The U.S. of After Chapter 6
I just couldn’t sleep. Part of it was all the drama that Clayton caused breaking in, then the duct tape and then me going all blabbity blah blah to him like some thirteen year old girl. I even hugged him, for crying out loud. Ugh, I felt so stupid! Now I had some guy I barely knew sleeping down the hall from me. The feeling of safety was outweighed by the slight creep factor of not knowing him well.
I snuck over and OCD’d the door to see if it was locked for the fifth time.
Laying back in my creaking bed I felt restless. No matter how many times I turned my pillow over and over again, I couldn’t get the cool spot to last more than five seconds. The air was a hot, thick lasagna. It wouldn’t be so bad if not for all the humidity. I felt so sticky and gross.
I had the window open, and the curtains barely moved. Stupid wind. In Oklahoma the wind always blew when you didn’t need it to and didn’t blow when you did. I just lay there, rolling back and forth, trying to get comfortable, listening to the bedsprings squeak, trying my hardest to get some shuteye. I finally got sick of it all and bounded out of bed to pull one of my pink Hello Kitty chairs (don’t judge) over by the window and just sit for a while. This always helped me sleep even when I was alone.
I was still alone, as far as I could tell. Who knew how long Clayton would stay or whether I’d go with him. Would I go with him? I don’t know. Maybe he could find some water to quench our awful thirst. My tongue felt all sticky and dry.
I looked through the window and could see the stars winking. I never used to notice the stars at night until the power went out all over everywhere. We used to have a security lamp that would cast an eerie blue glow in our backyard and another one in our front yard. They were meant to keep people from creeping around, but more for a pre-apocalypse kind of world. Growing up, they never really let me see the night sky. I had to walk a ways from my house off into the woods and then get up on top of a hill to see them back then. I remember it being pretty and romantic and peaceful. One night after all this happened, I tried it again and didn’t get to the hill. I had heard someone trolling around in the woods and ran back to the house.
I sat by the window, putting my hands under my legs and just looking out at the night sky, realizing that the stars really do twinkle if you look at them long enough. One of the stars seemed brighter than the others, and I thought it must be the north star, but it wasn’t anywhere near north. The moon wasn’t out at all so the sky was black as a dead computer screen with little diamond stars, but that one star just got brighter and brighter. It burned up there, getting closer and bigger and bigger until it started to scare me.
I felt like my heart fell into my stomach when I saw that the burning thing was definitely moving toward me, and then there was a sound kind of like a jet taking off but way far away like it was in a dream. That was when I noticed it was spewing out some kind of trail behind it. I first thought it might be a jetliner going down, but it was way bigger than that and there hadn’t been a jet in the sky in over a year. It was throwing off little balls of orange light here and there like it was made of molten metal. As it got closer and louder I could see that the little flames were blowing apart and raining down toward the ground.
It got as big as a basketball in my vision before I couldn’t look anymore and realized that it was probably headed for somewhere close to the house. I stood up and bolted away from the window but when I looked over my shoulder the thing exploded in mid air just above the house I guess because it made a booming sound that shattered the window glass. This was followed by a high pitched whine that made me fall down on the floor and cover my head with my hands, going total fetal position.
I am not ashamed to say I totally lost it.
Through the noise I could faintly hear a banging at the door and I couldn’t stand the sound enough to let go of my ears and let whoever it was inside. I then heard the door banging louder and that nerdy Clayton busted into my room, the door jamb splintering everywhere and the door swinging open violently. He didn’t cover his ears, but put his arms around me and held me close. I think it was more for comfort than him trying to protect me.
Something hit the ground not far from the house, shaking the floorboards beneath us, and I felt the house sway a bit. That was when we both heard the loudest roaring like somebody in the back yard just turned on a giant flame thrower.