A side note about this story. I wrote this short story in the summer of 2017 the inspiration came from Two CF-18 flying low across the greater downtown area of Montreal for Canada’s 150 birthday. The scheduled flyby was not well communicated to residents of the city, so when the jets broke the sound barrier, it scared a lot of people me included. The incident got me thinking about what it must be like for people who live in the kind of environment where fighter jets passing overhead is not a celebratory event. Enjoy.
Quick reminder, this is free content for entertainment’s sake only, so please bear in mind it has not gone through the rigorous editing process, unlike my novels.
Her rings clanged against the soapy dishes as she washed, wiped and put them away in their respective cupboards. The sound guided her mind to the memories of her wedding it had been over a year already, where did the time go she wondered.
Luckily for her, she had the day off work. Spared from the clacking of heels against hardwood floors, the mundanity of business suits and the tap, tap, tapping of fingers against plastic keyboards. Today she got to spend in comfortable clothes lounging around her home cuddling with her fat furbaby kitty.
The cat purred happily and loudly settling in an outstretched position along her torso. She caressed the cat’s velvet black coat while watching a murder mystery on Netflix.
Some time afterward a car door closed outside followed by two beeps that’s how she knew her husband had arrived home.
The cat’s ears shot up straight as darts even before he heard the keys jingling and stirring inside the lock. His head lifted as the door opened and her husband stepped into the entryway of their home. At the sight of him, the cat bounced off using her tummy as a spring and leaped onto the cushion that contoured the sofa’s sturdy frame. The cat mewed in greeting at her husband. Petting the cat and greeted his wife lovingly. Together they cooked and ate dinner, laughing, exchanging pleasantries about each other’s day ending the evening enjoying wine and each other’s company.
An unusual sound so forceful stemmed from over the roof it caused the house to tremble fiercely, shaking the core of its foundation Startling her awake during the night. Her first thought was of a fierce thunderstorm overhead. Kicking at the bedsheets and blankets, husband and wife jumped out of bed and dashed for the window. Outside there was no sign of a storm, not in the literal sense but, what she saw left her paralyzed and wishing the noise was a simple thunderstorm.
Wide-eyed and frightened out of her mind she gaped out the bedroom window gawking at the sight of fighter jets zooming in the night. One after another breaking the sound barrier as they passed. Without a word, husband and wife exchanged a look of understanding. The two of them scrambled to get clothes on. Hurriedly they packed only necessities.
She rushed through the house calling after the cat, she could not bear to leave him behind finally, a scared meow echoed from under the living room coffee table. Frozen in dread, the cat clung to the floor glued there. She did all she could think of; she called to him gently, made coaxing noises through pursed lips but, the cat even declined to move for treats. Her husband emerged from behind her not considering the cat’s feelings he lifted the coffee table causing a decorative ceramic chess board to spray along the floor. Ignoring her prized chess board she seized hold of the cat, and the three of them were out the door.
The dark starless night flashed to life with the noise and strobing light of gunfire as fighter jets lorded over the skies booming by not caring about the destruction and anarchy they caused on the ground. The cat’s claws dug into her shoulder. His ears went back, his eyes widened, and he cried out in fear. They hustled into the car shoving what little belongings they thought essential for their survival in the back seats of the car. Neighbors all around were doing the same.
They zipped down the boulevard, speeding down the street, they passed crumbling buildings. Airborne dead bodies flew off the ground from nearby explosions, landing any which way for no regard for the accidents they caused. The city was ablaze with a raging fire consuming everything it touched. If only they could escape the city the three of them would be safe all they had to do was survive the way out.
The cat panicked in the car, she did everything she could to keep him from squirming, but he wasn’t having any of it. After suffering the cat’s pee on her lap along with multiple scratches, she elected not to fight with him. He dropped from her lap; she watched as he huddled under her seat feeling bad for him. The poor kitty, he did not understand what was happening, and she had no means of explaining it or reassuring him.
The car screeched in protest, she jerked forward, blocked by the clenching seatbelt that prevented her from colliding with the dashboard. Panic quickly spread within her like an infection she sought her husband’s calming eyes needing his assertion that they would make it. Instead, she found her husband wild-eyed tense with alarm and panic his back pressed fully against the driver’s seat. There was not even space enough to pass a flat sheet of paper. His arms extended as straight as they would go, he struggled to keep control of the wheel.
Time slowed nearly to a stop and her senses expanded to a height beyond what she ever thought imaginable. Thump, Thump, Thump, her heart pressed against her sternum and every minor bump and rock of the car reverberated through her body. Suddenly she understood the limits of her own mortality.
An eternity passed between watching her frightened husband and shifting her head to peer out the windshield window. A second eternity passed between seeing the massive 18 wheeler truck tip over and processing what it meant. The car swayed and swung meanwhile another eternity passed as a piece of debris from a newly attacked building landed in front of them. The car spun out of control their bodies held in place only by the grace of their seatbelts. Neither she nor her husband dared reach for the cat. At that moment the only thing they could do was shield their eyes from the exploding glass. Consequently, shards of glass aimlessly soared around them lacerating flesh like blades.
A piece of debris intercepted their path causing the car to flip and hit the ground with a heavy thud. Over and over again it bounced and rolled stopping only after slamming roof-first into the tipped over 18 wheeler truck. For whatever reason, the airbags of the car never went off. Turning her head proved a great feat; nevertheless, she had to manage because she had to know. Ignoring the pain emanating from the cuts and bruises that covered her body like a bad Picasso painting she struggled to turn her head. Despite the agony, she manages to slide her head against the dashboard scrapping it against flakes of glass adding to her collection of cuts. Dread filled her soul, but she absolutely had to see what was causing the car horn to scream.
Her husband’s face was still, motionless and pasted to the wheel. His lifeless eyes stared back at her. His blood splattered across what was left of the driver side window and door and the asphalt beneath it. Dark red blood flowed from the wide crack in his skull, streaming down his face following a trail along his neck down his arm dripping onto the floor of the car.
Her eyes swelled with blinding tears. Wanting to raise her arms to rub her eyes she grappled with her limbs willing them to move. Regardless of her effort, wiggling her fingers just enough for them to twitch was the most she could manage. She wanted to wail and cry and scream, but not a sound escaped her. Lying still, like a corpse, which she was slowly becoming, against the dashboard unable to move. Her body throbbed in agonizing pain and her soul shattered as she stared at her dead husband through her blurred, wet vision. A hand rested paralyzed on her inner thigh, warm sticky blood drained from the spot where a reasonably big piece of glass pierced the inside of her upper thigh. The blood ran over the hand. Since she lost most feeling in her body, it took a minute to realize her own hand was soaking in her blood. This was it, the end she was slipping in and out of consciousness as she bled out at least the pain subsided. I never thought,… A final gasp left her, the tears stopped flowing as she lay lifeless side by side alongside her husband in the car.