Tales of the First – The Men With Guns Part One

April 5th, 2019  |  Published in Tales of the First  |  2 Comments

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Sienna’s mother Margaret fussed over her when she picked her up. Her father Robert was out of town at a conference but he called as soon as the phone network was back up and was obviously just as frantic.

“Are you sure you’re okay, sweetpea?” he asked after she’d told him about Lucy’s collapse. “I think so, Dad,” Sienna said. “It was scary but whatever that gas was it didn’t have the same effect on me it did on Lu and she’s going to be fine even though they’re keeping her in for observation.”

“She’s lucky to have such cool-headed friends as you, Charlotte and Wendy,” he said. “If you hadn’t borrowed that wheelchair–”

“Oh, Lord, the wheelchair!” Sienna said. “The police took it. I hope they’re returning it.”

“I’m sure they will, sweetpea,” he said soothingly. “They’re probably just testing it for residue first.”

“I hope so,” Sienna said. “I don’t think my allowance would stretch to paying for a wheelchair.”

“We’ll sort something out if it’s gone missing,” her father said. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

“But the convention–”

“Screw the convention,” he said. “You’re more important than that. I’d be home already but the trains aren’t running into Castleham because the station was damaged so I’m on the coach and won’t be in until the small hours.”

Sienna stared at the phone, uncertain what shocked her more. The fact her father had just sworn, however mildly, or the fact he’d left an important conference to hurry back. The last time he’d done that was when she’d come down with appendicitis when she was twelve.

“I’m fine, dad,” she said. “You didn’t have to do that.”

“No, sweetpea,” he said. “I really did. I would just have worried myself sick about you if I tried to stay.”

Sienna couldn’t help smiling at that. “Thanks, Dad.”

“You’re welcome,” he said. “Now I know you’re probably wound up after such an exciting day but do try and get some sleep.”

“I will, dad,” she agreed. “At least I think I will. I’m actually pretty tired.”

“I’m sure,” he said. “But things like this tend to stick in the head.”

“Sienna!” he mother called from the kitchen. “Say good night to your father. Dinner’s ready.”

“Gotta go, Dad,” Sienna said obediently. “Mum says dinner is ready.”

“I heard,” he said. “Goodnight, sweetpea.”

“Night, Dad.” Sienna ended the call reluctantly and headed to the kitchen. It was testament to how worried her mother was about her that she’d cooked Sienna’s favourite pepperoni pizza rather than something healthier but less tasty. Of course it had a wholemeal base and she’d made the whole thing from scratch but that just made it better. Sienna just wished she was hungry enough to do her mother’s efforts justice but her stomach was still churning over what had happened and instead she found herself picking at it unenthusiastically.

“Not hungry, huh?” her mother asked softly. “I’m not surprised after what you’ve been through, but you do need to eat something.”

“I know,” Sienna said. “But my stomach is churning.” She stared at the pizza for a moment then forced herself to pick up a slice and take a bite. “Thanks, mum.”

She only managed to eat one slice but she felt a bit better afterwards but it did seem to satisfy her mother who simply put the rest the pizza in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch.

“I think I’ll go to bed now,” Sienna said even though it was only early evening. “I’m really tired.”

“I’m not surprised.” Her mother hugged her and kissed her forehead. “Sleep well, sweetie.”

After an hour of tossing and turning while the events of the afternoon replayed on a loop in her head Sienna realised that she was not going to fall asleep easily so got up and padded downstairs.

“Mum.” Sienna poked her head into the lounge where her mother was sitting watching the news. “I’m going to make myself some warm milk.”

“Okay, sweetie,” her mother looked around. “Trouble settling down.”

“Yeah,” Sienna said. “Every time I close my eyes I see what happened.”

“Not surprising,” her mother said. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“Not yet.” Sienna slipped into the kitchen and heated herself a mug of milk before returning to the lounge.

“Anything changed?” she asked, nodding towards the television.

“Not really,” her mother said. “I don’t know why I’m watching it.” She picked up the remote and flicked through the channels until she found a documentary about the middle ages. “I’ve seen the same report several times and it just makes me think about how you could have been one of the hurt or dead people.”

“Did a lot of people die?”

“Quite a few,” her mother said sadly. “Not just the ones that some bastard shot, but quite a few people who had the same symptoms as Lucy but didn’t get help in time and a couple who were unlucky and got lacerations bad enough they bled to death.”

“Ugh!” Sienna said. “I’m glad Wendy realised that we needed to get to inside… do they know what caused it yet?”

“The first thing was a meteor that exploded in the air,” her mother said. “The fog is still a mystery as are the shootings. They don’t think they are related.”

Sienna snorted sceptically and sipped her milk. “It seems a bit too coincidental.”

“Coincidences do happen, Sienna.”

“So someone happened to release a mysterious gas at the same time a meteor explodes overhead while someone else goes on a shooting spree?”

“Well when you put it like that… but how would they have known about the meteor?”

Sienna threw her arms in air. “I don’t know, that’s part of why I can’t sleep. This whole situation is way too scary.”

Her mother didn’t reply but just pulled her into a hug. Sienna hugged back before pulling away to finish her milk.

“Let’s watch the documentary instead,” Sienna said. “I’m sure the experts will figure it out in the end.”

“I hope so,” her mother said.

The documentary did provide a nice distraction and between it and the warm milk Sienna felt comfortably sleepy by the time it finished. She was just considering getting up and going upstairs when her mother popped a granny blanket over her and offered her a cushion.

“Stay down here,” her mother suggested, “You’ll probably be less anxious if you know you’re not alone.”

“Okay.” Sienna took the pillow and curled up on the sofa.

It seemed there was something to that because Sienna soon drifted off into a surprisingly dream-free sleep.

***

When she woke the next morning she was in her own bed. She lay there staring at the plain white ceiling as the events of the previous day came to back her. She still couldn’t make sense of what had happened and who had carried her her to bed? Mum was probably too small.

That last question at least got an answer when there was a quiet rap on the bedroom door before her father came in with a breakfast tray.

“Morning, Sweetpea,” he said. “You were fast asleep on the sofa when I got in about 3am, so I put you to bed.” He put the tray on the bedside table and smiled at her. “I thought you deserved breakfast in bed after what you went through yesterday.”

Sienna was about to say she wasn’t hungry when her stomach rumbled and she realised that she was. “Thanks, dad,” she said as she sat up and pulled it towards her.

“Anne rang,” he said. Sienna straightened up quickly and looked at him. Anne was Lucy’s mother.

“Oh! Is Lu okay? She seemed to be getting better last night.” Sienna asked.

“She’s fine,” he reassured her quickly. “She’s off oxygen and feels much better but theu’re keeping her in hospital for observation for another couple of days because they still don’t know what happened. Anne wants to thank you for getting Lucy to the hospital. She’d probably be dead if you hadn’t.”

“Thank goodness,” she said. “Have things settled down in the town?”

“A bit, though the town centre is a wreck and will likely be a mess for weeks if not months.” He sat of the edge of her bed. “And they still can’t explain the gas or the shootings. I think they’d assume the gas was some sort of volatile from the meteor but all the witnesses and the mobile phone camera footage indicate it came from the ground.”

“It did.” Sienna nodded as started eating her breakfast. “And it was magenta too which is even more weird. Whoever heard of a magenta gas?”

“The colour is odd,” her father agreed. He reached over and ruffled her hair. “But I’m more worried by the fact that there is a murderer loose in the area. The police are certain it’s safe to go out but still I’d be happier if they had someone in custody.”

“Yeah,” Sienna agreed though she remained silent on the fact that she thought she might be a special target for the killer. It would just worry her parents if they believed her and more likely they wouldn’t when she explained why.

“Oh, Wendy called as well,” he said. “She’s okay as well and says that she’s coming over later.” He rose to his feet. “Anyway we need some milk so I’m going to the shops. Hopefully there hasn’t been a run on them.” He gave her a hug. “I’ll see you later, sweetpea.”

Wendy arrived late morning and had a slightly harried look on her face when Sienna’s mother let her in. It was a look Sienna knew all too well.

“Are your mum and Keith arguing again?” Sienna asked as she sat back down at her computer and continued scanning through hashtags about Castleham to see what people were saying. Keith was Wendy’s stepfather and something of a bully in Sienna’s opinion.

Wendy sighed and nodded. “For a certain value of argue where you mean him screaming at mum until she gives in. It got really bad this time.” She looked down before grinning viciously. “Martin physically kicked him out of the house this time. I think that really shocked the bastard – that his own son would side against him.”

“Go, Martin!” Sienna said.

“Yeah,” Wendy said then sobered. “But I’m worried it will make things worse because you know she’s not ready to admit there’s a problem yet. So she’ll probably let him back in. Martin says he’s going to talk to her.”

“Ah!”

“Yeah. Mum’s still fixated on the fact he’s a genius. I really don’t understand how someone so intelligent can be so mean and stupid when it comes to women. But we should get down to business.” Wendy peered over her shoulder at Twitter. “Anyone said anything useful?”

“Not really,” Sienna said. “Lots of wild theories all of which seem unlikely but any of which could be true given that there aren’t actually any likely theories.” She lowered her voice to make sure her parents wouldn’t hear. “So where’s this place you think I can practice?”

Wendy gave a half-grin. “Mine and Martin’s secret base.”

“You have a secret base?” Sienna said. “Why don’t you just rent a warehouse like most robot fighting geeks?”

“Well, you know how Keith is about me being involved in ‘Martin’s hobby’. It’s not suitable for a girl.” She scowled at the wall. “Like Martin could build a robot – he’s a programmer not an engineer. I’m only allowed to study science because Keith thinks I want to be a nurse. Is he in for a shock. He’s obviously forgot I don’t need his money to go to university – I have dad’s trust fund – which Keith and mum can’t touch – for that. But anyway, it’s out of the way so you can practice safely.”

“It’s also trespassing by the sounds of it,” Sienna said mildly.

Wendy waved that concern away lightly. “Nope. It’s technically mine. It was one of Dad’s that he bough to redevelop into student flats. That fell through due to planning issues but it’s still on the portfolio. If the company sells it or actually moves to redevelop it we’ll move but it’s derelict for now and no one else goes there.” She paused then added. “But I had to tell Martin what was happening since it’s his base as well.”

“That’s okay,” Sienna said. “Martin is cool.”

“He is,” Wendy said. “But I don’t think he believed me about you.”

“Can you blame him?” Sienna asked.

Wendy snorted. “No, not really. He’s coming to see for himself. Shall we go?”

“I’m not sure mum and dad will let me out today and I don’t blame them, not with a mass shooter still on the loose in town.”

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2 Responses to “Tales of the First – The Men With Guns Part One”

  1. White Tiger says:

    I really love this. Is the government involved?? I like that Sienna has a good friend base for this. Martin sounds interesting and so does Wendy’s home life. Hope that all stay safe!

    • torvawk says:

      Well,

      Becca sure has hinted that there may be a coverup in progress. So, the government being involved is not unreasonable. However, Becca tends to like her plot layers. I suspect, that while the government may show up, it will be a front for something bigger.

Leave a Reply to White Tiger