Music stops amid ribbons of fire

The iconic image of Hanabeth Luke assisting Tom Singer through the flames of the Sari Club in Bali.
The iconic image of Hanabeth Luke assisting Tom Singer through the flames of the Sari Club in Bali.

In slow motion I see the club around me explode, ribbons of fire tearing through poles and people flying through the air.

As time slows, I am picked up and suspended in mid-air, twisting to face down as I slam to the ground.

As everything hits the floor I find myself in eerie blackness. After the impact comes the silence, as the music of the Sari Club stops forever.

Mel and I are on our hands and knees with several others crawling under the collapsed roof, away from the amber glow growing at the front of the club. A putrid stench burns at my mouth and nostrils and thick smoke is gathering all around. I notice the ground is soft, and in horror realise there are people under my feet, alive or dead I do not know, but I can't stop.

"Marc!" I scream, but no answer comes. I can hear Mel's reassuring tone: "Don't panic, keep calm." But the girl behind her screams: "Run! RUN!" I think that is a more appropriate approach right now.

The gravity of what is occurring hits me as I see the body of a young man being dragged away, only skin where a skull used to be. I take in the orange shorts he is wearing; the blood rushes to my head and my heart thumps in my chest. But these are plain shorts and the body is that of a teenager. I see the pale skin and freckles, maybe European. They are orange boardshorts: not Marc's, not Marc, yet that image burns in my brain.

As I run forwards I see someone moving in the orange glow of the flames. I crouch down to see a young male, alive, and grab his hand. "Can you move?" I shout.

"No, I can't," he replies in an Aussie accent. He can't be more than 18. I try to haul him up, but he is much bigger than me. Thank God, he is trying to get to his feet. It's all I need, so I use his momentum to pull him up, holding on to his left hand and locking it over my left shoulder. It's wet, and as I look down I notice it is completely red, sodden with blood. I feel sick – I'm not good with blood at the best of times. I put my right arm round his waist, taking on as much of his weight as I can. When we are clear of the flames two men approach us to help, freeing me from the young man's weight.

I keep on running and searching. Finally I find Mel standing wide-eyed on the corner of the alleyway. We embrace and Mel speaks first: "I'm so glad you're OK. Where's Marc?"

"I don't know Mel, I didn't see him come out. I can't find him." I can hear the fear in my voice.

"It was a car bomb," Mel says. "They f---ing bombed us."

Read the full extract from Hanabeth Luke's book: Finding peace after the Bali bomb in tomorrow's Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Also tomorrow, Hanabeth's inspiring story about how she rebuilt her life.

This story Music stops amid ribbons of fire first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.