Previously on Five Seconds: Joy and Amie escape the dangers of the tsunami by finding themselves on top of a warehouse, but are interrupted when a stranger calls for help. Sam and Leena escaped the danger by climbing the stairs to a roof, but get seriously injured in the process.
Parker can’t decide if he should escape in the night to look for his family in Vancouver, or stay. What does he do?Click To Reveal Results
Two months ago
Joy was thankful that her mother had forced her into swimming lessons,
“Okay, there’s some sort of floating object over there,” Joy told Amie. “I’m going to swim to that, and then I will use it like a boat to help the guy and his dog. And then, together, we will return to our place here on the roof of Canada Post.”
Amie’s brows were knit together and she couldn’t stay still. She kept shifting her weight from one foot to the other. “Okay, and if that plan doesn’t work?”
“Oh.” Joy shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know.”
“Great. Thanks for reassuring me.” Amie let out a noisy sigh. “Just, if things go pear shaped, save yourself.”
“You don’t need to tell me that twice.”
And with that, Joy jumped into the water. She hardly registered how cold it was, keeping her focus on the floating object ahead of her. She kicked her legs and pumped her arms like a well-oiled machine. Mysterious objects groped at her, and she did her best to swallow her fear of what they may be.
After what felt like swimming the length of seven Olympic-sized pools, she made it to the floating object. It was a door. Perhaps the front door to someone’s house, or maybe to a bedroom. Maybe it was the door to what was supposed to have been her dorm room tomorrow.
She swallowed the thoughts like a shot of vodka.
She grabbed onto the door and continued kicking. “Hey! Come here!” she called to the stranger between deep greedy breaths.
She couldn’t tell if she was breathing so hard because she was terribly out of shape or because she was registering just how cold the water was. Thankfully, the stranger began swimming her way, and his long arms ate up the distance fast.
“Grab on!” Joy
A few more strokes and his arm stretched out and slapped onto the makeshift floatation device. Joy gripped it hard so he wouldn’t slip off. In his other arm, he scooped the little dog out of the water and up onto the wonderfully buoyant door.
“Thank you,” he breathed. He had an accent. A bright orange backpack adorned his shoulders.
“Of course,” Joy
Something latched onto her leg. Her grip slipped and she was yanked under. She climbed an invisible ladder of water and tried desperately to get away from the tangle of wires that clutched onto her ankle like a noose, but she wasn’t making any progress. The light from the sun above shrank and shrank as she was pulled closer and closer to the bottom of this watery grave.
But then the stranger appeared, and something glinted in his hand. Joy reached for him, but he passed her, swimming down to her ankles and cutting her free. He gripped onto her tightly, and they swam up, up, up, and broke the surface.
Joy greedily gulped mouthfuls of air, her limbs suddenly feeling like they were weighed down with concrete. The stranger pulled the door towards them, and Joy gripped on as best she could.
“Joy!” Amie called from a distance.
“It’s okay! I’m fine, Amie… I’m fine,” she said more to herself than to her friend. Joy turned back towards the stranger. “I’m supposed to be rescuing you, but you rescued me.”
He had rescued her from this dangerous waltz with death. He could’ve just left her, but he didn’t.
The stranger stuck his hand out. “Nic.”
“Joy.” The two shook hands. “What’s your dog’s name?”
“I don’t know. He was without an owner when I found him.” His accent sounded Icelandic. Long eyelashes framed his green eyes.
“Well, let’s get back to the roof.”
Gripping onto the door, the two began kicking their way back to the safety of the Canada Post warehouse. Joy could see Amie standing there, gripping onto the ledge like a lifeline. Joy couldn’t resist a smile. They were only a few metres away now, and she could see Amie’s eyebrows scrunched together.
The little dog leaped up into Amie’s outstretched arms, and Nic’s long arm reached out and grabbed onto the ledge. He began pulling himself up. They had made it and no one died.
She was so going to give Amie the whole ‘I told you so’ spiel.
But then everything went pear shaped.
The water started moving again. More powerful now than when it first came in.
It was happening. That thing Joy’s old Geography teacher had talked about. The most dangerous part of the tsunami. The pullback.
It was like swimming in a washing machine. Instantly, Joy was thrown about, and she lost her grip on the door.
She was pulled under and resurfaced a few metres away, but was rapidly being torn away from the others.
“Joy!” she heard Amie shriek.
She tried swimming against the current, but it was a useless effort. The trunk of a tree spun past her, and she reached out and held on tighter than ever.
She was slammed into the concrete walls of the Hilton hotel. Joy
That was when the panic set in.
She coughed and blubbered and reached for the surface of the water, but she couldn’t escape its confines. She could feel her heart thundering in her chest, and for a brief moment, she wondered if it would beat for the last time today. She wondered how it would
Something crashed into her, and she was no longer being pressed against the hotel. An empty space of ocean surrounded her, and she began fighting tooth and nail to get back to the surface.
She stared at the sun, rippling and distorted from the waves. She stared at everything it held, everything it was, everything it did. Perhaps Joy was the moon – a ball of brooding and dark thoughts – and that was all she ever had been, but in this moment, she needed the sun, not the darkness.
She willed the thoughts of her family to give her muscles just a little extra strength. She thought about her brother, and how he had just scored a job at the YVR airport. She thought about her younger sister Jessie, and how she would need her older sister to help her pick out a grad dress.
She pictured her parents waiting at home, waiting for her to return. Staring at an empty frame that was to be one day filled with her law school graduation picture. The family dog had just died – she wasn’t going to let her family lose anyone else.
She took all of this and fought harder than she ever had in her life to reach that sun. To reach that precious light that gave life, and warmth, and promise. She kicked and kicked and climbed and swam. She was going to reach that light, just like she was going to go back to Amie and say ‘I told you so.’
She was going to do it.
She was going to go to Law school and become a lawyer and make the world a better place.
She was going to live.
But then a shadow passed over the sun. It was dark, and it was massive. It turned and headed straight for her. Her wide eyes stared straight into the dead headlights of a bus.
And then it all went dark. And the panic wasn’t there anymore. And when she opened her eyes, she was at the end of a dock, looking out to a lake, and beside her, was her dog.
It had been an hour since the second wave passed. Sam and Leena still sat with their backs pressed up against a structure Sam couldn’t find the words to name on the roof of the building that saved their lives from the wave. Sam had nearly thrown up twice.
“What do we do now?” Leena asked.
Sam didn’t fail to notice how her words were clipped. “We need to fix your arm.”
“You want to go to a hospital?” Leena breathed. “Where is the nearest one? St. Pauls?” She tried to shift
“I think we should do it now.” Sam sat up and moved so she could get a better look.
“Wait, what, do what now?”
“I need to put it back in place. Or set it. Whatever it’s called.”
Leena let out a laugh. “Yea right. You’re going to do something to my arm that you don’t even know the name of?”
“Yes,” Sam stated. Despite the horrors of the past few hours, courage warmed her body. The world wasn’t going to get better until her sister was safe.
“It’s okay, Sam. Really. It’s just broken. You and I have both broken bones before, it’s really not that bad, you know that.”
“Lee, if you remember correctly, I was the one that broke all the bones. You just dealt with sprains and black eyes. And I remember vividly that it hurts a lot less once the bone has been set.” Leena was putting more effort into hiding the pain than thinking logically. “Just let me do this, Leena.”
Leena’s breathing hitched. Her arm was black and blue. “Sam, you throw up over everything,” she tried.
“For you, I’ll do it. Remember, I’ve seen every episode of—”
“Yeah, yeah, just because you watch a show about doctors doesn’t mean you are one.”
“Leena, I can do it. You’re my sister. You’re my
Leena’s bright blue eyes stared into Sam’s deep brown ones. She sucked her bottom lip
“Remember what coach said?” Sam tried. “She said to always protect your teammates. If you can’t take a bullet for one of your own, then the team will fail and never be good and die.”
Leena let out a small laugh through gritted teeth. “I think she used her words a little more eloquently, but okay.”
“Okay. Let’s do this.”
Amie hadn’t moved since it happened. She was still standing like a statue frozen in time on the roof of the warehouse, staring at the spot she had last seen her best friend before she had been consumed by the water. A second wave had come and gone, and now the water was slowly but surely leaving the city.
All she could hear was the thumping of her heart. The only thing that proved that she herself was alive.
She and Joy were supposed to become lawyers. They were supposed to send criminals to
Joy was supposed to be alive. She was supposed to be right next to Amie, and she was supposed to be alive.
Hell, they were supposed to go to the damn beach today.
Amie ran a hand down her face, only to realize that her cheeks were wet with tears. How long had she been crying? Did they just start now, or had they begun as soon as Joy had jumped into the water to rescue that damn stranger?
Amie whipped around, her joints protesting the sudden movement. She wanted to lash out at him. She wanted to hit him, she wanted to kill him.
But all those thoughts diminished when she saw what he had been up to.
Amie wanted to say something, but the lump in her throat prevented her from doing so.
“I have made a shelter,” the stranger said in an Icelandic accent. “I had it in my pack. I was heading out on a rock climbing trip today, but the earth decided otherwise.”
Amie just stared at him dumbfounded.
“I figure we are going to be stuck on this roof for a bit, so we should prepare before nightfall.” He set down his stuff and stood up. He was very tall. He stuck out his hand. “I am Nic.”
Amie didn’t move. Because of him, Joy was dead. And Amie would probably never find her body.
Nic dropped his hand. “I am sorry for your friend. That was very brave what she did. I will never forget.”
Amie opened her mouth to talk, but still, nothing came out. There was nothing to say. She could scream and yell at this man, but what would that do? He had made a shelter for them. He was trying to survive.
That’s what Joy was trying to do when she jumped in to rescue him. She figured that saving someone else would help her survive.
Amie sat down in the corner and waited for her nightmare to end.
Sam threw up – twice – but had somehow managed to set the arm. Although Leena’s face remained pale, the pain she held in her eyes had shrunk significantly.
“I can’t believe you just did that,” a woman with short blond hair said in wonder. She was the one that held the door open for them.
“I can’t either,” Leena moaned. “And, as wonderful of a deed as it was, please don’t ever do that again.”
Sam laughed. “We need to make a sling now, and get you to a real doctor.”
“How the hell are we going to do that?”
“What hospital is still standing?” the woman interjected. “And how did you know how to do that?”
“I broke so many bones when I was younger that the doctor had to privately meet with me to make sure I wasn’t
“Okay, well, let me help get you two to a hospital. My name is Lauren.”
The twins introduced themselves as well.
“St. Pauls is a few blocks away,” Lauren said. “Although, it was made out of brick so I really doubt it’s standing.”
“So we go to VGH?” Sam asked.
“It’s a long trip, but if we really want to go to a hospital, then yeah.”
“Hey, I really hate to burst your bubble over there,” a man interrupted. “But I think you’re forgetting that the streets are still flooded from the tsunami. As well, the hospital itself may be flooded.”
Sam stood up and walked towards the edge of the roof. She lay her palms on the wall and nearly threw up for the umpteenth time that day. Although the water had made its way back to the sea as quick as it had come, water still remained on the streets. Sam couldn’t tell how deep it was, but she could see a park bench breaking the surface, so it couldn’t have been that deep.
But if it was deep enough to partially submerge a park bench, then it was way too deep for an injured person. As well, many dangerous objects swirled about in the water, making a dangerous obstacle course for even a completely healthy person.
So they would have to wait.
For the water to completely clear, or for emergency services to arrive – if they were actually out there somewhere.
Sam turned her back to the city. The reality of what happened loomed over her.
She remembered taking hikes with her family, and could vividly picture the fatal branches that her mom would always spot. Where were their parents? And the house. Was it still standing? How about the cats? They had just adopted a new kitten. Were the other cats taking care of him? Or had they ditched him?
A mixture of brine, gas, and burning filled Sam’s nose, and she swallowed the last little remnants of whatever was in her stomach.
They needed to go home and make sure it wasn’t a raging inferno. How many families would lose their homes tonight? Would the twins be another number added to a long list?
Sam walked over to Leena and sat down beside her. They couldn’t stay on this roof forever. They would eventually need water and food. The sun wouldn’t last forever, and they would soon need blankets and maybe even raincoats.
And who was to say the people stranded here with them were safe? She’d seen all the apocalyptic survival movies. You couldn’t trust anyone but yourself in those movies. Was her life now a movie? She always imagined that expression - your life was a movie - was about good things, like finding prince charming, or winning the championships. Not this.
The sky was a grey ceiling, but that wasn’t because there was rain on the horizon. Things began falling from the cloud of grey they were in, and for a brief moment, Sam thought they were snowflakes. But it was ash. Ash from peoples' living rooms, offices, and favourite clothing stores.
“It’s going to be okay,
Sam eyed Leena’s arm. It was not a colour that Sam would be comfortable taking home instead of to a hospital. But the hospital was a long way away. She ran a hand through her hair. What happened to the days of worrying if she was going to make it home in time to watch her favourite cartoon while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
Should Sam and Leena go home, or to the hospital?
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