The radio on Eleanor Phleer’s desk crackled to life with an awful sound that could only be a portent of doom.
“Gardener one, Scythe one – I’ve got projectiles flying from the building and smashing through the exteriors of other buildings and setting off car alarms, am I cleared hot?”
Elle bellowed furiously in the silent vacuum of her office. She’d been sitting in the dark, chain smoking and counting down the minutes until Stein and his escorts were supposed to be safely back in the facility. Her fury bore no semblance of humanity, language, or reason – just pure unadulterated rage. Rage at the loss of her golden child – the first Flower who was anywhere near cooperative, most likely her job, her aspirations toward higher offices. In one short radio transmission, so many pieces of her life began to crumble and fall down around her to bury her in the rubble of her own short comings.
She began to breathe in squares – a four second inhale, a four second hold and a four second exhale – desperately trying to coax her heart rate down to normal human levels before she dared answer the radio; there was no telling who might be listening in and trying to add more bullets to the list of reasons to fire her.
“Gardener one, Scythe one – I say again, projectiles flying from the building and smashing through neighboring buildings, car alarms going off. I’ve got lights coming on and it won’t be long before I’ve got foot traffic, am I cleared hot?”
“Cleared hot Scythe, Gardener Out.”
There was nothing more to hear or to say as far as Director – ha, she laughed to herself, soon to be former Director Phleer was concerned. Her sanitation team was comprised of very competent individuals and she had no doubt they’d get the mess cleaned up, she didn’t need the play by play. She’d just catch the news tomorrow – maybe a gas leak. For now, she was going home to drink and break things. It would be hard, it would take long hours that she shouldn’t have to put in at this point in her career and ass kissing that she was above this morning, but this wouldn’t be the end of her – Elle Phleer is not so easily beaten.
Johnny sat in a beat up old Honda with plates from another car and rust for two – watching, waiting. Travis had told him to let the chips fall, not to stick his neck out – all that shit he was always saying. But Travis was a little bit of what Johnny would call a “stupid fuck” and if it weren’t for Johnny, there wouldn’t be a Travis, so Johnny would do what he thought he ought to, Travis be damned.
If he’d have had his finger on the trigger when he heard the small explosions of fuck knows what flying through every wall of the bowling alley, he might have popped off a round and blown his cover, but Johnny had always been better at that sort of thing than real life. He scanned the windows and doors of the abandoned building to the right of the bowling alley, looking for his shot. If he could start taking them down before they even got in the building, Travis would have a much better chance of getting out alive.
Elle woke up and turned on the news immediately, she hadn’t wanted to watch it all unfold live, but she’d need at least a general idea of what had happened before she went in to work and started getting her head ripped off.
“Next up, a structure fire in the Strike Zone bowling alley spread to neighboring buildings last night and fire fighters are still trying to contain the blaze. Meredith is there live, Meredith?”
“Yes, thank you Pam – I’m here at Strike Zone lanes, downtown’s most loved bowling alley. I haven’t been able to get a word with the fire fighters or police because the situation is ongoing, but as you can see behind me the building has almost been completely gutted by the fire and several adjacent structures are in danger of the same. Eye witnesses tell me they heard small explosions and saw the fire shortly thereafter. Sounds like a possible gas leak to me Pam, but hopefully we’ll be able to get more information once the blaze is out.”
“Oh my, that’s terrible Meredith – I hope everyone was okay.”
“As awful as it sounds, Pam, it couldn’t have happened at a better time – when we contacted the owner we were told the lanes were closed last night and no employees were present. As tragic as losing a business may be, I’m just glad to be able to report that there’s been zero loss of life along with it, Pam.”
“Thank you Meredith. Check back with Channel Five for updates on that developing story after this commercial break.”
Elle clicked the television off and headed to the bathroom to rinse the bad decisions out of her mouth – she wasn’t too worried, she wouldn’t be the only person reeking of booze today; she might have been one of the highest people in the Facility with her head on the chopping block, but she was far from the only one.
Susan rolled over and felt the cold spot where her husband John should be; he hadn’t come back to bed last night after he went out. No big deal she told herself, he probably got in late and went to work without sleeping. He’s fine, Travis is fine – it’s all fine.
The coffee maker wasn’t on when Susan got in the kitchen and she could see through the window the Johnny’s car was still in the drive way.
It’s fine. Everything’s fine. She went about her morning routine, making herself a protein shake before she headed to the gym. There was no need to be worried, she’d known Travis and Johnny for years and this sort of thing happened all the time. Those first few deployments where he wouldn’t call or write for months at a time – this was nothing.
Everything is fine
As she walked out the door, tears rolled silently down her face and she tried not to wonder if she still fit into her funeral dress.
Author’s Note: 15 is up. Once the listing for this is live at WebFictionGuide, I’m going to look to migrate the site to WordPress.org which apparently is a better platform than the dot com version. The approval process is supposed to take a month or so, so I’m looking at about three weeks I think. Hopefully the added functionality over there will allow me to get a handle on the CSS, via plugins because I’m a punk bitch script kiddie with no actual code knowledge, and church this place up a little.
As always, I’d love to hear what you think, super serious – it would be crazy awesome to actually interact with people, just sayin’.