Kelsey slapped her palm on her front window frantically. She knew of Danny Fairbanks, but had never met her; nor knowing who was in her home as big of a deal as getting inside herself. She kept having to pull her hair from her eyes as she slapped the window and scream over the wind that had been gradually getting colder. She felt gooseflesh rising along her arms as the wind grew frigid.
“Is Dwayne in there?” came Allie’s scream. Kelsey looked back over her shoulder to see Allie half steadying the carts and half steadying herself in the open wind by the street. Kelsey turned back to see into her living room and saw Dwayne’s face opposite from hers in the living room. She saw the recognition cross his face as he looked from her to Allie and they both ran for the front door.
Allie saw the door thrown open and the mother wrapped her arms around her son in a desperate embrace. She squeezed her son with the kind of nervous relief only a mother knows. She said his name once and they parted to arms length.
“I wasn't’t sure what to do. Miss Fairbanks is here and I think she is in trouble. I didn't’t know if I should try and take her to the hospital, leave her here or go find you,” he was having trouble keeping his voice above the howling wind and he kept having to blink and rub at his eyes to get out the dust.
“Come help us” she said leaving the shelter of the porch for the street where Allie kept hold of the carts full of food. Dwayne looked up and down the street, seeing no one in sight. It seemed everyone was hiding inside too. He and Allie were able to lift the carts onto the sidewalk. After rolling them up to the door it took all three of their strength to lift the carts up the stairs and into the entry way of the house.
Kelsey had to push against the wind to get the door shut again and she engaged the dead bolt with a heavy exhale. She turned and saw Dwayne and Allie were looking down at Danny on the couch.
“Who is that?” Kelsey asked walking up. “Did she pass out in the lawn or something?”
Dwayne shook his head, “This is Miss Fairbanks, the director I was working with.” He trailed off as he thought a moment, “Her name is Danny.”
“What’s wrong with her?” Kelsey asked, pressing her fingers against the woman’s neck. There was a low steady pulse, but her eyes were open and looked dry as she stared at the ceiling.
“She was pulling up this morning to pick me up, and, I don’t know, she fell over and hasn't’t moved since. It’s like she went into a coma.”
Kelsey had her eyes shut as she tried to think of what to do. She had two children and a catatonic woman in her home, two grocery carts of food and the wrath of God blowing outside their powerless home. There was no way the four of them could get back to the Meridian in this condition and with that wind. “I’m sorry, Kevin” she murmured to herself.
“Oh my God,” Allie said suddenly. At first Allie wanted to say ‘it’s snowing,’ but thought she knew better. “It’s the ash,” she said instead.
“The fallout” Dwayne offered as he walked up to the window beside her.
The three of them stood there watching the light fluffy looking flakes blow sideways violently through the air. The clouds had almost made it pitch black outside; there was no sun to be seen.
“It’s not like ash.” Kelsey said. She had lived in Washington when Mount Saint Helens, a large volcano, had erupted in 1980. She had been in high school and could remember shoveling the ash off of the sidewalk and how her father had to drive down the street with the windshield wipers on. This was not the same. The flakes were larger, and much whiter than dark gray ash. There were clouds, not smoke. “It looks more like snow,” she said at last. She saw Allie nodding in agreement.
“Nuclear Winter?” her son asked.
“I don’t think so Dwayne. I’m not sure, I don’t know enough about it.” She felt a sudden sinking feeling in her stomach. “Dwayne, go grab the garbage bags. All of them. The ones we use for the cat litter.” She said turning for the kitchen.
“What are you thinking? Catching it to melt it for water?” he asked, not liking the idea.
Kelsey shook her head, “No Dwayne. Whatever is out there can’t be good. We need to seal up the house, add to the seals on the doors and windows. Get the bags, Allie go help him.” she said as they walked past her at a quick pace for the basement.
Kelsey found the large roll of duct tape in the kitchen junk drawer. She walked towards the living room window at the snow falling into the yard. It was sticking to the ground and trees. She heard a small noise and looked down to see Dog standing on the back of the couch looking up at her.
She softly scratched the cats head and set her palm against the window. It was freezing cold.
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