Fire Is Getting Closer

Her own weapon rested at her side. She had already checked it a dozen times at home.

 

Pasta Night

Karen will use the spaghetti to hypnotize the kids. Pasta worms to get them out of her hair. She will press the steamy pot to the center of the table, and they will be riveted. Hoodwinked by youth, and calories.

Ten minutes when they will not ask her to explain, again.

She will spend those minutes shivering in front of the TV, watching the same foul images over and over. One grainy figure will drag its friend from danger, others will run, some will even scurry back for loved ones left behind. Juicy footage for the networks.

Karen will shake herself. When the kids come racing out with tomato smiles, she will await them with Tenzi.

“Who wants to roll first?”

 

Man on a Swing

The anchors queue up in the sand, half buried from the wind.

“You going out today?” Jeff smells like a spliff.

“Looks a bit rough,” Blake says.

Jeff swivels his head from side to side. “Totally deserted.” True. They are alone on the beach.

“Where the hell is everybody?” Jeff doesn’t have a TV. Just a surfboard. And anyway, Blake has just woken him up.

“Yeah, I’ll take one out,” says Blake. Jeff goes back to the shack for the keys.

A red flag flaps, and spray dapples Blake’s sunglasses. Out to sea, long waves form, with white, foamy crests.

Jeff bolts from the shack with his little radio. “Blake! Hey, Blake! You got family in the city?”

“Sure,” Blake says. “So what?”

He unearths one of the anchors. It swings erratically on its line, as though trying to escape.

 

 Fire Is Getting Closer

“There’s enough smoke down here already.”

This noise came from Atilio, pacing and torturing his disheveled hair.

No point in rewarding his hysteria with any reaction, positive or negative.

Edie tried a smoke ring. A bad one, well-defined on one side, but diffuse on the other. Call it 5 out of 10. The fire was causing a draft.

“Why they make me come out with a woman, I don’t know.”

Down the tunnel the fire spread from car to car, engulfing the train.

“How long do we have to wait down here, anyway?” He glared at her this time, and she concentrated on the cigarette. Without any reinforcement, his behavior would abate. She tapped the cigarette with a free finger, and ash drifted down to the rails.

Atilio whirled around and stalked off down the tunnel a few meters.  “Besa mi culo, puta.”

Edie let him think she doesn’t know Spanish. It gave her an edge.

He kicked the side of the tunnel and fiddled with his weapon. Atilio had been a bad roll of the dice. But she couldn’t choose her men. Shorthanded as they were, she had to be thankful even for this jumpy prick.

Her own weapon rested at her side. She had already checked it a dozen times at home.

Her eyes watered. Atilio was right. Most of the fumes and heat rose through the station and up the escalators, out into the city, drawing new air in through the tunnel for them to breathe. But enough smoke flowed into the tunnel. They should have gas masks.

She hurled the cigarette down to her feet and crushed it.

Atilio checked his weapon again, and they waited patiently for the first responders.

 

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