top of page
< Back

Fleeing the Inferno: Love in the Face of Disaster.

Had someone told me just a day ago that I'd receive a marriage proposal, I would have thought it was a joke. But the unfortunate part is that the proposal marked the start of a new chapter in my life and the beginning of the end.

I was heading to the coffee shop for my daily salted frappuccino energy boost when I received a text from my partner Ray telling me to meet him at the Palma Real building, the towering landmark of Punta Cana, which we called home.

Ray had been acting strange lately, and I couldn't shake the feeling that he wanted to end our relationship after three years of living together. My heart sank as I made my way to the top of the building, unsure of what awaited me.

I ascended to the 40th floor and gazed upon the cityscape, a sprawling metropolis that, despite its frenzied atmosphere, had become my home for the past four years. Even though the chaos made me wince, Ray was an integral part of what made this place feel like home.

I could sense Ray's approach before he spoke, his distinct scent ingrained in my mind. Bracing myself for the worst, I gazed into his emerald eyes and felt my heart shatter.

"You're here!" He exclaimed with that irresistible grin that made my stomach flutter.

"Of course," I responded, trying to mask my nerves. Ray's unease was uncharacteristic, but I played along, hoping to ease the tension and get the inevitable over with. I had been through this before, but I couldn't fathom why he had chosen this place for our meeting.

The sky had a mesmerizing hue today, reminiscent of a breathtaking sunset with shades of red and pink.

"Wow, it's overwhelming," Ray said, breaking the silence. "Would you like me to take a picture for you?"

I couldn't refuse such a kind offer, especially since I was already thinking of doing the same thing. "Sure," I replied with a smile.

Ray whipped out his phone and snapped a photo of me. He then glanced down and noticed his untied shoelaces, and as he knelt to fix them, he offered me a small ring box. The people around us erupted in a chorus of joyful screams as they realized what was happening, with some capturing the moment on their phones. However, the celebratory cries were immediately replaced by terror as a loud explosion echoed throughout the area, causing the crowd to panic.

As I turned around, searching for the source of the commotion that had stolen our thunder, I was met with a dazzling display of neon orange light emanating from Zyon Corp, a pioneering company known for its unconventional experiments. No one knew why the company’s multi-millionaire CEO had chosen our town for their headquarters.

People freaked out as they realized we were trapped on the 40th floor. The sky was transformed into a mesmerizing spectrum of colors, with a brilliant orange hue at its center. Screams echoed from below as panicked people and vehicles fled the scene. But seeing anything beyond through the thick, slowly advancing veil of smoke was impossible. The smoke seemed to swallow everything, leaving our city wholly enveloped.

I gazed at Ray, scared. Our fear was reflected in each other's eyes. What a terrible time for this to happen. Why couldn't he have proposed yesterday and allowed us to savor the moment? Instead, fate had chosen the exact moment and day when the insane company exploded, releasing God knows what.

"Calm down," I reassured him, gripping his arm. People around us were screaming, waiting for the elevator that wasn’t coming, or rushing for the one public stairwell. But I had worked in this building for years and knew about a secret emergency staircase.

"Where are you taking us, Miguel?" Ray asked, still trembling. I gazed into his eyes and kissed him.

"I love you. I'm trying to get us out of here safely," I replied.

I struggled to keep my composure as a panic attack threatened to take over. I was determined to do everything I could to protect us from the chaos and find a haven.

Hand in hand, we fled down the stairs as if our lives depended on it, which they did. The screams of people jumping from windows and the thud of bodies hitting the ground echoed in my mind. I urged Ray to keep his gaze on me, and every three floors, I stopped to kiss him, a reminder of my love. I refused to let the boy who had stood by my side for three years and who had just proposed to me die here.

The sounds of others approaching made me realize that the stairs could become a death trap at any moment. We needed to escape before someone pushed us down, and all our efforts would be in vain.

Ray reached for his phone to call his parents, but it slipped from his grasp. Exhausted from running down forty flights of stairs, we somehow made it out alive, fueled by adrenaline. We dodged the bodies on the ground and ran as far as possible from the orange smoke cloud.

“What were they doing when this happened? Were they working on a nuclear bomb?” Ray said. Looking back, I felt his horror when we were on the ground. The bodies, the blood, and the bits of brain on the floor were something I never imagined seeing, but people always lose it whenever they think the end is near. They preferred to end their lives short rather than experience the end. But I wasn’t one of them.

I took Ray by the arm and firmly but lovingly pulled him aside. I kissed him after slapping him lightly, apologizing for my harsh reaction. Fear consumed him, and I needed to snap him out of it. He stumbled behind a dumpster and retched, his eyes red and teary. I held him tightly, our hearts pounding, and the memory of the dead bodies on the ground would never leave me; I was determined not to lose the one person whom I could spend the end of the world with.

Amidst the chaos of abandoned cars and bikes, with their owners either dead or desperately trying to escape, I held onto Ray, who was clutching a backpack. Despite my lack of driving skills, we mounted a bike with its keys still dangling and swiftly escaped.

The phone service failed as we navigated the clogged roads and a spreading cloud of smoke consumed the city. The desperate screams of those around us only added to the terror of the situation.

Our once peaceful city was now plagued by violence, with people shooting at each other in a desperate bid for survival. The rapidly approaching smoke threatened to engulf the whole town before we could reach safety.

As we pushed on through the once bustling city, the streets now littered with looted shops, crashed cars, and the lifeless bodies of those who didn't make it. The fear and desperation had brought out the worst in people, making it a scene of bloodshed and chaos.

We finally reached the city’s outskirts and took refuge on a rural road. Although it was unpaved and only passable by motorcycles and bikes, we managed to make it through. I reminded myself to stay calm, with Ray's grip as a reminder of my will to survive.

The orange haze from the smoke cloud grew denser by the minute, blotting out any sign of the sun or moon. It felt as if the smoke had consumed everything in its path.

As I rode the bike, I realized that our fate was sealed. No matter how fast I drove or where we went, the smoke came now from the surrounding mountains. The end seemed inevitable.

I pushed the bike to its limits, racing towards a dead end. The smoke was closing in from both sides, and the sky shone with a permanent dawn as if the entire sky was on fire. We only had a matter of minutes before it caught up to us.

"Why did we stop?" Ray asked, his voice laced with fear.

"Because we deserve one last moment of peace," I replied, assisting him off the bike. We climbed a nearby hill to a cliff overlooking what was left of our city.

Ray pulled a bottle of wine and a blanket from his backpack. I raised an eyebrow in surprise, finally realizing why he had been carrying them all this time.

"What's this for?" I asked, amused.

"I had this all planned out," he said, smiling through his tears. "A blanket to enjoy the stars, a bottle of wine to drink while listening to our favorite songs."

"Well, there might not be any stars to see," I said, looking into his green eyes, "but I don't mind gazing into yours instead."

Tears streamed down his face, reminding me of all our plans for our future - a wedding and a life together away from this city. But time was no longer on our side.

"If you could listen to just one song for the rest of your life, which one would it be?" I asked Ray.

"A Thousand Years," he replied wistfully. "I lost my phone, and we don’t have service, but I can still hear it. I think you can, too."

"I wanted it to play during my proposal, but that didn't work out," he added, trying to sound optimistic. "So, let's make it our wedding song." I said. He uncorked a bottle of wine and took a long sip, both of us looking out at the cliff and witnessing how the once lush forest was withering away. What could have caused the ominous cloud that was looming over us? Was it an accident, a failed experiment, or something even more sinister? We may never know.

Ray kissed me, and I returned it with equal passion as if it were both our first and last kiss. I was grateful that we would leave this world on our terms.

"I love you," I said to Ray, who was holding my hand.

"I promise to love you and cherish you, take us on spontaneous adventures, laugh with you, and never let a single argument drive us apart," Ray said, his voice filled with emotion.

"And I promise to love you until the end of time. I will always be there for you, try your cooking no matter how terrible it may be, and dance with you whenever a good beat comes on," I said, tears welling up in my eyes.

We were getting married right here, with the orange haze and smoke closing in. We exchanged vows, and as Ray placed the ring on my finger, he said, "I will love you for a thousand years."

"And I will love you for a thousand more," I replied, tears streaming down my face.

We held each other tightly as the smoke cloud reached us and took one last kiss. It was a kiss filled with all the love and passion we had for each other, and in that moment, nothing else mattered. I closed my eyes and whispered, "Together."

Diego Angeles

Diego Angeles is a ghostwriter, cinematographer, and wanderlust living in the Caribbean. Writing has been his passion since early age and he writes like an escape of a life that sometimes makes no sense, using fiction to portray the ways his life could improve or the ways it could end, his writing aims to relate with other young adults all around the globe.

bottom of page