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Itty Bitty Bigger World - BART Rage

I do not like the underground. I do not like the endless sweep of tunnels. I especially do not like being in the tunnels without gear.

I've done this before.


"... and here we see the primary station excavation. Nanotech processed concrete columns support thousands of tons of buildings above us...."

I was bored. But my investment company had insisted that I show some interest in the new BART San Jose terminal, which had taken another six years after they had finished the first San Jose extension, to Berryessa.

The year: 2025. The person: me, with more money than I knew what to do with. What was coming: ultimately, San San.

But something else happened first.

My first warning was when the ground started to tremble. I looked immediately for the nearest lit EMERGENCY EXIT sign. I spotted one just before it went dark, as the choking clouds of dust and the enormous roar battered my ears, then my flesh.

A great white noise struck my head and I knew no more.

Obviously, that is not how the story ended or I wouldn't be here now. This is how the story began.

The story of my entombment one hundred and ten meters below downtown San Jose, on the day of the Great Quake of 2025.

I missed a lot. I missed the desperate race to evacuate Children's Hospital Oakland before it finished collapsing. I missed San Francisco's yet-another-firestorm, complicated one hundred and nineteen years later by massive hazmat spills and tightly packed housing without adequate water pressure. I missed ... I missed ...

But I got to keep breathing. Some prize.


I was lying on my side. A massive heavy weight pressed lightly against my legs. I twitched a little and waves of pain screamed through my right leg and up and down my body. I tried to mewl in agony but the choking dust blocked my mouth. I cried and spat and would have howled if I could get my breath.

I could see nothing. It was pitch black, not night black, but put out your eyes with a screwdriver black.

The only good news is that the air had not gone foul. I was not in a small pocket - there was air flow. Otherwise I probably would not have woken up.

My right arm was pinned under my body. My left arm was free. I started patting myself, seeking the confines of my new world.

My hand felt tacky when I touched the smooth concrete under me. Blood, but dried. Almost certainly my own. Further along it was smooth and dry. Good.

I felt the object lying across my legs. It was also concrete, but rougher, textured. Intact, not rubble. A support column?

I spit a little more to cut the dust and called out, "Hello?" I heard no echo.

There was not much I could do. I could not reach the contents of my pockets, even if any of the contents were potentially useful.

I had one trick up my sleeve. I moved my left leg the tiniest little bit. Waves of pain roared across me again, but I was ready.

Had I moved? I wasn't sure. But that column could shift just another quarter inch and finish the job at any moment. I had to crawl out.

I had to. Or I was dead. In the midst of a regional disaster, no one would start a heavy rescue operation just to get a handful of people out of a construction site.

Inch the leg. Waves of horrible pain. Pant, try to recover. Do it again.

That became my world.

Then the world rumbled and shook. Aftershock.

I swear the column bounced. Somehow, in that fraction of a second when it was a live load and not a dead one, I scrambled out from under before it slammed down again with a heavy THUD.

I heard a distant but very loud, brief, female, piercing scream, choked off suddenly.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

Then my right leg screamed.

The strongest bone in the human body is the femur. I done broke it. And I didn't have a damn thing to splint it with.

The most horrible thing about a femur injury is that the thigh muscles try to tense and hold the leg together. This causes the broken bone ends to grind against each other and results in agonizing pain.

I barely felt it. This forced me to realize how badly injured I probably was.

But there was another reason to splint my leg. I could bleed to death internally if I didn't.

No light, no prospect of light. But I sat in a void space, too small to echo, but big enough to keep me alive. And I wore a shirt and an undershirt, and what was left of my pants.

Broken phone. Worthless money and plastic payment cards.

Now I reached down and explored my broken leg. The bone ends were aligned. The inner thigh did not feel either hard or squishy. It all hurt horribly but that was only to be expected.

Then I reached around myself and explored what I could reach. Smooth floor, broken floor, bits of rock and rubble ... and a treasure. A two foot length of rebar. Metal.

This was going to be clumsy in the dark. But I managed to get my undershirt off and use the edge of a rock to get a rip started, ripping it in half. One half became a strip of fabric tying off one end of the rebar above my right hip, essentially around and above the buttock. The other half became a strip of fabric tying off below my right knee. The rebar ran along my outer thigh, anchored to the joint above and below.

Not much of a splint, but it helped, a lot.

I called out a few times. No replies, no echoes.

As my eyes adjusted to utter darkness, I became aware of a faint glow in one direction.

With nothing better to do, I crawled towards it.

A watch. Still attached to the arm of the person wearing it. The arm was cold. The little 'ready' light would have been nearly invisible in normal indoor light, but it was almost enough to light the arm in the pitch blackness.

I felt the person up, looking for anything that could help me. Where their head should have been was a large rock. The matter I swept my hand through was thicker and greasier than mere blood.

He had a thin metal necklace, which I had to break to remove. He had the watch, which I took. No pockets. Clothes, which I removed with some difficulty. The dead need none, you see.

I thought about the tools at hand.

I fished out my broken phone and used the watch light to briefly light the pieces. That's the battery. I took one of his socks and teased it out until it was a mass of fibers. A broken wire to the screen served to short the battery, creating a nice fat spark.

I had to spark three times before the sock caught on fire.

This gave me enough light to see my situation.

I was alone in what was now a mid-sized room, perhaps 40' by 60', separated by the collapsed support column I had been under, based on the blood smear from there to here. My blood, of course.

The headless man was on the other side of the room. He had merely been unlucky, a truck tire sized piece of rock had not just brained him, but flattened his head.

I now wondered if he had been the lucky one.

A part of the room included the trackway. The third rail had not yet been installed.

I crawled myself over to it and peered over, with a stubbornly flickering burning sock in my bare hand. Then I went back and spent some time on cloth and fabric and a dead man's shoe, rigging up a decent impromptu torch.

The torch served to light what I was looking for. The trackway appeared intact. The smoke from the torch did me a huge favor - it showed which direction the air flow into the room was coming from.

Some people might have sat in that room until the next aftershock collapsed it, or they died of thirst or their injuries.

I didn't think about what I was going to do next, or I never would have had the courage.

I tied strips of cloth to protect my leg the best I could, I gloved my hands with bits of the dead man's shirt, I rigged the torch in the center of the track ... and I climbed down into the trackway. A one way trip, as I would not be able to get back up with a broken leg.

Then I started crawling.

It's not well known, but there is a lip over a void under the side of the trackway. If one were to fall off the platform onto the track, and not touch the third rail and become briefly crispy, and not crunched by a train, there is a void space in which a person could crawl or roll to get away from the next train, which would be along shortly.

There would be no trains - this area was still under construction. But the lip and the void were there.

There for me to crawl through, however far I would get before exhaustion and injuries and thirst would finish me off.

I had nothing better to do, and started crawling.


"Alan, are you all right?" Amy asked.

"Huh? I'm fine."

"Why are you moaning?"

I cut it off with an effort. The same little gasping moan I'd made, crawling out of San Jose BART with a broken leg.

The worst was yet to come.


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