Previously on Five Seconds: Parker and Andy say goodbye to her truck; they begin a treacherous journey through a mall.
Should they look for a new vehicle or backpacks and supplies?Click To Reveal Results
The mall was an empty dark void. Shadows crawled up the walls, swallowing the building. It was strange seeing the centre of a city so dark and quiet. It was a polar opposite to the mall Parker and I had ventured through days before.
"You ready?" I whispered.
"As ready as I'll ever be. You be smart with that iron. We don't need any more deaths than we already have."
I was surprised Parker would actually utter those words, but I couldn't agree more. The smashed doors that were once glass stood like the esophagus of a demon. Instinct made me pull it open slowly, and I was thankful it made no noise. I clicked on a small flashlight and led the way.
"Think there's a mall directory?" Parker asked. Every syllable thundered through the cavernous space.
Slowly but surely, Parker’s humour was crawling back from the deep dark hole it had surrendered to. Yet somehow, it did nothing to brighten my spirits. Maybe it was stress, maybe it was everything catching up to me. Whatever it was, every little thing he did to brighten the mood, or remind the world he was still his old self, irked me. At least I was good at keeping my mouth shut.
We passed by a lingerie store, and Parker let out a wolf whistle.
It took everything I had not to slap him. "You're so immature."
"Hey check out the jewelry. Want anything?" he pointed at a store across the hall.
"Parker, we are here for one thing only. We need to get in and out as fast as possible without being seen," I reminded him.
He strolled across the messy hall. "Mm but that ring totally has your name on it."
I rolled my eyes and looked down at the blue and red tiles. "Jewelry is stupid."
Parker dramatically let me know how much he was offended in a single gasp. "It’s all free you know. We can take anything we want. Toss me that tire iron. I’ll get you those earrings there. Wings for an angle.”
I pursed my lips together and prayed it was dark enough he couldn't see – this was the most inappropriate time to blush. Newt let out a low grumble. "My ears aren't even pierced," I said quietly.
"Parker shut up we are on a mission!"
"I cannot believe it. I had my ears pierced for a while. Everyone pierces their ears. Actually, we could probably find a piercing kit here..."
I left him to ramble to himself at the dumb sparkly store and continued on forward with my dog, the only boy I needed – and could deal with.
I stopped when I found a store in our favour. "Hey Parker, look. A shoe store. We should get you some hiking boots if we're making such a long journey."
We entered the shoe store and in mere moments Parker already had three pairs of shoes out to try on. I was completely baffled.
"Are you an expert on shoe stores or something?" I asked.
"You know Andy. Maybe you're so crabby because your shoes don't fit right."
He reached for my foot and I kicked his hand away. "Oh, go to hell."
Parker picked out another pair to try. They were some sort of boot. Something like a cross between a duck and a moose. "You're actually considering walked around in public with those?"
"They're grungy, it's a style. They're cool."
"They're gross. How about these." I tossed him a runner.
"You really think my feet are that small? Those are about half the size of what I need."
I blushed again. What a terrible time for an inappropriate joke to cross my mind. I turned around to survey the dark mall. I was really hoping we would find a vehicle. If we found a vehicle then I wouldn’t have to deal with this idiot and his sense of style. I could only imagine walking beside him for three days. A shudder ran through my body. "Should we get you a proper hiking jacket as well?"
"Andy. It's just a hike to your aunt’s place. We can figure it out after that. I'll be fine I'm sure."
"You never know what we might run into out there." It came out cooler than I meant.
My flashlight lit up a familiar sign and my heart skipped a beat. "Parker, how much longer are you going to take?"
"I'm working on it. What should I do with my sneakers?"
"I don't know. Leave them there."
He made that weird noise again. "You know these shoes were almost 250 bucks."
I whipped my head around. "Why'd you waste so much money on such ugly impractical pieces of cow hide?"
"You're quite rude don't you know."
The flame of anger snuffed out. "Just looking out for you,” I muttered. “But if you ask me if your shoes make your ankles look fat I may snap."
"These shoes don't even go with what I'm wearing."
I let out a sigh. I spent two years hopelessly devoted to this guy. And unfortunately even if he did have these sorts of faults, he still had his moments, and now was not one of them. "Just hurry up. I think I may see something in our favour."
Parker finished up and took his ugly sneakers with him. I darted across the mall, careful of my surroundings, and walked towards a conveniently placed House of Knives.
"Now if only we had bags to pack some of this stuff in," I muttered to myself.
I grabbed a package of tinder, and pulled reflective blankets from survival kits
"Why don't you just take the whole kit?"
"We don't need more than we need."
"How do you know what all this stuff is?"
"I wasn't holed up in a fancy house all day where I couldn't touch anything like you were."
"I played soccer,” Parker retorted.
I didn't hide my smirk. "Think we'll need some carabineers?"
"You expect me to scale a cliff?"
“Hmm, good point." We walked past dozens of hunting knives. I had an old one from home that was still just as sharp, which currently resided with Parker. My eyes spotted a very expensive knife, and I brought it closer to examine.
"They all look the same to me," Parker muttered.
I murmured to myself under my breath, weighing the pros and cons of the sharp tool. I flipped it in my hand, and peered closely at every little detail. It was sharp and it was long, but it didn’t have a serrated edge. It would be useful for some things, but what was the point of having this if we had my old hunting knife?
“You’re cute when you ramble,” Parker said almost to himself.
My eyes widened and I felt that familiar flutter of butterflies in my stomach, but quenched it just as fast as it came. Love was not an option. All it did was end.
"Think you can handle this?" I turned towards him.
He seemed taken aback. "You trust me with a knife?"
"Don't make me regret it."
I grabbed a few other things, and walked out of the store arms full with Parker and Newt.
Just as we exited a rat scuttled across the floor. I shined my light at it, the bright beam reflected off the tiny beady eye. A shiver clawed down my spine. Up above, the sound of a bird’s wings snatched my attention.
“This stupid place is freaking me out,” I muttered.
“It’s strange, how dark the mall is without lights. You never really realize that the lights that let you see things aren’t exactly real. They’re just electricity,” Parker said.
I shined my own light on the torn apart mall, searching for a store that sold bags.
I shined my light on the store behind us as we walked around a corner. Could there be backpacks in the Bay – Newt let out a loud growl. Arms gripped me tight, and pulled me away before I could turn forward. Parker let out a warning before he was cut silent.
The group shoved us down, took our things, pinned us against the wall and surrounded us with all sorts of weapons.
“Who are you?” A stalky man with short cropped hair demanded.
“We’re just travelling from point A to point B,” I replied, less than happy with what was happening. How many damn things before I saw my aunt again?
“Oh are you,” apparently the man shared the same amount of contentment. Do you expect a meal somewhere in between those points?”
I knit my eyebrows with confusion. What did that have to do with any—
He gripped my hair and slammed my head against the wall. “What the hell!”
“Hey watch it bastard!” Parker shouted.
“Look, I’ll admit, I’m a nice honest guy. But when people don’t respect me, I don’t respect them. So what’s it gonna be? Don’t think I’ll let you out without consequences.”
“I don’t understand what you want,” I grumbled. Maybe if you didn’t mumble so much I’d understand better was what I really wanted to say.
He stood up and walked to my dog, who was being held down by two people. Silver flashed in the dark. Suddenly my heart started pounding a marathon.
“Look, we’re trying to cooperate, but you’re not making it very easy,” I spoke rapidly. I looked to Parker for help. He was good with people; he should know what to do.
“Hey, I’m sure you can’t tell considering it’s been a while since my last shower, but I’m Parker Dee—“
“Does it look like I care?” the man snapped. He crouched down next to my dog, whose head was staying put by four hands, and pointed his small knife at him. A small smile crept up his lips. “I like it when you squirm like that.”
“Don’t you dare hurt my dog,” I snarled.
“Or what, you’ll eat me?”
“Of course not you damn idiot. I’ll tie you to the train tracks and let that cult in Surrey have their way with you.”
His large hand gripped my dog. Fear snapped through me like a lightning bolt.
“Yohan, I really don’t think they’re one of them,” the woman holding me down said.
“Shut up Fran. Your girly mind is just too soft.”
“And yours is too wretched. What’s killing their dog going to do?”
Yohan gripped his knife and cracked his neck. “Just shut up.”
“You’re as bad as the cannibals if you kill a dog. Smarten up Yohan,” a skinny Asian man to the side of him said.
“You mean they’re here too?” Parker asked.
All eyes were on him.
“We bumped into a man in a burnt down… safety camp of some sort. And, he was… eating a corpse. We thought he was part of some sort of cult.”
The group exchanged glances. Yohan lowered his knife. “Well, I hate to break it to you, but it’s more than just a cult.”
“But they're just violent cannibals, right?” I said. “What’s the deal?”
“No. No they aren’t just violent cannibals, they’re regular people,” the Asian man who had stood up for my dog earlier said. “We believe they are people who can't control their rage. It comes and goes. One of ours… turned a few hours ago. He's out there. In the mall somewhere. And we're going to capture him. And we're going to research him.”
“You're gonna treat him like a lab rat!” I exclaimed in rage. “What makes you so special?”
Yohan pointed the knife at me. “Watch what you say. Kevin is one of the smartest in the whole damn province.”
Too bad he couldn’t have shared some of those brains with Yohan.
“What's it to you?” Kevin asked. “You want to protect the people that have killed your family? Look around. Have you been listening to the broadcasts? Almost a million people have either died or are missing since the earthquake hit. That can’t be just at the hands of the earth.”
“That's like the population of Vancouver,” Parker cried.
“So, you’re saying that somewhere in the mess of the quake, people went crazy and started killing each other for food?” I asked.
“It’s only a hypothesis, but there’s definite evidence to support it.”
I looked at Parker. It’d be smart to help this man out.
“Like hell we'd help you,” Parker growled.
“Mmm. You see,” Yohan ran his knife across Parker’s throat. “You have no option. You capture him, we let you take only what you need, and we never cross paths again.”
Parker opened his mouth to object, but I cut in. “How much have you seen of him? What does he do, how does he act?”
The capturer smiled.
“Andy,” Parker scolded.
“Parker,” I said with more fluidity.
"I can't believe this Andy," Parker growled. "You think you're some warrior in a stupid book? This is real life. You're going to get us killed. There is no way in hell you can do this."
“Parker, it’ll be okay.”
He leaned in close to my ear. “I am not cleaning up this man’s junkyard.”
“Would you shut your damn mouth for once?” I whispered back.
He leaned back, absolutely offended.
“Well, I’m glad one of you has balls,” Yohan sneered. He stood up. “Our friend was last seen in Sears. We haven’t seen him come out yet, however that doesn’t mean that he’s escaped someplace else. He could’ve escaped through the doors or into one the parking lots. Just bring him back.”
My ears perked up, but I remained stoic. I hoped Parker stayed the same. “Alright. We’ll try our best. But give me my dog. He’ll be your best bet of finding your friend – in fact, do you have something that has his scent on it?”
The people holding us down let go, and I slowly got to my feet. Parker did the same. Our arms brushed and I grabbed his wrist in the shadows.
Yohan brought a watch out of his pocket. “Will this work?” he asked.
“I don’t see how it wouldn’t,” I replied keeping my voice steady.
The people holding my dog down let go, but he stayed in place. I had never loved my dog more. Yohan got down on his knee, and shoved the watch in front of his face.
The next few moments happened in slow motion.
A thunder erupted from Newt’s throat. Long sharp teeth lashed out, and clamped down on Yohan’s hand. Gut-wrenching animalistic screams shot out of his throat, tearing it raw. I yanked Parker along, and we raced towards Sears. We didn’t have the flashlight, or the iron, or my old hunting knife, or any of the supplies we had picked up, but we kept at it blindly and unarmed. It was harder to see us without a light in our hands anyways.
We rounded another corner, and Newt caught up to us. We speeded through the dark, shouts echoed behind us. The emptiness of the mall made it hard to figure out if they were gaining on us or not. The roof up ahead opened up to a mostly intact glass ceiling, which let in enough light to show us the sears sign.
We darted inside the department store, and into the dark maze of mannequins. We trampled over strewn about clothing, and ducked around fallen racks.
“Where’s the exit?” I panted.
We headed left towards the dim light and away from the mall entrance. Newt leaped over a shoe display, Parker and I travelled around it.
That was when the others entered the store.
We ducked behind an enormous pile of peacoats as they conferred at the door.
“Where did they go?” Fran asked.
“Let’s block all the entrances,” a different voice spoke. “Fran, go to the north parking lot entrance. Bianca, head to the escalators. You two go downstairs to the parking lot. I’ll guard this door – and don’t forget about Gordon!”
I gripped Parker’s wrist tight and pulled him along at a speedy crouch. We had to get to that north parking lot before Fran did.
We darted from each hiding spot and shadow to the other. Newt’s ears were perked up, and I kept my eyes peeled for that burly woman.
The entrance was in view, but so was Fran. If we darted out, we would be spotted, but there would be a chance of escaping into a car and fleeing before capture.
I took a quick breath, and counted to five as fast as I ever had. The decision was made. I held onto Parker for dear life and charged.
“HEY!” Fran screeched. “They’re over here!”
We sprinted through a passage and into a parkade. Fran was fast on our heels. There was an orange mustang up ahead and I wouldn’t believe our luck if it was unlocked.
"Parker! The car!" I screamed between breaths. He understood what I was saying and blasted ahead.
I took two steps before a force hit me from behind and tackled me to the cold hard unforgiving concrete floor.
"You're not getting anywhere bitch!" Fran snarled into my ear.
She was on top of me, and forced all her weight down, compressing my breaths. She yanked my hair and slammed my face down into the ground repeatedly. Curse words flew from my mouth and I reached behind my head, but couldn't make contact.
"Newt!" I screamed.
"You're stupid dog isn't gonna save you now," her wretched voice blew into my ears. "You call your dog one more time I'll stick you with my k—"
Another force slammed into us, but it wasn't Newt. Animalistic sounds screeched out of Fran's throat. I didn't look back. I scrambled to my legs and took off towards the vehicle. Parker and Newt were inside. The engine was alive. I had hardly made it into the car when Parker slammed the gas and we thundered out.
I looked back in time to see Fran on the cold hard ground, and who I assumed to be Gordon on top. Blood was on the ground.
I turned around before the bile rose any higher in my throat.
Parker zigzagged to the highway, then took off faster than 737.
"Woo!" he cheered. "Now this is what I'm talking about. I love this car so much!"
"Parker slow down you damned maniac!"
He slowed down, but only to 20 above one hundred. It was a good thing the roads weren't so damaged here otherwise the car would disintegrate.
For a while we made great time. The roads were still rough, but for the most part flat. It was only when we reached the centre of Chilliwack did we once again encounter problems. The car slowed incredibly.
"Parker, look at all the people," I whispered, afraid that if I raised my voice they would notice us here and steal. And attack.
"I never thought that Chilliwack had this many people," Parker muttered.
"They must be from all over the lower mainland. I guarantee YVR is closed, and all of the other airports must be just as packed.
"We could go around?" Parker suggested.
"Well, try driving down this road, maybe it's a short detour. That's better than driving right through the crowd. And even if there still are people there, just, pedal to the metal."
Parker slowed down even more, and crawled onto the bumpy back road. We made it maybe ten metres before a man jumped in front of the car. Parker sped up and drove around him, but not without escaping a swing of his hammer.
A shriek escaped my lips. The passenger side mirror was gone.
"Where do I go Andy! Where do I go!" Parker exclaimed.
"Try the left at the second exit!" I ordered.
Gravel and dust kicked up as he whipped around the corner. He sped down the road.
"There's a right up ahead!" I shouted when we were a mere few metres away from the next road.
Parker groaned as we made another hard turn. "You could've warned me better!"
And then a large rock smashed into the sports car.
The front of the hood bent down in a large divot. I glanced in my rear view mirror at a ghastly scene of many people running after us. We flew past a growing crowd. Parker made the next turn, but didn't dare slow down. The road was turned straight, but the crowd of people wasn't moving.
We continued on, Parker honked the horn to warn them, but they stayed in place. Some had weapons, others threw half eaten apples and sandwiches at us. Some were screaming bloody murder, others were screaming that we were selfish, or to help them.
Several carried a strange spike rope.
"What is—" Parker didn't have time to finish his sentence for I gripped the wheel and turned a sharp right into a field of sweet corn. My head whiplashed into the window, and my eyes went blurry.
I blinked to clear them as tall stocks of corn whipped at the car.
"Andy what the hell!"
"I figured you'd prefer corn over popped tires!"
"Well where do I go now?" Parker gripped the wheel with white knuckles.
"Well, to be honest, I don't mind crops and fields over a highway full of dangerous people. But, the highway is to your left."
He steered into a clearing, annoyed with the corn, and not being able to see.
"Holy cow!" I shrieked.
A ginormous black bull the size of my truck appeared out of nowhere and stood in our way.
I closed my eyes and braced myself for the worst.
Parker swerved, the wheels screamed in protest, and suddenly, the ground smoothed out. Sort of.
"Wow Parker. Who taught you to drive?"
The next time we stopped was in the outskirts of Hope. And it wasn't because of people, it wasn't because of a mechanical problem, in fact, it was a peaceful easy stop, with no immediate danger in the way. The car worked fine, Parker, Newt and I were fine.
We stopped because we were at a crossroads.
We had two options. To continue our way on the Trans Canada Highway, or turn onto the Coquihalla.
The problem, was that the Coquihalla travelled through cities, and was a notoriously dangerous road without the effects of landslides from the Earthquake. The Trans Canada however, traversed along the Fraser River, and had many bridges. As well, it was a half hour shorter drive.
Our brains sputtered like the engine.
Should Parker and Andy travel the Trans Canada, or the Coquihalla?
If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.