Dread

(This is part 3 of a serial. The first part is here, and the second is here.)

I sat cradled in Mike’s arms for what seemed like forever, but was only about fifteen minutes. I was too stunned to cry. I wasn’t angry, either. I didn’t know what to feel. Or do. I waited for Mike to take the lead.

“Mike! Dee! You guys in there?”

The shout from our back door startled us from the couch. Mike swept to his feet and raced to the mudroom, where he met our neighbor, Charlie. I got to my feet while my brain tried to catch up on the situation. I heard Mike and Charlie talking in hushed tones, but I decided not to interrupt.

Instead, I went in search more supplies despite not knowing what might be needed and when. I was in the middle of deciding if we’d need blankets when I remembered to worry about my adult kids.

My son was fine, I was sure. He was a sensible-headed young man, living and working just across town. My daughter, though, was a flighty romantic, intent on changing her slob of a boyfriend into a respectable man. She also lived right across town, but I was afraid her boyfriend would convince her to do something stupid.

I dropped the blanket I was holding and went in search of Mike. I didn’t hear his voice from the back room anymore. I hoped he hadn’t gone far.

I was passing behind the couch when the front door, directly across the room, opened. I dropped to my knees and crouched, certain the robber had returned. Instead, I heard a familiar voice ask, “Is that you, Mom?”

My heart jumped into my throat then dropped back into my stomach before settling down. I stood up, sheepishly brushing invisible dirt off my clothes, and grinned at my son.

“I’m so glad you’re here, Coop. Do you have any idea what’s going on? Do you have your sister with you?”

Cooper laughed and opened the door to reveal Laura and my heart flip-flopped again. She pushed past her brother and jogged over to give me a hug.

“Hi, Mom,” my brown-eyed girl said. “John-John wanted to go to his parents’ house, and I told him to go ahead. Nowhere’s safer than with you and Dad.”

I opened my mouth to say hello but Mike’s voice interrupted, “Yep. And we’re going to Gran’s farm.”

Both kids turned, wide-eyed, to their father. My stomach lurched again, and not in a my-kids-are-safe sort of way. My eyes met Mike’s and I knew our much laughed-about emergency plan was finally happening.

“It’s not…,” I trailed off my question.

“No,” Mike laughed, “it’s not zombies.” He sobered up and continued, “I’m not really sure what it is, but I’m reasonably sure it’s not an outbreak of the undead. It might be invasion, it might be a natural disaster. Hell, it could be aliens. But we’re going to the farm, where it’s safer than in the middle of town.”

I nodded and gathered the kids into my embrace. After a hard hug and reassuring smile, the four of us gathered our supplies, along with some clothes, blankets and pillows and loaded up our cars for the short trip into the country.

 

To be continued…

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