She went by Alaska. Of course that wasn't the name she was born with, but it was the name she chose for herself. It was a new name for a new world. This one was unkind and unforgiving. Second chances didn't exist; and as she wiped the mutilated flesh off her knife and onto the thigh of her jeans, she was reminded of that sobering fact more than ever before.
"How do you feel about Dirty Dancing?"
An exasperated sigh erupted further down Aisle 9 in the supermarket. A boy with an unusually tall stature for how young he looked turned around and came lumbering back to where his older sister was standing. In her hands were a Dirty Dancing DVD ($9.99) and a bag of Cheetos ($3.49). She looked up at her younger brother who was now standing over her shoulder. "Come on, it's a classic. As your elder I'm morally obligated to make you watch it."
The boy wrinkled his nose in disgust, "It's a chick flick. That's all I need to know." He then turned around and began walking back down the aisle. Reluctantly and with a mournful sigh, the girl put the DVD back on the shelf, and ran to catch up with her lanky brother. After a few moments of silent browsing she turned to the boy who was now holding a box of chocolate ($2.59).
"Well, we can't just spend all night here; you have to choose a movie sometime! I'm tired of spouting out ideas! Mom and dad will be home before we even start movie night if you don't hurry your ass up."
The boy was just about to retort when the fluorescent lights hanging overhead flickered for a moment then went completely out. Shouts from disgruntled shoppers erupted throughout the store. The cries of a frightened child and murmurs of a nervous mother could be heard in the aisle next to the siblings.
"What the…" The brother made an effort to move over to his sister but couldn't find her in the darkness. He tried to wave his arms in front of him to gauge where he was. The sound of distant police sirens could be heard outside, but as quickly as they came they were gone.
"I think it's a blackout," a voice sounded from behind him. Startled the boy spun around and his hand came into contact with something hard. "Ouch! You slapped me dammit!" exclaimed the sister.
Sheepish but chuckling, the boy lowered his arms and gave a shrug. Remembering his sister couldn't see him, he spoke up. "Sorry, where did I hit you?
At that moment the lights flipped back on and the boy's sister came into view. She we rubbing her cheek where a rosy pink hand shape was already coloring her face. Clearly irritated, the girl looked up to her brother giving him the best glare she could muster. "My cheek you jerk. Ouch… that really hurt!"
The boy gave a shrug in reply and then looked around. Other shoppers were frozen in their spots. Strangers, now bonded over a mutual exciting experience, were murmuring their speculations on why the lights went out. A large man gave a hearty laugh as he resumed meandering though the store while his wife looked nervously about. The laugh seemed to spark life back into the market. Hesitantly, the shoppers began browsing the shelves of QFC once more.
The girl turned to her brother. "Okay, so I think movie night is covered, but we still need to get some cans of mushroom soup for that dish mom's making tomorrow. How about you head over to the soup aisle and get it while I start checking out?"
The boy grunted in reply and made his way down the aisle and around the corner. After struggling to turn the grocery cart around, the girl walked over to the checkout lanes. Only a few seemed to be open this late at night.
Down at checkout 6 was a junior the sister recognized from school. The sister seemed to recall that her name was Bindy. She was leaned over the counter checking out her nails when the sister rolled her cart up. When Bindy looked up, her eyes widened.
"Yeah, we go to the same school." The sister interrupted. "You're a junior right?"
Bindy smiled, "Well, soon to be a senior once your class graduates. Isn't that this weekend? I'm so jealous you guys get out of school before we do. You-"
The girl stopped talking at the sound of more police sirens racing down the nearby road. Nervously she looked over her shoulder and then back to the sister. She leaned in. "There have been sirens going off all during my shift today. I checked my phone to see if there was any breaking news but my network has been down all day. I think there is something big going on in downtown Seattle," she whispered.
This news worried the sister, "My parents are at a business party downtown tonight."
Apprehensively and with a pinched look on her face, Bindy began scanning the food items and placing them into bags. "I mean, I'm sure it's probably nothing. Lots of kids have been throwing parties for the end of the year. The cops are probably just breaking up some crazy shit party. That will be $56.72, do you have a QFC Club Card?"
Pop! Pop! Pop!
The sister screamed as she dropped to the floor. Gunshots continued to erupt by the front entrance of the store. Patting down her body to make sure she wasn't shot, the sister pulled her phone out of her pocket to call 911. No Service. Panicked and frustrated she slammed her phone to the ground, and then crawled to see around the corner of the checkout line.
The gunshots had sent people into a frenzy. Screams could be head all throughout the store. Everyone seemed to be on the ground searching for an escape. The only person who stood was a man in a business suit with a gun poised over his head.
"Everyone stop moving or I will shoot!" His voice cracked as he screamed. There was a gash across the right side of his neck and throat. Blood dribbled out of his mouth and down his chin as he looked around the store with frantic eyes. He was blocking the only entrance. "I… I just need some bandages! Can anyone tell me where-"
He never finished. Just as he lowered his gun a huge crash sounded from the entrance. The man was just about to turn around… when a truck slammed into him and propelled him into shelves. Blood splattered everywhere as his head slammed into a corner with a sickening thunk. The sister choked in horror as she watched him slump to the ground and blood pool around his slackened body.
Four men who had been ducked down in the bed of the truck now stood up. All carrying guns.
"Everyone out of the fuckin' store now!" bellowed a particularly well-built man holding a machine gun. The people on the ground cowered in shock until the man let out a frustrated roar and aimed his machine gun at the shelves.
He fired, and food exploded in the air. He continued to fire for a few more seconds and more and more bags of chips, bottles of drinks and cans of food showered onto the ground with the machine gun pellets. The sister was sure the gun was making noise and that people were screaming, but all she could hear was the tinkling of the little pellets as they sprinkled onto the floor. The man only stopped when a younger teenager in the truck and yanked on his elbow.
"Jim! Stop! You're wasting all of it!" The teen looked up at Jim desperately.
Jim lowered his gun, and then looked around at the shoppers whimpering in fear. He heaved a huge sigh then lifted his gun again, "I said out of the store, now!" He bellowed.
This time the shoppers didn't hesitate. Leaving their food items and their carts, people pushed their way around the truck and out of the store. The Bindy had already made her way out the door, but the sister was still on the ground frozen in fear.
She shrieked as someone grabbed her elbow and yanked her up off the floor.
"Let's move, now!" yelled her brother. Finally, the girl shook out of her daze and she began to run with her brother. Going wide, they wound around the truck and the people with guns. Finally, they were outside.
The sister turned around only once, and watched as Jim threw food into the back of the truck. All of the other men who were once in the truck were now shoveling food off the shelves and into bags.
"Shit!" The girl's brother shouted. She turned around and looked at what had halted her brother in his tracks.
There, with the windows and doors on the left side completely bashed in was the girl's car. "Oh my god…" She whispered. Walking up to the driver's side she pulled on the handle to see if it would open.
The boy ran his fingers through his hair, "Shit, shit, shit, shit."
More gunshots exploded from inside the store. The sister jumped at the sound. "Okay, so the car is totaled. Let's just go through Pioneer Park back to the house. We shouldn't be on the roads right now."
The brother sighed, "You're right, god damn it. Those bastards must have just driven right through your car before they slammed into the store."
"Honestly, I really don't care at this point. Let's just get home and we can tell mom and dad about it later." The girl's voice was shaky but resolved. Without waiting for her brother she turned around and started running to the park. The boy caught up easily.
"This's fucked up." The boy breathed after a few minutes of jogging. Running came easily to him. For years his parents had joked that he could run before he learned how to walk. He was thankful of this now. Looking down at his older sister, he could tell she was making an effort to keep pace. While she was obviously in shape, she had always made it clear that she deplored running. He knew she would refuse if he asked her if she needed him to slow down so he kept his mouth shut. Inwardly he was thankful for her stubborn pride because at that point, all he wanted was to reach the sanctity of their home.
They slowed to a stop when they reached the park.
"Damn… It's fucking dark in there," mumbled the brother.
The sister nodded in agreement. The dirt path in front of them led straight into a complete and totally dark shroud of trees. When she was little, she had cherished living right next to the heavily wooded park. It was like living next to a huge forest when really, they lived on the almost completely suburban Mercer Island. Now in light of the recent events, the park had never seemed so eerie.
"Look, if we just go on the Salal Trail, we'll end up at the house. You have a flashlight on your phone right?" she asked her brother.
"I do, but what happened to your phone?" replied her brother.
"I dropped it when that man got plastered to the wall."
"Well that was pretty stupid."
"Shut up, don't think I didn't notice that you're still holding two cans of mushroom soup for mom, you thief." The sister retorted.
"Whatever…" the brother turned on the flashlight and began walking.
The park was completely silent except for the crunching leaves under the sibling's feet. The sound was almost invasive. The sister only noticed after they were completely entrenched in the forest that she and her brother had quieted their breathing to a soft whisper. She winced every time one of them stepped on a branch… resulting in a loud crack.
For some reason, her senses were on high alert. As they traveled deeper and deeper into the forest, she grew more on edge. She felt almost as if she were being stalked, like she was the prey being hunted by the predator. Her instincts were telling her to run but she wrote them off, believing them to be only shock from the supermarket. Deep down though, she knew there had to be a reason her gut was screaming at her to be quiet.
A bone-chilling scream exploded from far behind the siblings.
"Holy shit, what was that?" exclaimed the brother. He wildly turned in circles, aiming his flashlight deep into the woods.
The scream sounded again but this time turning into a despondent wail that went on and on.
"I think someone's hurt!" the brother looked down at his sister expecting an affirmation.
"It's… it's probably just a druggie…we should keep going." She couldn't figure out why her instincts were screaming at her to get as far away from the noise as possible. If someone was hurt, shouldn't she help them?
"But…" the brother looked at his sister, and then back into the woods. The cries had stopped. "Okay." This time he started running and the sister had to sprint to catch up.
The softly glowing streetlight at the edge of the forest was the most welcome sight the sister had seen all day. Right across the street was home. "How many times had I said I hated that fucking light for shining into my room? Remind me to never say that again."
As they approached the front gate, the guttural shriek echoed from the park behind them.
The brother looked back into the forest desperately while his sister fumbled for the gate key in her pocket. "Maybe we should just check and see..?"
Finding the key, the sister turned sharply towards her brother and held the key in her hand almost like a weapon. "Look. Do you even fucking realize what the fuck just happened tonight?" She said menacingly. "Do you understand that we just not only witnessed a store shooting, but also a murder? This isn't a fucking joke. My car is totaled. Mom and dad are gone. So no. We are not going to go back to 'check' on whoever that is. We are going to go inside and stay put until mom and dad get home. Do you understand me?" The sister's voice had escalated to a cracking yell.
"Whatever, fine," the brother ripped away the key that was being brandished in front of his face. His hands were shaking so it took him a few moments before he could fit the key in the gate door and open it. Then they moved up the path and toward the house.
Inside the house was silent. It had been light outside when they had left earlier so the siblings were met with an eerie darkness. Suddenly an eruption of barking cascaded down the stairway in front of them.
This was when the sister finally broke. "Jenna!" Falling to her knees the sister clasped onto the German Shepard that was showering her in kisses. Sobs wracked the girl's body as she clung around the dog's neck. Her crying began as desperate sobs but then evolved into despondent moan.
Sitting on the staircase with his head between his knees was the boy. He listened as his sister's cries escalate and fade, escalate and fade. He did not comfort her. The racing of his mind made him feel nauseous. Store, mushrooms, aisle, shots, blood, truck, blood, blood, blood. Desperate for a distraction he suddenly stood and began flipping on all the lights to the foyer. "Light," he repeated, "I need light." He didn't sit down again until the whole floor had been doused in a gentle glow. Then he made his way downstairs and continued his mission.
By the time he had returned, Jenna was sitting was sitting on her bed beside the door. "Hey girl," his knees popped as he bent down to scratch her behind the ears. "Tonight's been pretty messed up... I missed you. Kissing her head, he stood just as another scream came from the park outside. Jenna's ears perked up. The brother sighed, "I know, the druggies are being pretty crazy tonight." He moved to the front door and locked it, then grabbed the curtains and pulled them across the windows. "I can do without the outside world for a little while..."
The kitchen was basked in a warm glow. Standing over a boiling pot was the sister. She had cleaned up while the brother was downstairs. Mascara no longer covered her under eyelids. Her hair was pulled back into a messy knot on top of her head.
"Mack and Cheese?" she looked over to her brother sitting at the counter.
"Are you serious?"
The brother snorted. Then again, and again. Sliding down from his chair he fell into a fit of laughter clutching his sides on the floor. Hesitantly, the sister began to laugh. Then harder. Soon she was on the ground, battling tears of laughter. But just as quickly as they had come, they faded. Soon the only sound in the room came from the gentle boiling of the water on the stove.
"It doesn't seem real." The boy looked over at his sister.
End of Day 1
2 cartons of milk
Assorted perishable fruits and vegetables
32 cans of soup
1 bottle of orange juice
1 bottle of apple juice
3 sticks of butter
4 packs of pasta
Assorted condiments and sauces
4 bags of chips