Eve took several deep breathes. The newspaper date, her friends from the past, William Hancock. Was she in a nightmare, soon to awake? Had she lost her grip on reality? She looked around her surroundings, realizing that she was in the subway channel. She listened. No sounds. She needed to break into the Engine House. She knew she’d be safe there. Then she remembered.
She was dead.
Only Stephen and Glenda knew what she looked like. To the rest of the country, she was just a nameless woman trying to survive the war. Suddenly, she felt relief. What were the chances that they felt safe enough to leave the hotel? She slowly climbed the stairs, and reaching the street, she looked around. It was early in the morning, maybe two or three. The war hadn’t reached this neighborhood, the destruction hadn’t taken out the street lights, hadn’t destroyed the buildings yet.
She began walking down the street looking for a store that might sell a tool she could use, something to help her break the lock on the Fire House. Yes, I need a hardware store. I have to stay safe until tonight, until I can lead Ron and Christine into the coffee house.
In the distance, she heard a rumble. The sound increased, the windows in the stores next to her began to move in and out of their jambs. Across the street, she saw one of the large windows explode. The roaring sound became more prominent with each second, something was approaching. Something of great magnitude. The sound became so great that she had to cover her ears. She backed into the depression of a building that led to its doorway and waited. Stretching her neck to see beyond her safe haven, she watched. The street curved in a way that stopped her from seeing beyond a block of city structures. Louder, louder. The sound made everything around her vibrate, shake. A smell in the air caused her nose to quiver. What was it? A memory of driving through a territory where cows grazed flashed through her mind. Maybe pigs? The county fair? Then the front of the line came around the corner, its massive thrashing sound came into sight. It was a spectacle beyond any she’d ever laid eyes on.
Elephants were heading the stampede, charging down the road. Closely behind were tigers, then giraffes, monkeys, every animal she could think of. They seemed to be moving on instinct, nowhere to go, and yet followed their leaders because they couldn’t help themselves.
Eve looked on with a feeling of ecstasy, she couldn’t help laughing. Her sounds were drowned out by the thunderous clomping of their hoofs. She suddenly realized that she was jumping up and down, screaming with delight. Catching herself, she froze and watched with pure pleasure as the parade of exotic creatures promenaded next to her.
It took forever for the bizarre, the extraordinary creatures to blow past where she was standing on the sidelines, but finally, the sound became muted. Eve stepped out into the street, her head looking in the direction of where the herd had disappeared. She turned to the other direction to see if another mass of beastly beauties could be heard, seen. Could there be a second show coming? The night became silent, safe again.
She began walking down the sidewalk in search of her hardware store, in search of tools. She heard a clomping noise in the street ahead that caused her body to jerk, her eyes to look in its direction.
She laughed and held her hand out while approaching the proud stallion. “Hey Fellow. Did you get lost?”
The stunning creature looked at her and made a snorting sound while it shook its mane. His lips quivered, his nostrils trembled. “What are you saying to me Mr. Horse?”
The horse answered her by raising its head in the air and letting out a fabulous whinny sound.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you. I’m afraid your clan has probably got a good mile on you by now. But maybe you’re an independent cuss, huh?” She put her hand out and stroked the middle of its head. Carefully, starting between its eyes, and moving her hand slowly down toward its nose. “My, you are a beauty. I sure wish you could tell me what happened. There must be a zoo near here, right? You poor thing, all the crazy war games going on. Pretty scary, isn’t it?”
Her friend stared at her and then shook his head, making her jump back. He continued past her as if he was on a mission. She watched for a while as he sauntered on down the street, as if he knew he would find his friends if he stayed on target. “My God. The country is so upside down that this probably won’t make the news. Doesn’t that say it all?”
Eve came to a hardware store. She found a sizable rock nearby and threw it against its window. The sound of the alarm sent her running to a nearby ally where she could watch, wait for the authorities. After several minutes without hearing sirens, she approached the store with the newly missing window and crawled through.
Walking down the aisle was spellbinding. With the smell of the livestock still in her nose and the knowledge that she could pick up anything she desired and just walk out the door… well, it was something she’d never dreamed of as a possibility. But then, the country was off kilter for the norm. She didn’t want to be greedy so looked only for her crowbar tool.
She began laughing out loud when she realized that she was looking for a clerk to ask where she could find what she was after. “How did I get to this place in life?”
When she found what she needed, she grabbed it and carefully exited by walking on broken glass and raising her leg to step through the new opening she’d created. Once in the street, she ran toward the Engine House. She felt that it would be the safest place for her to wait the day out, and knew there must be cots where she would be able to sleep away at least four or five hours of her wait.
She reached the front door where the padlock had given her grief a few days before, but this time, she was prepared. Surprised how easily it snapped, she opened the door and entered. It was as she had expected. The safe, serene feeling that incased her body was a welcome sensation. But, unlike her theory, it was not the coffee house. “Ah, but maybe you are my mystic café. You just didn’t last for 30 years.” She looked around, and thought of Donna. “Funny lady, you’re running around with your coffee and scones, probably right where I’m standing. So unbelievable, the whole story. But that was him. Hancock was my proof.”
She took an elevator to the top floor and found a bed. She would explore after some sleep. Yes, rest was what she needed most. She crawled onto the cot and laid her head against the goose-feathered pillow, feeling herself fall into a conscienceless state. Her eyes nearly closed, but still barely focused on the surroundings that seemed to move away from her at a rapid rate. It was as if she was on a train with its speed picking up and taking her closer to a soundless seduction where she could forget the terror for a few hours.
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