The fire in the neatly split small pile of wood has begun to go out, although the young man's hands have covered the sky from the brick fortress that enveloped the fire, the strong wind that afternoon forced the fire to hide in the wooden cavities. He then added a bunch of charcoal, but without the addition of gasoline, the backing material only became a blow to the fire which now looked like pieces of translucent satin.
"tsk!" his cheeks formed a dimple after holding back his frown for a long time. He stood up, took off his hat, and open the orange light that illuminated his view towards the other 4 young men who were standing quietly enjoying the breeze from a height of 64 feet at the end of the rooftop of the abandoned old building.
"Mirza! Can you pass the gas here?" he complained
He throws his hat with the intention to hit one of the guy’s back, but he misses, the strong winds deflecting the hat which gives it a long fall straight to the road, as the base of the forecourt of the building.
“Ah.” he dumbstrucked for a moment.
But none of them paid any heed, neither the guy who was thrown by the hat earlier nor the nearest guy who was holding a bunch of raw corn that he was holding in his left hand, which now drops.
From the back, the four of them have different heights, but the dark shadows cast from their backs seemed to have the same weight.
Including the guy who lost his cap, there are 5 guys on the top of the rooftop now who just froze without moving an inch for 2 minutes. However, what makes the 4 of them frozen at the time, is the most distressing sight they’ve ever seen, excluding the scenes from the movies.
300 meters from the roof of the abandoned building where they gathered, in the courtyard of a building with a minimalist and closed design called the temporary building of the General Elections Commission, there were hundreds of fire sources coming from scattered car tires. Nearby, several people with fanatical appearances sprinkled the fuel that ignited the flames. The courtyard of the building and the road were filled with walking humans mixed with artificial humans, which were commonly found in rice fields, but from the roof of the 4th-floor building, everything looked the same.
Even the walking humans looked just as disheveled as the scarecrows dressed in neat suits.
The winds getting stronger.
Moreover, hundreds of people formed a formation and stomped their feet on the earth by raising their left hands which signaled resistance shouting 1 word without a rhythm, 'redo the election' which they’re shouting. And from the protest site, the screams were getting louder and louder, barely in tune with the pounding of the hundreds of feet, which also gave rise to vibrations, vibrations that could be felt up to 300 meters away.
Starting to feel unsure, the dozens of feet started to stop one after another.
One by one the screaming protesters began to stop their just standing still, some of them looked left and right suspiciously. They are starting to take their step preparing to run. Some of them did, but still many are shouting as if that was their last lung’s attempt to give it a call to people at the commission building.
A little 'It stopped!' was heard from one person to another. But suddenly the sound of the rumbling is starting again and it became louder than the screams of protesters with their demands. People who are not running, go hand in hand. Waiting for the rumbling to stop. This time, in silence.
The rumbling stops.
The remaining demonstrators let go of each other's hands, watching each other for the people they cared about. The sound of crying slowly began to be heard from behind the line, followed by another scream. The loudness of the speech suddenly appeared out of nowhere. However, most of them choose to run, hoping that the situation was under control by whoever arranged this event.
"Was that… an earthquake?" one guy breaks the silence on the rooftop
“Nah, Nuclear war. what do you think?” another guy sarcastically replied, while touching the big scar on his forehead, dear just like he’s holding his trauma.
"We should go down now" another guy already packing his stuff as he’s holding papers in his hand.
“..I don’t think..” the guy who just walked right to the stairs leaving the corns he just dropped behind just standing there at the tip of the stair before even taking a step down.
"Guys… what about our corns here?"
Each of them started holding their bag, jacket, signed thesis, or whatever they wanted to save.
The situation became quiet, then slowly irregular footsteps began to be heard, but this time from the crowd's running, without any of them saying a word they were bound to last time.
Suddenly the rumbling started again, like a sudden tantrum by the mother earth, this time the pressure making the 4th floor they were on began to crack randomly.
The building they occupied to gather was just an old abandoned building without a proper foundation, just a little bit stronger earthquake than what’s happening right now would surely collapse one by one the foundations of the building. They realized it.
Each vibration feels like a ticking bomb that could take their foot down to the ground immediately.
3 of them were shaking along with their furrowed eyebrows, but one of them was shaking with joy followed by a little smile that seemed to be waiting for a challenge without fear. And the last one, who still looks like he is the only one who still attached his regular still foot, holding his breath as he walks from side to side and grabs some corn from the combustion. He then arrived on the tip of the back side of the rooftop, he monitored downwards followed by regular inhalations and exhalations. With calm eyes, he throws one of the corns in his left hand down.
WHUZZH. The corn falls.
It was difficult to see the plunging corn clearly because the increasing vibrations of the earth made their eyes blur. But what’s clear is, that the straight-down throw looks as hard as a baseball pitcher playing with the devil beneath the surface of the earth. The corn slid sharply, into the green pool of water just below the building on the other side of the main road.
After confirming how the corn fell, he woke their friends from their empty imagination, "Come on!" he shouted loudly.
The smiling guy takes his step immediately, the first one who jumps, followed by his shocked friends' faces.
One by one, they looked up in the midst of the violent shaking,
“Jump!” he’s shouting again, as he let loose his foot and gone from their sight as he leaving the corn he had previously been holding scattered on the rough cement-textured floor.
The remaining 3 youths began to turn around. Their eyes began to open wider, as awareness amidst the shaking tilted the building toward the street. They have no other choice but to run towards their friend who had jumped. Even though there was no visible difference, their legs felt a slant that started to lift their toes little by little. In mere seconds they run fast without crouching and clinging to their feet to hold on.
Doubts began to appear, and little by little the edge of the jump start began to be seen more clearly.
While propping his knees with his hands to run, the boy now has to accept the fact that this was what he see as soon as he took off the hat. The glasses another guy wearing is start to mist up as if his body was heating up producing steam. Another boy with a bewildered expression is trying to put his personal stuff into his small bag in a rush. They will jump, for sure. It only took a few minutes of this earthquake to completely hurl this old building onto the street. And it looks like it can take hours for the 3 guys to get ready to jump down. But in a matter of seconds, they need their life granted safely. All it takes now is, 1 second of courage to jump.
2 Hours Before The Earthquake
On the stairs of the worn-out building, black shoes with a rose stitch motif stepped on the moss sticking from the treads that crawled up to the top of the wall. Not alone, behind him was followed a bespectacled youth with piles holding several piles of paper and books in his hands.
They got to the top. Greeted by sunlight this afternoon looks more orange than usual. Another 4 of their friends have started a small picnic by rolling out a dull carpet that looks to blend in with the floor of this unfinished building.
"Hey guys.." he greeted those who had gathered
"YouTuber’s phrase?" Matt, who sits arranging raw corns and handmade cooking equipment in the center of the rooftop noticed them first, without even looking at them as his sight is blocked by the hat he’s wearing.
"Well I just saw one down there" he replied as he walks right to the guy at the tip of the rooftop.
“Like..share..subscribe..” Sabil, a pale guy with another cap is watching the rioting crowd from the top of the building, mimicking a young man with a camera in his hand who spoke in empty air. “..that gen z brat,” he said. His cap taken by Mirza who just walks right to him makes his curly hair drop covering his sight.
“Speak for yourself” he added.
"For an event that the goal is to avoid the academic shit, you brought too many books, you damn lawyer… " Imad being bitter as ever as he’s starting to build a little fireplace
“I got no time to go back to our dorm, straight to here from my campus” he replies
“Ah… I wish something would happen…” Fachry, a tall man with dark skin, is standing at the edge of the rooftop, looking at the city that looks like a mobile game from that distance.
“Something is happening, look” Beside him, pointing at the crowd, Adrian with sharp eyes paid attention to the huge crowd filled with thousands of people surrounding a small minimalist building with no sign of life except for the state flag which remained flying in its main courtyard.
“Ah, today isn't it” Mirza chimed in
“Today is not the peak schedule, but it already looks like it” the man who was previously behind him, Hiel, now joined the conversation.
"Didn't you say that your thesis was about this thing? You’re not joining them?"
"First of all, my thesis has been signed for approval. Second, I heard that today there is actually two opposing side demanding different things. The provocations left and right that I heard are kinda worrying for my safety....”
“Back again with that rotten politics” Mirza complained
“Either way, I think it will be safer here”
...birds were flying directly above them to the east. The flapping sound that blended into the rhythm and the wind it created again made the flames of their old stove die out.
“Shit” Matt, the fire guy is pissed with that
"That's.. one big migration, huh.." said Fachry while lifting his head
"You should close your zipper or your bird might get tempted to run with them" Billy's silly smile appears on the left side of Fachry leg as he pokes his crotch with wooden folding fan
“It probably irritated since you never use it for 20 years”
“Speak for yourself you clown--face---”
They got a little fight using wooden fans.
“Gotta admit neither his joke nor his height got no improvement since we high school” Mirza's rare little smile appears for a second enjoying his friend’s fight.
The crowd is getting bigger and their chatters begin to be heard from up there.
Billy closes his ears with his jacket as he tries to take a nap on the mattress with the other boys, while some others can be seen already sleeping in a sitting position while resting their back against the rough wall, including Mirza, while his phone is in his pocket keeps vibrating for some time.
"Oi! ...I thought we were gonna cook the corn right now?" Matt was the only one by the fire preparing their low-budget snacks
On a beautiful afternoon, the chilling wind keeps coming, and without the sound of engines or horns, things were fairly quiet for a long time.
The same chilling vibes can be felt by a guy somewhere far from the capital who is half asleep leaning on his seat on the bullet train that was speeding on the tracks with a majestic view of the ocean marking the northern edge of the island of Java.
And that same feeling is also roosting on the shoulder of a guy on a sports motorbike that reflected orange light from the afternoon sun because of how clean the body is even though it is now speeding above the speed limit that he sees at a glance from the road sign at this transverse toll road that’s heading to the capital city.
Billy is the first one to wake up, he gets up and walks toward the edge of the rooftop. He opens his zipper and set his body in a ready position.
Suddenly a hand grabbed his shirt from behind.
Adrian stopped Billy, "If you want to pee straight to the pool, at least do it from the ground"
"But, imagine the sensation..."
Adrian turned his head to his right signaling Billy to look in the direction he was pointing with his eyes.
Matt, who was sitting across from the wall, was holding a cell phone that was pointing at Billy, with his camera recording.
Without a word, he waved with his sly smile signaling Billy to continue his duties.
Billy pouted wryly and hurried down the stairs with a grunt that made his silly face even more ridiculous.
Mirza, Hiel, and Fachry who already opened their eyes watched their friend leave.
The three of them crawled to the edge and looked down at the side of the rooftop where Billy had been standing before.
“I probably will”
"If you would, me too"
"Woah.. all green.."
Hiel was the last one to reach the edge, looking at the large pool that used to be excavated area of the building they were standing on
“Yeah.. How many years do you think this building has not continued its construction”
"Given how much Sabil drank last night, it won't be long before the color of the pool changes." He added
"Ah.. yes yes, I remember briefly--" Fachry agreeing his assumption
"Eh? The three of you last night--"
Mirza suddenly threw up vomit equal to 2 days of food, straight into the dirty pool below.
Fachry who is beside him is glaring in surprise
"dude.. you look more worrying than Billy"
"Ah, dammit, I need more sleep. Wake me up when the corn is ready" He stood up to return to the mat where they had been relaxing.
His steps were stopped by Adrian who tapped him on the shoulder.
"Now that you mentioned, i remember I still woke Billy and Fachry this morning. But you’re not in the dorm. Where were you last night?"
Mirza chuckled, "Playing house? Find another kid of your mental age who has such pure-minded fantasies just like you, Adrian. I'm just a pubescent teenager who has a backache and needs a long sleep right now”
Adrian threaten him in silence for a moment, an innocent face that only focused on Mirza made him quite disturbed. "Theatre. Tomorrow is my last show, it's only natural that there was a lot of rehearsal last night. Did you trade your logic for muscle?"
"We will go back to our hometown together in 2 days? Take care of your health"
"Okay dad. I want to sleep, dad. Screw yourself dad"
"You know... your father actually called me--"
Mirza turned and delayed the departure of his back towards the mat to lean on.
He closed his mouth symboling his whole irritated face as he shook his head.
"If you don't know what to say to him, how can I--"
"Just repeat what I said a few seconds ago to him" Mirza cut his lecture
"Then let me repeat his words to you. He said hospitals are no place for actors--"
"Goddammit Adrian, what kind of era are we living in now? Dark Ages? Does every son need to succeed the king's throne?..."
"...and by the way, there's actually a place for actors in hospitals. I heard the new doctors still need some fake patients to practice how to properly deliver the sad news like.. when they have cancer or.. that they are a disappointment to their family.. which you know I have mastered that role since i was six..."
"..if he wants a young successor just take Ghozy. He already graduated from some medical university in Central Java right?" he added the muttering slowly
"Could a doctor be in charge of hospital management though?"
Mirza sighed, tired "I really want to put a mark on that plain face that resembles your brain, Adrian"
"You never win against me in karate though"
"Because I hate that kind of disciplined technique you asshole" he got up from his half back and put his body defiantly.
"It’s a shame Billy is not here right now" from afar, Fachry commented
"What he's gonna do?" Hiel asked
"Place a bet. I could need some cent. His luck is the worst"
Hiel, the disciplined law student, frowned.
Adrian raised his hand, telling Mirza to pay attention for a moment "Did you hear that?" he added
Adrian turned to the left, opened his eyes wider, and looked at the distant view that was previously covered by the afternoon sun.
Mirza, who followed his steps, was also surprised, which was then followed by Fachry and Hiel. Their backs seemed to cast dark shadows in contrast to the light they were walking to as if to be a reaction to what they see at that time.
In the midst of the silence, a hat was thrown from behind their backs. No-one turned around. The hat that fell from the 4th floor floated like a parachute downwards, which has been quiet after demonstrators who had previously gathered are now not there.
When the hat hits the road, the rumbling occurs.
"We should go down now" Hiel is packing his stuff as he’s holding papers in his hand.
Adrian who heard more than a cracking sound immediately walked quickly towards the stairs which were the only way out of the top floor of the old building. His eyes went wide. All he sees are just the ruins of the disjointed stairs. It took more than a human jump to jump the lost space between the stairs.
And in the midst of this increasing ground shaking, another crack looks alarming.
“..I don’t think..”
"Guys… what about our corns here?" Matt shouted at the loudest volume he'd ever let out today, coincidentally or not, the corns he was mentioned about were now rolling right and left as if looking for the most comfortable side of the building to fall on.
A large crack was heard from the side of the building that led to the street. As if hearing mother's call, the corns rolled towards it one by one.
That's when they realized, the old building was about to collapse. Slowly, but certainly.
Each of them started holding their bag, jacket, signed thesis, or whatever they wanted to save.
Their legs, which they had been trying to stand up, now felt heavy to run, even though they have nowhere to do so. Before they knew it, their backs seemed to be pulled by an invisible force following the slope of the building just like a sinking Titanic.
But Adrian calmly walked against gravity, his hand calmly picked up corn, and quickly after heading to the other edge of the building which had almost ducked down, he throws the corn hard down. Confirming the depth of the old pond filled with moss and garbage.
Mirza jumps first, like an athlete, each of his steps doesn't feel like there is any hesitation.
Matt stepped without taking his eyes off Adrian who is still waiting at the end. He confirmed the certainty in Adrian's eyes.
Hiel with a pile of papers in his hands took a step at a time and carefully unplugged himself from the end of the building. His collar was immediately pulled along with Matt's jump to accompany the adrenaline they never imagined.
Meanwhile, Fachry, who was still having trouble gathering his things into a bag, was dragged by Adrian to the end of the building. The stuff that was left behind immediately slid and fell along with the cracks of the building that had been destroyed one second after Fachry's feet left his post.
Adrian jumped. Fachry who was holding Adrian's jacket also lifted his legs and shot into the air with his four friends.
The four guys are now drawing the same fate, above the air, with different adrenaline and different expressions. Towards the pool of water, they could smell long before their bodies hit the dark green water emanating from above, which was then added at the same time, a natural stream of water extracted from a human body to return to Earth from one of their friend who was on the ground earlier than any of them, with his zipper opened, and his shocked face, as he peed into the pool, that they’re finally falling into.