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Chapter XXX

            As Joyce raced for the lower part of the house, the wave struck. She felt the house tremble beneath her, and she was tossed to the floor. As she picked herself up, there was a rush of water from above. She raced to the door, and opened it in time to see what seemed to be a solid mass of debris rushing toward her. Panic-stricken, she slammed the door and waded back to the stairway up to the house-dome. There was a wide crack there through which tons of water flowed, almost filling the lower part of the house.
            She screamed once as the door of the house seemed to come toward her under the pressure of the wave outside. The walls buckled, and she felt herself lifted up on the waves. She screamed again just before the rushing current at the front of the house threw her against the ceiling, dazing her. The last thing she remembered was a thought racing through her mind. She could hear Larry talking to her, just as if he were present with her in the water-filled rooms. "Don't forget what I told you: the most important thing about swimming is breath control. Breath control." She felt like crying out, but that thought kept her calm. She filled her lungs to capacity just before the last air bubbled out through the crack in the roof of the house. Her head spun from the force of the rushing water, and the pain from her contact with the ceiling seemed to squeeze consciousness from her brain. The pressure of the water from beneath pushed her through the crack in the dome, and her body floated, unmoving, through the expanse of water between the now-wrecked city and the new surface of water.
            All over the world, scenes such as this were being repeated. Not having been made to withstand such pressures as the new water level put on them, the city domes either collapsed after the first rush, or were so hopelessly disfigured that further habitation was impossible. In the city dome just off the coast of the Cape of Good Hope, where the wave that swept the world had reached its crest, the gigantic undersea dome had withstood the pressures without breaking, but one whole segment of the circle had been completely flattened by the wave, and the air pressure had so built up on the remaining side, that it was only the younger and stronger inhabitants who had the hardihood to withstand it.
            Untold disaster had struck the teeming world, yet there were no blazing headlines, there were no hushed voices of awe-struck radio commentators reading the lists of dead and injured and missing. There were no roving television cameras to fly to disaster scenes and show the people the havoc. A large portion of the population of the world had drowned in such a short time that many religious fanatics went naked in the streets, exhorting the nations to do penance, as the Day of Wrath was at hand. It was through these pseudo-missionaries that the great part of the news got around in the days of chaos after the tidal wave.
            Communications for about six months after the tidal wave were almost primitive. The main television stations had been wiped out, the oceanic cables had been snapped without exception, many of the world's main wireless centers had been washed out; in short, it was only by word of mouth, and rumor, that any information could pass from section to section of the dazed world. Rumors could hardly outdo the tales of wreckage which finally leaked back into the surviving parts of the world by means of traveling pseudo-missionaries.
            In a world as tense as the world had been before the tidal wave, horrific feelings and emotions were the common things to encounter. When an individual began to lean toward an opinion or a system of thought, the pressure of everyday living soon turned a mild interest or a passing fancy in a particular philosophy or a certain field of ethical thought into an unreasoning fanaticism.
            Simon Kraite was one of the rugged individualists who believed only in the things which were made very clear to him. Living in the back-hills of Georgia, he had been a firm believer in only the elementals---the wind, the Sun, the Moon, the rain. Religion had no interest for him because he had never had a really strong impression of a Deity who might inhabit the Heavens. He lived alone in a hut which was little more than a cleaned-up chicken coop, without any means of heating or lighting to disturb him. He considered himself a philosopher, and although he had never been to school, or read any books, he could read and write, which he considered sufficient to keep him alive and thinking---which was all he ever cared about. He was what most people would regard as a hermit, and his eccentric habits, and the impressions he left with townspeople in his infrequent visits to the nearby villages, didn't do much to raise him in the estimation of the folk about him. He had never remembered eating any meat, so meat didn't find itself in his diet. He also didn't believe in defiling the body in any way, which habit lead to some rather strange traits. He never shaved, which might break his skin; he never bathed, which he considered somewhat akin to being amoral. The ideas about the handling of excretory wastes of the body were considered unsanitary and foul by everyone he came in contact with: he carefully preserved every bit of rectal discharge.
            When the tidal wave hit the northwestern portion of Florida on its journey, Simon Kraite was saying his prayers. By every standard which his prayers could be compared to, they were in all ways simple. He threw himself prostrate on the ground, stretching himself, covering as much ground as he possibly could. As surges of primitive emotion overcame him, he moaned very quietly and very deeply, and accompanied it with jerky motions of his arms and legs, as if he were trying to take the ground beneath him into a huge ball and press to his bosom. Thoughts of the sky, and the river, and the forest flashed through his mind through these prayerful intervals, and he felt a great sensation of happiness, and gratefulness, and joy of living. These ceremonies occurred at odd intervals. When he was rather unhappy, he would not prostrate himself for as long as one or two days, but when his normal optimism reigned, he spent a great part of the day stretched out on the rocky hillsides, on the sandy beach beside the river, or on some grassy clearing or field. [No more written.]