Darkness drowned out the light as night descended over the silent cityscape of Concord. Lights dotted the interiors of the shadowed silhouettes of skyscrapers against a night blue sky. One by one, street lamps flickered alive, hazy circles of light illuminating the sparse streets and boulevards. A grey sedan curved its way along one of these streets, the passengers aboard snug inside its warmth.
In the backseat, a little girl felt her eyes grow silently heavier. Mary softly slumped in the backseat and felt the warm heated air on her cheeks. Outside, tiny white snowflakes began to fall, as the though the stars themselves were falling from the sky. Past rows of luminescent street lights, the car drove in near silence towards its destination. It arced up along the ramp and merged onto the sparsely populated expressway. In the driver's seat, her father looked over his shoulder kindly at Mary, and put his arm around the girl's mother, sitting in the front passenger seat. The woman responded by putting her head gently on the man's shoulder.
The last thing Mary remembered seeing was the brilliant streetlights blurred with snowflakes, zooming past her foggy window, like stars in a sea of shadows. Slowly she fell asleep, comforted by the small luminescent world around her.
When she opened her eyes again, she suddenly realized that she was cold. All around her, a soft, dark haze drifted and faded away. Snowflakes were falling around her, and she shivered as the wind passed around her. She realized she was standing on top of a building, its grey metallic surface aged and dented. The horizon had become a stark, glowing red. She looked over the edge of the rooftop, and then turned away, only to find that all around her, the city was burning.
A loud boom jolted her awake. The sound of screeching metal penetrated her consciousness as a hard, rough impact sent her flying forward, stopped only by grip of her seatbelt. Frightened, confused, and dazed, Mary opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was the bright crisp orange of flames ablaze all around. Panicking, she pulled at seatbelt tight against her chest, then ran her hands down to the release, pushing the red button so that the belt would let her go. As it unravelled, she pushed the unhinged door wide open. She had barely run out a few steps when the sound of a great trembling blast sent her spiralling to the pavement. She looked behind her to see a fireball rise up from the wreck like a vengeful beast.
Trembling on her knees, she looked around for her parents, tried to yell their names but found her throat dry and voiceless. Could they still be in the car? She tried to get up and go back towards the flaming car, but another explosion threw her back, and she crawled forward in vain. As debris landed all around her, the daunting realization that she might never see her mommy and daddy again...
Mary awoke with start. Uncertain whether this was another false awakening, she looked around the dark, shadow filled room for a moment, trying to remember who she was now. It had been that dream again. Or rather the memories that she could never forget, forever returning to assail her, so many years later. As she tossed and turned in her tear soaked bed, she wished it all had never happened.