Stick Chick instinctively turns, looking back for one moment, so shocked by the sight that her brain does not allow her to utter the sparest sound, but calls that energy unto her lungs and legs, compelling movement away from the other-worldly wave of ash, and smoke, and concrete dust.
So thick is the cloud that it obscures sound. A rumbling concussion gathers simultaneously from all around and within her, vibrating through her chest cavity and spine. Yet there is silence.
Margareth Anna’s face contorts, mouthing a silent scream as the orange hot fireball reaches through the gray wave sending them all airborne. Adam and Hadrian together float buoyantly beyond them, faces frenzied, losing their grip on one another. Time stops.
Stick Chick must have kicked a leg from beneath the sheets, struggling to escape and stirring to remember how it had begun and drifted off again.
Warned of an attack, they were keenly aware that it was no bluff.
The long-abandoned complex was no architectural gem, bland in its rhythm, functional and practical—a relic where unattended box hedges eked out a living in undernourished dirt. Dilapidated see-saws lay rotting and warped. The sun shone on the stuccoed walls creating knife blade shadows in each vertical window frame. As if in its last hurrah from some Christmas past, commercial sized wreaths still hung with faded bows weathered and frayed, clinging to the façade. A soft spring breeze nipped at overgrown grass, and tapped a rope against the metal flagpole in random fits.
Inside dusty classrooms, occasional flustered doves cooed and scattered. Yet in the warmth of the sun-soaked patterns, the faint groans and modest shuffles let Stick Chick know that some souls, shattered remnants of formerly worthwhile lives staked a claim where it would not matter.
Static from her two-way radio shattered the relative quiet.