? The only feeling he's left with is vanity.
He takes a few steps away from the door and just around the corner leans against the wall.
Staring to the ground with disbelief he slowly slides down that very same wall until he reaches the ground and the head on his bent neck reaches his knees.
He takes a deep breath and slowly exhales as his eyes close. Sweat running down his body doesn't seem to bother him at all anymore. No place did ever feel so empty before.
Suddenly - the sound resembling light and somewhat familiar steps appears. What's more, it seems to be coming from somewhere inside.
But could it be? Could someone have somehow made inside? Not many people knew about this bunker, but the chances are that if someone did, it would be someone close.
He could feel the anticipation spring inside him, yet he was still hesitant to turn his head towards the sound waves, being afraid that another let down like this would be one too much.
But then again, there is not that much left to lose, is there? The footsteps seem to be getting closer and closer with each second.
Being overwhelmed by all these thoughts, in mental preparation for what's about to come next he holds his head with his hands as he clenches his eyes even harder than before.
And just as he's about to get up and give this pathetic thing called hope one last chance the sound stops.
It stops, but it seems that it's so close he could touch whoever is in front of him if he only stretched his hands out.
A short moment of silence stands right before the voice starts reaching his ears. But he doesn't hear a single word anymore. All that's left is just a sound.
A most beautiful sound he's ever heard. And it's all because he knew this voice to the bones. Nothing before, sounding so simple and familiar, has given him so many emotions.
Next thing he knows he's on his feet hugging her as hard as he can. For a while, without saying a single word, they just stood there, in this insane mix of different range of emotions.
And who could blame them? After all, it's not every day that you experience a nuclear war that takes everything away.
No matter how good the news coming right after are, it might take a few moments to process everything that happened in the last 20 minutes.
It might take time to put all these puzzling feelings back in their places.
"I'm lost for words," he said in half-whispering tone while taking a small step back, just to let in some breathing air. "All this time there was this thought in the back of my head - I...
I really didn't want to lose you..."
"You can let go of that thought now," she replied and smiled faintly.
"But still, what about everyone else? They could've made it, somewhere..."
"They could have. And you can choose to believe in it. Or you can accept it for what it is, because chances are, they didn't," She answered calmly. "And even if they did, I mean, look around you.
"You're probably right. It's just, I wish I could've done something more. I feel so terribly helpless."
"I know. It's so...unfair. But I guess we knew it was coming all along. Most of us just chose to ignore it or, or just live in denial rather than in fear.
" She reached out and took him by the hands. For a few moments, they stood there just like that - silently.
"It's really hard, and there are absolutely no words that could accurately measure this," she suddenly spoke. "The world will change but you'll not be there to see it through.
There aren't any days or nights, weeks, months or years anymore. There aren't any names and there aren't any families.
From here on out, this bunker is your world and the time here does not exist. One way or the other, you will have to take it in."
He wanted to say something back, as if not agreeing to give up on the hope to ever see the outside world again, but right after opening his mouth he fell silent.
Deep down he knew that every word that just passed through him was a cold hard truth.
And yet, the idea of letting yourself live in an illusion where everything will be alright seemed so sweet, so tempting. After all, not a thing that's left to gain or lose can change that much.
Does acceptance even hold any value anymore then? He freed his hands from hers and took a few steps back until he reached the wall.
He sat back in the very same spot where not so long ago he experienced his world crumbling apart in. And she, she sat down right next to him. For some time, not another word was let out.
"I wonder if there are alternate universes?" he said after a while of sitting in silence. "Where nothing like this ever happened, you know? Where we simply kept on going...".
"Well, even if there is...
," she smiled, "it's definitely not this one cause it's so terribly fucked in here,
" she said with an unexpectedly better mood and even a hint of laughter somehow coming through the hard outside shell.
"I guess we'll be here for a while then," he said "got to get used to it." Slowly, he closed his eyes and put his head on his bent knees, just like before. "I wish you didn't have to go."
"You can't live this forever," she said quietly as she put her head on his shoulder.
I know," he whispered "but I'll try anyway."
Suddenly, a few tears made their way into the outside as he slowly opened his deeply shut eyes.
His heavily dilated pupils only truly looked at these walls for the very first time as he was sitting completely alone.
Not moving his empty eyes, without any rush, he lifted his hand up and found his way into the inside pocket of his jacket.
He took out a smashed pack of cigarettes and only a moment later looked inside.
No time was wasted picking the prettier one as he pulled out the first one he could grasp and put it in between his lips.
As he was trying his best to spark a fire with an almost empty lighter, he was only wish was to share that cigarette with her - right here, right now.
He knew that here, for him alone, the whole pack isn't going to be strong enough.
After many devastating tries to create a fire, one spark finally went through.
His blackened and hurting thumb was holding down the gas button as he slowly pulled the lighter closer to his face and lit up the cigarette. He deeply inhaled as much smoke as he could gather.
And then... Then he slowly blew it all out as his eyes closed again. No place did ever feel so empty before.