Thursday, April 18, 2013
Flash Fiction: Surviving Daddy's Betrayal
It’s always midnight somewhere. My worry was when it hit midnight in Miami, would any of us see the sun again?
We raced from the car only seconds before the gas reached the open windows, silently suffocating the remaining children in the car. I ran into my father’s arms with Eric beside me, watching from behind the thick glass as the children clawed the skin off their own bodies trying to rid themselves of the burning fumes.
The attacks had begun.
Eric and I were ushered into the sleeping area for the hundreds of bodies flying around us, snapping into action. After an hour of playing cards to kill time, we decided to seek out better entertainment.
Weaving among the throngs of soldiers, we made our way to the basement stairwell that was strictly off limits to civilians. We raced down the steps and through the double doors at the bottom. Then we stopped dead in our tracks.
We were in an underground fallout shelter. All around us, the wealthiest and most important families were settling in as if they planned to stay in the basement of our military compound indefinitely. Eric took my hand, and I felt heat rising to my cheeks.
Walking through the rooms, I held tight to Eric’s hand. Past the living area, we found a large round kitchen, then a dining area, followed by a sleeping area with countless beds.
We both jumped and I squealed at the sudden, harsh voice behind us.
“You aren’t supposed to be here.”
His eyes were cold and unforgiving, and he was pissed.
“Come on, you’re going back up and I’m going to find your father. You two are in some hot water. I knew one day you’d push too far.”
He grabbed the backs of our necks and roughly shoved us back upstairs.
“Run!” Eric screamed suddenly, turning and landing a punch directly in the soldier’s face.
Acting on impulse, I ran back to the safety of my bed and buried myself under the thin bedding. I counted the minutes waiting for Eric to come back. My mind filled with all the horrible punishments he was surely taking for us both.
Overjoyed at his voice, I threw the covers back to reveal a very beaten Eric, still wearing his goofy smile. I instantly regretted leaving him alone with that hateful machine of a man. He was bruised, swelling and bleeding.
“Eric! What happened?”
I stood and threw my arms around him. He winced but laughed.
“I‘m fine, just a few bumps.”
I released him, and his face grew serious. He took my hands as he sat on my bed, pulling me down beside him. The closeness of our bodies had my cheeks flushing again.
“Listen, there’s something going on here that we‘re not being told,” Eric said, a hint of fear in his voice. “There’s another room below the basement. I have to go check it out.”
“Okay,” I nodded. “I’m coming with you.”
He smiled, knowing he‘d never win a fight with me.
Back in the basement, we slipped down a hidden set of stairs and passed through doors labeled RESTRICTED, into what looked like a control room.
Alone, we meandered about the machines, computers, and maps with strange arcing patters drawn between countries. I tore down one of the smaller maps and studied it close.
“Kari, come look,” Eric called, his voice monotone.
He stood before a large screen that showed similar patterns as what were on the map. A single red button stared at us ominously.
“Is that…” I trailed off in a gulp.
“It’s a nuclear weapon,” Eric said breathlessly. “Or at least the launch button.”
“Oh Jesus, Eric.”
A noise nearby startled us, and we hurried back upstairs to my bed. My mind was reeling with our discovery.
“I hear you’ve been exploring, Karilyn.”
Eric flew to the next bed as my father lowered himself to my bed.
“Dad, what’s going on?” I asked, tears spilling over my cheeks.
“Why don’t you tell ME what you think is happening?” he asked.
“A nuclear war,” Eric said steadily. “You’ve been building and conducting inhumane tests. One of them was the car, with your own daughter in it.”
I looked to my father.
“Dad, that’s not true is it? You…set us up to die?”
He was quiet. I looked at him for the first time in a while. He had aged twenty years in mere weeks. He was suddenly old and frail.
“The bunker is for VIP people, isn’t it? The rest of us are going to die.”
“How dare you accuse me of these atrocities?” he said, his face flushing with anger. “You disobey military orders and then accuse me of murdering people?”
I lost it.
“Daddy, I’m so sorry. Please, just tell me what to do. Please daddy!” I was crying and begging.
“Look,” he sighed deeply and his shoulders sagged, defeated, “Get down to the bunker and hide. Don’t let anyone see you. At midnight, all Hell breaks loose.“ He paused. “I love you.”
He rose and left us without another word. He was no longer my father. The army had taken care of that.
Eric grabbed my hand and pulled me to my feet.
“It’s 11:45, we have to go. Now.”
We flew downstairs like ninjas and found two unoccupied beds in the corner of the sleeping quarters. I pulled out my map and studied it. The shelter was in blue, and the red were nuclear weapons. I examined it closely. And then I panicked.
“Eric! Look, this bunker is huge, it connects to bunkers all around the world. And below it all over are the nuclear weapons. All around the world. If one goes off, it will set off the underground nukes.”
Eric’s eyes grew to watermelon size.
“Then the whole bunker gets blown to pieces…” he said, pulling me into his arms and holding me tight.
Now, we sit huddled together, waiting for Hell to break loose.
Word Count: 1,000