Fissures is the second edition in the continuous short story series, Eyes of the Innocent, that will span across this year’s Verse Magazine, inspired by the theme of each particular edition. It tells the story of how one cataclysmic event can affect different people and how it can bring them together.
She was at the plant when the first plumes of smoke appeared over the horizon, curling like talons towards a sky that was dipped in grey.
The sun was high, hidden behind the masses of chalky clouds slowly turning black with the ink stain spilling from the city. Katherine squinted at the smoke through the pane of her office windows, seeing the breaths of black seeping between the peaks of buildings just past the lake.
Her heart began to pound. Like the drums beaten before people went to war.
She was alone in the office, a large space that stretched a few metres, an observation desk to the rest of the plant. Monitors and buttons laid before her, spread like a buffet, each designed so the turbines below her feet kept turning, kept supplying power to those on the outskirts of the city before her.
The hydroelectricity plant was situated just outside the main city centre, the large body of water reflecting the melancholic sky in front of her the only thing that separated them. Behind her office, through thick walls of cement, the dam sat – those walls the only thing holding the thousands of tonnes of water at bay. Katherine spun at her desk, long nails hitting plastic until security footage was pulled up.
The left side of the exterior of the plant showed nothing noteworthy, although the right side bore three figures near one of the longer walls, often littered with graffiti due to its close proximity to one of the nearby hills. Whatever design the three teenagers were depicting was off-screen.
She switched to the footage of the interior turbines. The metal wheels spun as normal, the water thundering through relentlessly. Even though the video was silent, she could still hear that sound, like a thousand hooves pounding at the ground beneath her feet.
There was a flicker of dark movement in the corner of the video, just to the right of the turbine. Katherine blinked and it was gone. A dark hand curled in her gut.
She sat watching the video intently for another few minutes, waiting for that figure to reappear. When the invisible grip on her stomach didn’t go away, even after nothing happened, she reached for the phone, punching in the number for security. A gravelly, bored voice answered the phone, ‘Yeah?’
Katherine gripped the receiver, ‘Could you check turbine 8 for me, please? I think I just saw someone on the monitor.’
‘You think?’ His voice was a slow drawl. Unbothered. Lazy.
She looked again at the dark clouds rising from the city beyond, looking too much like the smoke that rises from a campfire, from burning metal. Katherine steeled her voice, ‘Yes, I did. Please go take a look.’
There was a pause, then what sounded like shuffling on the other end of the line, ‘Alright.’
She loosened a breath she didn’t know she was holding, ‘Thank you,’ and hung up.
She stood there for a moment, staring again at the security footage. Unable to shake the feeling that something was… off.
Then the windows exploded.
Katherine felt a stinging on her cheek as the glass sliced through soft flesh. The instant sound of the roaring waves rushed into the observation room.
A tremor shook the plant. It was as if the waves being pushed between the turbines were revolting. As if the slaves were driving back against their masters. The strength of the tremor forced Katherine to place her hands on the front of her desk, the palms slicing under fragments of glass. She collapsed to her knees a moment later, thick pants barring most of the debris from pressing into her skin. A ringing clattered through her ears, her skull.
An incessant buzzing hummed beneath the ringing in her head, an alert forcing her to raise her gaze to the cameras on the dashboard. The water was still churning through the plant, still forcing its way to freedom out the other side.
Then she saw it.
That shadow, human now in shape, with their back towards the camera. In their hands they were fixing something to the interior wall, something rectangular, something that blinked systematically. Something with a lot of wires.
Katherine’s eyes widened as she realised what it was.
The dark figure turned away from the bomb being strapped to a supporting pillar, reached down to pick up a flat piece of metal, and turned. His face was haggard, eyes pushed into the sockets, his beard was untrimmed and wrapped around the bottom of his face like a great spider. But it was what was in his hands, what was written on the flat piece of metal that made Katherine’s entire body go cold, her mouth go numb.
The explosion ripped through the wall in a matter of seconds.
The fissure shattered through the supporting pillar, cement like breadcrumbs beneath the sheer force of the explosion. The water wasted no time in bursting through those exposed wounds. Tonnes of water that forced its way through the cracks and fractures made by the bomb. It decimated the exposed interior of the plant, now cracked open like a carcass. Plunging through the hallways and the devastated observation deck, it exploded through the centre of the plant into the lake beyond.
The turbines were ripped from the floor, unable to cope with the tidal wave that made its way through the plant. The lights on the outskirts of the city ahead dimmed as the heart of its power was ripped out.
The water broke through the centre of the plant, cascading downwards in a waterfall; a raging satire to the gentle depiction of its natural counterpart. And beside the torrents of water, beside the decimated walls and broken cement at the centre of the plant, was an image. Painted onto the cement walls closest to the hills that bore no brunt of the destroyed turbines. In stark red letters, exposed like the body of the plant beside them, was only three words. Three words that held enough power to destroy the mass of cement and steel beside it. The same three words that were written on the plane of metal the man had held in his hands. Just three words.
We warned you.
Written by Rylee Cooper