5...4...3...2...1... A great blast shook the floor as the train tracks that ran over 12th street blew sky high. Cynthia Bernard awoke from where she slept, four blocks away. She quickly glanced at the clock before she proceeded to quickly jump from her bed to see what was going on. The clock read 3:28am. For being as early as it was, she was incredibly agile in running from her bed to the window. The sky was already a crimson shade. As there wasn't much of a view from her standpoint, she quickly changed and rushed out the door. She sprinted down the street to where the explosion had taken place. There was quite a mess to clean up. The train, jumped by the explosion of the tracks, had crashed into several homes. Cynthia shuddered to think how many people had been killed just minutes ago.
Cynthia walked closer to the burning remains of the tracks. She could hear sirens wailing. Somebody had called the cops. She analyzed the damage, three houses were completely decimated, and four more stood with considerable damage. She took as good of a look as she possibly could, taking it all in, before the police could come and seal the area off. But it was too late. Five police cars pulled up, as well as two ambulances. Cynthia's prediction rang true. They immediately set up yellow tape around the area, sealing it off. Cynthia sat on a curb, watching the area slowly become all the more restricted, and yet all the more populated.
She would stay there up until about 6:00. She already knew that. But she didn't have to work until 10:00, so she was covered. She worked at a bookstore down on McLoughlin Blvd. She was a worker in the back, doing all the pricing and ordering. She didn't have very much to do throughout the day, but she was paid well, so she was satisfied.
Cynthia was distracted by the sound of footsteps coming from directly behind her. 4 siblings were walking towards her. The one brother, by the looks of him, was around 17. His blond hair stood out from what he was wearing: Natural jeans, a dark sweater, and worn converse shoes. Two of his three sisters were obviously younger than him. One looked to be about 15, while the other around 13. The older sister looked to be approximately 20, with darker blond hair, and wearing a brown leather coat.
The brother walked up to Cynthia.
"Excuse me," he said, "do you know what's happening here?" She shook her head.
"I got here around 3:30. The train had already taken out multiple homes. I don't really know the details..."
"Okay..." he turned away towards his older sister. she pointed out something to him.
"Well, thank you anyways..." They walked closer to the scene.
Cynthia watched them as they approached one of the police officers and began to speak to him. The officer pointed out a couple things to them, but then turned them away. They walked back up to her, The older sister spoke this time.
"So it looks like they're suspecting a bombing... The police have 7 bodies on their hands..."
"How did you manage to gather all that from him? They've been turning me away constantly for the past 2 hours..."
"He's a friend of ours," said the second sister. "But really, I'm actually surprised we got that much from him...."
"I see..." she said as she stood. "Well, I'm Cynthia." she extended a hand. The 4 took it in turn.
"I'm Raphael," said the brother
"Rose," said the oldest sister.
"Elaine," said the next oldest sister
"Adalia," said the youngest.
"Wow... Your parents certainly weren't simple when they named you, were they?" Cynthia gave a slight chuckle. She turned again towards the blazing fire, slowly being extinguished. Her smile faltered.
"My house is just up few blocks away, would you like to get inside?" Cynthia offered.
"No, thank you," said Raphael.
"We honestly don't live too far away, we'll be fine," said Adalia.
"Actually, we should be getting home," said Elaine to her siblings. "We weren't supposed to be gone too long..."
"You're right," said Raphael, "We should be getting home."
"Thank You, though," said Rose.
They turned and walked up the hill.
Cynthia was alone again.
Cynthia looked again at the crash site. After seeing those tracks and the train running over it for nearly every day, it would be quite an adjustment to see it gone. She checked her watch. The time read 7:52am. She wasn't entirely certain why she'd stayed at the site for as long as she had already. She would go home in a couple of minutes. A small black Suburu came around the corner of Washington and 12th and paused at the sight. There were 3 male passengers in the car. Through the glass of the vehicle, Cynthia guessed the driver to be around 18, while the boy riding shotgun looked to be 16. The youngest in the back looked to be about 9. They paused at the site for almost a whole minute before taking the turn up the hill and heading off. Cynthia checked her watch again. 7:57am. She sighed and began to walk back up the hill to her house. She took one more look at the remains of the crash site. It was then that she saw another car, a black Nissan, turn at the corner and pause for the same amount of time. The Nissan headed up the hill and turned at the exact same spot the Suburu did. Cynthia found this interesting, but kept walking up the hill. As she was turning onto John Adams st., she noticed 7 people turning from that corner up higher on the hill. The 7 started running down the hill. Cynthia paused. They were simply a block away. All 7 were boys. They jogged over to her. The one that she recognized as the driver of the Suburu asked her,
"Excuse me, you just came from over there, right?" He gestured to the crash site.
"Yes?" she replied, beginning to think this would go the same way as the conversation with the 4 siblings.
"Of course she did, Steve! Didn't you just see her walking from down there?" said someone from the other car. He was about 6'2", skinny, and reddish-haired.
"Shut up, Garrison," Steve said.
"So what's happening down there?" asked the boy riding shotgun.
"The bridge blew," Cynthia replied frankly.
"Duh, Simon! Dun dun dun!! said the young one, who looked about 9. He stood at approximately 5'4", wearing light brown slacks, green button up shirt, and a sweater.
"Tommy! Show some respect! People died here!" said another boy she hadn't seen before. Standing at about 6'1", and wearing a dark suit, He looked to be about 16.
"Sure, Obadiah... where's the proof of that?" asked Tommy.
Obadiah gave Cynthia a questioning look.
"Police said they've got 7 bodies on their hands." Cynthia stated. Obadiah gave a triumphant look at the boy called Tommy. Tommy grinned.
"Tommy, we all know how much you love death and destruction and bionicles, but give it a rest! We're at a real live crash site!" This was said by yet another that Cynthia hadn't seen. He was about as tall as Obadiah, but looked maybe a year or two older, and wearing a red sweater.
"Don't even say it."
Cynthia was proved wrong. It was nothing like the last conversation.
"What time did it go kablooie? do you know?" Steve asked Cynthia.
"Umm... about 3:30 this morning."
"See Hunter?! I told you it didn't just blow an hour ago!" said Garrison to the red sweatered boy.
"Yeah, well...." shrugged Hunter.
"So why are you all here?" Cynthia asked.
"We go to school right up there at the church," said Obadiah.
"ooh..... what's that called again?"
"Kings Academy," said Garrison.
"ah right!" said Cynthia.
"We like to call it K.A.," said Steve.
"What brings you here?" asked Tommy.
"I live just around the corner. I've been here since it blew."
A tan SUV passed by the street. A woman poked her head out of the window.
"Better hurry up or I'm gonna give you all tardy points!"
"We've gotta run!" said Simon.
"I'm sorry, I don't believe we ever caught your name..?" said Hunter.
"Cynthia. Cynthia Bernard," she said.
"Well, Cynthia Bernard," Steve said as he was beginning to jog back uphill, "It was nice to meet you!"
She watched them jog back up the hill, reach the church, and disappear.
"It was nice to meet you too." She thought to herself.
She turned once more to the mayhem behind her and sighed.
It was finally time to return back home. Her watch read 8:04am she walked back up to her house. She paused for a few seconds. She shook her head, wondering why she even paused. She walked through the doors of her red house, and plopped down on her living room couch. She'd just met 11 new people. She tried to remember all of their names. Rose, Raphael, Elaine... Amanda? She wasn't sure. She laid back and closed her eyes. She opened them again to find that more than an hour had passed. 9:47am She jumped to her feet. She had to be at work by 10:00am, and who knows how bad traffic would be? She grabbed her keys, grabbed a coat, and raced to her red Mitsubishi 3000 out front. She pulled out of her driveway and drove down to Main St. After pulling onto 99E, she drove straight for about 10 minutes. That 10 minutes suddenly felt like 10 hours. Her brain struggled to find one simple conclusion to everything that happened that morning, and how it could possible relate to all events leading up to it. There was no conclusion. Slowly but surely, Cynthia began to realize that. Slowly but surely, her head began to hurt.
She pulled into the bookstore's parking lot, trying to come up with a conclusion as to why she was late this morning, only to find that she was earlier than normal. Although this came as a relief, it did nothing to help the pain in her head. She walked through the front doors, greeted her boss and a few of her co-workers, then went into the back of the store and set her purse down. She sat down on her raised chair, and logged onto her computer. She worked in book-buying. Almost as soon as she had gotten everything set up, two people walked into the room. A mother and her son. They were selling a book series priced for $38. The books were in good condition, decent sized books. The price was good. They made the exchange and left the room. Cynthia put a $40 tag on the series, and set them on a shelf. Same as usual, this same process happened for multiple hours. Cynthia looked at the clock for what seemed like the 100th time that day. The time was 12:43.
She locked the computer and stood. It was most definitely time for food.
She exited the building, but instead of walking to her car, as she normally would, she walked away. She walked to a restaurant just down the street. She didn't even pay attention to what she was eating. She thought. "The police are suspecting a bombing." The words ran through her head once again. Who would want to bomb the tracks? It was a freight train! What would even be the point? There was none. She glanced at her watch. Her lunch break was already over.
She headed back to work. She walked through the doors, walked again to the back room. She settled herself back into her chair once more. She looked up from her computer and looked through the store. Four people walked through the doors. The last four people she would have expected to see that day. Raphael, Rose, Elaine, and Adalia walked through the doors. They headed straight towards her. They were here to sell books. Cynthia lowered her head. They walked through the doors and set on the desk a stack of 4 separate books. She lifted her head.
"Hello again," she said.
"Again?" said Elaine.
"Oohh!" said Rose, " I thought I recognized you!"
"Yep," said Cynthia, unsure of what to say. She didn't want to bring the crash back to their mind, yet it had been the only thing on her mind the entire day. "So have you heard any more about the crash?"
"Nope," said Rose.
"You?" asked Raphael.
"Nothing," said Cynthia.
The five of them looked at each other. Awkward silence. Cynthia sighed. She gave the four their money and watched them walk out the door. Cynthia was left without a single idea about the crash.
Cynthia looked at her clock: 6:04pm. It was time to return home. In fact, she should have left over an hour ago. She wasn't sure why she had left until then. She grabbed her purse, exited the building, and climbed into her car. The sky was covered in cloud. It was that time of year where children pretend they could breathe fire. Cynthia wrapped her scarf more snugly around her neck. She turned the keys. Her car sputtered. She tried again, her car started for a few seconds, then died.
"damn it!" she muttered. She took the keys out, and leaned back in her chair. She tried again, but with no luck. She took the keys out of the ignition and climbed out of her car. She slammed the car door and leaned against her car. She wrapped her scarf tighter and tried to think of what she could possibly do. A mysterious figure walked by. Only a man could hold that figure. He was tall, wearing a black coat with a raised collar, and his head was covered by a black hoodie. He stood at about 6 ft, and seemed entirely distant from the present.
Or, at least, that's what Cynthia thought. Just as the figure was about to pass out of sight at the other side of the building, the man stopped. He turned to her, and walked her way. As he walked, he lifted up his hood to show a man that could be mistaken for a villain in any movie. He was, in her eyes, the most handsome man she'd ever seen. He had fair skin and jet-black hair that stuck up perfectly. He bore a scar, the most disturbing scar she'd ever seen: a long streak from his right ear across his cheek. She didn't want to think about what brought him that scar. But she didn't have time to think, even if shehad wanted to.
"Excuse me, I saw your car wasn't starting," he began, "do you need some help?"
"Uhm.... I don't know what's wrong with the car," Cynthia replied, unsure of how he was going to 'help'.
He pulled open the hood, took a quick look inside, reached inside, and pulled something. Cynthia rushed forward.
"What did you just do?"
"Part of your engine was out of place," He replied simply.
"Doesn't the engine get to insane heats though?"" She asked, grabbing his wrist and taking a look at his hand.
"Your car didn't start, remember?"
"Right..." Cynthia said. She dropped his hand, suddenly embarrassed.
"Well, my name's Jordan Williams," he said, extending the hand she had just dropped.
"Cynthia Bernard," she replied, taking it.
"I need to vamoose," he stated, "I hope that helped your car." He turned from her, lifted his hood once again, and walked away.
Cynthia closed the hood, climbed into the car, and turned the keys. The car roared to life. Cynthia marveled at God's providence, pulled her seat-belt on, and drove off back to her home. Her car's clock read 6:24pm. She arrived at the wreck 6 minutes later. It still wasn't fully cleaned up. She hadn't expected it to be.
As she pulled around the corner and drove up the hill, 5 familiar faces, along with two new ones, walked down the hill. Steve was easily discernible; he was throwing up his arms in the air and laughing. The rest of the bunch laughed with him. The tall one named Garrison pointed her out to them. They all ran jogged to her car.
"Hey look! A familiar face!" said Simon in a really high pitched voice, as he laughed.
"I dunno..." said Hunter, and he proceeded to speak to the younger of the two unfamiliar faces. "Do you remember her, Maximus?"
"What have you been sniffin'!?" blurted out Simon jokingly.
"Dude, Simon, Maximus and Layne weren't there," said Steve.
"Right!" said Simon.
"Hunter!" Don't you remember her?!"
"Guys, it was a failed joke, come on..."
"Uuuhh....." Cynthia was as confused as ever.
"Sorry," said Garrison, "This is Layne," he pointed to the older of the two, "and Maximus," he pointed to the youngest.
"I'm sooorry!" said Hunter in an accent.
"Let me tell you a stooory!" said Simon, laughing.
The whole clan of 7 all burst into laughter.
Cynthia remained confused.
"Should we clue her in?" asked Hunter.
The other 6 took a look at her.
"Nah!" said Layne, also laughing.
"But she looks so confused!" said Garrison.
"Exactly!" said Maximus.
"You are the worst kind of person," said Garrison.
"Cruel, cruel person..." said Obadiah, shaking his head.
"Well!" said Steve, "Cynthia, right? We're going over to the Dairy Queen, would you like to come?"
"No, sorry. I wish I could, sounds like fun, but I'm afraid I need to get home."
"Okay, college homework?" Steve asked.
"No, I came out of college last year," Cynthia said.
Cynthia all of a sudden wondered why she had to get home. She didn't live with anybody, she had no after-work activities, she didn't have a boyfriend, and above all, going to the Dairy Queen with most lively group of people she'd come across in over a year sounded like a lot of fun.
"Just tired then?" asked Garrison.
"Actually... no..." Cynthia said. "I'm actually completely free tonight! Maybe I'll come after all, if that's okay with you guys."
"Fine with me!" said Simon.
"I'm cool with it!" said Hunter.
"Sure!" said Obadiah.
The rest of the boys agreed with a look or a shrug.
"See you there then!"
She changed course over to the Dairy Queen. She arrived there in about a minute,bought herself a smoothie, and waited for the 7 for about 3 minutes. They piled through the doors and scrambled up to the counter. After a few minutes, they were all sitting in the corner of the restaurant, making jokes. Cynthia laughed among them, told jokes with them, and realized she was comfortable with these people. She felt at home for the first time in years. Cynthia lost track of the time, and when she finally bothered to check her clock, she found the time to be 9:48pm. She jumped to her feet.
"I've gotta go; I don't make it a habit to stay out late." Cynthia said. " I hope I see you all again!"
She was overwhelmed to hear a goodbye from each and every one of them.
Cynthia climbed into her car outside, leaned back in her chair, and she felt that intense sense of happiness. A feeling she hadn't felt for years.