Though the treacherous winds of Sandy hissed and hollored across the city of New York that night: from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building, it was beneath the city where the real damage subsided. After howling winds echoed through the sewer tunnels like a band of ghouls through haunted mansion, and the countless gallons of water poured rapidly through New York City's manhole covers and sewage lines: seeping its way mercilessly into the unsuspecting home of our favorite heroes in a half shell, the turtles assumed that the wrath of Hurricane Sandy's nightmare had come to an end. Unfortunately...it was only the beginning.
The next morning; after a horrendous night of blocking off hallway passages so that sewage-infested water wouldn't flood through them too badly, along with using their everyday furniture-- like their grandfather clock and living room sofa-- as floatation devices as the water level in their home began to rise dramatically; the turtles spent the entire day cleaning up the mess this awful disaster had conjured.
With very little sleep, each turtle steadily- yet exhaustedly- mopped up an area of their living space: all except Donatello, who continued to work on getting their power back after going at it for hours and hours. The whole lair looked a complete trash bin: a soppy, wet, dirty, drafty, powerless trash bin.
While Donnie twinged at the complicated wires in the main circuit frame of the sewer's electrical system, he heaved a heavy sigh as thoughts spun around his massive brain.
'All my inventions...all of them...destroyed. Useless...'
The thought of it literally gave him a stomach ache. He couldn't believe it: it just didn't feel real. Even as he adjusted the flashlight helmet that rested upon his head, Donnie felt that it was all just one big, bad dream that would be ending soon. The image of his most prized possessions floating away along a greasy river that lined the sewer floor was just too much for him to fathom.
Just knowing that each invention of his was drenched-- soaking wet, right down to the furthest invert point of their co-palomer ciruit board-- gave him chills of anguish. All of his hard work: all those nights where he'd tinker feverishly on some new, crazy gadget, and finally finishing as he saw the very crest of day break through the horizon...all washed away, now just a bittersweet memory.
Though Donnie was depressed, however, he would much rather be depressed with the lights on; so steadily back to work he went with the electrical panel, mumbling quietly to himself, "Darn you, Sandy..."
Sniffling pitifully, Michelangelo raised his right, freckled hand to his forehead as he saluted the jet-black garbage bag that he had just previously stuffed with moldy leftover pizza slices. Why, oh why did the refrigerator have to lose power, too?! He didn't want to do it, of course; but deep inside, he knew it was for the best. Wiping a tear from his crystal-blue eye, Mikey smiled meakly at the bag as he mumbled, "A-at least we have the memories...R-rest easy, my darlings."
"Daddy...D-daddy l-loves you," Mikey choked out before he sobbed emphatically, "Oh-ho, noooo! They were only from two nights ago! Why God, why take them so soon?! WHY!!!"
As Leonardo wiped his brow tiredly, he looked sadly around at the waste-dump he once viewed as a stable home. Everything- everything- was ruined: their living room, their bedrooms, and- worst of all...their dojo.
It in that very dojo where Master Splinter had first opened he and his brothers' eyes to the world of Ninjitsu. It was in that dojo where he sparred and bonded with his brothers, day in and day out; where received his first weapon; where he broke his arm three times from attempting and failing the same Kudasai-arial kick...
It was in the dojo where his father named him the leader of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and it was in that dojo where a huge banner written in Japanese calligraphy, reading "Hope", hung proudly on the wall...until the elements of Hurricane Sandy punched and kicked at it until the banner deteriorated into an insignificant pile of thread. It was then Leo sadly realized that Sandy didn't just take the dojo; she took the biggest piece that held together the puzzle of his heart.
Shaken by the break in the silence, the turtles jumped and cheered as the lights flickered on until they maintained a steady shine.
"Welp," Donnie sighed as he clapped some cobweb dust from his hands, "That should do it."
"Way to go Don," Leo commended as he patted his intelligent brother on the shell.
"Yeah, nice, dude," Mikey added as he squinted his bulging eyes, "But, erm...why'dja make 'em so bright?"
"Actually," Donnie replied, "They're actually just as bright as they were before the power went out. We've just been so used to being in the dark, our retinas are having a subtle delay in their performance and management of the new inclination of focal perception--"
"Uuuuuuhhh," Mikey grumbled as he stared dumbfounded at his brother, "Whhhaaaa?"
"Our eyes just need to adjust, Mikey," Leo summarized.
-"Annnnd now, our top story tonight: Hurricane Sandy..."-,
"Hey, look," Mikey cried excitedly, "The TV's back on!"
Gathering the television: which the turtles cleverly protected in anticipation of the elements the super-storm would bring: the boys in green watched the news report anxiously.
-"Yesiree, Hurricane Sandy. Otherwise known as the 'devastation that's sweeping the entire east coast of the nation'."-
As the news report pressed on, the screen showed various film shots of enialated shore houses, flooded streets, thunderously massive trees and poles destroying innocent houses, and their owners sitting on their porches as they sob hysterically.
"Woah," Michelangelo exhaled in disbelief as the graphic images continued to flash onto the screen of the television.
-"A shocking thing to see, viewers. Many are powerless...Many more are homeless. How will the state of New Jesey, New York, and the entire northeast, for that matter, return to normalcy? How long will folks be without power? ...How is this gonna effect the results of the election? How--"
Jolting around abruptly, the turtles found the hot-headed brother, Raphael, doing what he did best...and what he did best was get angry.
"Look, Raph," Leo began as he approached his brother, "I know this is stressfull, but the TV's our only link to what's going on up there. And with the streets still being flooded, there's not a huge chance in us going topside for a while-- unless you prefer having an underwater habitat. So, for now, let's just--"
And as Leonardo reached to pat his little brother on the right shoulder, Raphael-- quickly and forcefully-- jerked it away as he shot a deep, intense look into his brother's eyes. Leo, being both shocked and confused, furrowed his brow as he sensed the worry in Raphael's harlequin eyes. Glassy and bloodshot: from lack of well-deserved sleep, Raphael's eyes teared up as he stared back at Leo's. And only further did those glassy, bloodshot eyes tear when he began to speak.
"I'm done with this," Raph hissed, "Done with a cold, wet house...done with having my stuff completely ruined...and- MORE THAN DONE- with Sandy..."
"Y-your stuff," Leonardo questioned, "What stuff are you--"
Suddenly, Leo stopped short. Looking down to find Raphael dangling the soggy, mangled remains of his once-favorite stuffed bear, Mr. Grumpy, Leo now understood his tempramental brother's frustration. From the moment Raphael first received Mr. Grumpy on his fourth birthday, he had loved him like a brother. They did everything together: ate together, trained together, they even picked on Mikey together.
And even as Raphael grew older, he still slept with Mr. Grumpy every night. From a cute ball of fluff: with two gleaming black-button eyes; a string of red silk for his droll, little mouth; a chubby, stout body that was just made for hugging; and a deep red eye-mask to match his owner's...to a beheaded bear-like torso; pierced with unsightly moth holes, and dripping with sewage-infested water, it was evident that Mr. Grumpy had seen his final hour.
"Oh," Leo gasped forlornly, "Aw, Raph, I...I'm so sorry--"
"Psh, why are you sorry," Raph began as his hands began to quake, "I-I mean, c'mon, it's not your fault, Leo. I-it's Sandy's. A-a-and besides, who...who cares if some of my stuff is a little banged up, y' know? The only thing that actually got destroyed in all this...th-this craziness, was, oh- nothing but my stuffed bear. Ha! That-that's all that got ruined! Just my...just my STUPID...STUFFED...BEAR. J-JUST MY..M-MY BEST--*Hurpf!*--F-FRIEND--*Hurpf!*--E--*HURPF!*EV--*H-huuurpf!*--E-EVER--*HURPF*-"
Trying his hardest to choke back emotion, Raphael sniveled and shook as he sat down on the soaking wet couch, cupping his face as he heaved heavily into his hands, trying to hide his instability and regain his repiratory dominance all at the same time. One thing the Hamato brothers knew about Raphael, though, is that when he was nervous: not just 'butterflies-in-the-stomach' nervous, either, but really nervous... he would start to hyperventilate.
"Donnie," Leo ordered loudly as he sat down on the couch next to Raph, "Go grab a paper bag from the kitchen, and quickly!"
"B-but what if they're all wet from the--"
"I-DON'T-CARE. Just go!"
As Donnie ran to the kitchen, Mikey crouched down in front of Raphael as he rocked back and forth incoherently.
"Raph- Raphael," Mikey hushed quietly as his brother continued to gasp breathlessly for air, "Listen, you've gotta mellow out, dude."
"Raph, listen to Mikey," Leo added, "Just calm down. Take a nice, deep breath, and calm down."
"C-ca-can't--*Hurpf!*--c-c-calm- *HUP!*- down- *HUP!* I- *HEEP!*- I- *HEEP!*- *Hurpf, HEEP!*...*Hurpf, HEEEP!* *H-huprf-*HURPF, HEEP- HURPF, HEEP- HURPF, HEEP-"
With each breath more shallow than the last, Raphael's breathing began to hitch as his heart rate continued to rise. Nervous that Raphael would faint due to the lack of oxygen that was arriving to his brain, Leo hoped Donnie would-
"Here I am," Donnie cried as he ran over to Raphael, "Found a dry one at the bottom of the cupboard. How's he doing?"
"-HEEP, HURPF! HEEP, HURPF! H-UPF, HEEF, HURPF! HEEF-"
"That answer your question," Mikey replied sarcastically at Donnie.
"Thanks Don," Leo muttered as he snatched the bag from Donnie's grip.
"Okay Raph," Leo said quietly as he handed the brown paper bag to Raphael, "You know what to do. Slow, deep breaths: in...and out. In...and out-"
"--HEEP, HURPF- HEEP...H-hurpf,HEEP... Huuurpf... Heeeeeep... H-haaaaaah..."
With the paper bag clenched tight around his snouth, Raphael huffed gently as he tried bring his heart rate back to normal.
"T-thanks, guys," Raphael mumbled sheepishly, his cheeks blushing crimson, "I...I just..."
"Your brothers understand, my pupil."
Looking up, the four turtles found their father, Master Splinter, standing before them in the living room.
"They, too, have lost something near and dear to them due to this great disaster. These are the times, my sons, that try men's souls. It is a time of desperation, fear, anger...and hopelessness. But I ask you, my pupils: how does one expect to dwell in the sun if they do not attempt to rise from the shadows?
"This mess...this hurricane is our shadow. When we rise from it: and I do, indeed say 'when', not 'if: we will surely feel the bright, blazing sun sting our cheeks like we have never felt it before. Do you not see, my sons? This is the opportunity for an entirely new, better life! But, as I taught you, my sons, nothing in life is guaranteed, and a new, better life will not simply be given to us. We must earn it: we must work hard for it."
As Master Splinter paused, a tear twinkling in his eye, he walked out of the living room. Confused, the turtles stared at eachother confoundedly by their sensei's quirkiness. However, once their master returned: holding carefully, in his hands, the meshed-up knots thread that used to be the 'Hope' banner that once hung high in the turtles' dojo: all was made clear.
"Our puzzle, my sons...the puzzle of life, has fallen apart- bit by bit... But that doesn't mean we cannot put it back together. We have cried, we have suffered, we have, indeed, felt loss, pain, and misery. The time for moarning has ended: and time has now come for us... to pick up the pieces."