We searched for hours, up until the sun began to set. We stayed within the motel area, not venturing farther than the closest Co-op with which we had stopped at to grab some groceries. No one was working but the store was unlocked, and we were too tired and hungry to try and find an open store. We grabbed a couple sandwiches, a pack of peach juice boxes, a box of coconut granola bars and a bag of green grapes. Jamie left a $50 bill on the counter and we left, arriving back at the motel right before sunset.
We were exhausted and ate our meal in silence. I don’t know when I passed out but I am abruptly awoken by a violent shaking. My eyes flash open as I shrink away from the hand wrapped around my upper arm, clawing blindly in the darkness of the room.
“Jay, hey its me” Jamie’s voice echoes in the silence, calming me instantly. I stop struggling and move to sit up, being momentarily blinded as Jamie’s flips on the lamp.
“What’s going on?”
“I heard sirens and gunshots Jay, and they were close” I hadn’t caught it before, but I now hear definite panic in Jamie’s tone, brown eyes fearful as he glances back at the door.
“Gunfire? What the hell is going on...” What was happening to the world? Everything just keeps getting worse and worse and to top everything off we hadn’t found Poppy. The only reason we stopped looking is because we were starving and exhausted, and now with the gunshots and sirens, I can only think the worst. Guilt just keeps piling up inside me, squeezing at my heart like a vice.
“Jamie, what if Poppy...”
“Stop right there Jay, don’t even finish that thought okay, you need to stay calm” Jamie shushes me, giving me a look that told me to not go down the path my mind was racing towards.
I could only nod in response, slowly rising from bed as we listened to the sirens, that only seemed to get closer every minute that passes. The urge to try and call my family again had me reaching for my phone, which sits snugly beneath my pillow. The screen lights up, showing me no missed messages and the time of 10:27pm. I tap my mom’s name but all I get is dial tone.
“Shit, I have no signal” I curse to myself, chucking my phone into the blanket. Suddenly the motel room lights up in a medley of blue and red, and a harsh banging rattles the flimsy wood door.
“Police! Is anyone there?” a male voice shouts behind the door. I freeze up while Jamie instantly shoots from the bed and moves towards the door. I’m not fast enough to stop him.
“Officer! Yes we are here, I’m unlocking the door” Jamie almost sounds happy, his tone lighter than it has been in days. He swiftly unlocks the door and swung it open, revealing an officer in a dark blue and red uniform partly covered by armor. A large rifle hangs by his side, a pistol pocketed in his belt, along with a radio and multiple pouches. He was older, in his late 30′s, with greying dark brown hair and pale skin reflecting the lights from the police cruiser behind him.
He looks over Jamie before glancing around him to look at me. He grabs his radio and reports his findings, and minutes later two other police officers join him at the door.
“If you would both please follow us, you may pack a small bag quickly if you like and we will escort you to a safe location” the first officer tells us stoically as he backs away from the door, the other two officers following him. They wait outside the room as Jamie follows their instructions blindly, throwing some clothes and other toiletries into a carry-on.
“Jamie wait...” I try to talk to him as he zips around the room. I don’t know what it is, but there is an uncomfortable feeling in the back of my head that’s telling me something isn’t right.
“Wait? Why? The police are here to help, they probably already picked up your family, so we can go see everyone” I shake my head at him, unconvinced.
“Jamie, we just heard gunshots that most likely came from them...and who would they be shooting at?” I try to voice my unease but I’m instantly shot down, Jamie shooting me a glare.
“Rioter’s were probably shooting at them, not the other way around” he snaps.
“Just grab your stuff Jay, we are leaving”
“But what about Poppy?” I ask, which makes him pause in his pursuit to the door. His body freezes up and he doesn’t look back at me as he answers.
“She’s probably fine Jay, the police most likely picked her up if she was wandering around” he answers back quickly before walking outside, leaving me alone. I sigh before getting up. We can’t separate right now, no matter how much I don’t want to go with the police. Something in that officer’s gaze makes me uneasy.
I quickly pack up some of my own things in my backpack and followed after Jamie, who is already inside the police cruiser, one officer waiting outside the car for me.
“Ready?” the female officer asks and I nod my head. She escorts me to the back of the car and I slide in beside Jamie, peering at the lone officer in the driver’s seat.
“Where are we going? What’s happening?” I ask as we start to pull out of the motel parking lot.
“Rioters and looters are acting up all over the city do to the epidemic, we are trying to find any innocent strangler’s so we can get them to a safe location. Lots of tourists at the moment do to the Stampede” the officer answers, his speech almost sounding practice but I nod anyway in understanding.
“Okay, but where are we going?” I ask again. The feeling of unease has spread, gripping at my throat and lungs in a constrictive grasp. I was slowly becoming panicky, because something didn’t feel right. Nothing felt right. Poppy’s disappearance, the epidemic, the gun shots. Nothing was lining up yet the people in charge seemed to have copy and paste answers just plausible enough to silence the curious.
“We are heading to the stadium, the Calgary Police force and a small military group have set up base there”
“But the news said people were supposed to stay indoors, so why are we going to a stadium with a shit ton of people? Won’t the illness just spread faster?” I snap, growing tired of his minimal replies. Glancing over at Jamie I could tell he was starting to get nervous, finally starting to understand my reasoning. The fact that it didn’t make sense what was happening right now.
“We are screening for the sick and taking them to an isolation ward where military doctors are looking after them,” the officer answered, his voice taking on a hint of annoyance.
“Miss, I’m sorry but I am unable to answer anymore questions, we are only a few minutes away from the stadium where a debriefing will be conducted within the following day. So please reserve anymore questions until then” the officer snaps, trying to keep a polite tone, but I catch the glare being sent my way through the rear view mirror. His statement was finally and I don’t dare push my luck.
The light touch on my hand draws my attention to Jamie, who has stayed quiet the entire ride. I could tell he was unsure rather to believe the officer and move on or trust in my logic. I won’t force him to see things my way because I know he will start to understand sooner or later. He’s just scared and confused, wanting to believe the government has everything under control, so he could relax and not stress about the world around him.
Unlike me. Whose anxiety keeps nagging at her like a grumpy grandma who has nothing better to do than poke holes in everything.
Glancing away from Jamie and out the window, I watch as we pull into the stadium parking lot, a surprisingly few vehicles parked considering how big an operation the officer explained this to be. I don’t voice my thoughts though, knowing I’m going to be shot down with a generic answer from a stoic cop.
We park and exit the vehicle, following the cop as he escorts us towards the stadium. A single military vehicle sits near the down, short moveable metal barriers forming a circle around the double doors. No one stands station by the door, inside or out as we enter the building and make our way down the halls, silent except for the buzzing of the overhead lights and our footsteps.
We pass by t-shirt and concession stands, all emptied and bare minus the occasional scrap of garbage. As we near the center of the stadium, I start hearing the light buzz of chatter, the voices only getting louder as we get closer and closer. Finally we reach our destination, the officer throwing open the doors to reveal a large gathering of civilians, most still dressed in their pajamas, with bags hanging by their sides. Children cling sleepily to their parents thighs, the elderly seated on the multiple cots that litter around the stadium. Yet as I look around, taking in my surroundings, I see no officers of any kind. No military or police presents is inside the stadium.
“Umm officer...” I turn back around just in time to see the police officer close the doors behind him, the lock of the door thundering in my ears and I catch the look on his face.
That look has my back stiffen to the point of extreme discomfort, my brain flares with my sense to fight or flight and my feet start to swiftly carry me towards the door. The moment I reach the door I try the lock, already knowing the task is fruitless yet I pull violently at it anyway. I unsuccessfully tried to pry the door open, squeezing my fingers between the small crack before giving up. I start to slam my fists against the metal doors, kicking at it. The banging causes people to take notice as I feel multiple hands grab at me, multiple voices trying to calm me down.
“Jay, hey, are you alright? What’s wrong?” Jamie suddenly comes into view, grabbing onto my wrists to stop my pounding.
“They locked the door Jamie!” I snap, prying my arms and wrists away from all the grabby hands. I turn to see a middle aged blonde woman and an elderly ginger haired lady are the ones trying to help calm me down.
“Its alright dear, they do that so no rioters can get in” the elderly woman cooed at me sweetly, flashing me a blinding megawatt smile. She softly patted my arm in a show of comfort but I cringe away from the strangers touch, my anxiety driving my thoughts down a dark road.
“Jay, you just need to relax, I know the past couple days have been rough but we are okay here. I know your nervous and untrusting right now but trust me, we are okay” Jamie hugs me tightly, ignoring my struggles for freedom. Having dealt with my anxiety riddled ass for years, he knew my coping mechanisms. One being human contact from a close friend or family member. Being near someone I love usually helps calm me down, but it’s a little harder to deal with right now than it normally is. After everything that has happened, my mind is a complete mess. I tried to stay calm, to be rational in my thoughts and not overthink every tiny little detail, but at this moment I can’t stop it.
Nothing is going right and everything feels wrong. Its this constant feeling like bugs crawling beneath my skin every time I think about our situation. Nothing felt real. Like it was all a bad dream. Yet I knew when I opened my eyes I won’t be snuggled up in Mason’s arms, because all this death and sickness was real.
Poppy is missing. Edson is gone. I might end up losing Beau and who knows who else. I wish I could just be in a state of denial, where everything was alright and I could just ignore what was happening. But I can’t and it’s starting to piss me off.
“Hey, get out of your head for a second and listen to me. We. Are. Okay" Jamie hugs me tighter. I shake my head in response.
No we weren’t okay. Something was going on, something we weren’t being told and my feelings of dread are only getting worse.
As an apology for being so late here is another chapter. Hope you like it :) We are starting to get somewhere. This is a slow burn story, but hopefully not to slow :)
If you like the story let me know, and if you have any opinion please share (but be kind please).
I will try to stick with the weekly updates, so expect a chapter sometime around Saturday this coming week.
Have an awesome day and please enjoy :)