Fog rolled in quickly as Sadie squinted to see what was ahead of her. She could hear her footsteps echoing loudly as she walked across the long wooden dock beneath her feet. Nearby, she heard water splashing under the dock and children playing; giggling as they tend to do. All at once, the fog dissipated. The darkened sky stood before her, its vast expanse clear and brimming with stars. A woman in a luxuriously long red gown floated in the sky, moving as if she were underwater. She spun gracefully in the sky, rotating playfully as Sadie looked on in awe. She stretched out her hand towards Sadie who in turn stretched out her own. Before their fingers could touch, Mother Dear appeared before her, seeming to fall from somewhere above.
“Get out of here, NOW!!” the old woman shouted, pushing her forcefully.
Sadie sat up startled in her bed. The room was filled with smoke and the crackling sound of fire. Mrs. Johanna stood at her door yelling in a way that she couldn’t quite comprehend. Panic and fear cluttered her mind. Slowly, a piercing noise came through as her ears began to register their primary function.
“WE’VE GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE, RIGHT NOW!” Mrs. Johanna bellowed loudly over the increasing noise of the burning building. The stout woman turned quickly and ran down the hallway, knocking frantically on every door to make sure her patrons were guided to safety.
Sadie jumped out of bed to follow. She stopped before she hit the door, remembering, and ran back to the bed, grabbing her handbag and forcefully slinging it across her shoulder while shoving her feet into her flats. Looking toward the window, the sky had grown much darker. She saw people running through the streets.
Guests from every room filed into the hallway clothed in only pajamas, completely disoriented. The front of The Cypress Inn was covered in flames from floor to ceiling. Smoke filled every corner of the room and the cheerful green wallpaper had begun to curl as it caught fire. Mrs. Johanna and a strong looking gentleman were at the bottom of the steps making sure that everyone made it down safely. She could be heard shouting directions to guests and employees alike.
“TO THE KITCHEN! THERE’S A BACK EXIT!!” she called over the noise of the crowd.
One of the chefs burst through the door, followed closely by the group of people scrambling for their lives. Gunshots seemed to ring out into the night. That can’t be right. Sadie thought to herself. It must be the building’s structure, breaking down quickly. The group moved out to the street and ran behind the swell of people yelling out to each other for information.
At the tail end of the group, Sadie began to follow the dispersing crowd. A scream and crash from inside of the building drew her attention back. The sound didn’t seem to register with the rest of the group. She scanned the alley, quickly noting that they were two members short. With as much courage as she could muster, she ran back inside the burning building. Instantly, smoke filled her lungs and her eyes began to swell with tears. She covered her mouth and squinted, trying to see who was calling out.
Another weak, “Help,” rang out to her left. Mrs. Johanna lay pinned to the wall by the kitchen icebox breathing heavily.
“Oh no. Oh no,” Sadie mumbled, trying to lift the heavy box off of Mrs. Johanna. Panicking, she searched the room. Her eyes found the helpful gentleman from before pinned under a beam, unmoving as flames grew ever closer to his feet.
“He pushed me out of the way,” Mrs. Johanna coughed. “Stupid boy.” Her focus came in waves, she seemed to be losing consciousness.
Sadie’s feet slid wildly on the floor as she desperately tried to gain the correct footing to pick up the icebox. As frustration mounted within her, she began to feel helpless. The ice box was heavy and Mrs. Johanna’s breaths were coming with less frequency. Mrs. Johanna smiled weakly at her and closed her eyes. “Go,” she said quietly, accepting her fate.
Sadie froze taking in the woman’s face. If there was ever a time to do magic—
“Deplase!” she screamed, waving her hand in a sharp upward motion. The icebox lifted in the air and flew across the room, slamming into a clock on the parallel wall.
Mrs. Johanna, now unpinned from the wall, slumped to the side with a soft thud. Sadie checked quickly for a pulse and found one. She’s going to make it, thought Sadie reassured. With renewed energy, she gathered her strength, threw Mrs. Johanna over her shoulder, and briskly rushed with all her might to the back door.
The night air provided instant relief to her inflamed lungs. She inhaled deeply in gratitude before placing Mrs. Johanna down gently on the ground. Where did everyone go? She thought helplessly. Was there some sort of fire exit strategy meeting that she was unaware of?
Walking from the alley to the street, she tried to see if she could find someone to help. Panicked residents seemed to come from every corner, racing down the avenue, hiding in shadows, and clinging to the sides of the buildings. Desperately, she flailed her arms to get someone’s, anyone’s attention. The group largely moved onward, seemingly unaware of the young woman in need of help. The street grew still and silent in no time at all. The crowd was all gone and she and Mrs. Johanna were left to fend for themselves.
Near tears, Sadie quickly began to talk herself through what needed to be done. Ducking back in the alley, she fretted over Mrs. Johanna.
“Ede Seyè a.” she mumbled to herself. Mrs. Johanna definitely needed help. She needed to think of a solution.
Heavy footsteps broke her concentration.
“Son, we have to get you to Doctor Carver’s,” scolded an elderly woman’s voice.
“We have to get out of here, everything towards Carver’s house is in flames,” said a gruff voice.
Sadie turned to see a large man limping in the direction the others had run to. A small frail looking woman with white hair clung to his arm, arguing as they went.
“Excuse me! Excuse me!” Sadie called out loudly, rushing towards them.
A car turned on the street a few blocks down and began to accelerate. The giant man grabbed his mother’s arm and ran towards her.
“Shhhhhh!” he said, quickly pulling them into the shadow of the neighboring building and shielding them with his frame. A surprised but alert Sadie fell silent at once. Remembering Mrs. Johanna, she silently thought of a protection shield and cast it on them.
The car aggressively pulled up to the mouth of the alleyway and Sadie saw that it was full of armed white men. Her heartbeat quickened and she prayed that the shield would hold. The men looked left and right, clearly on the hunt for the man and woman.
“I saw them come this way,” said one, looking frustrated. He got out of the car, rifle in hand.
“There ain’t nobody in there!” shouted the older looking man in the passenger seat. More complaints rang out from the group of men huddled in the truck bed as he walked towards the group’s hiding place.
“Henry, let’s go!” said a dark haired man, “We’re missing the action!”
The man took one last look in their direction and fired two shots toward the end of the alley. The bullets hit the brick wall mere inches away from Mrs. Johanna. He let out a whoop of celebration and hopped back into his truck, pulling off into the night.
Sadie and the others stayed in their position, listening intently for the car to move further off in the distance. Shocked and frightened, she ducked deeper into the alley running back to Mrs. Johanna, careful to adhere to the shadow cast by the neighboring building. If they were going to get out of this, they would have to be careful. She opened her handbag.
“Vini elixir,” she said, pointing at the opening. A small bottle of lavender potion rose from the bag into her hand. She uncorked it then, cradling Mrs. Johanna’s head, emptied its contents into her mouth and laid her back down.
“They—They didn’t see us,” the man whispered in disbelief.
It was still dark in this little portion of the alley and Sadie knew that in a few short moments, Mrs. Johanna would be ready to move. She glanced nervously at the building, its flames had only grown higher and taller since they had gotten out. Pacing side to side she began to formulate a plan. Where will we go? Sadie racked her brain trying to remember the details of the Greenwood Map. Surely there had been a shelter nearby. The pacing gathered up more speed as she focused.
“You have to do something about that leg,” the small woman said with a stamp of her foot.
“Do you see what’s going on out here?! We have to get somewhere safe!” argued the man.
Their argument pulled Sadie from her thoughts. “Oh, I’m sorry.” she said briskly. “Why don’t you let me take a look at that. I have some first aid supplies in my bag here .”
A justified look spread across the old woman’s face. She pushed her son slightly towards Sadie. “I’m Ms. Catherine by the way. What’s your name, honey?”
“Sadie. Sadie Latimer” she replied kindly as she pulled her bag around, kneeling.
“This here is my son, John. He’s stubborn like his daddy, God rest him,” she said with a side eye as the man sat down in front of her.
John lifted his pant leg to reveal a large shard of glass embedded in his calf.
“Oh my. What happened here?” Sadie said, pulling bandages and elixir from her bag.
“When we were running, something big―felt like a bomb—dropped on Jenkins’ ice cream shop. Only feet from us. Glass shattered,” he sighed.
Sadie frowned and went to work pulling out the shard with tweezers. He watched impressed as she successfully dislodged the glass, cleaned his wound, and dressed it with bandages.
“Do that a lot do ya?” he questioned with raised eyebrows.
“Say thank you,” said Ms. Catherine with a quick slap to his back.
“Thank you, Miss,” he said obediently. “Looks like, I owe you one.”
“Well, you saved my life first,” Sadie said remembering the car.
“Is your friend alright?” Ms. Catherine interrupted, indicating towards the completely laid out Mrs. Johanna.
Quickly, Sadie spun around toward Mrs. Johanna, worrying slightly about the woman not rising yet. The elixir was taking longer than she expected and they needed to move. Frowning, she tried to remember the exact time that she had administered the elixir. As if reading her mind, Mrs. Johanna let out a soft grunt and began to slowly move herself upright. Feeling all at once grateful and determined, Sadie moved to assist her.
A deafening sound rumbled high above them, shaking the windows of the nearby buildings and making the group cower in fear. The sound grew increasingly louder as it made its way from the opposite side of town. She traced the trajectory of the noise until her eyes found the source. High in the night sky, Sadie noticed…an airplane?
The group looked on in confusion. Was the plane here to help? The Great War had ended years ago, had it made its way back? As the plane flew high overhead, it was hard to tell if it was friend or foe. Before there was a moment to decide, a large ball of fire fell from the aircraft landing on a building five doors down.The windows burst forth loudly and the fire took up residence inside the home. A collective yelp came from them as they looked on in horror.
“Okay. We can’t stand here anymore,” Sadie said, turning to face the group. “It’s not safe.”
Mrs. Johanna, John, and Ms. Catherine nodded in agreement.
“John, where were y’all—”
Out of the corner of her eye, Sadie saw something moving quickly. A fiery red brick was making its way towards her, gaining speed rapidly as it descended from the roof of the Cypress. Before she had time to move or protect herself, the brick made direct impact with her head. She let out a startled yelp and after a few slow blinks of surprise, Sadie fell to the ground on her knees. A dark mist clouded her vision and slowly the concerned faces of the group began to fade. She slumped sideways, facing the street. A group of children being led by a familiar figure of a man was the last thing she saw before everything went black.