About My Book.. Some More

 

I’m really looking for feedback. I have hit a wall of writing lately. I know that it is mostly due to lack of planning than lack of content. This is Chapter Fifteen. Tell me hate it. Tell me you love it. Tell me I have typos. Tell me that I should keep my day job. Seriously. Rip it apart. (More can be found at ChapterBuzz… No I’m not a masochist, I just need a reality check)

Valerie held Scotts arm tight and rested her head on his shoulder in the back of the package truck while he gently stroked her hair with his free hand. She was almost complete. Having her husband by her side made the entire journey seem very trivial. She was minutes from reuniting with her son and would have time to truly rest. With Scott she could figure out how to take on the CDC and free the rest of her family.

Twenty minutes passed since they left her home for the resort. With no windows in the back compartment they only saw strips of light at the seams of the door but she could hear Griffin snoring. There was no doubt Hyka was napping as well. Aaron and Austin were in the cab in their new blue uniforms, navigating to the resort.

“I’m so sorry,” Scott whispered in the dark and kissed her head. “I had no idea you were in danger. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help you. I’m sorry I wasn’t with our son. I had to wait an entire day to get word that you were alright. They had me take a train to get the affected in Kansas and said I could pick up Caleb and meet you. I can’t believe I helped them.”

“They were probably hoping you would lead them to Caleb. I am so thankful for Gia. I am glad it was her. Did you know my dad actually hired her? Remember how I wanted the other nanny, but she declined at the last minute? I guess that was all Dad’s handy work.” Valerie smiled and found her husband’s hand. “How lucky are we? I love you more than anything.”

“I love you so much.” Scott kissed her hand.

She held him tighter has the truck turned into the resort parking lot. When it had stopped, Austin and Aaron got out of the cab and walked around to open the back to release its occupants. The afternoon sky was thick with clouds that threatened rain. Like most of their journey, there was no one around. The parking lot was quiet and only a few cars were left in the lot. No one came in or out of the building and the power seemed to have been turned off. The sliding doors stayed open and warm humid air blew from the inside like the building was breathing. There were only a few people in the lobby that quickly disappeared when they saw the uniforms.

“It’s this way.” Valerie led the way in a jog to the farthest corner of the hotel. She knew this was where she would find him. The clue was so clever, but no doubt this was exactly what Gia intended to convey with the French birthday card. Valerie ran down a hallway that opened to a giant atrium. A stream that ran through the hotel was stagnant and smelled lightly of algae. She followed it around to a bridge. The artificial island hosted a cluster of restaurants and “Little Venice” where she had taken Gia for her birthday. It was completely empty, and with a quick once over she decided there were no more clues.

“The room is on the third floor. 356. She quickly found the stairs, heart pounding, and ran up as fast as she could. 395 was the first room. She sprinted down the balcony of rooms that overlooked the restaurants and the stream. Each room she passed she ran faster until she came to the room. Her heart in her stomach, the door was open. Without bothering to knock she pushed the door open to see Gia face down on the bed.

“Gia? Oh, Gia!” At the sound of Valerie’s voice Gia lifted her head and looked at her. She had fresh blood coming from a cut on her lip and a significant bump on the side of her forehead. Tears poured down her face, she shook her head to Valerie. Caleb was not there.

Valerie collapsed on the floor as Griffin walked in and lifted the girl from the bed and held her tight. He brushed the hair off her head wound to examine it and kissed her mouth.

“They took him, just left. I didn’t know they were watching the house. They must have planted microphones. They knew exactly where we were. I’m so sorry. I tried to stop them.” Gia cried to Griffin. He cradled her head and reassured her. Valerie watched like it was a movie, like it was not happening. She was numb to even her own grief. Scott stood next to her in the door way equally devastated. Something caught his eye and he move across the room to a sitting chair. He picked up Caleb’s blanky, held it to his chest and looked back at Valerie.

Lights in the room sprang to life, music could be heard down toward the island and the pumps began moving the water in the stream. Valerie stood up, confused. Loud rumbling came from overhead.

“Planes.” Austin said entering the room. Then he stopped and looked at the two on the bed. The sprinkler heads popped down from the ceiling and began spraying everywhere.

“No,” Austin whispered. He looked over at Scott when the electricity exploded into the room.

“Valerie stop!” Aaron yelled over the volume of the surge.

“It’s not me,” as the words left her mouth, Scott was hit by the electricity, then Griffin, then Gia who was still in his embrace.

Valerie screamed as she watched the Scott fight the pain. She reached out to him to pull the energy but it simply transferred through her continuing its path to the couple on the bed. She wanted it to stop. She tried to control it, but could not. She wrapped her arms around Scott and held him as tight as she could. What felt like an eternity was about fifteen seconds, then the current, sprinklers, and all power stopped at once. Still screaming, she lowered Scott’s weight to the ground. Austin fell to his knees at the site of his dear friend still embracing the young woman on the bed. Screams could be heard from outside the open door behind him. Aaron held Hyka out on the balcony as she stared blankly at the destruction.

“Phase two,” she said to no one in particular. Valerie knew she was referring to the CDC’s next phase. Austin had seen it in his dream. He had known they were going to lose Griffin, Gia and Scott. Valerie thought they could stop it from happening. Her pain quickly turned into anger. She kissed her deceased husband on his forehead and stood. She did not dare look toward the bed at her friends that had also been taken. She moved past Austin who was still sitting on his knees and out the door to the balcony.

“There are survivors. Like us. We need to bring everyone together, as many as we can find. They have taken everything from us. I’m going to take it back.” She clenched her teeth so hard fighting the tears, but could not stop them. Just as her knees buckled Aaron swooped her up like a child can carried her to the next room. He kicked it in easily. The room was covered in water but vacant. He stood her on her feet, opened the closet and handed her a dry robe.

“Change your clothes.” He did not ask her and she did not argue. She could not think, but went through the motions mindlessly. She turned the light on without touching the switch and closed the bathroom door. As she took her clothes off, she realized that they had been burned and left very little covered. Her boots had even melted from the incident. She removed her garments and covered herself with the soft hotel robe similar to the one that hung outside of her own shower at home. Scott had bought it for her. Everything reminded her that, though his body was in the next room, his soul was gone. She pulled open the door to receive her set of directions. Aaron had flipped the mattress of the bed offering a dry place to lay down. He had also pulled out the sofa bed and had already taken his own boots off, laid down, and closed his eyes. She knew he was not sleeping. How could any of them sleep?

Valerie opened the mini refrigerator and without glancing at the labels, grabbed three small plastic bottles. One by one she drank. Grief dulling her senses, she was unable to taste the alcohol.  She tossed the empty bottles in the trash can and crawled on the mattress. She laid down facing the wall and just stared waiting for the liquid to take effect. The hole in her heart suddenly felt like it would swallow her. She felt so empty. She did not want to talk or even breathe. It shook her soul and with her tears came a scream so loud that the roar of the planes continuously flying low outside were no match. She pulled a wet pillow into her and squeezed it so close to her body. She buried her face into it so hard it hurt, trying to stifle the emotional pain that wrecked her being.  Every time she would open her eyes something would trigger a memory. A small desk lamp reminded her of Caleb’s bedroom and how Scott would turn it on and hold Caleb during thunderstorms to keep him from being scared. Scott was everywhere. There was not one thing in this world that would not bring his memory back to her mind, ripping her apart over and over again. For hours she sat like this, rocking back and forth, cycling through various intensities of sobs. Finally her exhaustion caught up with her, and she fell asleep.

In the middle of the night Valerie was awoken by the phone ringing and a small red little blinking in the pitch. She looked to the lamp next to it and it popped but did not light. The bulb had broken. She groped in the dark for the receiver.

“Hello?” she was still groggy and unsure of where she was.

“Ms. Russel, I am so sorry for your loss,” a man’s voice said on the other end. The death of her husband the day before seemed like a horrible dream, but the slimy voice that had an audible smile brought back the reality of the situation far to quickly.

“Thank you, Dr. Jarrett,” Valerie answered politely. He knew where she was and that her husband was gone. He could be watching her with the security cameras in the hotel. She knew she had to be careful of what she said and did to not give herself away.

“It is my pleasure to inform you that young Caleb is safe and having a great time with Grandpa Burton. Would you like to talk to him?” The mere suggestion choked her.

“Say hi to Mommy, Caleb.”

“Hi Mommy!” Caleb’s sweet voice was completely oblivious to the situation and fate of his father.

“Hi, Sweetie-Petey.” Valerie could not help but cry from heartbreak and relief. She had to play Lucas Jarrett’s game now. That had been his plan from the beginning. He needed her and she would do anything for Caleb. “I love you so very much, Baby. You be good for Grandpa and Uncle Johnny.”

“I love you, too, Mommy.”

“Now, Ms. Russell, I would send a vehicle for you, but now that I no longer have drivers, this would require me to make a personal appearance. As it is, since you have yet to cooperate, this has put us significantly behind schedule and I must tend to matters here. I also understand that you are capable of operating your own vehicle. So, neighbor, why don’t you take a trip down the street and come see your family. They miss you.” Dr. Jarrett maintained his audible amusement while Valerie fought to keep her frustration and tears silent. She had to pull herself together and buy some time to develop a plan.

“Please let me bury my husband. You can expect us this evening.” She did not wait for a response before ending the call. Hearing her son’s voice left no question in her mind of where she was going next. She had to look forward or she would lose herself in the trauma of the previous day. It was so unfair that the world continued without recognizing Scott’s death. Why did Lucas Jarrett get to go on and he did not? Valerie laid back down on the bed and closed her eyes. She cried until she fell back to sleep.

Hyka pushed the door open and it slammed against the wall, causing Aaron to jump to his feet from the sofa bed, but Valerie did not move. She knew she was no longer being hunted. They could not take anything else from her.

“You up?” Hyka asked Aaron who was caught off guard and could not articulate his anger at being woken up. He huffed trying to find the words.

“Everyone is waiting at that France place downstairs.” Valerie got up from the bed and walked past Hyka out the door to the balcony. There were about fifty college aged kids assembled at the restaurant with a few smaller children. One girl held a tiny baby.

“We gathered everyone in the hotel. The power surge took their age, or whatever, so they all look like that. There is about seven others, not including ours. We collected the casualties in one area to say some nice words.” Hyka tried to be as sensitive with the facts as her vocabulary would allow.

“Where is Scott?”

“They are still in the room. We laid him on the other bed. We knew you would not want us to move him without you knowing.” Valerie nodded and was satisfied with the answer. She remembered how Hyka used to scare her, but now she found her to be something steady in her life that she could count on.

“Dad wants to give Scott and Griff military honors. It won’t be one hundred percent protocol but it would mean a lot to him. Also, there is a backhoe out in the far south parking lot. If you could help us out with that, it would save us hours of digging.” Hyka was the best person to handle these details, and Valerie was thankful someone had taken the lead. Despite sleeping hard, she still did not feel like herself. She had horrible vertigo and she felt weak. She gave an approving nod to Hyka to proceed with all plans for the deceased. She looked again to the group gathered at the restaurant wondering how she was going to rally these people to action so soon after many of them where hurting from loss. Valerie turned to address her friends who were exchanging whispers of their own. Valerie lost her balance and fell backward hitting her back on the balcony before falling to the floor. Aaron caught her head and guided it to the ground as her eyes rolled back.

When she came to, she was in the room Aaron had taken her to the night before. She had been stripped of her robe, but dry blankets were pulled up to her chin and she had an IV hung next to the bed.

“You feeling alright? You got dehydrated and passed out. I am disappointed that three little shooters would knock a DiaZem on her ass,” Hyka joked trying to keep the mood light.

“I’m so sorry,” Valerie began to cry. Just when she needed to lead them to vengeance and victory, she could hardly keep her eyes open. She was broken.

“You need to rest. There is no hurry.” Aaron spoke up from the other side of the room.

“If you help me outside, I can help with digging. Not physically obviously, but I could probably keep it going. I need some air. This place is so humid.” Valerie needed to occupy her mind. Sitting in a room, unstimulated let her thoughts wander back to Scott and the fact he was gone. She also needed to talk to Aaron outside and away from any surveillance the CDC had access to. There might not be anywhere safe, but being around heavy machinery could offer a better environment for secrecy.

“No,” Aaron said with a paternal authority. “You’ve been out for two hours and frankly you look horrible. There were a few volunteers from the group to help outside. No one needs to see you like this. Just rest.”

Anger welled up in Valerie’s throat. She understood what he meant but denying her human emotion in front of the masses was infuriating. All things considered, she felt her current state to be easily justified.

“I am going outside. Someone will drive that truck thing and we all need to talk. Get my clothes from the truck, and something to eat. I am starving.” Valerie felt a tinge of guilt for being so demanding, but she did not want to divulge too much of her suspicions. She had told Dr. Jarrett they would be there by the evening, but at the rate things were going, they would not make on time.

Outside, the air was notably cooler and refreshing compared to the dank humid air of the resort. The sky was the same overcast as the day before, but evidence of a past rain still covered the ground. Valerie walked independently to the area where the backhoe was and where they would say good bye to their loved ones. Five young men were already working in the area, three digging and two breaking down furniture to fashion wooden crosses to mark each plot. They rotated these jobs before noticing her approach.

The backhoe’s engine turned over with ease, but startled the workers out of their focused tasks. Aaron gave a thumbs up to one of the workers who took up a position in the driver seat of the truck and wasted no time getting started.

“Dr. Jarrett called last night. He has Caleb and is expecting us to arrive this evening. He knew exactly where I was and what had happened to Scott. I imagine he is tapped into the hotel surveillance. I’m going to just air on the side of caution and just assume that he can see and hear everything, regardless of where we are.” Valerie stopped and took a seat on a parking curb close enough to the running machine that her three companions had to strain to hear her. “The only way to face this is to face it head on. We have to go in. But aside from that, I have no idea how to fight this.”

Austin exhaled hard and rubbed his brow. “I’m not going with you. Someone needs to stay back and gather reinforcements. If you can’t fix things from inside someone has to figure out a different angle. Valerie, I do not doubt your ability to see this through, but you might find yourself in need of pocket Aces.”

Aaron nodded in agreement which helped Valerie. She did not have the energy to argue. She understood Austin was looking out for her.

“I’m going in.” Hyka said in case anyone wondered where she stood on the matter. Valerie smiled and nodded.

“I’m coming,” Aaron said next. “I’ll meet up with your old man and brother, try to pull others into our cause. Once they know the fate of everyone they left behind, it should be easy to host a revolt from the inside. Then all you have to do, Val, is play the game.”

“How long do you think all this will take?” Valerie asked motioning to the men making progress on the make-shift cemetery.

“As long as you’re up to it, a couple of hours. Once we get two or three done on this side, we can move down the way and dig more. Give people room to pay their respects while they’re still working. We’ll do Scott, Griff and Gia’s last before we leave, but it’s going to be late. We should wait until morning to move,” Aaron suggested. His expression was that of concern.

Valerie shrugged, “Dr. Jarrett knows where to find me if I’m late.  What else could they do?”

It started to rain.

The Personality Book Tag

I follow a blog called Trice Read that posted this tag today. I use Meyers Briggs personality types to help me develop characters.

If you want you can do this tag, I’m not going to tag a bunch of people but I’m curious to see what your personality is!

Get your free MBTI personality test at Sixteen Personalities or Personality Page.

All pictures in this post were borrowed from the Sixteen Personalities website.


What is your MBTI personality type?

So I retake this test often. I thought that the INFJ fit me to a T, but T must stand for “today” because after taking the test it says I am an ENFJ, but in my defense  extrovert and introvert are pretty split down the middle. So I’ll play the game today. I have the “Protagonist” personality which I absolutely love.

“Protagonists are natural-born leaders, full of passion and charisma. Forming around two percent of the population, they are oftentimes our politicians, our coaches and our teachers, reaching out and inspiring others to achieve and to do good in the world.”

What is your personality like?

I’m basically not shy and have a strong personality. I radiate authenticity, concern and altruism. I am genuine to a fault. I never have a hidden agenda because I find secrets and animosity exhausting. I am self aware of my own feelings “but if they get too caught up in another person’s plight, they can develop a sort of emotional hypochondria, seeing other people’s problems in themselves, trying to fix something in themselves that isn’t wrong.”

If you were a character in a book, what would be some of you character strengths and flaws?

Fluctuating self-esteem is a common theme for me. I only feel validated when I have reached the standard of outstanding that I know is my best work. Mediocrity makes me nervous and often causes me to question my abilities in everything versus just the one area that I succeeded at but was not my best work.

I am also super sensitive to my own emotions. I do act emotionally but I make this ridiculous attempt to make logical plans in response to my extreme emotional reactions.

Do any authors share your personality type?

Barack Obama, Oprah, MLK, Johnny Depp.

What fictional characters share your personality type?

enfjenfj2

I’m not overly excited about any of these.

If you were a character in a book, what job would you have?

“This attitude, alongside their social skills, emotional intelligence and tendency to be “that person who knows everybody”, can be adapted to quite a range of other careers as well, making Protagonists natural HR administrators, event coordinators, and politicians – anything that helps a community or organization to operate more smoothly.”

What personality type would complete your OTP?

Some one with a lot of patience and the ability to work through things for the ultimate goal of being happy and work toward that goal continuously. If at any point I feel that I am the only one trying to make it work, or the other person does something to hurt me, I immediately wonder if my efforts will even make a difference.

Who are some fictional characters that would complete your OTP?

Jon Snow. Easy. (He’s an INFJ)

What do you guys think? Would your personality match up with mine?

Hold the Phone, I am an Author!!

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OMG Mom, You’re AMAZING!!

My writing and novel are being show cased!! Please hop over to What Inspires Your Writing to check it out!! Follow the links to my novel and make it #1 on the charts (I’m currently #2!!)

 

Apparent Power

My novel is being showcased today!!!! He makes it sound so good and really captures the intensity far better than I could articulate of my own work. This is so exciting!!

A young nurse. An apocalyptic disaster that awakens a dormant gene in a small segment of the population. To a ruthless government bent on morphing into a totalitarian regime, these genes are useful, but Valerie Russell’s even rarer genes are indispensable. Stranded in central Colorado, a hundred miles from home—and from her two-year-old son—Valerie quickly […]

via A novel takes shape: Apparent Power by Dacia Arnold — What Inspires Your Writing?

Challenge Update: 1/2 Way There

 

IMG_0589Holy Cheese-Its!! We are half way through the month and my 10,000 word challenge and I am excited to share that even though I spent the first half of the month editing existing content, I am on target to finish strong and have written 5,300 words of new content. I have been averaging about 500 words a day, so I might even reach the goal before the end of the month.

If you’re late to the show you can read the workings of my novel, DiaZem.
“So when the month is over and the challenge is done, what will you do?”
 
When the month is over, I will be half way finished with the entire first draft. (Novels are typically 100,000 words).
November is National Novel Writing Month. This is another challenge but on a much larger scale. NaNoWriMo is highly recognized in the literary world. The challenge includes writing 50,000 words in a single month!!! If I can complete this, I WIN NaNoWriMo!! And, even more rewarding, the first draft of my novel will be complete. This idea alone seems very surreal to me.
Between now and then, I have decided to work on a family piece that I may or may not publish depending on the progress made. I have decided to focus on the legacy of my grandmother and maybe do a compilation of stories about her and her life.
I will also turn my focus back to my blog and possibly begin the marketing process for DiaZem.
This is a big year for me and my writing and I am so happy you have been apart of it. If you’d like to be removed from my emails, just let me know, I totally get it. Cheers!!!

Six Facts Saturday- Writing Challenge

I announced last month that I would be participating in a writing challenge which would limit my ability to post on my blog regularly. In the past 11 days I have edited 14 chapters and have added almost 2,000 new words to my original manuscript. This puts me about 1400 words behind the rest of the group. Since it had been over a year since I had read the original work, it was important to consistency that I went back and did some cleaning up. If I maintain about 500 words a day for the rest of the month, I will win the challenge.

Here are a couple of things I have learned so far:

  1. I learned how to move forward with my story. I had been stuck for so long that I am super excited for where this is going.
  2. Having people read and want to continue reading my book has been a huge motivator.
  3. I have learned that the current draft is simply a bare bones story line and lacks in emotion and description. The second and third draft, I intent to beef it up as far as cleaning it up and adding more elegant writing. “She was angry.” is about the extent of my descriptions right now.
  4.  Writing every single day is hard, but 500 words is not such a tall order even when I am pressed for time. It’s not stressful to sit with an expectation of a page and a half. Mostly because I finally know where it is going.
  5. Writing every single day is easy, but getting the movie that is playing out in my head into written words that not only make sense but are interesting to read is very intimidating.
  6. There are so many other talented writers out there!!! There are stories of every genre entered in this challenge and they have taught me a thing or two about my own writing.
    1. A Crack in the Mirror is a fantasy story
    2. P.S. is another good one with a strong female protagonist

So many more stories (including MINE) can be found at ChapterBuzz.com

Thank you again, everyone who has read and given me feedback. I stopped posting publicly after chapter 9, so if you get to the point of needing more, I’d be happy to send you the rest.

Sneak Peek! (My Book)

So, I keep talking about writing a book. But for the last year and a half that’s all its been. Talk. So this month I am actually working on it. This is the second chapter. You haven’t missed too much, but if you absolutely need to read more you can click HERE for instructions on how to follow my March Writing Challenge. Feedback is welcome and appreciated, including grammatical corrections.

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Two hours into her shift, she still could not shake the doctor from her mind, so she kept busy. She completed her daily responsibilities including catching and fixing the errors in paperwork from the previous shift. She cleaned the entire facility and hoped that they would see at least one patient that day, otherwise she would need to find more to keep her mind busy. She reached for her coffee, and realized it had been empty for some time. She tried for her water bottle but was empty as well. Feeling slightly defeated, she walk past the nurse’s station with her rehearsed smile.

“Is it typically like this? Do you think we will get patients around lunch time?”

The middle aged man pulled the bud from his ear with an exaggerated smack of his lips and dramatic fling of his wrist.

“Girl, you need to download you a book or something. Nothing exciting is coming through that door anytime soon.” This made Valerie smile a true smile. “What’s your name, Girl?”

“Oh, I’m Val. I usually work up in Denver. I’m covering for Shawna.” The nurse looked up from the paperback book she was involved in. She looked old enough to be Valerie’s mother with a sweet smile and deep wrinkles about her eyes.

“Hi Val. I’m Betty.”

Of course you are, Valerie thought.

“…and this is Roy. Don’t mind him.” Betty motioned toward Roy like swatting at a bug.

“Well, Betty, it’s nice to meet you both. I’m headed to the break room for coffee. Do either of you need anything?”

“No, Honey, I’m good.” Roy replied as he replaced his ear bud and continued with whatever he was doing.

“Oh, you know, I will probably be back there in a few.” Betty smiled again. Valerie thought Betty was welcoming and genuine; rare in the profession of emergency nursing but refreshing.

The break room was spacious. It had two mounted TVs high on the wall. One played satellite TV; the other streamed various security cameras in and around the facility.   Neither TV seemed to be functioning properly. The one reserved for entertainment was static and the security monitor flashed black, to static, to a clear image and back to black. Lucky the windows lining two sides of the room allowed her to see if she needed to return to the front office to check someone in.

Hoping another cup of coffee and some water would ease her agitation, she scanned the choices of single serving coffee as there was no coffee pot. All the tiny cups boasted of Medium Roast or Breakfast Blends. She chose two medium roasts. Maybe if she concentrated them by using the smallest setting, they would be strong enough for her taste. As she grabbed the milk from the refrigerator, she noticed her hand shaking. This was now getting to an extreme that she knew could lead to trouble. She began to take inventory of herself. Cool but sweaty, shaky, dry mouth. Maybe she did not drink enough water or had forgotten to eat. She lost the grip on the milk which fell and exploded on the floor. Panicking, she began quickly rummaging through the refrigerator to find juice of any kind. She found sodas and flavored waters all open and half empty. She felt herself starting to become disoriented, and her vision was narrowing. She spotted it; a single serving carton of orange juice. Without caring who it belonged to, she sat at the table and drank at least half of it before taking a breath. She scooted her chair to the water dispenser, filled one of the plastic cups it offered and began sipping until the shakes were gone. For a split second, she considered telling Betty what had happened. The nurse would at least want her to get checked out. Valerie would be forced to be Dr. Wilkes focus for however long it took to run tests. This was not her first fainting episode. Aside from what she had done already, there was nothing a doctor would suggest differently. It was an easy decision for her to keep the incident to herself. She stood slowly making sure the worst was over, and proceeded to the storage closet for cleaning supplies, careful not to slip on the puddle of milk on the floor. Just as the door shut, the closet light got brighter and brighter until it exploded with a deafening crack. Everything went black.

When her eyes opened, the room was black. She strained for her eyes to focus and could make out a faint light being emitted under the door of the supply room. She lifted her face from the cold linoleum. She must have passed out despite her interventions. Going outside of her normal morning routine threw her off and that was why she had not eaten. The stress of avoiding Dr. Wilkes doubled knowing she should make sure she did not have a concussion from falling. She stretched her jaw, rolled her shoulders, tilted her head carefully side to side, and ran her fingers through her hair.  She found no signs of trauma. She stood slowly thinking to trigger the motion sensor lights, but it remained dark. She groped in the dark for the knob and pulled the door open. The only light was coming from the windows in the breakroom. She also noticed that it was profoundly quiet. No mechanical hum of equipment. Forgetting her original mission, Valerie walked back to the nurse’s station where Betty and Roy both stood looking as disheveled and she felt.

“Girl, what did you do back there?” As the words left Roy’s mouth, the lights and all equipment sprung back to life.

“Oh, the generator must have kicked on. That’s never happened before. I thought maybe something had blown up, it was so loud. I’ll call maintenance and see if we can get someone out here to check it out.” Betty said.

“No, nothing blew up. I was in the supply room. It was so dark in there!” Valerie tried to joke. “Everything seems to be working now. I’ll check and see how long the generator is supposed to last. Hopefully the regular power kicks back on soon or else we might have a short shift.”

“I’m not complaining!” With another smack of his lips, Roy disappeared into the x-ray room to check the equipment’s functions. Valerie returned to the front office. The sun had finally risen above the building, no longer blinding every one inside. As she walked closer to the window, she heard a faint whistle, like a balloon slowly losing its air. With each passing second and each step to the window it grew louder. By the time she reached it, the entire building shook and the sound drown out her every thought. She watched out the window just a moment longer to see the plane fly so low over the building and crash just out of site. She felt the impact in her chest. One after another, planes went down, and more that she could hear but not see from the window. With every explosion, she jumped. She did not even notice Betty screaming for her to get down under her desk. She was mesmerized by the destruction. With each plane, her stomach ached. She was horrified. At the first sign of panic, she switched her brain to turn off emotion. She must keep it together and act. So she began to count them. She counted twelve impacts and could see seven pillars of smoking rising from the various crashes. August spoke from behind her so loud that she jumped again.

“Well I guess there isn’t much we can do if one lands on us.” He said standing behind her looking over her shoulder. She moved passed him mechanically and grabbed the phone off the receiver.

“What are you doing?” He asked. Valerie picked up and slammed the phone three more times before answering the doctor.

“I was going to call 911.”

“No doubt those planes took out some power lines. At this point, I think we are 911. Start prepping charts and supplies. This isn’t going to be over for a while.” Valerie looked toward August for the first time since their meeting that morning. This time, it was not the stellar physique of the doctor that caught her eye. Behind him, through the window she watched a mass of people walking toward their emergency room through stopped traffic. They came from all directions. The crowd could have been two hundred people. None of them had any visible trauma. August turned around once he noticed Valerie’s confused expression was not directed at him and he saw it, too.

“If they are all walking, they can’t be that sick.” August tried to laugh, but he suddenly looked unsure. He walked to Betty who stood, mouth gaping, at the hoards. He delved out orders to his team of three. “Valerie, we are just going to assume this is a mass disaster. Stop them outside. If they are uninjured, not in labor, and are otherwise well, send them home. I will help you triage as much as possible but we do not have the capacity to treat someone that just bumped their head.” He paused and watched for her reaction, like he knew what happened in the closet. There was no way he could have known.

“I got it.” She said, hoping she was dismissed

“Betty. Roy. Split the patients up and collect vitals, medical histories, and get a basic idea of what ailing them.” He finally broke his gaze to collect his jacket, stethoscope, pen and paper before meeting back up with Valerie to walk outside.

“With the plane crashes, there were going to be people with real injuries that require attention. I doubt they come here. Most will go to the main hospitals, but anyone within walking distance will show up here. I have felt strange all day. Like static electricity in the air. It’s weird. It’s gone now but this and when I woke up…” he paused. “My parents used to tell me a story when I was a kid. I just wonder…” August trailed off again. Valerie had not noticed until he mentioned it, but she was no longer shaky or agitated. She felt grounded and strong, her mind incredibly clear. They walked in step with one another through the waiting room.

“Oh my garsh. Oh my garsh! I can’t believe this is happening. What is happening?” Betty kept on. She spoke mostly to herself, rhetorically which faded as they pushed through the glass doors that were not functioning.

As people started to gather in the parking lot, it became evident that there were no injuries. Even more strange was that they were all in exceptional health.

“Raise your hand if you are a patient.” She addressed the crowd. Fifty people raised their hands. All appearing healthy.

“Is there anyone here that is bleeding?” She paused but no one responded. “Anyone with chest pain?” Another pause. “Okay… Broken bones or pain in general?” Still no response.

“Have you done this before?” August asked with a smirk.

“Not in this capacity. When I worked EMS we had a Greyhound bus crash on I-25 north of Monument. There were forty-five on the bus. None of them pretty. Do you care to help me divide and conquer? Just let me know if you need to take someone inside.” They parted and began asking individuals why they were there. It was the same story. They passed out, fell, hit their head. Each one described exactly what she had experienced in the supply closet.

After the fourth repeat, August decided to begin seeing the patients that fell.

“Just bring a handful in at a time. If something more serious comes through, definitely take that in immediately.” She nodded in compliance and he went inside to let the others know.

Valerie led the first group of people into the lobby. It took Valerie two seconds to find the Maximum Occupancy sign on the wall. Eighty-nine. Four of those spots were taken by staff. The lobby held thirty in just a matter of a few minutes. The eleven chairs were more in the way than practical.

“Raise your hand, again, if you are a patient.” She could see out of the main doors more gathering outside waiting to be seen. There was no end in sight. She loudly called out instructions to the group as a whole, passing out forms and identification bracelets. Her biggest obstacle was that the computer and copy machines did not work.

Within fifteen minutes the first six patients were placed in their rooms and more people filtered in through the door. She repeated her instruction and triage questions with the same results. For the first time since the first plane crash, she pulled out her phone. The battery was dead. She tried the office phone, still nothing. Denver International Airport was a twenty minute drive from her home. If planes were going down, they might have gone down there, also. Caleb was her only thought. Her baby was home and she was a hundred miles away. If Scott were home, she would be less anxious, but Gia was just a kid herself. Would she panic and leave him? Would she take him somewhere else? What if a plane…

“Valerie! We need some help back here.” Roy announced obviously flustered. “Girl. Nothing is working. All the equipment is being crazy and we need another set of hands.”

Roy noticed the phone in her hand and the emotion on her face. “We all got people. But we need help.”

Valerie followed him, switching the emotions off again and placing her phone back in her pocket.

“The equipment works fine until you go to put it on so we have to get manual vitals on all these people. Here take these and get started in the lobby.” Roy handed her a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope. “You’re gonna need something to write on.” He tosses her a post-it pad. “Just write their ID number and vitals on it. Make them hand it to us when they come back. This group in here is ready to go.”

Valerie was numb. None of them were sick or hurt. They had all begun to recap their version of the same story.

“I was doing what I normally do and then I felt lightheaded. The next thing I knew, I woke up on the ground. Someone said I passed out for, like, two seconds. I figured I’d get checked out…” The person listened for the story repeated by another. “Isn’t that crazy? I felt weird all morning. Now my body just feels weird, like heavy.” They continued to repeat each other in their own rendition.

“I wonder why everyone didn’t feel it. I saw those planes go down, too, in a field behind my house. Crazy, huh? Lucky they didn’t land right in the middle of the neighborhood.” One man continued rambling. She tried her hardest to listen for the beat of his heart. Tried to focus and count. To drowned out the noise. Her own thoughts were the loudest of any voice in the around her. Caleb. Caleb. CALEB. It made her sick. She had to focus. Any minute, the less serious trauma from the crashes could come pouring in.

“It’s strange that some cars work and others don’t. I had to drift my car to the side and use my e-brake. And I saw others freak out and do the same, but some cars kept going. My phone doesn’t work either.”

“Valerie, come in here for a sec.” August gathered his team into a huddle at the nurse’s station.

“There is nothing wrong with these people. Valerie, I need you to start screening them at the window. If they have no other complaint than passing out, we have to move them out. How many are still waiting?”

“We have fifteen in the lobby signed in and a huge crowd outside. Some have dispersed but otherwise they are loitering and talking amongst themselves. I’m surprised no one has come in from a car accident and I have yet to see anything from the planes. I have yet to truly see a walking wounded aside from a fall. From the talk in the lobby, it’s bad out there. Planes crashing, cars aren’t working.”

“Excuse me!” A firm voice came from the lobby. A tall man wearing a blue uniform with white letters CDC. “Who is in charge here?”

August approached the man and spoke with him briefly before returning to the group.

“Alright, change of plans. All patients that are checked in will go with the CDC group that is waiting outside. Everyone affected by the event today will be placed under observation. Valerie, just make a copy of the patient list for the day and pass it to that guy over there. He’s going to get the patients loaded up. He also has information to give the families.” August spoke with authority but something in his tone was weary. Valerie did not like it either. Something was way off.

After she finished hand writing the list, Valerie watched concerned mothers part with their teenage children and husbands kiss their wives. She still had not told anyone what happened to her. She wanted nothing more than to run out the door and drive as fast as she could. There was so much chaos outside and it was only a matter of time before she would have to face whatever horrors lay ahead of her.

The lobby had finally cleared. The CDC collected the pedestrians that waited outside into a large package car, similar to large mail truck, but was blue with the same CDC logo as on the man’s uniform. She found it particularly unnerving that the CDC people wore what looked similar to a security guard uniforms and not in personal protective suits since the people were taken for observation. As she stepped back to the front desk, the TV in the lobby sprung to life. It was live news coverage in static from a local channel.

“Quarantine has begun for those affected by the electrical surge that spread over the entire world. The CDC has put out the following statement:

At exactly 12:37pm Eastern Standard Time, an electrical surge passed over the entire surface of the Earth. The cause of the surge is unknown but is believed to have multiple points of impact all over the globe. It is uncertain at this time how or what permanent effects this has caused. It seems the surge disabled all airborne vessels and we regrettably report that over 4,000 planes have gone down, as a result. Most motor transportation has also been effected.

The current of electricity has affected certain individuals as well. If you or someone you know had a loss of consciousness, fell, or passed out and reported a numb sensation over their body, the CDC requests that these people contact them at 1-800-CDC-6936.”

The news anchor continued to talk as four stood in silence. Inner turmoil wore obvious on their faces as they each seemed to be fighting their own battle, to stay or to go. The phone rang and startled the group. Gia’s name showed on the caller ID and Valerie jumped at the phone. Silence.

“GIA?!?! HELLO!!!??”

Curses flew from her with tears and anger. Betty softly put an arm on her shoulder and pulled her in to hug her.

“Shhhh. If you need to go, hun, now would be the time. There is no more good any of us can do here. You have a long drive.”

She did not ask permission. She did not look at the doctor or Roy or even acknowledge Betty’s words. She gathered her things and walked out the front door. As she approached her car, no amount of pressure would activate the key fob. She began to get anxious. She manually unlocked and opened the door, threw her things inside. She got in the driver’s seat, shut the door, took a deep breath and shoved the key in the ignition. Another deep breath, she turned the key. Nothing.