Going into Shock.
The gunshots splintered the last crude hope Jack and Amy was holding on to. They cracked through the night like a dry whip and in the distance they were answered by a much louder and deeper sound. It was the sound of something big exploding, a gas-station or a big truck. Jack turned his head, too exhausted and numb to care about the implications of the explosion, he saw a deep orange cloud of fire reach above the buildings a few blocks down, just outside the city core.
Amy didn’t look. She burrowed her face into her father’s warm shirt, trying to squeeze out any remaining comfort but there was only a lingering feeling of safety left in the familiar smell of the fabric, a memory of a time that now felt strange and distant. “What should we do?” She whispered, afraid that her voice would invoke further gunshots.
“Let’s get inside” Jack replied, “I don’t feel safe here.”
Amy nodded, “Yeah, no kidding.” She didn’t mean to say the last two words. The words just sort of slipped out of her, but she was glad they did, at least she wasn’t going crazy with fear. Maybe the explosion had shaken it all into place, maybe she was in shock. She couldn’t tell, but it didn’t matter. Anything was better than going bat-shit crazy with fear.
Jack had picked up on Amy’s slight change in mood and it reassured him. He would deal with whatever this shit was, for her.
“Amy, I’m gonna go upstairs and check on the Grimes,” Jack said, “and I want you to stay her, watch the news in case there is something new.”
“No, don’t go up there,” Amy replied instantly, feeling suddenly very small and afraid again.
“Look, I have to. The Grimes are old, and Marys been sick lately,” Jack sighed, “They might need my help.”
“Stay, please.” Amy grabbed her dad by the wrist as he pulled away from her. “Someone else will help them.”
“Amy, please. I’m their doctor. I’ll just be gone two minutes then I’ll be right back alright. Promise.”
“I don’t like it,” Amy said and creased her forehead in a disapproving frown, like she had done as a child.
“Yeah, no kidding,” Jack replied and tried to smile.
Amy tried to smile back.
“Lock the door behind me, I got the keys.” Jack held up the modest key-chain which held the key to the apartment, a car-key and the key to Jack’s locker at work.
“Alright,” Amy replied.
“Don’t open for anyone, even if you know who it is alright, wait for me,” Jack said. He pulled open the closet in the hallway and pulled out his emergency medical kit.
“Promise. Just hurry back, dad.” Amy said. She was looking at the green square medical kit but didn’t really want to see it, “I’ll make us some tea,” She added.
“Good idea, Amy,” Jack said, “I’ll be back soon.” But he didn’t feel it. If he was lucky the Grimes would be alright, but that would be some real goddam luck. Most likely, someone was shot.
Jack opened the door slowly. He waited until the automatic lights would blink to life. The hallway was empty. “Alright,” he said, “Don’t open for anyone.” He didn’t wait for Amy to reply. He slipped out into the hallway and quickly shut the door behind him. The sound of Amy locking the door behind him sent a single icy chill down his spine. The otherwise safe and familiar hallway felt like a scene from one of those bad horror movies. He felt terribly lonely.
To be continued…
© Hugo Oddlane, 2014
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