“Give a guy a break!” yelled Adam Williams, his New York City accent quite obvious. “I’m walking here!” Adam ignored the honking horn and cursing coming from the taxi that had almost hit him and his companion.
“I can’t believe you said that!” Heather Jean Kirkpatrick said, her accent equally thick, but deep southern Georgia. “That is so corny!”
“Well, the idiot almost hit us. You gotta be tough if you’re going to live here in the Big Apple. Lot’s to offer, but the streets can be mean.”
“I wish I could have brought my guns,” Heather Jean said, her head almost like it was on a swivel. She was trying to see the sites of Times Square, not get run over, not run over someone else and not get mugged. She felt naked without even the little Beretta Tomcat .32 ACP she wore under dresses and skirts in a Galco Leather Thigh Holster.
Her regular carry pistol was a Glock 30SF .45 ACP in an inside the waistband holster in the small of her back when she wore a jacket, or in the Galco Carry Purse she used when she couldn’t use either of the other two holsters.
But you didn’t carry in New York. Not unless you were somebody or the authorities. She’d just have to get used to it, she told herself. She’d slowed to look up at the huge electronic billboards selling anything and everything, mostly using sex in the ad in some way.
Adam took her arm and hurried her along. “We’re going to be late. I’ll get us a taxi.”
“But taxis are so expensive!” lamented Heather Jean. “I don’t mind riding the subway. It can’t be as bad as people have told me.”
“Taxis are often cheaper than keeping a car in the city,” Adam said, an arm out and up, and the fingers of his other hand to his lips to let out a shrill whistle. Amid several honks and more cursing, a taxi swerved over two lanes and pulled to a stop. “And the subway is okay some of the time and others I wouldn’t go down there for love nor money.”
Adam grabbed the door and opened it for Heather Jean. She gathered her skirt tightly against her legs and slid into the taxi. She liked Adam, but she wasn’t going to give him a show. She’d read Miss Manners and knew how to enter and exit cars demurely. Of course, with her legs, she wasn’t adverse to showing a little, in appropriate circumstances.
Adam gave the driver the address and leaned back in the seat. Heather Jean was fastening her seatbelt and Adam hurriedly did the same as the taxi juked back and forth with the fast moving traffic.
Usually able to keep track of where she was down in Georgia, the fast taxi ride, with turn after turn, all at high speed, had her confused. They could be a block away from the Square again and she wouldn’t know it.
But things finally calmed down, and the driver took it much more slowly in one of the many brownstone residential districts in the city. It wasn’t an affluent neighborhood, but in the growing darkness, it didn’t look too bad.
“Here we are,” Adam said. He was taking money out of his wallet and gave it to the driver through the little slot in the protective glass between him and the passengers.
It was Adam’s head on a swivel now. He was scanning the darkness, broken here and there by the light from a front room window. With his left hand under Heather Jean’s right elbow, Adam hurried her across the sidewalk and up the stairs to the front door of his parents’ narrow three story brownstone.
He was the fourth generation to be living there. His great grandfather had helped build the unit and was able to purchase it not long after the block was finished. Adam used his keys, on three locks, to get them inside. He worked the keypad of the fire and alarm system, telling Heather Jean what the codes were as he punched them in.
“Adam? Is that you?” came a quivering voice from down the hall.
“Yes, Mom! It’s me and I have Heather Jean Kirkpatrick with me. Heather Jean followed Adam down the short hall and into the living room. “Mom, Dad, this is Heather Jean. And these are my parents, June and Bert Williams.”
“Hello, Mrs. Williams. Mr. Williams,” Heather Jean said, nodding to the elderly man and woman. June Williams looked as frail as her voice had sounded. And Mr. Williams seemed to be struggling to stay awake. He had the look of a large, heavy man that had lost much weight after retirement.
Adam had told her that he’d retired three years ago, with fifty years in at the factory where he’d started at eighteen. June, Adam had said, was a stay at home mom and wife, taking care of the family, two sisters and three brothers, of whom Adam was the youngest, and only surviving child.
The other four, all born with serious health conditions, had not survived past three years old. But Adam, to June and Bert, had been a redemption in their eyes, being born healthy and with a good mind, especially considering how late he’d come into the world.
“Heather Jean,” Adam said, “Is the one I was telling you about working with this winter at school.”
“She’s a pretty little thing,” Bert said, his eyes going back to the television. The sound was down, but the captions were on.
“Yes, dear,” June said. “You are pretty. Like my little Mary and Vanessa would have been. I miss them so.”
Heather Jean chewed a lip a bit, trying to come up with something to say. But Adam saw her discomfort and quickly said, “She’ll only be staying tonight, Mom. The airline lost her luggage and I told her she could stay here until she picked it up in the morning. That way she doesn’t have to spring for a motel or come all the way back to the airport to pick them up.”
“No hanky panky in my house, young man,” Bert said quietly, and then his attention was back on the television.
“No, sir,” Adam said, coloring slightly. “I wouldn’t and Heather Jean isn’t that kind of woman, anyway. Come on, Heather Jean. I’ll show you the room.”
“You’re parents seem nice,” Heather Jean told Adam.
“Oh, they are nice. Very old fashioned, and not to put too fine of a point on it, a little bit of Alzheimer’s in both of them. More Dad than Mom, but both to a degree.”
“I’m so sorry, Adam! I didn’t know.”
“I know. And it is okay. They both realize it, when they are lucid, which is really most of the time, and have made arrangements for the rest of their years, when they can’t take care of themselves any more. They’ll be going in together, no matter which one has to first.”
“That sounds like a good plan.”
“Here you go, Heather Jean. There are clean towels in the bathroom and I’ll get you a pair of sweats for tonight. I’m pretty sure an old pair of mine will fit you. And there are always a couple of new toothbrushes and stuff, too. I used to have sleep overs when I was little and she kept everything needed that usually was forgotten.”
“Thanks, Adam. You really didn’t have to do this.”
“I know. And I appreciate you being comfortable with the situation. You don’t have to worry about me, but I know how hard it is for women in this city when they are on their own.”
“You don’t think they can handle things themselves?”
“No, no, no! I didn’t mean it that way. Just that everyone has to watch out, but women even more.”
Heather Jean chuckled. “Okay. Good enough. You’re off the hook.”
It had been a long flight, and then more time spent trying to find out about her luggage, Heather Jean was tired and turned in as soon as she’d showered and changed into the sweats and had a slice of pizza that Adam had ordered.
Always an early riser, from her first six years of childhood on a farm, Heather Jean was up and in the kitchen, still in the sweats when June came in and began to start breakfast. Reluctant at first, June finally let Heather Jean help with getting things ready.
Bert and Adam drifted in and got coffee and then went to the living room to watch the news while breakfast was being prepared.
After they’d eaten and Heather Jean was stepping out of the kitchen to go change, she heard June tell Adam, “She’s a good girl. You could do worse.”
“Mom, we’re just friends. And coworkers. Well, soon we’ll be coworkers.”
Heather Jean thought that she could do worse than Adam, too. But it was too early to really tell for sure. That wasn’t why she was in New York. She was here to work. That is where she’d met Adam, at work in Atlanta. They were both assigned to the Future Products Development Team. Heather Jean as project manager for an eight person team working on a long range space exploration craft for the time when someone developed a star drive system.
Adam was another project manager, working on a similar project from a different perspective. Corporate, at the yearly project analysis meeting, had decided to combine the two efforts, since for all practical purposes, the research of both teams had come to mostly the same conclusions.
Though Adam was a year older, Heather Jean had been with the company a year longer, and was senior to Adam in the combined project. Heather Jean was well suited to the Project Management position, where Adam, though he could do it well, was more of the hands on the hardware R&D type person.
With the joint project now a twelve person team, and very long range, it was decided, again by Corporate, to move the project to their oldest and smallest facility, the one in New York. More immediately potentially profitable projects would continue at the facilities in Atlanta.
Heather Jean had no family ties in Atlanta, having lost her parents when she was only six years old. So the move was a no brainer. She’d been in various foster homes, but with a genius level intelligence, and an overwhelming curiosity, she didn’t last long at any of them. She was smarter than all of her foster parents starting at about age twelve and was well versed in the way the system worked. At least for her.
The point of fostering children seemed to be money. The more kids you took in, the more money the fosters made, and the less attention they paid to each child, the less hassles they had to deal with. So Heather Jean turned inward and was ready to go out on her own at sixteen, having completed high school two years early.
She managed to get into an advanced program, living in a supervised dorm at college and went the full four years, but wound up with degrees in three subjects and was nearly to the end of the process of getting her first doctorate.
Shortly after breakfast, wearing the clean blouse and underwear that she always travelled with in her carryon bag, Heather Jean was ready to head for the airport to pick up her suitcase. Everything else she’d wanted from her old apartment had been shipped and should arrive sometime that day or the next.
When she called to verify that her bags had made it to the airport, she was told that they’d been expressed to the address on her luggage tag. “Oh, that is just lovely,” Heather Jean said, closing her phone and dropping it into her purse.
“What’s the matter?” Adam asked.
“They shipped the bags home. I didn’t change the ID tags, so they are going back to my old address. I’m going to have to get someone to ship them to me here. If my things already on the way aren’t here today, I’m going to have to buy a couple more outfits just to have clean clothes for work.”
“Well, there are plenty of places to shop in New York City.”
“And every one is probably charges three times what I paid for the same items in Atlanta.”
“Come on. Don’t tell me Atlanta was a cheap place to live,” Adam challenged with a grin.
“Okay. So I’m a cheapskate. I only spend money when I absolutely have to.”
“You make more than I do, and I know how much I make, so you can’t be hurting financially.”
“Not that it is any of your business, but no, I’m not hurting financially. I am putting away everything I don’t need for day to day living into my retirement program. I want to be able to retire at fifty and develop a few interests I have.”
“Heather Jean! I’m sorry! I was way out of line. I won’t pry like that again. I am truly sorry.”
Heather Jean sighed. “No. It’s okay. It was a simple comment. I had some bad experiences with foster parents when I started working part time in high school. They seemed to think that they should get part of what I made because they were taking care of me. It didn’t last long, but I’ve been very… well… secretive about my financial situation ever since.”
“I see. Well, don’t worry about me doing something stupid like that again.”
“Okay, Adam. So, I guess I’d better call a cab and get to the new place and start getting things ready to move in.”
“I’d be glad to help,” Adam said, hiding his eagerness.
Heather Jean shook her head. “Don’t really need any. There isn’t that much coming and I don’t want to get started off on the wrong foot. I’m your boss, and I simply cannot let it be seen as taking advantage of a subordinate co-worker. Staying here last night probably wasn’t a good idea. I’d just as soon it didn’t get around.”
“Don’t worry. Mum’s the word.”
“Thanks, Adam.” Heather Jean dialed the number Adam gave her for the taxi company he usually used. When she closed the phone she said, “It’ll only be a few minutes. I’d better get my carryon and purse and get out there. I will see you at work next Monday, if I can find the place.”
“Okay. Next Monday then, Boss.”
Heather Jean gave Adam a sharp look.
He grinned. “Just getting into the habit.”
Heather Jean smiled. “Okay. That’s good.”
Hard pressed to get everything done before the first day at the facility in New York, Heather Jean was more than a little annoyed with the airline, the shipping company, the moving company, and New York City in general.
But with a dozen phone calls, everything showed up on Saturday, just before three in the afternoon. Heather Jean spent most of the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday unpacking and putting things away in the new apartment she’d fortunately had the foresight to arrange prior to her moving. Not quite sight unseen, as the property had an excellent website with virtual tours of most of the facility, it was the one thing that went the way it was supposed to during the move.
Not a great view, but she was on the top floor and could look out over most of the closest buildings. But the apartment, though small, was more than adequate for her needs. “No need to pay for empty space,” had been her thought when looking on-line for apartments in the City from Atlanta.
So, tired, but now settled in as a New Yorker with a strange accent, Heather Jean showed up at the new jobsite. She was early and able to get a good look around before the rest of the team began to wander in. The caretaker of the building had been quite helpful in showing her around the place.
Adam was the first of the others to arrive. He’d been to the site a couple of times in the two months he’d been back home, and already knew his way around. Between the two of them, they got everyone familiar with the building and then began to sort out who would work where in the old converted brick building. It was one of three adjacent buildings the company owned, the other two mothballed for future projects. Corporate considered property as an asset and held onto whatever they bought for whatever reason, even if the initial use was over.
The Corporate office set up team had been at work since the last time Adam had been there and the telephones, computer systems, and other parts of the facility were up and ready for use, including a fully stocked break room with coffee maker, microwave oven, refrigerator, sink, and vending machines. There were several tables with chairs and a couple of sofas and easy chairs.
Heather Jean, ushered everyone from the break room to the main meeting room. “Okay. I think we all know one another, so we’ll skip the introductions. Except for one item. I’ve gone by Heather Jean since I was a baby. But no longer being in the south, I think I can drop the Jean from constant use and you can just call me Heather.”
There were several laughs. Most of the group were natives of the south, most from Atlanta or the surrounding area. Adam was the only one from New York, and there were four others that had migrated from their home towns to Atlanta and then followed the work to New York.
“Everyone get settled in okay? We ready to get to work?”
There were nods and people looked around at each other. “Okay, good,” Heather said when there were no negatives expressed. Everyone knows their work space, so I believe we can get started.”
Before anyone rose there was a knock on the open door of the meeting room. “Yes, can I help you?” Heather asked, rather annoyed that someone had just walked into the place.
“I’m looking for Heather Jean Kirkpatrick.” Two more people stepped up to the door.
“I’m Miss Kirkpatrick. Why are you looking for me?”
“You don’t know? We’re the staff.”
“Staff?” Heather asked.
“Office staff. I guess your Corporate arranged it and didn’t tell you. We were hired through a temp service to handle the office chores so you guys can work your magic. At least that was the way the guy put it.”
“Oh. Well, if you’ll wait in the break room… Adam, would you show them where? And I’ll make a call and find out the details.”
One of the three, all of whom were women, muttered, “Left hand don’t know what the right hand is doing.”
Heather hurried to her office and called her boss in Atlanta. “Jim, I’ve got three temps here that say they are our office staff. No mention was made of an office staff. I’d just planned to answer the phones and take care of the office.”
“Your time is too valuable for that, Heather Jean. I’m not sure who slipped up and didn’t get you the information, but they are supposed to be there. Let me check. Here we go. A Linda Mendoza, office manager position, and Carly Smith, receptionist, and Rebecca Rice as secretary.
“They came highly recommended from the Temporary agency. They met our security clearance requirements. But they still are not to be privy to the actual work. They are support staff only.”
“Yes, Sir, Mr. Clark. You can be sure I will put them to work. I wasn’t looking forward to the secretarial duties.”
“But it is good to know you were prepared and willing to do so. I’ll make a note in your file.”
“Well, thank you, Sir!”
“No problem. How is the facility? I haven’t been there in years. It was old when I was there. Still in good shape?”
“From what I’ve seen, yes. Two of the buildings are mothballed, but this one is clean and well decorated and equipped. You can tell your prep team they did a good job.”
“That’s what I like to hear.”
“Thank you, Sir. I will go get the new staff lined out and we’ll be at work in just a few more minutes.”
“Very good. Good-bye.”
“Linda?” Heather asked the woman that had asked for Heather.
“Yes. Linda Mendoza. I’m supposed to be office manager.” It was more question than statement.
“Yes. Of course. I knew the prep team was scheduled in to get the place ready, they just failed to tell me it was coming with a staff. I’m Heather Kirkpatrick.” Linda shook Heather’s hand and then the other two introduced themselves and shook hands.
“I have a feeling you know how to do the job, so let me introduce you around and you can then get familiar with the place and we can all get to work. I’m glad you are here. It will make my life much easier.”
“That is what we’re here for,” Linda said. “We do the mundane while you guys create the wonders.”
Heather chuckled. “Don’t know about that, but it is a nice sentiment.”
Finally, with the new people introduced and familiar with the place, Heather was finally able to get to work. She turned on her laptop, connected to the wireless network with a couple of strokes of the keys and then was more or less oblivious of the surroundings until Adam knocked on her open office door and said, “You want something for lunch? I’m going to make a food run.”
“I have no idea what is around here…” Heather said. “But I didn’t think to bring anything. “A burger, I guess. Or something from the same place you are getting food for the others.”
“Sure. Nothing too spicy, though.”
“Okay. I’ll make a point.”
Adam disappeared and Heather put her computer to sleep. She realized she really needed to go to the bathroom. After that trip she went to the break room. No one was there yet, obviously still working, waiting for the food.
She looked at her watch. Twelve fifteen. Time to get a bit more work done. She turned to leave and the others began to trickle in. She was engaged in conversation, the others wanting to get to know their new boss, and Heather wanting to do the same with the employees from Adam’s former team. There’d not been much contact between the two sets of people to avoid influences of one on the other. The fact that they both came up with the same idea was simply coincidental.
The conversation quickly turned to work and Heather was drawn into the discussion. As project manager, she knew a great deal about the work, but the actual design work was the realm of those working for her. But she was cleared for a higher level of security than they were, so they loved to bounce ideas off of her, getting some of the best ideas for the project from her responses and the questions she asked.
The first week brought a few technical difficulties, but Corporate had a good team of trouble shooters and fix-it people. The recalcitrant three dimensional printer was finally working properly with the network, and the microwave no longer turned anything cooked over twelve seconds into ash.
And the working relationships developed as Heather had hoped, with the former rivalry between the two teams now directed toward getting the job done. Linda, Carly, and Rebecca turned out to be more than expected, and showed no inclination to inquire about the team’s work, other than what they needed to know to make sure the team had everything it needed to do the job.
Heather was frugal, but the sheer variety of eating and entertainment possibilities in the Bowery and SoHo districts of New York City had her eating out almost every night, as she learned about this or that establishment. She bit the bullet and decided against getting a car. The taxis were good, not unreasonable, and the small area she was in had what she needed, without need to deal with parking and everything else owning a vehicle in the city put in the way. If she needed to travel any distance she would just rent a car.
Flying high on the praise of her bosses for the steady string of advancements she was turning in to Corporate HQ had her feeling good about herself, her job, and her life. After four months she considered herself at home.
That all came to a screeching halt one morning just their arrival at nine in the morning. Like millions of others in the city and elsewhere, Heather had seen the Doomsday information and reality shows on TV, the movies at the theater, but had no real connection to any of it.
It quickly became apparent that she should have paid more attention to them, and the messages they were sending to the population. Things happen. Big, bad things. And everyone is subject to one or more of them at any point in time.
And this time, it was New York City’s turn once again. And Heather’s first time for anything other than going to a shelter in Atlanta during hurricanes.
The radio in the break room was tuned to a mellow oldies station, turned down low when a loud buzz sounded. Then, from the radio came the now panicking DJ. “Tsunami! Tsunami! There is a tsunami headed for us. From… from… from… I can’t pronounce it! And island in the eastern Atlantic. It is a big one. Prepare to evacuate! Prepare to evacuate!”
There was silence for a moment and then the sounds of a struggle, both physical and verbal. “You can’t tell people that! No evacuation has been ordered!”
The speaker squealed and it was the DJ again. “But we’ll all die! I saw it on Discovery! We’re all going to die!”
Another squeal, and then white noise, and finally the somewhat more calm voice of the station manager came from the speaker. “Please disregard Mellow Bob Bastion. He has no authority to order an evacuation. Please stand by for future announcements.”
A song started and everyone in the break room was looking around at each other.
“That’s it,” said someone, “I’m out of here!” just as Linda rushed into the room.
“I just heard on the radio there is a tsunami headed this way.”
“What station?” Heather asked.
Linda told Heather the station. “That’s two with the same information. You know I’m new here. What is the tsunami plan? Our safety meetings haven’t covered anything like it.”
“I don’t think there is a plan,” Adam said. “I’ll get the manual.” Adam hurried out, followed by Steven Jenkins, the one that had said he was leaving.
“Steven! Wait,” Heather called to him. “We need to decide what we can do until the authorities announce the procedures.”
Steven stopped and turned around to face the room. “I’m a prepper, you guys. Take my advice. Find some way to get over to Jersey any way you can, just as fast as you can. You won’t have a chance here! I wish… I wish I could take you with us… But it is just me and my family. Good luck.”
Spinning on his heel as the others looked at each other, Steven left. Two more people bolted, gone before Heather could call for calm and that no one panic. There were frightened murmurs as the other discussed the situation.
“Maybe Steven is right,” offered up Julie Makin, one of Heather’s team members from way back. “Maybe we should get out of here.” Her voice was quivering and Heather moved over to her.
Gently Heather said, “We just need to not panic. Adam is getting the operations manual. It has emergency procedures in it. We’ve even practiced some here, if you remember.”
Julie seemed to calm down slightly. Until Adam came into the room, holding one of the facility operations plan books in his right hand, his index finger separating pages. He looked grim.
“What is the plan?” Heather asked quietly.
Adam handed the plan book to Heather, open to a page near the end. The header bar was “Emergency Procedures”. There was a list of types of emergencies listed. Beneath Terrorist attack, with a page number, was Tsunami. Instead of a page number the words “In development” were glaring up at her.
“What’s it say?” asked one, and then another.
“In development,” Heather said quietly. “There is no plan ready for a tsunami.”
Julie gasped and let out a little scream. “Jersey! Jersey! Steven said to get to high ground in Jersey!” She headed for the door of the break room.
“Wait! Julie! Wait,” Heather said, ready to run after her to stop her.
“Let her go,” someone said softly. “Can’t afford to have a hysterical person on the team in something like this.”
Heather whirled around. “Who said that?” No one spoke, but all the others were looking at Kevin James.
He flushed. “Well, it is true! We have to work together to get out of this. And if someone can’t function… well they’ll just have to be left behind.”
“We’re not leaving anyone behind!” Heather said. “Adam, you live here. What have people been required to do before during tsunamis?”
“Heather… We haven’t had a tsunami in living memory. The TV shows… they showed people trying to get to high ground. Perhaps we should take a lead from Steven.”
“See! See!” Julie half screamed. “Adam says we should go. And he’s lived here forever!” She pulled her arm free from her best friend, Wanda, who was trying to calm her down. “I’m leaving… But a car… who has a car…”
“I do,” Gregory Laurence said. “You can ride with me. Let’s go!”
Julie looked at Wanda, begging with her eyes. “Please, Wanda!”
Wanda looked at Heather. “She’ll never make it without me.” It was half apology and half simple statement of fact.
Heather didn’t try to stop them. And when it became obvious that she wouldn’t, four more left, at a run, including two of the temps. Only Linda, the office manager, Jake Wannamaker, Hanna Lemons, Adam, and she were left.
“The program,” Heather suddenly said, throwing off the shock she’d felt at the disappearance of most of the team. “Someone mentioned a TV show about it. Anyone see it and remember anything from it?”
“Yeah,” said Warren Yates, the building caretaker, now standing in the doorway. “I saw one of those doomsday shows and it isn’t good. They said if something like the big volcano on La Palma, I think it was, was to let loose the tsunami could be here in a few hours, be travelling five hundred miles an hour, and hit the beach at better than two hundred fifty feet high.”
“So we have some time, then? Time to get ready?” Heather asked, thankfully.
“Ready for what? Take a look out in the street.”
The rest followed Heather out and to the reception desk on the first floor. There were cars all over the street, moving very slowly. People carrying suitcases and all sorts of odd objects were passing the cars in droves.
“If you ain’t already in Jersey, you ain’t going to get to Jersey. The bridges and tunnels are probably already blocked.” Warren was shaking his head.
“We have to do so something,” Heather said. She felt herself about ready to panic and toned down her voice when she continued. “We have to do something. I’m not going to just lie down and die. But I don’t know the area. Linda, you and Adam, what are the tallest buildings around here. I don’t remember seeing much…”
Adam was shaking his head and Linda looked thoughtful. Finally Adam spoke. “There just isn’t anything close taller than this building.” Adam suddenly stiffened. “My parents! What am I going to do about my parents! Heather… Heather, please understand. I have to try…”
Heather bit her lip. What could she say? “I understand. Is there anything I can do to help?”
Linda spoke up then. “We need to get every foot higher we can.” She didn’t look at Adam.
“Wait a minute!” Adam said loudly. “My house… My parents’ house! It is three stories and built like you wouldn’t believe! We can go there. Kill two birds with one stone.” He looked hopefully at Heather. “And it is in the right direction. Away from the ocean.”
So did the others. Before she could speak, Warren did. “Two stories, three stories. Don’t make no never mind. It’s not enough. That wave could be two hundred fifty feet high they say.”
It disappointed Heather, and after thinking about it for a few seconds, she straightened her spine and told the others, “It might be and might not be. We’ll head that way and if we find something better we’ll get Adam’s parents and hole up wherever we find the tallest building.”
Adam had looked a little fearful when Heather was speaking, but when she had added the fact that they would get his parents he relaxed a little. “Okay. Then let’s get going. I’ll get the car started.”
“You guys are out of your minds,” Warren muttered. “But I guess I’m in…”
“We don’t want to just rush off,” Heather said. “Look around. I think everyone knows what happened in Katrina.
Rather sharply, Linda replied, “That was Katrina. This is New York City. We do things right up here.”
Heather looked over at Linda, who looked down at the floor for a moment and then apologized. “Sorry. I’m just kind of proud of the city, you know.”
Heather shrugged. “No big deal. Now everyone check a room and have someone else double check it for usable items. And water. I remember they said there wasn’t enough water during Katrina.”
It was a disappointed looking group that met up again in the break room. A couple of people had day packs, and Hanna had her huge purse and was putting a brown paper bag into it. “My lunch” she said when everyone looked at her. Then they looked at one another as if a light switch had been flipped and the same thing came to all of them.
“We have food and water here!” Jake said. “I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. Who has change?”
“We don’ need no stinkin’ change!” Warren said, mimicking a Mexican Spanish accent. He reached into one of the voluminous pockets of his work cargo pants and pulled out a slim pry bar.
It took him a couple of tries before he admitted failure. “Okay. This isn’t going to do it. But I have something that will. Be back up from the basement in a minute and we’ll get what we want out of the machines.” With that, Warren hurried out.
“Check the cabinets,” Heather suggested to Linda and Hanna.
The two went through the storage units over and under the sink and found mostly coffee makings. But there were also tea bags, coffee lightener, sugar, and sugar substitute. They set everything they wanted on the counter. Adam and Jake were going through the refrigerator. Wasn’t much there except some more condiments.
Warren marched into the room, wearing a large, heavily laden tool belt with suspenders, carrying a pair of large buckets with Duluth Trading Company bucket organizers. The buckets had more tools and other items, one of which was a heavy sledgehammer.
It was the matter of a few whacks with the hammer and the vending machines were spread around in parts. Warren had been careful not to damage any of the food. He began taking items out of the tool buckets and when one was empty he pushed it over to Hanna and Linda to start loading.
While Warren went through the other bucket and his tool belt, exchanging a few things on the belt and emptying the bucket, Adam and Jake seemed to share some epiphany and ran out of the room. They came back each carrying a case of bottled water.
“Oops,” Warren said, looking at the demolished can and bottle dispenser.
Heather said, “Don’t worry about it, Warren. This place may not even survive.” Turning her attention to Jake and Adam, Heather asked. “The store room, I take it?”
“The vendors aren’t supposed to store things in there!” Linda said angrily.
“Well, lucky for us they did. There were only four bottles of water left in the machine,” Adam said.
“Yeah, but it is… was… full of pop.” Jake leaned down and started to pick up several of the cans of soda.
“I don’t know, Jake,” Heather said. “Might be better off with the water.”
“Yep. I was thinking for a sugar boost for energy if we needed one, but there’re enough sweets in the sweets machine for that. My bad.”
“What else?” Heather asked, looking around at the group.
Linda looked at her watch. “It’s been an hour… Maybe we should get going.”
“Give me just another minute or two in the basement, Warren said. “A couple more buckets and something to make them easier to carry if we have to leave the cars.”
“I’ll go with you,” said Jake.
“Coats,” Adam suddenly said. “I know it isn’t cold now… but if we get wet or something…”
“Yes. Very good idea. Gloves and scarves, too,” Heather said, intending to go with him.
But Hanna was already on the move. “I’ll help.”
Linda was looking at Heather. “Anything else?” Heather asked.
“I just can’t think straight,” Linda replied. “I’m scared and I don’t function well under stress.”
“You’ll be all right. We all will.” Heather let out a loud “Oh!” and hurried out of the room. She was back in a couple of minutes with two four packs of toilet tissue and a box of trash bags.
“Thank heavens you thought of that!” Linda said. “It never entered my mind.”
The others were back, hands full. They repacked the buckets to suit Warren. “Okay, let’s go,” he said when he straightened back up.
“No. Just a few more minutes.” Heather was shaking her head. “I know it is early, but it could be a long time before we will have a chance to eat. No need to waste all the food we are leaving behind. While we still have power and the microwave works, I say we heat some things up and have a hot brunch before we go.”
There were murmurs both ways, but when Heather picked up a roast beef hoagie and put it in the microwave, the others moved to choose something for themselves.
Warren moved over to the window and looked out. The break room faced to one side of the street. “Madhouse” he said softly. “Wish I had a gun.”
Heather was thinking the same thing. The other four said nothing, either. After the meal, a very large one, knowing it could be their last for a while; everyone headed for the bathrooms and then met in the reception area.
“We ready?” asked Heather.
“As I’m going to get,” Linda said. She took one of the buckets and headed down the steps. The others followed suit. They loaded three buckets into Warren’s car, and three into Hanna’s Prius.
“I’ll ride with Hanna,” Jake said.
“Yeah. Best not to load down the Prius too much. The rest of us will fit into Warren’s Chevy.” Adam opened the passenger side doors and climbed in the front seat. Linda and Heather took the rear seats and Warren closed the trunk and got into the driver’s seat.
It took almost ten minutes to get out of the little parking lot and onto the street. Horns were blaring and people were shouting, crying, and banging on the cars.
They did make progress, but it wasn’t much. Three streets past the facility, Adam looked back and saw that Hanna was having a great deal of trouble keeping up. “I think we’d better do something about Hanna and Jake.”
Warren checked his mirrors and muttered something under his breath. Linda and Heather looked through the back windshield. In only those few seconds of no movement, the mob had the Prius rocking side to side.
“Stay in the car,” Warren said and began to get out of the Malibu. Someone tried to pull him out further, but Warren reached down his leg and pulled a roofing hammer free of its loop. A threatening move with the sharp bladed portion of the hammer had the man backing up.
Adam jumped out of his side of the car and ran back to help Jake. One man was on his back while Jake was trying to pull Hanna across the console and out of the Prius on his side. Two men were hammering on the driver’s side door glass.
They got her almost free, but she leaned back and grabbed the keys just as the window broke, showering her legs with the broken glass.
There were yells for her to give up the keys, but Warren with his deadly roofing hammer kept everyone at bay as Hanna, shaking so hard she almost couldn’t work the remote, opened the rear hatch.
She had the presence of mind to grab the lightest of the buckets and head for Warren’s Malibu. Adam grabbed the other two and headed the same way as Warren backed up slowly. The crowd had the Malibu almost surrounded. Linda and Heather hurriedly hopped out.
“Hanna! Throw your keys! Throw… your… keys,” he bellowed over the sounds of the mob.
Hanna finally got the idea and held up the keys so those close by could see them. Then she turned and threw them with all her might. Many of the crowd surged that way and Warren and the others went into a quick huddle. “We’ll never make it in the car,” Warren said. “Let’s grab the buckets and run for it.”
The others looked around and quickly nodded. The roofing hammer still in his right hand, Warren worked the key fob in his left to open the trunk. He almost decided to just hand the three buckets out, but decided to take the extra few seconds to get the carrying sticks arranged.
With a stout closet pole run through the handles of two of the buckets, it was easier for two people to carry them rather than carry one each against their side. Warren did the two lightest buckets for Hanna and Linda, and then the heaviest for himself and Jake. Adam was running the third long pole through the handles of the last two buckets.
Everyone grunted some when they hoisted the poles onto a shoulder, but even with the crowd pressing in, the three teams headed down the sidewalk. Warren’s imposing figure of the roofing hammer in his right hand and the bucket pole on his left shoulder, held in place by his left hand enough to get moving in the crowd as people scrambled to get into the Malibu, still running. Warren carried his key fob remote separately from his keys and hadn’t thought to kill the engine and pull the keys.
The crowd didn’t seem to thin out much, but it did slow down some, with the majority of people more intent on getting away from the ocean than trying to stop Heather and the others. Hanna, the smallest and lightest of the six called for a break. Warren immediately stopped and the buckets were set down.
He checked one bucket and then another. Finding what he wanted he stood up and began Gorilla taping two shop towels, folded together, on each end of the two poles. They would act as pads. Warren then handed out a pair of jersey gloves to each of the others and pulled on a pair himself.
“Should help with the carrying,” he explained. “Easier on the shoulders and hands. Let me know when we can take off again.”
“I’m sorry,” Hanna said, about to cry. “I just…”
“I wasn’t pushing you, Miss. You take the time you need. I just want to keep an eye on things.”
Hanna nodded and Jake handed her his handkerchief to dry her eyes. They didn’t rest too long. When two rather large, ominous looking men began to sidle over toward them on the side walk, Warren said, “We’d better move. Adam, Heather, take the lead. Linda and you, Hanna, next, Jake you go in front of me.”
All had seen the two men and didn’t hesitate. When Adam started off in a fast shuffle, one of the men, caught in a family group, yelled, “What you have in those buckets, Man? What’s in those buckets?”
“You really want to find out?” Warren asked, hefting the roofing hammer again.
“Okay people,” came a commanding voice from behind the two men. “Ain’t no time for this. You all go about your business of getting somewhere higher up.”
The two men turned around to brace the man, but it was a uniformed police officer. The two hesitated, but when the officer’s hand when to his handgun, they decided they’d best not risk it. At the moment.
“Thank you, Officer,” Warren said when he came up to the six of them.
“What do you have in there?” the officer asked. “I’m asking officially,” he added when Jake and Adam chuckled.
“Water, some food, hygiene, stuff like that,” Heather said.
The officer made a setting down motion and the six lowered the poles from their shoulders. After a quick look through the buckets the officer nodded and said, “Take off. But you be careful. You’re a target with all that stuff.”
“Any word on the tsunami?” asked Heather.
“It is real and it is coming and it is big.” The officer shrugged. “Can’t say more than that, but I’d sure try to find a ride out of here.”
So far there hadn’t been much looting. But that changed in an instant, too. The sound of breaking glass and yells and screams had the officer moving down a side street.
“You okay to continue, Hanna?” Heather asked.
She nodded. “I am so scared! He said it was real and to get a ride.”
“You just do the best you can, little lady. We’ll get you there, safe and sound.”
So they lifted their cargo again and kept going, again with Warren in the rear, keeping a watch for the two men. He caught a glimpse of them further ahead. Warren tried to look away, but one of the men must have felt the stare for he looked back. And saw Warren. “Dang!” Warren muttered.
He was looking around for a way past them. He was just about to tell the others to turn and run when one of the men bumped into someone. Someone he shouldn’t have. It happened so fast that Warren could not be for sure who did what, when, but there was a flurry of gunshots and both the men went down, as well as the one that had been bumped.
Warren was tempted to try and get one of the guns but decided to just push on when someone already had one or more of them and was shooting into the air, trying to make a path through the crowd. Someone in the crowd didn’t like it much and either already had a gun or had picked up one of the dropped guns. He shot the other shooter in the back three times. No more shots were fired, but a real riot broke out.
“Time to go,” Warren urged the others. They were able to get past the mob and a full street past it before Hanna asked for another rest.
They were at a small cubby hole in the buildings. One was a bank. “I need to go to the bathroom,” Linda said.
“Try the bank, Linda.” Heather suggested.
It was a lost cause. No matter what Linda tried, the people inside the bank would not open the locked doors.
They wound up trying five more places before they found an abandoned shop. They took turns in the employee bathroom. When Warren came out, the last one to go, he said, “I think the water may be off. Didn’t flush right. Let’s move on a little and stop to eat.”
The others were thankful of Warren’s suggesting a stop. For one thing, they wouldn’t be walking, for a second thing, they would be eating, and the third thing, the buckets would be somewhat lighter after they ate and drank two bottles of water apiece.
Before they headed out again, Hanna asked Adam, “About how much further, Adam?”
“Five blocks,” Adam replied. “Just five more blocks. All residential. I think we may be out of the worst of it.”
“Don’t be too sure,” Jake said. He’d been watching their back trail. He nodded his head back down the street. “At least three groups are working the houses, one at a time, leapfrogging, and moving to another.”
“I hope my parents are okay,” Adam said, the fear in his voice palpable.
The sidewalks and the street were crowded with people rushing as fast as they could. Which wasn’t very fast. The least provocation set off fights. More people began to enter buildings, mostly two story, some to stop and get as high as they could. Others just to rest out of the stream of people. Some to loot. There was the sound of shooting every now and then.
Warren kept the pace up, as best as he could, pushing through the crowd, in the lead again. They were making perhaps ten steps to the crowd’s nine. It wasn’t fast enough.
There was a surge as those behind pushed on those ahead, more and more people going down. Then they started to hear screams. “Run!” Warren said, increasing his pace dramatically, bulling his way through without thought to anyone but himself and the group. Jake kept up, and Heather and Adam began to draw even with Hanna and Linda.
Heather felt the grim reality of the situation when Hanna stumbled and then fell, the pole sliding off her shoulder. She landed on her side, on top of her huge purse and cried out in pain. Heather tried to stop and help, but Adam hadn’t seen Hanna go down and was moving faster, pulling her along with the pole between them. And the crowd behind just kept pushing.
Hanna disappeared, her screams fading down as others screamed in like manner as they went down. The buckets Linda and Hanna were carrying slid down the pole when Hanna’s end hit the ground. The impact knocked the pole off Linda’s shoulder and she turned part way around to see what was wrong. She saw Hanna go down and screamed.
Almost knocked off her feet when she turned, she turned back to continue up the street. Warren and Jake were well ahead now, with Linda, no longer encumbered with the pole and bucket, gaining on them.
She was trying to shrug out of her backpack to be able to move better and faster. When the pack swung down and around on one shoulder it threw her off balance. She went down the same as Hanna.
Heather could tell that Adam wanted to stop and help, the way he shifted over and tried to get to her. But when Adam reached her, he could tell it was too late. Too many people stepping on her and a couple falling across her and she was done, head twisted back, eyes open, but lifeless.
The screams were louder behind them now and there was a dull roar, getting inexorably closer. They’d gained on those in the lead, but were still well behind. Heather and Adam lost track of Warren and Jake, but suddenly saw them. They were over on the sidewalk, braced to avoid going down.
“Which house, Adam?” Warren yelled over the sound of the mob and the approaching wave.
Adam, gasping for breath, let the pole down and pointed. “There! The green one, two down!”
Heather was still holding her end of the pole, with the buckets down at Adam’s end. “Leave it!” Adam yelled, his quick glance back from the way they had come panicked him. “The wave!” He started running toward the house hopping over the low fence to run on the narrow front yards of the row houses.
Heather dropped her end of the pole and headed after him. She heard Jake scream, “Drop it and let’s go!” He dropped his end of the pole and was trying to run and take off his pack at the same time. Like Linda, it threw him off balance and he fell over the low fence onto the sidewalk where he was immediately buried beneath the mob, now with people trying to get away from the wave anyway they could, knocking people out of the way with no mercy.
Heather joined Adam on the front steps of his parents’ house and turned around. Adam cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled at Warren. “Drop them! Drop Them!”
But Warren was determined to keep at least two of the buckets. He managed to cross the fence, dragging one bucket over. As he tried to get the other bucket up and over the fence a mixture of water, people, cars, and debris caught up to him, engulfing him in an instant. The water was on the steps and climbing as Adam fumbled with the keys. The rising water pushed the door open as soon as he turned the knob.
Both Adam and Heather staggered as the rising water rushed into the house. “Mom! Dad!” Adam yelled, headed for the stairs to the second level with Heather on his heels. “Mom! Dad!”
There was no other sounds except the rushing water and debris battering the inside of the house. They were able to outrun the water halfway up the stairs to the third floor. Adam was breathing too heavily to say anything.
Heather was leaning over, gasping for breath, watching the water now just creeping higher. Fearful it wouldn’t stop she straightened up and backed away from the stair case. Adam was now frantically looking around the third floor of the house.
He looked panicked again. “They aren’t here! I can’t find them! Where could they be?” He looked at Heather with tears in his eyes when she grabbed his arms.
“Stop, Adam! Stop. They may have received the warning and left early. They might be okay.”
Adam took a deep breath and sighed. “Yeah. Yeah. They might be. But you don’t think they are, do you?”
“I won’t lie, Adam. “I doubt they made it. You saw how it was out there. With your mother using a walker…”
There were tears in Adams eyes and his shoulders slumped. “I wish I’d said good bye this morning…”
“There is still a chance…” Heather said, but Adam turned away and walked over to the dormer window. He was standing in almost a foot of water, but it had stopped rising. Heather joined him and the two looked out over the devastation. Not only was the water not rising, it was slowly beginning to drop in level.
Ten minutes later the water was draining down the stairs from the third floor. “What do we do?” Adam asked Heather. “We’ll never make it through all that debris.”
“We need to find some fresh water and maybe some food. I guess we just wait until the helicopters start showing up.”
“Maybe some bottled water or something survived in the fridge or a cabinet in the kitchen,” Adam speculated hopefully.
“That’s true. I wish we could get some information, too. Is there possibly a radio up here?” They’d been in the small hall way that separated the two bedrooms and bath. “And I need to go to the bathroom, too.” Heather looked at the bathroom door and asked Adam, “Do you think it would be alright to use it?”
“I don’t see much choice,” Adam replied. “At least the water didn’t get high enough to get the paper wet,” he added, opening the door and looking in. “Ladies first.”
“Yeah. Thank you. I guess.” Heather grimaced but entered the bathroom and shut the door. As soon as she came out, Adam used it. When he joined Heather afterwards, she was down the second floor to third floor steps about half way, leaning over to look at the flooded room below. The water was dropping rapidly now.
“Shouldn’t be too much longer, I hope,” she said. “The water does drain back, right? It’s not like Katrina where we’re actually below sea level?”
“No. It drains back. We just have to wait.”
Heather felt Adam suddenly stiffen and cry out. “Oh, Lord, no! No! No!”
Heather’s eyes followed Adam rigid stare. “Oh, Adam! I am so sorry!”
Adam’s mother and farther, his right arm tied to her left, their fingers clasped, floated past. Suddenly Adam took a step down to try and grab them, but slipped and went into the water head first. Heather was trying to help him back up onto the stairs, while he was still trying to reach his parents.
But the water was falling almost as fast as it had come in. The bodies disappeared down the first floor to second floor stairs. Heather refused to let Adam go, as he fought the debris to get to them.
The water was now down below the second floor level and Adam and Heather could hear the water rushing out of the house, debris hammering and bumping loudly. Adam finally broke loose from Heather, but his parents floated out of the front door when he stepped on something in the water and went down again.
Heather finally got him up out of the water, sitting on one of the steps. “Why didn’t you let me go, Heather? Why? I could have caught them…”
“And done what, Adam? What could we do for them? They are dead. I’m sorry, but it is true. We’re lucky to be alive. And from the looks of it, the calm expressions on their faces and the fact that they were roped together, the two decided to just die together rather than try to get away, knowing they’d never manage.”
“Pop’s morphine,” Adam said. “He always said… if Mom went first he’d be right after her, with the help of the morphine. And I picked up a month’s worth just yesterday.” Adam sighed. “I guess… I guess… At least they are together and didn’t suffer.”
“That is what you have to hang on to, Adam. That they went on their own terms and didn’t suffer. I know it is hard, but let’s try to find some drinking water and food.”
They were cautious, but both wound up falling on the way to the kitchen. The floor was slimy with mud and layered with debris. But they were lucky when they got to their destination. The kitchen was a total mess, but the cabinet doors had stayed closed, even if the refrigerator hadn’t. There were two six packs of bottled water in one of the cabinets, and a few items of canned goods.
It took a long time to find a can opener and then clean off the cans so they could open them without getting contaminants into the food. They shared a can of cream corn, and one of sweet peas, deciding to keep the lone can of roast beef in gravy for later, along with a can of peaches and one of spinach.
Heather and Adam were sitting on some debris in the front yard, looking like a pair of wet cats. They’d seen no one else alive, though there were bodies galore in the debris. Heather lifted her head. Adam suddenly did, too, when they suddenly noticed a sound in the air. “Oh my Lord! There’s another one!” Heather said, scrambling to her feet.
“I didn’t feel another earthquake!” Adam yelled, getting up himself. They ran, best they could, back into the house and up the stairs. They stopped on the second floor. “Surely an aftershock won’t be as bad as the first one, right?”
“I don’t know,” Heather replied, wrapping her arms around herself. It was almost dark and it was starting to cool off. “I think sometimes the aftershock can be bigger than the first one. “Oh, no!” Heather said.
Adam had barely heard her and turned to look at her. “What?”
“Tsunamis… I think I remember something about them coming in waves.”
“Well, yeah. Tsunamis are waves…” He just couldn’t see what she was getting at.
“No. More than one wave! There can be more than one and often…”
The water and debris slammed into the house like a runaway bulldozer. They barely made it to the third floor and even then the water kept rising. “Adam?” Heather asked. She was standing next to the dormer window.
“I don’t know! I don’t know.” His words faded as the water reached waist level and was still climbing.
“We have to get on the roof!” Heather said and turned to the window. She tried to lift the double pane window but it was painted shut.
Adam picked up the side chair by the bed and motioned for Heather to move. She backed up, looking fearfully behind her. The water was still pouring in through the door and it was above the bottom of the window outside.
With all his might, Adam threw the chair at the window. It cracked but didn’t break. Another swing and the glass gave way and water began to pour into the room from outside as well as coming up the stairs. Hastily Adam used the chair to knock away fragments of the window so they could get out without cutting themselves to pieces.
“I’ll go out first,” Adam said. “Get on top of the dormer and help you out.”
“Are you sure… Wait… Adam, look. The water isn’t rising anymore.” Both watched the level of the water for two tense minutes. In that time the water fell below the level of the window again.
They were shivering again by the time the water cleared the steps. Heather’s nose twitched. “I smell smoke,” she told Adam. They ran back to the window and looked out. They saw smoke drifting out of a house across the alley and up several. Then the fire burst through a window. Suddenly the house and then the ones on each side were ablaze.
“It can’t possibly spread over here,” Adam said hopefully. “Everything is too wet.”
“I think you are right,” Heather agreed. But that hope was dashed when the first house ablaze collapsed. Most of the flames did go out, but there was floating debris with flames still showing.
The fire spread rapidly up and down the houses across the alley. The alley was filled with fiery debris. They couldn’t see past the edge of the roof but smoke was starting to billow up over the edge.
“I do not need this!” Adam wailed. “We have to get out of here!”
The water level was slowly falling so they followed it down, ever so slowly. They saw flames outside the second story windows and hurried down into the waist high water still in the first floor. The fire had broken through into the kitchen.
They finally made it outside again, to a scene out of a disaster movie. The water had been faster and higher the second time. There were gaps in the lines of buildings where several had their foundations washed from under them. More were burning.
“How can they burn like that with all this water?” Adam asked.
Heather pointed down the street. “I think I know. See the water bubbling there in the middle of the street. “I think that might be a gas line leaking.” She barely had the words out of her mouth when a section of wooden house wall, with flames dancing all over it, drifted close to the bubbles.
The explosion knocked Adam and Heather off their feet. Scrambling back up they heard several more explosions, some in the distance, some close. It dawned on both of them that there was an awful lot of fire all around them. The intense heat was drying some of the burnable debris out and the street was on fire in several places.
“We’d better find another place…” Heather was hesitant. Fire reached an overturned car and within a minute the fuel tank exploded, throwing shrapnel in a wide circle, barely missing the two.
“Yeah. I think so, too.” Adam took the lead, headed for the most open area they could see. “Will there be another wave?” Adam asked, trepidation in his voice.
“I don’t know. Maybe. But probably not as high. All I remember from the show I saw was that the second could be worse than the first.” Heather’s answer didn’t reassure him.
They cleared the nearest fires and slowed down. It was too dark to see now. Well away from the fires they stopped and found another building they could get into. It, too, was a three story residence. But being on the corner of the streets it had suffered more damage, but was the only building they could see that might provide succor.
The building had once had many windows. They were all gone, the floors swept clean of the original contents. Even most of the debris had drifted out with the last wave. They found a place to hunker down and spent the rest of the night, shivering together, wet and miserable, fearful of yet another wave. “Sure wish we hadn’t lost that food and water,” Adam said before he fell asleep.
They were both still there the next morning when Heather woke. She poked Adam and he woke, too. “We made it through the night!”
“Yeah. Yeah. I guess we did. I didn’t hear another wave? Did you?”
“I don’t know. I think so, but it didn’t come this far in.”
The two scrambled to their feet at the unmistakable sound of a helicopter flying past at high speed. They were careful going down the stairs, not wanting to fall and get a major injury after surviving what they had.
The helicopter was long gone when they managed to get out in the middle of the intersection so they could be seen. It was only a few minutes before another helicopter went past. They waved their arms and jumped up and down, but the helicopter kept going.
“There will be another one soon,” Adam said hopefully. He sat down on the crushed remains of a car that was just the right height to make a chair.
Heather sat down beside him. The next helicopter they heard wasn’t going as fast and when it came into sight was flying a lot lower than the others had been. When the two waved madly the Coast Guardsman in the door gave a thumps up and motioned them to get back.
The helicopter didn’t land, but was only a foot above the debris on the street when Adam and Heather made their way over to it and were helped aboard. There were four others, obvious survivors, huddled together under a pair of blankets.
Heather and Adam were handed blankets and wrapped up in them, relishing the warm on their cold skin.
It would be decades before all the signs of the four tsunami waves were eradicated, except for a series of museums and monuments. The east coast lost over twenty million people, many of them in the New York area. A total dollar cost was never really given, though numbers as high as ten trillion dollars were bandied about.
Adam decided to leave the company and became a part of the planning commission for the rebuilding of the city. During reconstruction, wide escape streets were built into the plan to provide for easier and much faster evacuation in the event of another tsunami.
Heather went back to Atlanta, Georgia, and went back to work. The company landed a contract to design tidal surge and tsunami defenses. It was less than a year later that she had morphed into a true prepper, ready even for another tsunami.
Jerry D Young
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