I will be posting a chapter from my new book called 'Beyond Tomorrow' each day. Please let me know what you think. :)
( I know the format was wrong so I'll work on that a little more tomorrow!)
Lily walked down the road looking for another person, but they were all gone. The blast was still ringing in her ears but the terror of what happened over-shadowed it. A bomb had exploded…in her town! How could that be? Who was behind it? Why had they done it? The questions swirled around in her head, threatening to drown what sanity she had left.
“Hello! Is there anybody out there?” She continued to walk, now on the north side of Pembroke Acres, a small town in Central Utah. “Please, if you’re here, let me know! I’m so scared!” She fell to her knees and sobbed uncontrollably.
A few minutes later she wiped her tears and got back on her feet. She couldn’t allow this self-pity to over-take her. She slowly scanned the scene before her in horror and disbelief. What had once been a beautiful little tourist town was now no more than ash and debris. Fresh tears flooded her dull gray eyes and she swiped them away angrily. Had everything been destroyed? She needed to find a television or a radio. She needed to hear the news! What had happened here? Was it an accident? Or had some crazy terrorist decided to pick on a town in Nowheresville, Utah?She tried to avoid the knowledge that there were people in that debris and ash. She didn’t have any family here but the townspeople had become her friends. Nanny Masters had taken her under her motherly wing and shown her every nook and cranny of the surrounding area so she could get great photographs for the tourist magazine who’d hired her as a freelance photographer. Johnson Williams had allowed her to stay in his cabin out in the woods for as long as she needed and Quanita Monroe had cooked for her every day since she’d been here at the ‘Cook for me Café’ free of charge. They were good people! She sobbed quietly now as she continued to plod down what used to be the sidewalk of the small town. The café in question had been decimated. There was nothing but a hole and some debris where it used to be. Johnson Williams’ hardware store was gone as well.
“Hey, is that you Lily?” The voice was desperate, and music to her ears! It was Nanny Masters! Her crafts store was destroyed but the sight of her emerging from the depths of the hole left behind caused emotion so overwhelming that for a moment Lily was immobilized.
“Nanny, is that you?” She scrunched her eyes, trying to concentrate on the woman running toward her. Was it just her imagination? Was she hallucinating what she wanted to see?
“It’s me, sugar!” The middle-aged, heavy woman pulled her in for a bear hug.
“What happened here? I was out in the woods taking pictures and I…” She was talking fast and she doubted Nanny had even taken in a word of what she was saying.
“I don’t know. I was in my store and the next thing I know, ka-boom!” Nanny pulled away and held her arms out to demonstrate the sound of that horrible explosion.
“Was everything destroyed? We need to watch the news, or at least hear it.” Lily said.
“I’m pretty sure everything here is gone. Her voice cracked as she said, “I found ole’ Johnson Williams, he’s gone. Quanita went to the city so she should be safe, unless…”
“Bite your tongue, Nanny! Surely they didn’t bomb the whole country!” Her voice belied the hysteria just near the surface.
“Take a deep breath, sugar. You need to stay calm. Let’s go back to your cabin and see if there’s anything left. I already went to my house and it’s gone.” Her voice broke on a sob that she swallowed as she pulled her massive shoulders back and set her face. She was a strong woman and that was one of the main reasons Lily loved her so much.
Arm-in-arm they traversed what was left of the town. They stopped in each building they came to, but no one else was left.
They left town, two solemn figures, frowning in a feeble attempt to keep from crying.
What was ahead for them? Would they die, too? Had this been a biological or chemical attack they had somehow managed to temporarily walk away from?
The despondency she felt threatened to break her resolve to make it to her cabin. Was it even there? Would her dog Mushi be dead? The thought caused fresh sobs to wrack her slender frame. She knew it was silly but the little black Pomeranian was all she had left in this life. She should have taken him with her, but noooo…she’d been afraid he would scare away any wildlife she might capture with her lens! Self-recrimination flooded through her. How selfish she’d been! Huge, pleading brown eyes came to her mind’s eye. He’d wanted to go but she’d left him whimpering at the door.
Her step quickened at the possibility that he may still be alive. She pulled ahead of Nanny until she protested.
“Sugar, would you slow down? You know a fat old lady can’t keep up!”
“I’m sorry Nanny!” She slowed back down long enough to explain, “Mushi might still be alive! If he is then he’s terrified!”
“That’s true!” Nanny sped-up to a fast walk, keeping stride with her friend.
As they came around the last bend to the cabin, they both gasped in surprise and fear. There were military men swarming the whole area. They looked like a bunch of soldier ants trying to find their nest.
“My word sugar, who are they?” Nanny murmured as she backed up against Lily.
“I think it’s the National Guard.”
“Why are they here?” Realization dawned and Nanny gasped in horror. “It was a terrorist attack! What are we gonna do? Do you think they’ve come to finish us off?”
“Calm down. These men are our military! I’m happy to see them!” A smile formed on her heart-shaped face.
“Land sakes; let’s go talk to them then. My glasses were destroyed and I couldn’t tell they were ours. Maybe they’ll know what happened.”
They rushed over to a group of men who were combing the woods and Lily asked, “Do you know what’s going on?” The man jumped. Apparently he’d been so busy searching for whatever it was that they were searching for that he hadn’t heard them.
“Not a sign of a good soldier.” Lily said under her breath.
The young soldier got one look at them and yelled, “There are survivors!”
Both women watched as the men came together and talked quietly. They took turns peeking at the survivors in curiosity.
“Could you tell us what happened?” Lily finally asked. She had given them ample time to start a dialogue but they seemed to only want a discussion between themselves.
Finally the man in charge parted from the crowd of younger men and approached them cautiously. “Where are you from?” There was authority in his voice and the older of the two women answered.
“We’re from Pembroke Acres. Could you tell us what happened? Were we attacked? Was it biological or chemical?”
The officer looked at each young man in turn and then back to Nanny. “There was a terrorist attack. As far as we know it wasn’t chemical or biological in nature. How is it that you two survived? There was a direct hit on your town.”
Lily stepped-up beside the man and replied, “I was out in the woods taking pictures.” She pulled the DSLR camera up from her chest and gestured with it as she spoke.
“I was in the basement of my craft shop going through my inventory just like I do every Wednesday morning.” Nanny said.
“You’re very lucky. Do you have any injuries at all?”
“Other than feeling like my whole world has disappeared I’m fine.” Lily said.
“I’m okay, too. I did bruise my elbow but it should be okay.” Nanny said. She showed them her elbow. There was a long slender cut there that had already clotted-up. She pulled her arm back down.
“Who did this?” There were tears in the heavy woman’s eyes as she asked.
“We don’t know yet. What we can tell you is that there were simultaneous calls to every major city in the United States. This is the only small town that was hit.”
Lily gasped. “Why would they choose this little rinky-dink town?”
“We aren’t sure, ma’am. It’s a possibility that the man lived here and he was trying to wipe out anyone who could ID him.” The officer told her.
Lily looked up into his hard blue eyes and was stunned at their beauty. She’d been so worried about their situation that she hadn’t taken the time to notice any of the physical features of the men up until now. She gasped again, and then tried to hide it with a loud harrumph. “Are we in danger?”
“Unfortunately I would have to say at this time you are. You’ll be going back to the camp with us when we’re finished here. We will protect you there. We don’t know who’s responsible for these attacks but it’s probable whoever it is will come back to make sure they were successful in wiping out any witnesses.” He sounded so calm and unemotional and that made Lily angry.
“This is our life here! How dare you sound so brutal?”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. I know you must be upset but right now my focus is on doing my job and getting us out of here alive.”
“It’ll be okay, sugar. The man’s just doing his job.” Nanny said. She hugged lily tightly in comfort.
“That’s the truth. Is it possible for one of the other officers to interview you?”
“Why do you want to interview us?” She was suspicious now. Did they think that she and Nanny were responsible for this? Surely not!
“I can assure you that you aren’t suspects at this time.” He gave a half-lipped smile of amusement at her error.
She was suddenly so angry that she felt like wiping that smile off his irritating lips! “What is your reason for interviewing us then?”
“There’s a possibility that you saw or heard something that will help us identify who executed these terrorist attacks.”
Lily’s anger faded away like it never existed. “How are the major cities? Were they successful?” Tears shimmered in her gray eyes but she willed them not to fall in front of this man who seemed so unsympathetic.
“All the major cities have been hit. Of course they weren’t annihilated like this town was.” He said.
“I am so sorry. It must be total chaos out there right now. We need to get this done so you and your men can go back to Salt Lake City where you’re needed.”
“We won’t be going back. My orders are to explore and secure this area and to protect any survivors with my life.”
“How did you know so quickly that the guilty men might be here? Was it because this was the only small town hit?” Lily knew a secret that the government probably didn’t know and she was terrified at the thought that the terrorists did, too. She waged a small battle within to decide whether she would divulge what she knew. Loyalty to her country won. “I might know why they came here.”
The man had half-turned to leave but he jerked back around. “Tell me more.”
“The man who let me stay in his cabin, Johnson Williams, he has a stockpile of weapons in a cave out in the woods. I thought he was just a little fanatical…”
“Why wouldn’t you report something like that?” The man was disgusted and his handsome lips were now curled in a sneer of distrust.
“I didn’t know. I’m not from around here. I just came for the summer to take pictures for a tourist magazine. It’s paying me well.” Her excuse sounded dry and flat to her own ears. She could only imagine what it sounded like to his.
“How do you know about these weapons?”
“I was taking pictures a week or so ago and I got tired so I decided to sit down and take a break. I saw a huge rock so I sat down on it. When I did, there was a loud noise. Apparently he had some kind of contraption hooked to the rock that was holding the brush over the opening to the cave. I did tell the sheriff.”
“You did?” Lily could’ve sworn she’d heard relief in his voice, but why?
“Of course I did. I’m not a total idiot. Sheriff Jenkins said Johnson was just a fanatic and that I shouldn’t worry about it. I guess I should’ve.”
“Do you think you could take me to this cave?”
“Yes, I know right where it is. Could I have a drink of water first?”
“Private, get these women a drink and a sandwich. We have a new mission.”
A few minutes later Lily, Nanny, the officer and five of his men traipsed off deeper into the woods in search of the cave of weapons.
“What branch of the military are you?” Lily asked.
“Are you serious?” The private walking behind them said.
“Private! You will not speak to the ladies in disrespect. Do I make myself clear?” He didn’t turn around but the authority in his voice was enough to make the young private tremble.
“Yes sir, I’m sorry sir!” The young man returned quickly.
“We are the Marines, ma’am. You don’t know your own military?” His question wasn’t condescending, just curious.
“I’m afraid not. I’m ashamed to admit that I spend most of my time taking pictures.”
“So you’re a photographer and you’re not from here?”
“I’m a freelance photographer and I’m from Salt Lake City. I’ve been down here for about two months.
“It’s beautiful country.” He surprised her by saying.
They were farther into the woods and the heat of the sun was shielded by the trees. She shivered almost imperceptibly, but he saw it. He pulled his jacket off in one fluid motion and wrapped it around her shoulders without missing a step.
“What’s your name?”
“I’m Sergeant Major Wyatt Adams, at your service.” He grabbed her hand and gave it one firm shake before dropping it back to her side. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Lily Tompkins and this is Nanny Masters.” The man took the older woman’s hand and firmly shook it.
“I’m sorry we have to meet under these circumstances.”
“I am too, sugar. I’m just glad to be alive, though.” She gave a hearty chuckle and Wyatt Adams was hooked. She had such a motherly persona that he doubted anyone didn’t like her.
“Are we almost there?” The private behind them almost whined. Both women gave a small chuckle before stopping abruptly in guilt. This was not a time to laugh. It was a time to cry and mourn the loss of so many of the county’s innocent citizens.
“Private, stop acting like a child.” The officer ordered.
“Yes daddy.” The young man returned.
Wyatt Adams stopped and turned around in anger. “You will not address me as your father out in the field. Are we clear?”
“Yes sir.” The private sounded sullen and child-like and Lily briefly wondered how old he was and if he was really the officer’s son.
The Sergeant Major caught back up with the ladies and Lily asked, “Is he really your son or were you just bantering?”
“He’s really my son, not that that’s any of your concern.” His tone was rude again and she decided to give up communicating with him on anything but a business-like basis.
“We’re here.” Her voice was flat and devoid of emotion.
Other than a quick look in her direction he didn’t acknowledge her voice change. “Okay. Percy, guard the women.” His son stepped up, pulled his gun out and turned away from the women, showing them his back. Their backs were up against a tree.
Wyatt said, “I shall return ladies. Try not to move.” Lily turned to watch him as he approached the cave with the other four men.
I'll post the next chapter tomorrow!! Until then, have a blessed day!! :)