It felt like Christiana was surrounded in a thick fog. She wanted to get through it, she could see a light but she couldn’t quite work out how to reach it. Connor was there. She could hear his voice somewhere in the distance. She focussed on it, trying to form his noise into words.
“She wouldn’t leave the room, you know what she’s like!”
There was another voice, softer, female. She couldn’t make out what she was saying. Soon Connor was talking again. He sounded close.
“I got her out as soon as I could Kelly, she’s here isn’t she?”
Kelly’s voice was the female voice.
“Don’t, I didn’t know she was going to be right behind the door.”
“She’s fine. Just a bump, she should come around shortly.”
This voice was a new voice. A man. She didn’t recognise it.
“What about her arms?” Connor’s voice again.
“Not too much to worry about. Nothing a bit of Aloe Vera won’t clear up. It’s more you that I’m worried about.”
“Connor, Gary's right, just let him have a look at-“
“Can we please just focus on the unconscious one please?” Connor’s voice sounded stern, he was worried.
“I will have you know that I am a pretty competent doctor, I can, in fact, treat both of you.” The man’s voice again.
“I’m not moving until she wakes up.”
“Fine, then sit still.”
There was a grunt from Connor and some rustling. Then silence. No words. No sounds. Wait, except one. A ticking. Was it a clock? Christiana concentrated on the steady ticking and used it to pull her further out of the fog. She became aware of a weight on her hand. Someone was holding it. It was warm and inviting. She focused on the hand instead and willed her hand to move in it. It worked.
“Christie?” Connor’s voice again. Christiana smiled. “Christie, can you hear me?”
Christiana opened her mouth to answer and was suddenly struck by a sharp pain in the back of her head.
“Ow.” She said and instinctively reached her free hand to touch the tender spot.
She opened her eyes to a white room. It was blurry. Bright lights were all around her. She tried to pull the room into focus but she couldn’t quite do it. She felt so groggy.
“Christie? Careful. Try not to move.” The voice was the other male. “How do you feel?”
“I hit my head.” She answered. “Connor landed on me.”
Kelly let out a small snort of laughter. Christiana shut her eyes, squeezing them tight, and opened them again. The room started to come into focus.
“I think you’ll find it was your fault.” Connor said. His voice lighter and displaying a hint of amusement. Christiana turned to see him sitting at the side of the bed. “I mean, seriously, who stands behind a door that quite clearly swings backwards?”
Christiana managed a sneer and attempted to sit up.
“Woah, careful now.” It was the other voice, had Kelly called him Gary? She turned to see a man in his mid thirties holding out his hands to steady her. “You’re going to feel a little woozy for a bit.”
He helped Christiana up into a sitting position and got her to focus on him. Shining a light in her eyes and getting her to follow his finger.
“She’s good.” He said finally. “Like I said.” He turned back to Connor who was still staring at Christiana and eyeing her suspiciously.
“Are you sure?” He asked.
“Get a grip Connor, she was out for 10 minutes. It was hardly a life and death situation.” Kelly said.
That was when it hit her. Why was Kelly here? And where was she? Wasn’t this meant to be a restaurant? She looked around the room. White walls, sterilised equipment, bays of beds on either side of her, all empty. Had she been taken to the hospital?
“Where am I?” She asked.
“Think of it as a clinic,” The other man said. “I’m Dr Markham. You can go ahead and call me Gary though.”
Suddenly another wave of memories came flooding in, exploding trees, screaming people. She turned to Connor.
“What happened out there? All that fire?” Her arms started to sting and she remembered the burning sun. “That heat outside?”
Connor and Kelly shot each other a look before Connor looked back at Christiana.
“Christie, if I tell you something now, you have to promise me that you will not freak out.”
“What’s going on?”
“You also have to promise us that you won’t say a word to anyone else about it for now.” Kelly said.
“Guys, you’re freaking me out.”
“Just promise us.” Kelly said.
“Fine, I promise.” Christiana said.
“There’s been a terrorist attack.” Kelly said. “It was located at Stratford. You were brought here for your protection. You’re safe for as long as you are in this building.”
“A terrorist attack? I don’t understand.”
“We’ve been bombed Christie.” Connor said.
Christiana’s brain went into overdrive, bombed? How?
“What about everyone else at work? Are they okay?”
“They’re fine,” Kelly said. “We brought you here because there was a threat at more than one location and me being me wanted to make sure that you were safe. Luckily though, it would appear that all locations were neutralised... apart from Stratford.
“The damage is serious but located to only one place.” She continued. “As such, we have been put on lock down until the situation has been brought under control.”
“Wait, what?” Christiana said. “I’m confused, where are we?”
“Kelly asked me to bring you here.” Connor said. “To keep you safe. We’re in the same building that you entered, you know, shortly before you banged your head.”
“Think of it as a glorified bunker with extra perks.” Kelly added.
“Are there others here?” Christiana asked.
“We managed to save a large population of the area, yes.” Kelly answered. “But here’s the thing; none of them know what is going on. It was felt that, with the threat being as serious as it was, it was best not to tell the people in the building why they are here. It keeps the place safe from mass hysteria breaking out.”
Christiana closed her eyes and tried to focus on letting the information sift through her brain. Her head hurt a lot, this seemed to only make it worse.
“I know it’s a lot to take in and it may be a lot to ask,” Kelly continued, “but we need you to promise that you keep this information to yourself Christiana. It’s really important that we keep this haven as safe as possible for as long as we can.”
Christiana didn’t say anything, she didn’t move. Keeping her eyes closed, she sifted through the images of what had happened outside through her head. Something didn’t add up but she couldn’t put her finger on it.
“Christie?” Connor said. “Are you okay?”
“It didn’t feel like we were being bombed.” Christiana said eventually, as she located the exact thing that irked her. “It felt... different. Like it was something else.”
“You never really know what a bombing is going to feel like until you go through it.” Kelly said.
Christiana turned to Connor who looked uncomfortable.
“Is that what it was like for you?” She asked. “You know, the first time you were attacked?”
“Sure,” Connor said, although he seemed to avoid Christiana’s gaze. “I mean it wasn’t exactly the same, but then each experience is different.”
Christiana looked down at her arms, red and slightly blistered. “What about these?” She asked.
“You must have both got too close to an explosion.” Kelly offered.
“No, it wasn’t that.” Christiana said. “Was it Connor? It felt like... like it was the sun.”
Kelly let out a laugh, although it seemed a little forced. “The sun? Are you telling me you guys were late because you were sunbathing?”
“We were out in it for no more than a couple of minutes.” Connor answered, clearly irritated.
“It was really hot Kelly, this wasn’t from an explosion. This was from...”
“So you believe that you were burnt from the sun overheating rather than the possibility that one of the burning balls of fire all around you?”
Christiana thought about it, it did seem ridiculous. Was she really thinking that?
“Look, you’ve experienced a traumatic event and you’ve hit your head pretty hard. Chances are you’ve just got things a little muddled, that’s all.” Kelly said.
“Is that what you think?” Christiana directed her question to Connor.
Connor sighed and looked her in the eye. “It makes sense.”
Christiana wanted to say more but she was clearly not going to get anywhere with this conversation. She had to consider that she was just confused. Kelly was right, it had been a pretty traumatic event.
“You know what I think?” Gary offered into the quiet. “I think you need to take this girl out and get her socialising. There’s not much else that we can do from in here apart from wait this out. At least the worst is over now. The emergency services will deal with the rest out there and we’ll be out before we know it.”
“Socialising?” Christiana asked.
“I’m afraid you’ve missed the grand entrance to this place due to you being unconscious and everything, but there is a lot better places here than this plain room.” Gary said. He took Christiana’s hand softly and smiled at her with kind eyes. “You’ve had a close call, you really don’t need to be worrying about it, otherwise you will drive yourself crazy. Let Connor take you for the meal you had planned and see if you can’t change the day around and make it a little better, huh?”
“What about everyone outside?”
“The damage really was mainly down to property Christiana, we got the majority of the population to safety.” Kelly said.
“There seemed a lot of people out there.”
“Christie.” Connor said. “Gary's right. Take it from a guy who knows, you need to just forget about what happened for now. Trust that we have it under control and try and take your mind off the whole thing.”
Christiana sighed. Connor seemed more confident and seemed to instil a bit more confidence in her. “Okay.” She said.
“Just one little injection for you both and then you can go off on your way.”
“Injection?” Christiana asked.
“Tetanus.” Gary explained. “For the bumps and scrapes.”
Gary gave them both the injection, finished off dressing the burns on the back of Connor’s neck and sent them on their way.
“I’d suggest that you steer clear of drinking alcohol for the next 48 hours though.” Gary said, as Connor led her out the white room. “Probably not the best idea after a head injury.”