Previously on Five Seconds: Andy snaps at Amie and gets herself thrown out of the group. But Parker refuses to leave her all alone and promises to stay by her side.
Is Amie in the dark, or is it a '
The rain battered down on us, soaking through my clothing and drenching my hair. But for the moment, I didn’t mind. Andy was back. She was alive again. I could finally breathe. Even though she just got the both of us kicked out, and we had nowhere to go in the storm.
But that was okay.
If leaving this group was Andy's way of healing, then I would support her. I just wished I had grabbed some of their dinner before following Andy’s treacherous wake.
“Parker,” she whispered, squeezing a little tighter. “We’re not alone.”
I followed suit, squeezing all the bad vibes out of her. “You’re right. We have each other. It’s all okay now Andy. It’s all good.”
“No, Parker,” she growled. “That’s not what I’m talking about.”
That hard, familiar edge was back in her voice. Confusion riddled my body, but then a fear slowly crawled up my legs.
“There’s someone there,” fear crept into her voice, “in the shadows.”
My stomach did flip flops and my heart began beating a mile a minute. “What do we do?”
“Just breathe,” Andy muttered. “Just breathe… just breathe…”
I was so stupid. This was my fault. Andy was too distracted. It had been my job to look out and keep us safe. I had failed Andy in the most horrible way. There was no more room in the world for slip ups.
“Is it, just one? How many are there. Does he have a weapon?”
“Shut up, Parker,” she snapped.
Lightning lit up the world again, and I heard Andy take in a sharp breath.
“We have to get back to the warehouse. We have to warn the others!” She pulled away, gripped my hand and began running, but I was hesitant.
“You want to go back there?” I ridiculed.
“No. But it’s our only option.” She gripped my wrist tighter and tugged. “Come on, Parker.”
“But, we’ll lead them back there. Shouldn’t we go somewhere else?”
“And the two of us are capable of fighting off all of them?”
I stole one quick glance back when the lightening flashed again, and I immediately regretted it.
There were dozens of them. And they weren’t empty-handed.
My feet fumbled from the place they had been glued to, and I took off with Andy.
We dashed off into the darkness, weaving between buildings and rubble. We splashed through deep puddles and ducked under a wayward traffic light. Freezing rain lashed out at our faces, and thunder once again shook the sky.
“Andy, I think we’re leading them there. Should we try to change the route and hope for the best?” I shouted. Adrenaline pumped through my veins.
“I think they already know where we’re headed regardless,” Andy replied, screaming over the treacherous weather.
We quickly reached the warehouse, and ran around to the entrance in the front. Andy yanked the door handle but it didn’t budge. She shook and shook and it frustratingly didn’t open.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Andy roared. She slammed her palm into the door. “Open up dammit.”
I whipped my head around, looking for any sign of the crazies. But it was impossible to see more than a few meters in the rainy darkness. They could be anywhere. I half expected another flaming arrow to rocket through the rain and land between my eyeballs.
“Ugh that crazy bitch. What the hell do we do now?” Andy continued pounding away at the door. “Open up!”
“No, no, Andy stop.” I gripped her wrist. “Stop!” she paused her fury and snapped her eyes to me. “The door is always locked. They’re not going to listen. Come on. We have to get to the window.”
“What window. What are you talking about?” Andy questioned.
“I learned some things over these past few days. Come on.”
I dragged Andy along the side of the building, checking the corner first for any company or flaming arrows before continuing. I counted the windows before stopping. “This one. It leads right into the bathroom.” I folded my hands together as a step for Andy. “Go ahead.”
But she hesitated. “No.”
“Andy there’s no time—”
“You go. They wont listen to me, but they’ll hear you.”
I shook my head. “Absolutely not. There’s no time. Come on Andy, you’re wasting it.”
“No, Parker. You go,” she pushed.
“And how are you going to get in?”
“I don’t know. I’ll figure it out. Just go! Now!”
“Parker! I didn’t drag your ass half way across the province for you to undermine me like this,” she snarled. “Now hop in the window and do something. I’ll be okay. I promise. We’re in this together. I’m not going to leave you and you sure as hell aren’t leaving me. Now go.”
This didn’t sit well with me and I doubted it would sit well with me for the rest of my life. But arguing was just wasting time we didn’t have. Like gears without oil, I grudgingly stepped onto Andy’s hands and hoisted myself up to the window. I pounded at it and it gave way. I slipped through and tumbled to the ground.
I climbed back up onto the sink to see Andy, but she was already gone.
“Alright, Parker,” I whispered to myself. “Time to not be an idiot.”
I took a deep breath, counted to five, then opened the door to the warehouse.
I expected some alarm to begin blaring at an intruder, but there was nothing. I swivelled my head from side to side for a guard of some sort ready to bash my head in with a pan, but there was no one. I knit my brows together. Was it always this easy to break into the warehouse? How had they managed so long without any trouble in the warehouse?
This shouldn’t be so easy. Had I known this place was so unsecure I never would’ve gotten involved. But had I ever really had a chance? I took a sobering breath to steady my heart. All I had ever really wanted was to find my family. How had we gotten ourselves into this mess?
I walked through the maze of boxes and conveyor belts and stopped at the edge of the shadows. They were all still there, sitting around their fire as if nothing was wrong in the world. Amie was still in her robe. Half the people were still munching on their beans.
How the hell did I do this? How did I tell so many people their lives were about to get flipped around and crash and burn? That their new home – the only thing they really had now – was about to get pulled out from under them?
No. There must be some sort of plan. You can’t just build yourself a castle and not expect people to try to steal it from you. They had built themselves this much of an empire. They had to have had plan. A badass one.
Andy was smart for taking us back here. I hoped she knew what she was doing out there. There was a reason that scar on her stomach was only a scar and nothing worse.
I took a few steps back, to make it look like I hadn’t just been cowering in the shadows, and ran into the light.
“Guys!” I panted.
All eyes were on me. Amie shot up from her perch. “What the hell are you doing here,” she snapped.
“Spit it out!”
“Big group. We gotta go.”
“What the hell are you talking about.”
“They’re here,” I finally spat out. “The Crazies!”
All eyes darted to Amie. Looking for a plan. Looking for a grounding. Looking for a way out of the storm that was coming their way. Waiting for the orders that send them into the intricate plan they kept in their back pocket for a day like today.
Amie stared at me. Cold and hard. “That is so inconsiderate.”
My heart dropped into my toes. Now was not the time for this nonsense. “Amie.”
“I can’t believe you. You just want us out of here for your own good. You want to steal what I have built. All the hard work that I have done you want to put your name on. Hate to break it to you, but, in case you didn’t realize it, you are not the only person here. I am a person who deserves a stronghold far more than you do! What kind of mother raised you to lie?”
Anger surged through me faster than a tsunami. This girl was out of control. And she had just crossed a very dangerous line.
I was never a fighter. My mother raised me to defeat my opponents with my success and I did a very good job of that before this whole earthquake fiasco.
I was about to say something, call her out for being a blind coward for building herself up on the failure of others and the pity she received, but then the sounds of shattering windows sounded throughout the room. Fear sparked through me. It was too late. The Crazies had arrived.
Where was Andy?
The warehouse grew brighter, but that wasn’t because of a flash of lightning. Oh no. It was because balls of fire silently flew through the air.
I had less than a second to process what was happening, before the Molotov cocktails landed, setting the warehouse ablaze.
The room was sent into chaos. Screams erupted, and anarchy flooded. The people ran around in a panic, hardly making sense of the situation.
“Amie!” I shouted. “Get a hold of your group that you built. They need you. Amie. Do something!”
But she just stood there in disbelief, as if she never saw this coming. As if she were never the leader.
“Get out! Get out quick!” Someone screamed, pushing past me.
“They’re trying to trap us!” Another voice shouted.
“Get to the front!”
I moved to go with them, but my feet were glued to the ground. Something wasn’t sitting right in my belly. Was it because Amie was standing the same way I was? The way Kevin was looking all around the warehouse, searching for something that I couldn’t see.
The fire was here, inside the building. Why would I not want to go outside?
I sucked in a sharp breath. The Crazies weren’t trying to trap us. They were trying to flush us out.
Leena and Sam ran past me. They gripped my wrist.
“Come on,” Sam yelled.
“No, wait,” I urged. “Wait.”
“What do you mean? If the smoke doesn’t get us, the fire will,” Leena said. She tugged on my wrist. “Let’s go!”
“No! Don’t you get it? We can’t go out.”
The twins stared at me expectantly. But then both their eyes grew dramatically in size when they realized what I meant.
“What do we do?” Leena gasped, looking for an answer in her twin.
“Is there no other way out?” I asked.
“Just the loading docks.”
“So we’re trapped,” Sam concluded.
I ran my fingers through my hair. There had to be some other way. Could we go to the roof? The basement?
And then as if on cue, Kevin, the guy who apparently knew it all, and his henchman Yohan showed up.
“You wanna leave with your life you follow us,” he stated.
“You know a way out?” Leena asked hopefully.
“Yes – maybe. There’s a tunnel. It leads to Waterfront station. It was set to be filled in a few years ago, but I don’t know if it ever was. And I don’t know how much damage it received from the earthquake.”
“Well, I choose that dead end over this dead end,” I stated. I looked over at the twins. “You in?”
They both nodded their heads in unison.
Following Kevin, we took off towards the stairs. We weaved around the fires and the objects that had once labelled this survival pit as a mailing warehouse. We turned left around one fire, and I stopped short from what I saw between the fires on my right.
“Parker, come on,” Leena panted.
“Just go,” I said, waving her off. “I’ll catch up.”
She continued on her way, and I began walking towards what caught my attention. About ten feet above the ground, on a platform of the staircase that led to the roof, Amie stood in her robe, surveying her kingdom.
“Amie,” I called. “Come on. We found a way out.”
Her hands gripped the railing, but she did not move.
“Amie! Come on!”
“Leave Parker. Go. Leave me be.”
“Absolutely not. I don’t care what you said about my mother, but I’m not going to just leave you here to die. I can’t do that.” The fires surged higher. “I get it, you’re seriously stressed out from leading a group. I could only imagine feeling responsible for twenty other lives. But right now, we just need to focus on getting to safety. You can make up for your faults another day.”
“No, Parker. You are going to leave me here. That is an order.”
“And that’s bull. You can’t just order me around.”
“No, it is my time Parker. The end is here for me. It’s time for me to go. I can feel him, Death. He’s in a library, and I can smell the pages. I can feel them beneath my fingers. There’s so many books Parker. And Joy, Joy is there reading in the corner. We’re saved Parker. There’s nothing to say. No more fighting. No more surviving. We’re saved. We’re saved.”
She took three steps backward, and, arms outstretched, fell into the fire.
I looked away and covered my ears before I saw or heard anything I would never be able to get out of my mind. The smoke made my wide eyes water, and I nearly puked. I pushed all visions out of my head of a burnt body.
I gulped down a large breath of air, and coughed it back up. The fire was getting more dangerous. It was growing harder and harder to breathe. An awful scent permeated the air, and I covered my mouth and nose with my sleeve.
It was time to go.
I caught up to the group at a set of stairs and thundered down them. A bright flashlight bobbed along the walls, making me dizzy. We reached a door and before Yohan could yank it open I stopped them all.
Yohan turned around, annoyance written on his face. “What?”
“Who’s to say the Crazies aren’t behind that door?” I warned. “You said the tunnel leads to Waterfront. That’s right in the middle of Bloodtown.”
The group traded concerned stares, waiting for someone to have a reason to not believe me.
“If they knew about the tunnel, then they could’ve ambushed us earlier,” Sam reasoned.
“But clearly this attack was planned. They may very well have thought of this and waited until the right moment,” I countered.
“So what now?” Leena asked.
“All their attention could be focused on the front and any other obvious escape routes,” Kevin said. “We could try a window.”
“Uh yeah, good luck trying to fit my fat ass through one of those,” Leena said morbidly.
“So we’re stuck. In a little stairwell between what could be freedom and what could be a very sucky death,” Yohan finalized.
The energy in the stairwell dissipated to dust.
“Come out, come out, little girl.”
Despite the darkness of the underground, flooded parkade, I squeezed my eyes shut. I clenched my teeth and held my shaking fists in my lap. Despite my efforts to stay silent, I still felt like I was too loud, hiding behind this vehicle, cowering in the pool of water caused by the storm. Perhaps it was the blood rushing in my ears that was too loud. Or the heart in my chest that was desperately trying to escape.
“I know you're in here,” the sinister voice rang out to the left. “I can smell you. I can taste you.” The voice drifted off to the right. “I just want to eat you. Right now. But first, I'd have to get rid of your friend. No. I'll capture him – if the others haven’t already. Cut his legs off and make him watch while I eat you bite... by... bite.”
A window shattered not that far from me. The alarm blared unbearably loud, and the lights flashed, lighting up the parkade like a strobe light. I stuffed a fist in my mouth to keep myself from screaming in terror.
“The longer you hide the hungrier I get,” he warned.
The sick man yelled out and smashed another vehicle. The car joined the symphony of the other one. I was relieved only a little. It sounded further away.
“Where are you!” he bellowed.
I winced at the violence in his voice. I opened my eyes. Would I stay safe in my spot, or did I risk moving to a different vehicle? With the flashing lights, it’d be easier to navigate, but it’d also be easier for him to spot me.
And then the alarms cut out, and it all went silent.
My lip trembled, and I bowed my head. I tightly clasped the necklace Parker gave me a million years ago. The silence seemed louder than the car alarms. It was a living pulsing thing, and every beat made me shutter in fear.
“This game can end now. I want to play with you, but not like this.”
I tugged my hands through my hair and rested my head against the vehicle. My eyes scanned for any sort of movement. But the shadows were all thrown about from the flashing lights. The silence continued, driving me wild.
“I got you little girl,” he whispered.
And before I could process the hot breath on my neck, the Crazie grabbed me by my hair, and pulled me from my hiding place.
I sighed, looking at my companions. A decision had to be made.
Do Parker and the group open the door, or find a different escape?
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