The pain is too much. Consuming. Everything I love is gone. The loneliness is slowly seeping in. My thoughts come in short bursts and die out quickly. It’s too hard to think when there is nothing around to pull your attention. My chest is heavy, making every breath a struggle. I’ve been outside only once, the neighborhood stood still. The stillness was overwhelming. I’ve never know such stillness. It’s time, to do something, maybe. No one ever answered 911 before, but I have to try everything again. I call. It rings for what seems like forever. My resuscitation efforts had already been worn. It’s time I start searching, outside maybe?
I open the arched door crafted by my dad. Releasing a deep sigh, I decide. Each step is heavy with grief, I have to do this. My body flops to a seated position on the fronts steps. I begin to take in my surroundings. Cookie cutter houses line the street, all brick up to one third of the house and stucco the rest of the way. The street had been freshly repaved; I could still smell the lingering asphalt. I like that smell. I let my senses take over, I allow myself a moment to bask in a simple joy before reality sets in and depression again overcomes my spirit. Cars are stopped on the street and the bodies in them are statues like my family. The thought occurs that, if people died, wouldn’t they crash their cars?
This can’t be death. It’s got to be something else, but what? Everything is in the condition it was left, no damage. I would’ve heard the bangs and screams, there weren’t any. I look up to the clear cloudless sky and see a plane. Not moving. How this possible, time is stopped, but I’m still moving. My family isn’t dead. “My family is alive!” I say it aloud without realizing. I go back inside, hug each of them and let them know I’ll figure it out. Thoughts storm my mind of how my siblings would roll their eyes at the thought of me ‘fixing’ anything, but I look to my parents who I know would have faith in me. I cling to what I hope they would feel and I race back out the door.
I try the houses to my right and left first and nothing. Stillness. I pace in front of my house and think. I can’t possibly go through each house; however, I don’t know what else to do. I turn to cross the street and I see Jimmy. He is so still, poor guy. I wish at this very moment I could hear his musical voice, and then I do. Jimmy is saying something, his mouth is moving. I hear a faint beat of words and he comes running. Before I can grasp what is happening he has attached himself at my hip, hugging me so tightly I have to pry him off finger my finger.
“Jimmy-boy! You alright, kid?” I look down at his glorious face and relief streams through my body. Someone, Jimmy, is awake with me. I’m not alone.
“Hazie, it’s bad. It’s so bad. My mom she… she’s…” the desperation in his voice was thick, and oozing with panic. The poor kid was white with fear, I wonder how I looked. Ugh, no time to be vain, jimmy needs me.
“She’s ok jimmy, she’s not dead. Look up.” I crouch down so I’m eye level to his big green eyes and point to the airplane that is suspended thousands of feet up, exhaust jetting from its engines in two straight lines. “We’re the only things moving, so far as I can tell. I think everything is just frozen, not dead. We’ll figure it out, boy.” I stand, pluck at his curls adoringly and pray that we really can figure it out.
“It looks like a picture Hazie, why isn’t it moving?” His panic is easing a bit. I bet the plane is a welcomed distraction.
I don’t have any answers for him, so I choose not to say anything. We sit on the curb in front of my house and take a moment. I know we have to do something, but for the life of me, I can’t think of what I could possibly do. I’m pretty sure I don’t have superpowers that could awake or unfreeze everyone. What am I supposed to do? Seriously, could someone just walk up to me and give me a little direction, please? Since no one else is magically appearing I guess it’s time to move. Sitting still is making me uneasy and letting the panic seep back into both of us.
Jimmy’s demeanor suddenly shifts, he stands at attention. He puffs his chest out as if to appear strong and soldier like. Bless his heart. This kid is strong, and he doesn’t have any idea what’s going on. Where on Earth is my strength? I couldn’t possibly tell him I don’t have a plan when his is so willing to be a hero. I stand at attention and puff my chest out like I have muscles, although there is not a muscle in sight. I solute him, “James Brown, Officer of Ivory Street, I hereby ask your assistance in annihilation of the enemy. Will you comply, Soldier?” I do my best to sound deep and tough, I’m positive I come off as silly. His response breaks my heart.
“Aye, Cap’tn Hazel Nolan. I am ready for duty. We will save our families and return safely.” So it is, our pact is solemn. I can’t let my family or this sweet boy down.
Not knowing what to expect or where to start, I decide maybe we should fill backpacks, one for each of us. The second I mention ‘backpack’ he shoots out of my front door and runs across the street to his house. Holding proudly in his arms is his bright yellow and red Optimus Prime backpack. I can’t resist a smile. I can do this with little Jimmy at my side. I remember the princess backpack I had when I was his age. I think I still have it somewhere. I dig through my closet and toss the stylish teal canvas satchel I was going to use aside. “Aha! Here it is!” I tug it free from inside a storage bin and I toss it happily in my hands.
We pack water bottles, snacks, sweatshirts, and some odds and ends. I decide it’s better safe than sorry, so I fill my teal satchel with a blanket, a pocketknife, and a roll of toilet paper. I don’t know where we’re going, but I better be ready for anything. I toss the satchel over one shoulder and it hangs at the opposite side. I slide the backpack on and assess Jimmy. He’s ready; he even has his ‘heelies’ on.
Since cars are in the street stopped and blocking the way, I don’t know how we could possibly drive anywhere. I give Jimmy the choice of riding bikes or walking. Of course the 6 year old chooses bikes. It’s probably a smart choice; we can cover more ground and quicker on bikes. He has a transformers bike to match his backpack, he brags that his uncle got it for him, and he never needed the training wheels. I have my older brothers hammy down mountain bike, it’s worn and a very faded blue, but it’ll do.
We ride towards the city. A few minutes pass and we’re in a groove. While keeping a moderate pace Jimmy tells the elaborate tale of our adventure. His story includes an evil sorcerous that holds an amulet that controls time and space, a ring that controls her minions, and earrings that harbor innocent prisoners.