The shutters blocking the gate were broken through, and the strongest villagers were pushing open the gate. I held my breath as the gates met what was left of the shutters–which, regrettably, was a lot. There was a moment of resistance and then slowly (too slowly?) the shutters splintered more and more until there was room.
“OKAY!” Kellen yelled, taking charge. “Go quickly, but one at a time! Please!”
And one by one, the villagers poured out of the cage we were in. I looked at my watch, but I wasn’t sure about the time. Two minutes, maybe? Not enough time for the Wings to get to safety. Feel guilty later, I told myself. Take care of Rosie and the other villagers first!
Kellen, Rosie and I were the next-t0-last to get through. Those holding the gates open twisted around, still pushing the gates so they could get through and once they were on this side they let go. The gates swung close, and we began running.
One minute? I wondered, feeling disoriented as we ran past some trees and to the parking lot. No, not enough time, I knew that. “That little dip!” I yelped, pointing at what seemed like a shallow, but long, trench. “Get in, and get down!”
The message spread and before we were all in our position, the explosives went off. I–still standing–was knocked down, more from the suddenness than by force. Several other villagers toppled down and then I heard more explosions going off. A chain reaction. The other buildings. Around the fence.
I crawled down into the trench, an arm around Rosie. The explosions didn’t seem bad enough that much debris would be hitting us but there were still more going off. I tried to picture the village in my head, figuring out what was going off. Rosie cried noisily into my arm and Kellen was now over me, holding us both.
After a moment, there were no more kabooms. I assumed the last one was the farthest building–the Wings’ farm. But when I lifted my head, I realized that there was smoke swirling up into the sky at a distance. It took me a few seconds to figure out that it was Acinert, and it had detonated at the time originally given–nine minutes before ours.
Bits of debris began to rain down near us and a few chunks of stone landed in the trench. I heard one yelp of pain but I felt too sick to do anything about it. I just rolled over and collapsed against the ground, feeling even wearier than I had after giving birth.
Kellen’s voice dragged me back to reality and when I squinted at my watch I saw that only a few minutes had gone by. I wasn’t even sure if I had slept.
There were sirens, and I saw firetrucks and police cars, followed very closely by military vehicles. France, I thought in a dazed way. She was blaming this on foreign military. She… Jay… where’s Jay? I sat up straight now, staring at all the people, trying to find Jay. I wasn’t sure if she’d even be there but if she was, she was going to be very sorry.
Kellen pulled me to my feet, then helped Rosie up. Officers of both law enforcement and military standings were sliding into the trench, diving everyone up into little groups. I kept hold of Rosie, in case they tried to divide us up. Two officials who looked rather high-ranking came over and sort of herded the three of us away from everyone.
“Mind telling us what happened?” one of them asked.
I opened my mouth, intending to tell the truth. But then… slowly my mouth closed. What would I tell them? Jay Redding was really Doctor Dearg and she had done all this? Even if I did tell them, they probably wouldn’t believe me. Or if they did, she was long gone. I just want to go home.
So I stayed silent while Kellen talked. He seemed unsure of what to say, so only told the barest of details. We had found the explosives, slowed it down long enough to escape, and no not everyone got out of there alive. “Two stayed so the rest of us could escape,” Kellen said. “Two very brave people.”
After that, we were taken to a makeshift camp about a mile away from everything. We were checked over for injuries and given cots to lie down if we needed to. I certainly needed to, and fell asleep very quickly.
It was a madhouse for a very long time. Once we were allowed to go home, we had to deal with family. And that was only after convincing the officials that Kellen and I had charge of Rosie. They didn’t argue it, yet. So she came home with us and stayed in our room for a long time, while Kellen and I gathered the triplets around us and held them tightly.
The news didn’t get out for a couple days but of course we had to tell our family and thankfully we were allowed to, at least somewhat. But what we told them were what we had told the military. I did not mention the Reddings when I explained things to my parents, but I wanted to. Maybe when they were here (of course they were coming, they were all coming) I would. But then again, maybe not. It was all too much even for me and how could I explain to my mother she was purposely killed by Jay? If my father knew that, he’d go searching for her again… and I had the feeling if he was in contact with her once more it wouldn’t end as easily as it did the last time. I would have to lie, to protect them.
Riverview was on its head and everyone buzzed about what had happened. Was it an enemy attack? Nobody had the answer and finally the official report was that it was all just an accident. An unfortunate accident, but thankfully only four dead and one injured.
Yep. Four dead. Libano and Moswen Wing, and Doctor and Professor Dearg–who had, apparently, been in the main building making sure everyone got out.
HAH!!!! I wondered who the poor workers were who got to be the stands-ins for the Reddings. At least they didn’t try to claim that the Wings were really the Deargs. I would have fought that. But as it was, I was too tired to deal with it. And too guilty.
Kellen kept assuring me that there was nothing I could have done, that two would have had to sacrifice themselves one way or another for the sake of the rest of the village. I didn’t tell him the real reason I was so guilty. The real reason was… I was beginning to feel grateful for the stubbornness of the Wings.
Viola. Sebastian. Cesario. My three little babies, whom I would be able to spend my life with thanks to the Wings. Was that wrong of me? Was that selfish of me? I felt selfish sometimes, seeing Rosie. But part of me could not stop feeling relief, and because of that, the guilt refused to diminish and the depression got worse.
It took several months before everything was scrutinized to the point of satisfaction for the government. We weren’t allowed to leave town until then, and as soon as we were able we put our house up for sale and began pouring over the homes for sale in Sunset Valley. We had to get away from Riverview, away from the Reddings.
What happened to all the villagers from Ancora? I wasn’t sure. Homes were being found for them, places in the country were they could slowly adapt to life on this side of the wall. The government put us through some hoops but we were able to keep Rosalba with us. We were all so happy to hear that, especially her. She hardly ever left my side, except to play with the triplets. She really liked them, and they liked her.
Finally our house sold and we moved to Sunset Valley. Kellen’s family wasn’t a hundred percent pleased but they didn’t exactly put up an argument for us to stay. My family, on the other hand, was ecstatic to have us there. And it felt so good to be home. Really home, in Sunset Valley. With Kyle and his kids. Kyle, finally drawing out of his shell a bit and even looking for work. With Tempest and her beau–an adorable dog that was completely loyal to her. With Orion, Milla, and their daughter who was excited to have more cousins come live close by so there would be more playmates.
And with Mom and Dad. Getting up there in the years, and not many left. But now I didn’t feel so scared. I had seen death, I had faced death. And I knew that death wasn’t the end. Oh it would be hard when it did happen (not for a very long time, though) and I knew it was going to be a battle to deal with it. But it was something, I finally realized, I would have to deal with and trying to ignore it would not make it go away.
And so we began our new life in Sunset Valley.