Bodies pressed against her. But there was no warmth, only the chill of fear.
“Why can’t we stay here?” a frail white haired woman asked. “I don’t think anything’s going to happen anyway.” She shuffled to the side, ready to leave the group.
“You’ve seen some of the results already.” Sam spoke up, trying to get the others’ attention. “Most of the lights have gone out. Even the street lamps Frank worked on have started to flicker.”
“Yeah. Flicker. But that doesn’t mean anything else will happen.” A gruff male voice sounded from the middle of the crowd.
Marie squished herself back, trying to figure a way to escape from where she was wedged between Mark and Sam.
“Sit still, this won’t last long.” Sam’s harsh whisper blended with the swell of voices around them. She was wrong. The meeting went on and on. Not even loud thunder or bright lightning deterred the arguments.
For Marie this only brought more questions and doubt about any success for survival. How can they exist together when they can’t agree on anything? she wondered. A tree crashed near them. Splinters embedded in the ground. The squabble quieted. Everyone remained silent until another bolt of lightning struck the branches of a tree that leaned over the top of the gazebo.
“Let’s get out of here.” Panicked voices grew to a roar. Before Marie or Sam could stand, the gazebo emptied. Several bolts of lightning hit trees and the ground around them. Balls of lightning bounced along the ground. Wind and rain battered the roof, tearing the protection to shreds. In the growing gale, whatever light remained in the sky was gobbled by angry clouds.
Sam held out her hand and grabbed Marie. “Stay calm.” She pulled Marie back, as she tried to escape from the now shattered gazebo. “We need to find shelter.” A whirlwind twisted around them, pushing shards of wood away. Together they ran into the parking lot. A loud pop warned just before a huge chunk of wood bounced beside them. Sam tried the door on four cars before she found one that wasn’t locked.
“What are you doing?” Marie tried to pull away.
“Come on, this won’t last long. We need the protection. Most of these have been abandoned for a long time, so watch out for the spiders.” She pushed Marie into the back before she crawled in the front. “Get on the floor. Cover your head.” Sam reached back and locked the door.
“Let me in,” Mark screamed, pounding against the window.
Sam climbed into the driver’s seat, before she reached to unlock the passenger side. “Hurry and shut that door.” She yelled as Mark climbed in.
“Alright. Alright. Don’t get in a huff.” Before he could obey, a gust of wind yanked the door from him. It jerked away, then back in time to catch his hand between it and the car. Blood dripped down the window. He pushed the door open enough to pull his hand inside.
“Here.” Sam pulled off her hoody and handed it to him. “It’s the best we can do for now.” A snap and pop accentuated her words. A heavy thud on the roof stopped further discussion.
The storm lasted longer than the meeting had. Marie kept her head down, praying it would stop so she could go home. Nobody’s going to survive this. And I’m just tired of trying. Still, she wasn’t willing to crawl from the car’s protection.