Tales of the First – Disaster Part One

March 15th, 2019  |  Published in Tales of the First  |  4 Comments

| Next

A vivid flash of blue in the corner of her eye caught Sienna Munroe’s attention as she and her friends made their way through the Star Centre. She stopped in her tracks and looked longingly at the gorgeous summer dress in the window of River Island. She wanted it – she really wanted it – but there was no way her allowance would stretch that far. Not that her parents were mean. They just couldn’t afford to give her that much money on a regular basis. Not with the economy as it was. Her mother was still looking for works after the company she had worked for folded and the hospital had cut her father”s salary again in April. They didn’t say but Sienna knew they were struggling with the mortgage.

She stared at the dress a moment longer before sighing. She had to be frugal. Perhaps there would be something similar in New Look or Peacock’s but she doubted it. Their clothes were nice enough but not as lovely as that. She only realised how long she had been admiring it when her friends, who had carried on walking, stopped and headed back towards her.

“I could make you a dress like that if you want,” Lucy said. “Tailored is always a better fit than off the peg and buying the material would be a lot cheaper.”

“Oh would you?” Sienna looked around at the athletic brunette who was one of her closest friends. She too was studying the dress as she sipped her banana smoothie.

“Oh, would you?” Sienna asked. “I really want it, but it’s just too much.”

“Of course!” Lucy said. “As long as you buy the fabric and notions and say that I can put the design in my fashion and textile A-level portfolio. It’d be a great piece to have in there. You’ve always had good taste.”

“Of course you can,” Sienna said. “Thank you so much!”

“Great!” Lucy pulled out her mobile phone and snapped a couple of pictures of the dress from different angles. “I’ll need to draft the pattern of course but we can nip to the fabric shop after lunch. Speaking of which, isn’t it time to eat?”

“You want to eat again?” Wendy – Sienna’s other best friend – asked lightly.

“Good grief, Lu, where do you put it all? If I ate that much I’d balloon.” The dark skinned girl grinned in a way that showed that she meant no malice.

“You know where I put it.” Lucy also grinned. “Into training to jump over hurdles very fast. You could eat more if you spent less time holed up who knows where building junkyard robots with Martin.”

“Hey, everybody should have a hobby,” Wendy said. “And designing fighting robots and using them to smash up other robots in the arena is mine.”

“That’s because you’re weird,” Charlotte said. “I’m sounded by weirdoes. But Lu’s right, it’s nearly lunchtime, but can we nip to Boots first? I need some foundation.”

“Good idea,” Sienna tore herself from the window and smiled. “I need some lippy myself.”

Boots was a little way away from the Star Centre, across the High Street and along the road. The four girls ambled through the shopping centre and out into the street where the stalls of the Saturday market were bustling with people enjoying the Spring sunshine. As they walked towards their destination they chatted about where to go for lunch.

Five minutes later they were standing at the make up racks discussing which colours to choose when Sienna noticed one of the security guards standing behind a pillar and trying to be inconspicuous but definitely watching them. She looked back at the rack and whispered about him to the other three. Charlotte glanced over and smirked. “Four teenage girls,” she said wryly. “Clearly he thinks that we’re planning a make-up heist.”

Wendy shook her head and scowled.

“No, it’s me the prat’s watching. He’s stopped me twice in the last month and searched my bag and seems very disappointed when the reeipt matched. He’s done it Munira and Rashid from school as well, apparently. We think he’s just racist.”

Charlotte hissed sharply and made as if to turn around, probably intending to march over and yell at him but Wendy grabbed her wrist and shook her head.

“Please don’t make a scene, Char,” she said softly. “With things as they are you’ll just make it worse. Let’s pay for our stuff and go to Costa like we said.”

Charlotte frowned at her for a moment but obviously took in the anxious way Wendy was looking at her because she nodded reluctantly. “Okay, but if he challenges us I am going to give him a piece of my mind.” She popped the foundation she’d chosen into her basket before heading to tills.

Sienna gave the security guard one final long look, making it clear that they’d seen him, before following the others. He scowled at her before turning to follow a young Muslim woman in a brightly coloured hijab into the dental hygiene section. Sienna watched him a moment longer as she paid for her lipstick then she and her friends headed out into the street again where a couple of nervous looking activists accosted them with leaflets and tried to get them to sign a petition for the National Unity Government to reinstate full General Elections.

“We’re too young to vote,” Charlotte said as the others signed the petition. “What’s the point?”

“Only for a couple more years,” Sienna said. “I don’t like this shower.”

“No one does,” Charlotte said. “But I doubt a petition will help. Let’s go eat, politics makes my head hurt.”

The other girls laughed and they headed across street to Costa.

“It’s such a nice day let’s sit outside,” Wendy said.

Sienna took the money with a sigh. Somehow Charlotte always managed to do this when their little group went shopping together, One day she would get to a table first. Charlotte must have read her expression correctly because she laughed.

“Not a chance,” she said. “I am the queen of table snatching.”

“Sounds like a challenge to me,” Wendy said. “But one for another day. For now Lunch!”

A few minutes later the four of them sat chatting over their coffees and sandwiches as they tried to decide what to do after they visited the fabric shop.

They still hadn’t quite decided when Lucy looked around with a frown.

“Why is everyone staring at the sky?”

“Huh?” Sienna looked around and realised that Lucy was right. A lot of the people in the street had stopped and were staring skywards. Several had their phones out and were pointing them in the same direction. She twisted slightly in her chair to see what they were looking at and grabbed for her own phone as well.

A glowing sphere of light with a silvery tail was carving its way across the cloudless sky in perfect silence.

“What on Earth!” Even as she spoke the sphere exploded in an eerily silent flash of blinding light leaving nothing but a fluffy white contrail in its wake. “Buh?”

Wendy shot to her feet. “Get inside now!” She raised her voice so the other al fresco diners could hear her. “Everyone get inside and away from the windows!” Then when people stared at her blankly. “Seriously? Am I the only one who watched that documentary about the meteorite that exploded over Russia about fifteen years ago?” She grabbed Sienna and Lucy and dragged them towards the coffee shop door. “Come on, Char. When the sound from that explosion finally gets here there’ll be shattered glass and possibly masonry flying everywhere. We need to be in the back of the shop.”

Wendy’s words finally stirred the other three into action and they let her hustle them inside the coffee shop. Some of the other al fresco diners also hurried inside. They huddled at the back of the coffee shop with the baristas and waited.

“It might be a few minutes,” Wendy said as they waited. “It was in Russia.”

Sure enough it was several minutes before the sound of the explosion and a great burst of air rolled through the town shattering windows and smashin masonry just as Wendy had predicted. The noise was deafening in the most literal sense, so loud that it hurt Sienna’s ears and once it finally faded her ears were ringing so badly that she couldn’t hear what the people around her were saying.

She huddled there with the others until the ringing began to subside. Unfortunately that meant she could hear the panicked screams coming from outside now. “I-is it over?” she whispered.

“I think so,” Wendy said. “Let’s see if we can help.” She pulled herself to her feet and headed for the door, or where the door had been. Now there was nothing but a hole and a pile of shattered glass and plastic where the front of the shop had been. They made their way there carefully to discover that the previously clear day had gone dark and the air was clogged with dust.

“Bloody hell!” Wendy said. “It must have been larger or closer than the Russian one. The damage there was nowhere near this bad. I think we should improvise some sort of masks before we head out there.”

They ended up making rudimentary breathing masks by tearing up a couple of the baristas’ aprons and soaking them in water before tying them around their faces and heading out into the dusty gloom.

Outside it looked like a warzone from the news. Some of what had been a cheerful crowd moments before were now wandering around in obvious dazed shock while others were sitting in the street weeping or clinging to each other or their children. Most of the people Sienna could see had at least a few cuts from the shattered glass and quire a few people were lying unconscious in the street, several bleeding from severe lacerations. Wendy knelt down by the nearest one and began applying pressure to the unconscious man’s wound with another apron. Sienna swallowed anxiously and looked around. She wanted to help but she didn’t know first aid and was worried about doing more harm than good.

The dust was slowly settling, coating streets and people alike with a powdery layer of white and yet visibility did not seem to be improving. at all. If anything it was worsening and the air along the street seemed to be taking on a peculiar magenta tint. Sienna looked around for the source and so was one of the first to notice that the magenta was actually from a strange fog which was roiling up from the ground. She tugged on Wendy’s arm and pointed to it. “What’s that?”

Wendy looked up and froze. Sienna guessed that it was only her friend’s first aid training that stopped her releasing the pressure on the man’s wound. “I-I have no idea. A superbolide meteor shouldn’t cause anything like this. I-I don’t know anything that causes magenta fog.” It was only when Wendy’s voice shook that Sienna realised how much of her friend’s calm demeanour was bluff and shock much like her own. “I-I really don’t like this. Something’s very wrong.”

Sienna forced herself not to snap at her friend about the fact that she had noticed that. Instead she took a deep steadying breath. The strange fog had not reached them yet and she wanted to avoid breathing it for as long as possible before having to hope that a mere strip of damp cloth would protect her from it.

“It is,” she agreed. “What shou–” She broke off as the magenta mist reached them, roiling around and engulfing them in seconds. A strange bitter taste filled her mouth and Sienna knew her worst fears were right, the makeshift mask hadn’t helped at all. Fortunately the gas didn’t seem to be having any effect beyond the horrible taste – at least not in the short term.

“Ug! That’s disgusting!” Charlotte made a gagging sound but also seemed otherwise unaffected and Wendy was still determinedly trying to stop the guy she was helping from bleeding to death.

Lucy however made a strangled sound. Sienna turned to find she had collapsed to her knees, clawing at her throat and gasping for breath. Charlotte, who was closest, knelt beside her looking frantic.

“What’s wrong, Lu?”

“C-can’t… breathe…” Lucy managed before collapsing in Charlotte’s arms.

“What do I do, Wendy?” Charlotte asked desperately. “You should know, right?”

“I-” Wendy stared at Lucy, obviously wanting to run and help but then she looked back at the man she was helping. “Uh…”

“I’ll do this, miss.” A middle-aged man knelt down beside Wendy and took over holding the apron over the man’s wound. “Go to your friend.”

| Next

4 Responses to “Tales of the First – Disaster Part One”

  1. White Tiger says:

    I love this. Awesome start. Can’t wait for the next one!! 😊👏🏼

  2. torvawk says:

    Umm… You have been busy if you are starting up yet another story. I am guessing there is some long term effect of the red mist.

    • Rebecca Sutton says:

      I’ve been writing Tales of the First for quite some time actually. And yes, there’s definitely some long term affect of the mist.

Leave a Reply