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We're running out of time by Jonathan Wakelam, Westminster Kingsway College

February 2022

A desperate man raced against the oscillating horns. Speeding down the sheened stairs that reflected an apocalypse, he carried an armful of jumbled possessions to a yellow truck parked outside the bed and breakfast. He dumped them in the open boot with a reiterative clunk. His shout of “Fokk!” was reinforced by his punctative slamming the boot shut.

Boots squeaking as they sprinted over the mirror-like floorboards, he ran back upstairs, where his family led a busy scene of throwing clothes and toiletries into rustling plastic bags.

He stopped, panting, at a tall and sleek wardrobe. Opening the uppermost doors on the tips of his toes, he slowly withdrew a photo of a beautiful young woman. His gazing was interrupted by a treacherous thunderclap from the mountain that ruled their town, snapping his head to attention.

“We’re running out of time!” he shouted urgently, stuffing the photo in the pocket of his waxy jacket before shepherding them outside, dismissing his wife’s talk of memories and pushing everyone out the door. He clambered into the car without locking the BnB. Hardly making a rapid headcount of the children securing themselves, his pristine boot pulled the accelerator down magnetically and they lurched away from the unnervingly quiet town.

His wife’s shaking hand that squeezed his sweat into the gear stick only brought him more pain to think of Jóhanna. The parallax of the mirror aligned to show the middle-aged host a warm front of satsuma orange filling the street with evil destruction. With a pop like a balloon, the car fell into a brain-wracking skid down the stones that lined the street with a perfectionism soon to be broken by the lava that chased the host.

Yanking the handbrake this time, Ketill pulled the yellow beast into a graceful arc of a drift, careening around a tight corner and into the eyeshot of a shimmering bay and a departing ferry.

Still breaking the speedometer, he made a quick jerk of the wheel, forcing the truck to the right and up a ramp.

They were suspended in the sooty air. With a crushing force, they landed on the rear of the boat. Ketill’s shocked breath struggled to keep up with the sequence of events he had just experienced.

He looked behind him through the dirty mixture of ash and seawater on his back window to see his home in flames.