Lying in his hospital bed in Chengdu, 18-year-old Xue Xiao recalls how they recited a roll call of survivors in the dark debris of his high school after the 8.0-magnitude quake that rocked southwest China's Sichuan Province on May 12.
He was having a chemistry class at 2:28 p.m. that day at Dongqi High School of Mianzhu city, when the classroom suddenly jolted violently.
Students had just taken cover under their desks before the building collapsed. Xue felt the floor disappearing from under him and he fell. Suddenly it was dark and silent. Some began weeping.
"Is anybody there? I'm Long Rui," called a voice from overhead. Then more voices were heard: "I'm Li Chunyang", "I'm Xiao Xing." The familiar voices calmed Xue buried in the ruined building. "I'm Xue Xiao," he called out.
His right hand was stuck under a pre-cast concrete slab. He could only move his left hand and leg. His only comfort came from a crack overhead, through which he could see dim sunlight.
When the light went out, he knew it was night. The teenagers sang and talked about what they would do when they got out. Some just wanted to "drink water".
Rescuers were busy outside, but he could not know if anyone was rescued. He felt tired and told a nearby girl Ma Xiaofeng, "I get to take a nap for two minutes. Remember to wake me up." But Ma wouldn't agree, and kept calling Xue's name to keep him awake.
In the next roll call, two schoolmates did not answer. He feared the worst, but did not panic. He felt he could survive, or he would still be among his friends if he did die.
When he heard students being rescued, he felt anxious, "When it will be my turn?" He had no hunger - just a tremendous thirst.
The rescuers retreated once because of aftershocks. When they returned, Xue asked the rescuers outside, "You won't abandon me, will you?"
"We will save you," came the answer.
"Then, can you work faster? I might not stand it much longer."
This conversation repeated several times before one rescuer asked, "What do you want to do when you get out?"
"I want a Coke. An iced Coke," he replied. "I'm so thirsty."
"Okay. I'll buy you Coke."
"Then what can I buy for you?" asked Xue.