Many of the fake news websites that sprang up during the US election campaign have been traced to a small city in Macedonia, where teenagers are pumping out sensationalist stories to earn cash from advertising.
They felt the rumble, and it stopped them
all in their tracks, Danny even turning to face Steve and Grace to face them
from the far end of the corridor, opening his mouth to speak - and then the
Dust and plaster billowed into the air
around them, and the impact knocked them all off their feet. It was Steve’s
first instinct to shelter Grace - but that was only his physical instinct. His
entire conscious mind was elsewhere.
There came no answer, though he listened
hard amongst the screams and cries for help. Grace pushed at his arms and Steve
moved away, clambering up with her now that there was no more debris to fall.
“Danno!” she shouted through, echoing
Steve’s call, but still there was only silence beyond the thick wall of rubble
- and the air was still rough with dust.
Steve lifted his shirt over his mouth and
indicated Grace to do the same, and pointed her in the direction of the stairs.
“Go straight down and get outside,” he told her. “Don’t take the elevator, and
don’t go for the main entrance. Take the first street-level exit you seen and
wait outside. I’ll get him.”
“I can help-”
“I can get him,” Steve insisted firmly,
already pushing her in the shoulder. “I’m trained for this. Go; get onto the
Steve didn’t wait to watch Grace disappear
into the mass of bodies heading down the stairs. His first instinct was to try
and get through the wall of rubble, but it only took him a couple of seconds to
realize that this was a non-starter. The SEAL didn’t know where the blast had
come from, but he’d guess it was only a few floors up; the full weight of the
floor above had come down between this half of the corridor and the other,
there was no way through to get Danny. He’d have to go to another floor and
climb back up on the other side - if that was even possible, and unless another
None of this frightened the SEAL. He was
operating too much on necessity to care about whether his actions would be
dangerous, or ifs, buts and maybes about Danny’s safety. Steve simply made it
his mission to get where Danny had been last. If he’d already gotten out, then
great - but if he needed Steve’s help, then he’d be there to get him.
Admittedly, the lack of an answer when
Steve had called through was not promising, but the SEAL didn’t need to dwell
on that right now. He headed upstairs and there were many people still trying
to make their way downstairs, and some of them injured; Steve stopped to make
sure that anybody whose face wasn’t covered with fabric did so to keep their
lungs clear, but otherwise made a dash for the next floor up. That was blocked
too, and the next - but three floors up from where they had been, it was
possible to climb over.
Here, the building was mostly deserted.
Only a few stragglers were left behind. By the time Steve reached the correct
floor again, he had started to have time to panic about the various options,
and to imagine Danny’s dead-eyed corpse lying under a slab of thick concrete.
When he turned the corner and finally laid
eyes on Danny, real life wasn’t all too different from his imagination - but
with several key differences. The screams of Danny’s pain clued the SEAL in to
his survival right away, and soon as he was close to get a proper view of the
situation, Steve could see that the only thing crushed by the chunk of the
ceiling was Danny’s leg.
“Danny,” he greeted the blonde, as soon as
he was close enough to shout. The SEAL’s arrival was met with a dry sob of
relief as Danny tried, fruitlessly, to tug himself out from under the heavy
“Don’t move; don’t move. It’s alright,
okay? The exits are clear. I’m going to get you out of here.”
“Grace?” Danny croaked.
“She’s safe,” Steve assures the blonde.
“I think my leg’s been crushed,” Danny
told him. Unfortunately, the SEAL agreed. To look at the blonde now, Steve was
forced to wonder whether it would ever be possible for Danny to walk unaided
again - but it was better that he got out with an irreparable leg than not out
at all. “Christ, it hurts…”
“I know,” Steve assured, voice soft
through the fabric of his shirt - which he removed now to tie it loosely over
Danny’s mouth. “I know, I know, but it’s okay. Start counting and I swear I’ll
have you out of here by hundred. Okay?”
The blonde nodded. The light flickering
around them, one strip hanging down from the ceiling with a menacing buzz that
threatened fire - which of course was the last thing they needed. All the same,
Steve intended to make good on his promise. He could already see Danny counting
in his head. One, two, three…
The SEAL lifted the slab of concrete away
from Danny’s leg without warning, wincing at the cry of pain; Steve knew that
if he’d warned the blonde, the anticipation would only have made it worse. He
picked Danny up - in a fireman’s lift, to prevent further injury - and made
sure he had tight hold of him.
“I’ve got you,” the SEAL promised. “Okay?
Steve couldn’t stop himself repeating it,
eyes fixed on Danny, as they waited for Grace to join them, in the back of the
“Thank you,” said the blonde, “for coming
to get me. I heard you and Grace calling, but I think I blacked out…”
“Of course I came for you.”
There was the ghost of a smile on Danny’s
lips, so light that Steve thought perhaps he was seeing things - right up until
the moment that it widened, and Danny gave the SEAL’s hand an unmistakable