When Roy finished reading the last page in the journal, he read it again – his face twisting into an expression of both anger, and confusion. “Blood of the sheep,” he said, and closed the book. “Sears finally snapped. He was discharged over a year ago. How’d you get this?”
“He sent it to me.” Colonel Cook said. “Well, to you – but in care of our operations department.”
“Why would he send it to me?”
“Why not? You were his commander. You were the only person who visited him in the hospital. Maybe he feels connected to you.”
Roy considered that for a moment – remembering how pathetic Sears looked in the V.A. Hospital – tubes running from every orifice. Then later, at Sears’s home, Roy had to help the young man fasten his artificial leg – the one he earned saving Roy’s life.
“What do you need me to do?” Roy asked.
“Well, he was your Soldier,” Colonel Cook said. “Perhaps check in on him – see how he’s doing. This is really concerning, Roy. If the press gets ahold of this journal…”
“Don’t worry,” Roy said. “I’ll drop in on him tomorrow. Hopefully, he still lives in the same house.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Kelly Mathews said.
“Ma’am, please watch your language. This is a school, not a brothel.”
If Kelly wasn’t a better person; if she didn’t have the self-control of a saint; if she wasn’t burdened with a three month in her arms, she might’ve pulled the spectacled, self-righteous, grey-haired, snooty bitch right over the counter.
“Look,” Kelly said, trying her darndest to smile. “I have to drop off little Kevin at daycare. I’m already running late for work. If you make Tristin come home, then I’ll be forced to call off today. I’m already on my third warning. Can’t you help me out?”
The woman nodded her head slightly. Kelly felt hope rise inside her. I’m finally getting through to this old hag, she thought. Come on lady. Just say yes. Suddenly, a door opened at the rear of the office. Another woman walked in, leading a six-year-old boy by the hand.
“This is such bullshit! Kelly said. “What am I supposed to do?”
“Well, the woman behind the school counter said,” for starters, you can take your son to get his vaccinations. And, since you’ll be calling off work today, that shouldn’t be a problem – right?
Oh great, now I’m a fucking deadbeat mother, Kelly thought.
“Awesome!” Kelly said, grabbing her older son’s hand. “Thanks for nothing.” Then she hauled her two boys out to her car, a rusted out 1976 Celica that stopped passing smog at least a decade ago. She buckled them in (record time). The boys can just go to work with her at the diner. Her asshole boss would just have to understand. And if he didn’t – fuck him. Not like he was going to mail off her rent check that was already two weeks past due. She pulled out of the school lot, headed to the freeway on-ramp, then started cussing when she saw the backed-up traffic.
“Oh, fucking great!” She said, pulling onto the ramp and pulling up behind the at least dozenth car in line to get on the freeway. “Does Murphy ride along in my fucking purse?”
“Fuck!” Tristin, the eighteen-month-old, shouted from the backseat.
“No!” Kelly corrected her son in the rear-view mirror’s reflection. “You don’t say that word. That’s a mommy word, not a Tristin word.” A few minutes later, she was relieved to finally at least be on the actual freeway. She forced her way across two lanes to the middle, then cussed again when the traffic deadlocked just as he she got there. Directly in front of her car, a blue pick-up with a “MAGA” sticker sill affixed to its tailgate began to move forward, then stopped abruptly. “fuck, fuck, fuck!” She screamed, banging the steering wheel. She didn’t really know why she was so angry at the man driving the blue truck. She suspected their bumper sticker had more than a little to do with it. Hell, she thought. They’re probably cussing out the poor bastard in front of them. I shouldn’t be mad at them. She looked in her rearview to check on her boys but saw something more interesting – more infuriating. But this asshole flying up between the cars behind me on his fucking rice-rocket? Well now, that’s a different story.
The man riding the motorcycle was clad in a yellow and white jumpsuit with a matching helmet – matching their yellow and white motorcycle perfectly. To Kelly, bike and rider looked like a Yellow-Jacket, buzzing flying between stalled cars. Fucking motorcycle riders, she thought, as the cyclist came even closer. Why do they get to just cruise on by, while the rest of us have to fucking sit for hours? Fuck them in their fucking asses. The motorcycle flew past Kelly’s car and disappeared around the blue truck in front of her Celica. “Fucking prick,” she said. “I hope you fucking die.”
The force of the explosion blew out the windows of the blue truck in front of her. Kelly’s car rocked, like a son-of-a-bitch, but her windows stayed intact. As she lowered her head to safety, she caught a glimpse of a large object flying, something yellow and white, and on fire. The boys screamed in the backseat. What the fuck am I doing, she thought, still cradling down in the front seat as low as she could go, her hands covering her head. I have to get them out of here. She sat upright in her seat, unbuckled her seat belt, rolled down her window. Even more screaming was going on outside her car than in the backseat. All around her, people were standing outside their own cars, staring at something – something that Kelly couldn’t see from inside the Celica. Tristin screamed again from the backseat. Kelly reached behind her, grabbed his hand.
“It’s going to be okay, baby.” She said. “Mommy’s here.” Another blast from up ahead shook the car. The back window shattered. The exploding glass spared the boys’ eyes but cut their faces – bad. “Fuck this!” Kelly shouted. She exited the car, pulled the front seat forward, unbuckled and pulled the baby from his car seat. She searched his head frantically. There were a few deep scratches, but nothing too serious. Relieved, she held baby Kevin against her breasts with one hand, held the out to Tristin, who was still buckled in the backseat.
“Unhook yourself, climb out to mommy,” she said. Tristin unfastened the seatbelt, then crawled across the backseat, extricating himself from the car with no problems. Kelly scooped her six year old up off his feet, started walking away from the Celica as fast as she could manage with two children in her arms.
“Where are we going?” Tristin asked.
“Home,” Kelly answered. “Mommy will keep you safe.” She pulled her boys tight to her body and focused on getting off the fucking freeway.
Everyone else did just what Kelly did. They exited their cars, fled the clogged-up lanes of the freeway. Some of them made ended up on the inner shoulder. Some of them ended up on the median. About fifty yards away, a small family, two adults and a kid ran onto the shoulder– then they disappeared, obliterated in fire and horrible thunder. The explosion ripped across all five lanes, creating a wall of flames in its wake. Kelly squeezed her boys tighter, turned towards the median of the freeway, then ran as fast as her exhausted body would allow her.
“Mommy!” Tristin yelled. “Mommy’s got you, baby,” Kelly shouted. “Don’t worry. Mommy’s got you.” She crossed the fourth lane – then the fifth. Then, just when her foot finally touched the soft gravel at the median, the fourth, and final explosive detonated There was a bright flash and an incredible rush of heat. Kelly and her sons never heard the thunderous roar that followed.