The sun was beginning to set and all Ali could think about was finding a safe haven where they could rest and begin to truly process everything that had happened.
She let out a small snort when she realized that just two days ago her largest worry was about going off to college. Her small smile turned into a frown when she thought about her mother. Why was it so important for her to go off and leave her mother behind? She could have found her independence just as easily at home.
“What’s wrong, sis?”
Sometimes she wondered about Caden, usually so oblivious to her moods yet so perceptive, especially in the times when she wanted to keep her thoughts private.
“Just thinking about Mom.”
He reached over and gave her hand a small squeeze. “I know,” he said, his voice cracking. “Me too.”
She returned the squeeze. “Are we doing the right thing?”
Caden gave her a puzzled look.
“By going to the station? Shouldn’t we just get the hell out of here and try to find help somewhere else? Somewhere not affected by the quake?” She threw another glance at DJ, who had returned to looking out the window again.
“It can’t hurt, can it?” Caden asked her back. “I mean, if no one’s there, we’ll head out.” He lifted his hand from the steering wheel and checked the gas gauge. “We’re good on gas, should at least be able to make it to Casa Grande if we head that way… or Green Valley.” He trailed off, as he thought about which direction would be the right way to go.
Resigned, Ali sat back in the seat and prayed that DJ was right, that they were going in the direction of safety.
The soft glow of the police station lights shined like a beacon as they approached the building. Ali’s discomfort slowly began to fade when she saw that patrol cars and other vehicles littered the lot, signaling that people were there and hopefully okay.
Caden pulled into the lot and parked the car next to the entrance. Once the engine was cut off, Caden removed the keys from the ignition.
“Wait,” Zach said, reaching for Caden’s shoulder. “Do you think that’s such a good idea? What if we have to make a break for it?”
“No, we should be safe here,” DJ reassured them. “Let’s get inside and get some help.”
Ali took a deep breath and opened her door. She watched as Zach helped Christine out of the truck, giving her a small smile and grabbing her hand once they were outside.
Christine leaned into Ali and they walked up the stairs to the front doors together. Zach reached out and pulled open the front door, only to find it locked.
“Ugh! You have got to be kidding me!” He began to bang on the door, rattling the handles.
“Maybe that’s a good sign?” Caden offered. “Maybe it’s locked to keep people inside safe?” He looked around the front of the building and saw the after-hours call button.
“Hold up, dude.” He jogged over to the button and pressed it down. A few seconds later, a deputy came to the door, holding his weapon ready.
“Go away!” he shouted through the door.
“No! We need help!” Ali yelled back, pissed they were being turned away.
“We aren’t letting anyone in, we aren’t taking any chances!”
It was all too much. Her mother, Gemma, Christine’s family, and the nagging feeling she had missed something important all day finally came crashing down.
“Listen!” she yelled. “We have been chased, family members have been murdered and my brother’s girlfriend turned out to be their goddamn leader!” She walked closer to the door, her breath visible on the glass. “Either you let us in or I will break this glass and let everything in.” Ali and the deputy stood facing each other, his gun still raised, level with her chest. “Either shoot me or stand back.” Ali picked up one of the stone pavers that decorated the flower beds surrounding the entrance.
“Wait, wait!” he said, finally lowering his gun. “Come in.” He took his keys out of his pocket and unlocked the door.
Ali dropped the slab and looked back at her friends. They all looked at her with a mixture of bewilderment and awe.
“Way to go, sis,” Caden spoke up and stepped up to her, slapping her on the back.
How to Buy
Writer by night, Information Security Associate by day. I currently live in Southern Arizona with my two sons. When not writing, I can be found curled up on my favorite chair with Kindle in hand, chauffeuring one (or both) of the boys to basketball practice/games or playing some mind-numbing game on my phone. I love the color blue, can’t get enough of Butter Pecan ice cream and will forever be in a power-struggle over the big screen TV with my youngest.