Big gray flakes of ash were falling from the sky. Boy about ten years old tremulously squeezed up against the wall at the entrance to the ruined subway tunnel. City was covered with a thick layer of dead tissue. Did anyone else survived?
Noisy crowd of children ran into the school, laughing and jostling. Average September 1, only teachers looked strained a little. During the fourth lesson a man in a uniform entered the class and immediately ordered: “Now line up, and I’ll take you to the shelter.” They obediently lined up in the hallway, where there were guys from the neighboring classes. Here Max saw his younger brother, who was waving at him. “You, too, in the shelter?!” the little one said enthusiastically. “Quiet,” said the teacher. And they went.
The boy clenched his hands into fists and ran. Ruined houses flashed before his eyes, fallen trees and poles, abandoned cars. Soft ashes were getting into his eyes and nose. After a few minutes of running Max coughed and stopped. He recognized this place and big boxes of air conditioners: here was a grocery store. Perhaps he can find there something to eat! Boy carefully slipped through a hole in the glass and got inside.
Long shelves were empty. Boxes, waste, broken bottles in the sticky remnants of their contents were laying here and there. A short time ago his mother and he were buying a cake at this store on Senia’s birthday… “If I look better, I will find something for sure,” the boy thought. His stomach wambled.
Going into the bomb shelter from the lessons became regular. They were taught how to hide from the rocket attacks, shown safe places near their school and homes. Down there, Maxim has repeatedly felt as the earth trembled from rockets, and then, at the top, saw the smoke and destroyed buildings. Sometimes he could hear someone screaming or crying. People began to leave the city.
In the reflection of the glass boy suddenly saw himself: a thin, dirty face and large frightened eyes. “You must never give up!” his mother said when the bombing intensified. “If something happens, protect your brother, do not leave him alone!” she used to add. And now Senya is there alone…
Max came near a large pile of boxes from fruit. It stinked awfully, and he hated the thought about going through this garbage. Overcoming the disgust, the boy scattered the boxes, rotting remnants, bags and – a miracle! On the floor lay a few small green apples. Almost fresh. Max wrapped apples in his t-shirt and hurried back. Going through the broken glass, he felt a sharp pain in the shoulder: the sharp edge of glass stuck into his body. Boy pulled forward and heard the glass struck behind with a crash.
At the entrance to the subway tunnel Max turned. There was almost no ash in the sky, but the whole town now looked gray as black-and-white photograph. Somewhere there maybe are survivors, and maybe they will find him and Senya…
When the boy got to the shelter, his brother was lying prone on the floor, motionless. Thinking that he had fallen asleep, Max tried to shake him, then, called his name loudly – to no avail. Several green apples rolled across the concrete floor. Too weak to bear his brother, Max sat down beside him and took his hand. He will wait until Senya wakes up, and together they will be saved! And all will be well …
When Max closed his eyes, he saw his mother, so good and sad. “Just do not leave him…” mother said.