Monday, July 10, 2006

We had to get out of there.

"Mike!" Karol was crying. "Why? Why?"

Tayva had her arms folded, and she was looking at the ground. She wasn't crying. "Thank you Michael, for protecting us." She whispered.

I had murdered two men.

And then I heard a radio. Arabic. I stormed back into the guest bedroom, the carpet wet with blood, two dead men in turbans. I pulled out a small radio, as big as a cell phone, and switched it off.

"We gotta go." I said. The Sickle had to know we were there. These guys were scouts, and if they disappeared... well, they knew where they were headed, at least.

"Get the food, get water, all the guns, some extra clothes... And throw down that mattress!"

"Mattress?"

"Just do it!"

After getting two girls to muscle it, the mattress sailed from the top of the stairs into the main room, with a loud thump. I quickly moved it into the garage, covering the broken window. I slid a piece of carpet over it so I wouldn't step on the glass. But there was still blood outside, and bullet marks in the walls where the projectiles had gone through. If they came, they would check the place out.

The girls and I began assembly-lining things into the cars. And then, Angelina saw it.

"You guys! Come up here!"

I raced up the stairs, looked through the window, and over the neighborhood street outside. And there was a van, men sticking out the windows, with rifles. I swore I could see an AK47 in that crowd. They had search lights and were searching the neighborhood for life like some large predator.

"Nevermind, we're not going with that thing out there."

"Mike! What do we do?!"

"I'm thinking, I'm thinking!"

We had to stay put. We had to be ready to go in an emergency, but we had to wait until that thing was a mile away from us.

We sat in the dark, with cold-weather clothes and shoes on. Angelina had this sweater on that... well, anyway, we waited. We whispered, but very little. They were all so tired, but we were pumped with adrenaline. Already the smell of the dead was rising from the guest bedroom, though the door was closed. We were freaked.

At least now we had guns for everybody, and one to spare. I held the extra one in my back pocket, just in case. I wish I had some heavier weaponry than pistols. A rifle would be so much more comforting if those guys came up to the door.

The van patrolled the neighborhood for a while, and we could watch it a few blocks over, following the search lights. But they stayed close. My guess is that they heard the gunshots. Armed, turbaned men patrolled the streets. A large group of five men were going from house to house, in a random order. I think they guessed that they were being watched.

"If they come over here, you guys, we are going to bust through the garage, you know that? Karol's driving her Pontiac Montana."

Thirty minutes, and we could see them coming across the road, towards our front door. Then a man called out in another language. There was gunfire. The group started running to another house. If that hadn't happened, a few minutes late, or something like that... the terrorists would have seen the blood, and stormed the place.

The women were crying. We had all been very freaked out. Five men, marching towards your doorstep with rifles... What would you do? Karol excused herself to the bathroom. We all knew what had happened when she had a different pair of pants on. I was close to doing the same thing. No shame for that moment.

Meanwhile, Angelina gripped my neck with her arms like a madwoman. They were all trying to hold onto me in terror. Now that's stress, wondering what you're going to do with five guys coming to your doorstep and a girl nearly suffocating you. Ayah.

I don't know what happened, but they left a half hour later, carrying food and other loot. It must be getting cold outside, because some of them were wearing jackets. I was glad that I was still getting heat.

We stayed for two more hours huddled like that, on the stairs. An hour and a half after I killed those two terrorists, there was considerably less activity. We finally pried ourselves off of each other, made it into the kitchen, and ate some old oatmeal I had.

The girls were incredibly tired. I, on the other hand, was fine. It was 5:30 in the morning. I couldn't pull these guys along with me in the way they were now. I told them I needed to get the bodies out of the house. But the stench in the garbage cans in my backyard would attract hostiles, if they were looking for the two. I would have to jump the fence in my backyard to the house behind me, on a different street. I told the girls to keep one sentry and for the rest to get some sleep, switching every hour or so.

I pried a few boards loose and was able to heft the guys one by one. I hated doing this. I placed plastic bags over their heads, and pretended they were dummies. It didn't help too much. But I got them into the dumpsters in this other guy's backyard. I hoped that their friends would find them, and they would get buried, and have good afterlives. I wanted to say something about them, but I couldn't play funeral. They were men that wanted me dead. That was all.

After disposing the second guy, I was looking around this man's backyard, looking for useful things. A smaller portable radio, and a few mechanical lighters sufficed as useful. But then...

I saw her.

Tereal.

As I was looking around, I saw her in the window, distinctly. She looked at me for a second, and then turned a corner. It had me freaked out of my mind! A hallucination? What? Why? I guess I actually did need sleep.

But I had to search the house, now. For some reason, I felt that maybe Tereal wasn't a creation of mine, but maybe... my unmet soulmate, found through my dreamworld. What a romantic thought...

I used the blowtorch to heat a hole in their sliding glass door. It didn't work as well as I would have liked, melting everywhere, but I eventually found an entrance that didn't include shattering windows. Inside, I searched everywhere for a sign of life. There was food! Cereal boxes and some hot dogs in the fridge, that was something! In the darkness, I couldn't see much, and I used one of the mechanical lighters to search.

Upstairs, I came to a bedroom. It was open, and I knew it was a girls room by the posters of Matriarchy, and Nadia Krane. This is where my search came to a stop.

"You aren't a terrorist, are you?" I turned and saw a girl. Not Tereal. 17-ish aged, light Philippino. She was crouched in her closet.

"Why are you here by yourself?"

"This isn't my house, you know. I don't even listen to Nadia Krane."

"Okay... how'd you get here."

"I was heading for a place my friends agreed to meet at, and I figured out someone syphoned off my gas."

"Where are they?"

"The Aquatic Center, by Folsom Dam."

"Sorry to tell you, but you do not want to be there. They've been trying to blow that thing up."

She was quiet. She was quite pretty. I knew where this would lead. How am I getting all these attractive chicks into my house. Tereal... is this a trick?

"Hey, some friends and I are barricaded in that house back there. It's pretty safe. Wanna come?"

"Friends?"

I realized that she might be thinking I wanted to drag her into a place full of guys. I realized what she was thinking.

"Yeah, my girlfriend and some of her buddies. Come on, kid, we gotta get out of here before the looters get here."

She finally got out of the closet. She was silent and scared.

"Hey, could you help me grab some food? We need all that we can get." I said, looking around the place, "Any other useful items you know about in this dump?"

"I wouldn't know, they've got a plasma TV, though."

"I think I've gotta skip on carryin' that out, aye?" I laughed. Awkward girl. I couldn't blame her. She'd be better off with the other women. We carted the food back into the darkness, and then through the fence and back into my house.

"Who's this, Michael?" Tayva was holding watch.

"I don't know, uh..."

"My name's Sharon."

"Sharon it is. Refugee, needs help."

"Cool, welcome to our group of battlehardened survivors." Tayva grinned, "We're all just sleeping now, but if you want to eat something."

"Great, sleep, you know its been a day since I have slept. I seriously thought... Michael... was a hallucination. Thank you, very much. I hope I won't be a problem."

"Not at all."

Great. Four women. Ugh.

Eventually, my turn came and I slept for an hour and a half.

"Michael Alan!" And then I saw her. We were in a pristine valley, with a river, the sun in the sky, Greek columns everywhere. She was dressed in a red toga, and saunted up to me. Tereal.

"I thought I saw you today." I smiled, and gave her a hug. We glided down to the river's surface, and walked upon the rushing water, the reflection of the sun making it seem as gold.

"I thought I saw you, Michael." She said.

"Did I ever tell you how sexy you are in red?" I asked. She laughed, and her eyes were filled with happiness.

"I'm glad I can see you more often, Michael." Tereal said.

"I've realized that you don't fleet away from me like you once did, my love."

"Well, I've realized I need to be around you more, to protect you from other women. You're not as loyal as I thought." She pouted.

"Real women, Tereal, are a little more persuasive." I smiled, playing with her brown-red hair.

"Oh really?!" She put a hand to her chest, apalled. "Well, let me show you how women in dreams persuade others." And Tereal kissed me. I loved her, and I could only return the favor. It was so realistic. Hyper-realistic. We danced on the moons of Mars, and planted a red tree that grew into the stars. We climbed it for miles and miles.

"I love you, too, Michael." She said, resting on a red petal the size of a mattress. Tereal was perfect.

"Thank you Tereal, you know how I feel." I smiled, "Now why were you paying me visits?"

"Because I can, and people need your protection." She said, very seriously.

Then I woke up in another cold sweat. What was Tereal doing?

Just a moment... once again...

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