Waves. Massive ocean waves knock me around, smash me against rocks, and grind my body along the rough, sandy ground. Each time I try to stand, the water swallows me up and I sink into the deep, my arms too weak to tread along the surface. Back and forth, I'm drawn in and drug out. Each time I catch a breath of air, I get a quick peek at the purple, stormy sky before I am smothered once more with a mouthful of pouring rain. I gasp and go under, hoping I can find the ground beneath my feet this time, when my skull meets a rock with a thwack. I try to grab a hold of it, but instead I shriek and cringe away when I see it is a cold, wet arm floating beside me. My stomach drops as I peer over the arm and spot not only one, but hundreds, drifting in the tide.
I haven't been banging into rocks. I've been banging into bodies...
My eyes spring open to find Emmie's alarmed face inches from mine. She's rigorously rocking me back and forth, striving to wake me up. "Wake up! Travis is gone!" she shouts, too loud for my ears.
I wince and try to shake away my dream. "He's what?" Instinctively, I check around the shelter to confirm his absence, and she's right—he's not here. Without another thought, I kick off my sheets and get to my feet, wiping the morning blur from my eyes. I glance down at Emmie's wide eyes and ask, "Where did he go?"
Her small shoulders bump up and back down, and all I can think is, Tell me!
"Did he take the keys..." I wonder to myself and rush over to the counter to find them sitting there untouched. I spin back around at the only eyewitness. "Emmie, did you see him leave the shelter?"
Her eyes water as they dart all over the place nervously. "He just said to stay here and said I'd be safe with you. He told me to be quiet and that he was leaving." Her voice is wobbly and unsure, like she's being punished.
She starts to repeat herself but I throw my hand out to stop her. Why the hell would he just up and leave? Did he have any plans of returning?
"How long ago was this? Like a little while ago, a long while?" I'm determined to level with her, despite the frustrations that come with getting answers from a five year old.
Emmie toys with her fingers as she responds. "Well, I was waking up and I saw him over there." She points to the kitchen. "I wanted him to get me down, but he said, 'Go back to sleep. Be quiet. You'll be safe with—'"
I interject again with my hand and huff. How could I have missed everything?
"Stay here, Emmie. I'm gonna go find him."
She shakes her head and snatches my hand, gripping it tightly. "I wanna go," she begs.
"You'll be safe here."
She stomps her foot in protest and crosses her arms. "Not fair."
I sigh and kneel down beside her grumpy face. "Listen," I say as calmly as I can manage. "I don't know what he's doing out there, okay? Something might be wrong. I just want you to be safe. And to be safe, you have to stay here while I go do the more dangerous things, alright? I'm not going outside to play, honey."
Honey. I sound just like my mother.
Emmie's face softens, but she doesn't release her folded arms. "Fine," she says sternly.
I release a quick sigh. "Thank you. Now I'll be right back. I promise!" My mind is spinning a thousand miles an hour as I grab the keys and exit the shelter. To ensure Emmie's safety, I lock the outside padlocks before starting off. I shouldn't be long.
YOU ARE READING
OTHERS (Formerly The Scarlet Effect)Science Fiction
The pandemic was just the beginning. After an unknown virus sweeps across the globe, Aurora and two other survivors seek out safety in a bomb shelter with enough supplies to last a few years. Just as she starts to adapt to her new way of life, she i...