Eric shelters in a thin streak of shade under a tree and he’s still hot. An ant runs over his toe. The playground seems to be moving towards him in waves. He can’t stay on his feet, he crouches and watches concrete rip itself open. When the shaking stops he runs and doesn’t stop until he’s two blocks from home. The road is a gaping chasm. He takes off his shoes and walks through a dried-up dribble of creek. His house is standing but the horizon has changed. The chimney is gone.
Ethel runs out of the factory as it shakes. Her needle still in her hand. Outside she pauses, she’d usually turn right, but she goes left. It takes three hours to walk home. She is lost in the new dusty landscape. Later the neighbour tells her nine girls had turned right and were crushed by masonry. Ethel sits on the long-drop her father has built in a tent next to the fallen chimney. Already the stink of shit is stomach-turning. The tent shakes. Another aftershock. There is more shaking. Ethel screams, pulling at her pants. She hears Eric laugh as he runs back into the house.