The TV was blaring from the livingroom as her father came to grab her hand, not content with how quickly she was moving. True, she shouldn't have taken time to grab her laptop and her purse, but should they survive they'd need help starting over. Jihadist stealth bombers had slunk in under cover of a cloud night, and were now raining fiery terror on the sluggish city. Sirens of all types slashed through the night, screeching their alarm to all and sundry. The television continued beeping its alert to an empty apartment, the government bulletin posted suggesting all persons retreat to basements or other underground areas.
"Where are we going?" she gasped, running after her father, who still clutched her hand. Living in a highrise, they had no basement to which they could retreat.
"I don't know," he replied tensely, halting at the edge of the crowd that had congregated at the top of the stairs. "Away."
An authoritative voice rose over the hysterical hubbub. "My name is Clay Shelton, I'm a friend of David Haffle's. I live right down the road, I have a basement, you are all welcome to come shelter there. Please follow me." Like a flood of CGI ants, the swell of humanity surged down in the stairs in the wake of the generous young man who had offered his home. David Haffle, the apartments' congenial young manager, was seen hurrying up to the bottom of the stairs and holding a hasty consultation with Clay, before rushing off the way he'd come. "Follow me!" Clay repeated, and continued on down the concrete walkway.
A two-block jog later, he was issuing them into his house, opening a door off the kitchen, ushering them down the dark stairs. Someone's donated keyring flashlight lit the way as the denizens of the apartments solemnly filtered into the dry bare basement. Clay took down a heavy duty flashlight from one of the plyboard shelves, clicking it on. It flickered feebly and died, and he cussed, whacking it against his hand. It flickered again, then emitted a dim sullen glow for the space of five seconds before giving up and passing out again. A timid voice piped up from amidst the press. "We could use my computer, it has a seven-hour battery life."
"That would be much appreciated," Clay said grimly. She wiggled her way through the silent mob to lay her laptop on the small table in the center of the room, opening the lid. The room was washed with a harsh blue glare, which softened as the computer came out of Stand By. Clay passed through the shades to stoop over her shoulder. "See if my internet is still working, we could find out what's going on. That one, there - Pottery, that's mine." He murmured the passcode to her and the softened blue glow changed to white as she pulled up a browser, directing it to a local news site. Three different video feeds pop up on the front page, one of the president, one of the governor, one of the local reporters. "That one," he murmured, pointing at the local feed. Her father drifted over to hover over her other shoulder, the masses behind peering around to try and see the screen.
She obediently turned the volume up so everyone can hear it, playing the local feed. "-targeted the airport first, destroying the building and tearing up the runways," the female anchor announced. "Hospitals, bridges, and hotels are their prime targets now. Homeland Security is on its way, the Air Force, National Guard, and State Guards have already deployed. Downed planes, foreign and domestic, are causing almost as much damage as the bombs..."
She droned on, and Clay pointed to the video of the president. This appeared to not be a live feed, rather a prerecorded message. "We shall...meet this...threat...as the occasion...merits," he informed the flashbulbs ponderously. She snorted and, without even being told, switched to the one of the governor.
"Law enforcement helicopters are being used to evacuate citizens, especially those from crowded areas," the woman in the red business suit declared strongly. "It is advisable for citizens to turn off all their lights, and refrain from traveling, especially on large roads or in oft-commuted areas. Highways and interstates should be avoided, as those are also prime targets. We are doing all we can to end this attack, but I implore everyone to remain calm."
"Local feed," Clay murmured, and she switched.
"-goes one!" the female anchor half-shrieked as one of the kamikaze invaders flies straight into a bridge support. The three Air Force jets pursuing him do not peel away quickly enough, and the bridge bears the pilots as well as innumerable drivers to a watery yet explosive grave.
"Sensationalizing vultures," she muttered.
The male anchor took over, his tone more somber, and yet businesslike. "Luckily, our forces have managed to prevent penetration into residential areas as of yet. A large part of the area has been evacuated, and almost all the hospitals that haven't been bombed have been emptied."
"The problem with kamikaze bombers is that it almost takes as many of our own forces sacrificing their own lives to stop the enemy," the woman chirped, and the girl sitting in front of the screen mimed punching the anchor right in the middle of her perfectly made-up face."
"Oh, we have an alert," the man said grimly, his hand to an earpiece. "A new wave of reinforcements for the bombers are coming in over the harbor. It is expected they will penetrate into residential areas within a quarter of an hour."
Tension in the tiny dark basement mounts. "This is no bomb shelter," a woman cried accusingly from somewhere along a wall.
"No ma'am," Clay replied crisply, straightening up. "But it's the best we have. We'll just have to trust our boys up there to take out those madmen."
Aside from the constant stream of chatter from the reporters - and the occasional check on the governor - silence held sway in the cramped, makeshift bunker. Fear was a sour smell in the air, despair, anxiety, hope against hope. The whine of jet engines zipping overhead periodically drowned out the anchors' voices, muffled explosions sharpening the fear to fever pitch.
"Was that closer?" someone whispered after another blast. No one answer, but the silence tautened yet further, listening, everyone holding their breath. Another blast is heard, accompanied, this time, by a faint tremor. A woman began sobbing, but someone hushed her, and everyone went back to listening. Another series of explosions - possibly the chain of competing gas stations lining the residential-to-commercial road - and the room definitely shook, then dead silence took over.
As if on cue, the female anchor chirped, "It appears the attackers have penetrated into residential areas-" The video stops, internet connection severed.
"You think?" Clay snarled under his breath, and straightened. Screams filled the tiny basement as the ground trembled violently enough to throw the group off their collective feet, the explosions close enough to be deafening. Engines whined loudly overhead, accompanied by a sound that could only be aircraft firing on each other. One of the engines coughed, cut out. Time stretched out to an infinitesimal crawl, the people in the basement listening, horror-struck, terrified, silent. Everyone heard the sounds of shattering glass, imploding wood and steel frames. Heat and a glaring orange light permeate the dark space, and Clay threw himself on the girl with the computer, knocking her flat, bellowing. "Get down, get-"