The city had been home to generations for hundreds of years. Compact and walled, she was considered impenetrable to anyone from the outside. But for the thousands within her walls, just as hard to get out. Based at the foot of the Tempie mountain, she was a city that appeared to have been forgotten in time. You would easily have been mistaken if you thought her to have being originally built by a lost Mayan civilisation or perhaps even the Romans. As the city grew in population, so too did the buildings with height to accommodate them. And for all the citizens that called her home there appeared to be no need to go anywhere else for this city offered everything you could ever need. Amenities, entertainment, beautiful homes. It had it all.
I don't recall how it was that I was living there, nor why it was that it was being guarded by soldiers speaking German and dressed in black uniforms with medals and stars on their breast pockets and fancy black peaked caps on their heads. I don't know why I knew that we were in imminent danger, nor why the guards were keeping it a secret from everyone, nor why they were preventing anyone from leaving. More frustrating, why all its citizens where going about their daily business, oblivious and careless. I kept preaching imminent doom, but nobody was listening.
Tempie was rumbling. I could see the smoke and if you stopped for a second, you would be able to smell the acid and hear the groaning. All my alarm bells were screaming and panic was setting in. Yet everyone continued about their business. My mouth seemed to be sewn shut, because like the guards, I couldn't utter a word. My eyes were stretched wide in a silent scream and as I dashed up one set of stairs and down another set of endless stairs, I appeared to be running around in circles. I couldn't find my way out. And every time I thought I'd found a way, I ran into a guard. They didn't speak to me, but I somehow knew to try to get past them would be suicidal, so I turned back and sought another way.
Night fell on the city and the sound of people drinking and socialising filled the streets. The bars and taverns filled and music could be heard from the concert halls. It was a happy atmosphere all around me, but I knew that it was to be short lived. I knew that everyone was going to die, yet I still didn't raise the alarm. I wasn't able to and I was terrified I would only draw attention to myself. By now, the main objective seemed to be to get myself out. To live.
The walls of the city stretched high up into the sky. They could easily have been 300 ft high. It had been billed as the safest city in the world and one couldn't help but look at those walls and know that no enemy was ever going to get over them. What it offered though was a false sense of security because I needed to get out and now all I felt was trapped. Like a mouse in a maze I kept running, only to be met by either another wall or another guard.
And then I saw it. A ladder that stretched up all the way to the top. I started to climb it, higher and higher I went and as I climbed I prayed that nobody would see me. I kept waiting to hear the scream of a guard shouting for me to stop. Someone to take a shot at me maybe? But this didn't happen. Eventually, at the top I reached a trapdoor and opening it, pulled myself inside. It was a surveillance room. A German guard sat in front of a bank of computer, studying the going's-on within the city. He turned to look at me as I stood up straight but only smiled at me. This left me completely confused. Why wasn't he reacting? Why didn't he shout for help? Why didn't he reach for his gun? I stood motionless in the middle of this room and watched as another guard walked in from an adjoining room. He too smiled at me and in German started conversing with the one at the computers. I could not understand what he was saying but somehow I knew that they were talking about me. My eyes flashed to the windows in this room and I ran over to the window facing outside and for the first time in years, caught a glimpse of the world outside the walls. It was nothing but jungle. Way, way down below.
Then the second German guard turned to me and said. "It is too late. You cannot leave." More damning was not his words, but the look on his face. Like he understood my fear but knew there was nothing to be done and that he had accepted this fate. This is the thought that went through my head as I absorbed his words. And then I heard and felt it: The creaking of something in the process of snapping, the whoosh of something flying through the air and the rumbling under my feet . I ran to the opposite wall and looked out of the window into the city and saw that it had started. Where buildings had once been ablaze with lights, now they were ablaze with fire. Where people had been laughing and singing, now there was only screaming. I watched for a few more seconds as more fire reigned down on the city and then with tears in my eyes I turned back to the guard. He stretched his arm out, pointing to the window as if inviting me to try to escape but said nothing. I ran once more to the far window, peering out, but there was nothing there but a 300 foot drop on that side and I stood motionless, looking out the window contemplating which way I was going to choose to die.