Greener is the Grass by Colin Galbraith
Greener is the Grass
The bed rocked back and forward, sliding Jamie Tosh up and down the mattress as though he was lying on a greased sheet. Trapped in the void between an alcoholic stupor and consciousness, he lay frozen in a hazy half-rubber state brought on by the numerous cocktails he had consumed the night before.
He thought he was dreaming.
He glanced at the bedside clock: it was 6:03am. He tried to hold onto something, anything, but everything was moving, shifting around like the building was swaying in time to an awful tune. The thin under-sheet gave him enough to grasp onto as the room rocked back and forth. Confused, he rubbed his face. It didn't help and he wondered if there was anything he should be doing, but the only thing he could be sure of was his racing heart and that whatever was doing it, wasn't going to stop.
Through the dull ache of his hangover, fear came thundering toward him. The built-in wardrobe squeaked rhythmically like a mouse being tortured. The picture frame opposite lifted off the wall with each forward movement then banged against it. The light hanging from the ceiling swung helplessly in time with the squeaking and the bed’s sickly motion. A carafe of wine fell from the fridge and smashed, sending red wine sprawling across the floor like easy blood from a warm body. An empty glass joined it that had been balanced on a low shelf, having worked its way clear from the edge.
The walls continued to ooze back and forward, the feeling of falling into some kind of twilight zone swarmed over him. There were no other sounds from anywhere else in the apartment and he wondered if he was the only one witnessing it. Could it be something outside – some industrial sized digger commencing the build of a whole new hotel next to the apartment? Or worse: demolishing this one? Too much motion, he concluded, because the whole building seemed to be rocking to its very foundation.
The movement stopped.
Jamie sat up and stared at the wall, his mouth gaping. Silence was everywhere. The realisation it hadn't been a dream began to materialise and he looked again at the alarm clock: it was 6:05am.
Jamie climbed out of bed and went over to the glass doors, opened them, and stepped out onto the balcony. The morning light from another fresh Mediterranean dawn flooded the room and the sound of car alarms filled his ears like a thousand screaming children. In front of the apartment block the road lay empty, and beyond that, the long beach and the rolling beauty of the Aegean Sea contrasted magnificently against the Turkish coastline, grey and misty in the distance. The sun was still low and a slight breeze met with his skin, the hint of another forty-plus Rhodes summer day already threatening. The birds that normally sung loud and crisp were noticeably quiet; everything was quiet, except for the car alarms. In the distance, somewhere, people were shouting. Panic and unanswered questions echoed in their tone. A woman nearby yelled something in Greek and a dog responded by barking.
“Was that what I thought it was?” said Gerry Dawson, stepping out of the adjacent room onto the shared balcony.
Jamie looked at his flat mate. His hair was dark brown and disheveled, his face square with firm cheeks. A collection of pink spots dotted his chin, resting plushly among the soft unshaven hairs where a beard would one day sprout. He was wearing blue and white striped boxer shorts and had a hairless body with not an ounce of visible fat.
“I think that might have been an earthquake,” said Jamie, not quite believing the words as they left his mouth. “Was that an earthquake?”
Gerry rubbed his face and hair. “I think so. Dunno, actually. Listen to those alarms.”
“What do we do?”
Gerry shrugged his shoulders. “Search me. Do they get a lot of earthquakes in Rhodes?”
“I’m not sure.”
“I think it’s finished,” said Gerry. “Might as well go back to bed.”
“Shouldn’t we be standing in a doorway or something?”
“I think you only do that while it’s happening,” said Gerry. “In case the building falls down or something. It sounds like everything’s fine to me though. We must have missed the best bit.”
He was right as far as there were no crashing sounds, and the apartment block seemed to be standing with no imminent risk of collapse. Greek architecture and building methods had certainly improved since the days of Jason and the Argonauts.
“Are the girls up?” asked Jamie, thinking of Natasha and Leigh in the next apartment.
“Who cares?” said Gerry. “I’m going back to bed. I’ll see you at the hotel later on.”
Jamie looked out to sea and listened to the car alarms and dogs barking. An earthquake, he thought, it just didn’t seem real.