By H. P. Oliver
Tiare Peña

Copyright 2020 HPO Productions
All Rights Reserved

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Excerpted From

At first, I thought the jostling that woke me was Kieley getting out of bed, but she was still sound asleep. I guessed it was another damned aftershock, and a strong one at that. Then something hit the floor with a crash and I bailed out of bed.

Trying to keep my balance against violent shaking, I shouted, "Kieley, grab some clothes and get out of here! Kristina, wake up!"

I grabbed my pants and shirt from a chair by the bed and headed for the door right behind Kieley, who was carrying her jeans and a jacket. Then I noticed Kristina stumbling in the darkness. She seemed confused. I put my arm around her waist and latched on to a blanket from her bed.

Outside, the shaking seemed even more violent. I let go of Kristina and leaned against the Jeep to put my pants and jacket on. While I was doing that, Kristina managed to get the blanket wrapped around her, but Kieley fell getting into her jeans. She used the Wrangler's fender to pull herself up before I could get to her. All the while, the quake rumbled like a dozen locomotives going by at the same time.

My keys were in my pants pocket. I fished them out and pressed a button on the Jeep's electronic key fob to unlock all four doors. I yelled, "Come on, into the Jeep."

Kristina was having trouble getting her blanket through the Jeep's door. I hopped out, and hanging onto the vehicle for support against the ceaseless motion of the ground, I stuffed the offending blanket parts inside and closed the door.

Back in the Jeep, I slipped the key into the ignition switch and was just about to start the engine when the shaking stopped. The world suddenly got very quiet. It was like somebody pressed a mute button.

Kieley said, "It's over."

It wasn't a question. She was simply stating fact. I glanced at my watch: 3:57 a.m.