Harry’s was pretty sure he was in shock. The baby was coming and Emily said the city was destroyed. The gym was in chaos, the building itself broken and its contents tossed together in a jumble. He had been helping people injured by flying weights, machines and broken glass when Emily rang. People were cut and bruised but there was only one serious injury, Steven, the instructor on duty in the main gym who had been knocked out and whose leg now bent the wrong way.
It felt like a betrayal to leave him even though there was nothing he could do for him. Clients in the gym had included a doctor and an off duty paramedic who had instantly come to the boy’s aid. The side door of the building was the only way out, the front door blocked with rubble, the back apparently jammed closed. Aisha, the young instructor who’d been taking a class when the quake struck was trying to keep people calm and usher them out. She seemed perfectly unflappable and Harry was thankful for it. ‘I have to go,’ he told her. ‘The baby’s coming.’ She looked like she’d been about to argue but changed her mind.
Out in the staff car park at the back Harry could barely believe what he was seeing. Three cars parked behind the bakery were flattened, completely covered in bricks and rubble. Heart in his mouth he raced across, trying to peer through the grimy windows, hoping desperately that there had been no one inside. Something moved in the second car and his heart leapt into his mouth but it was a dog, a small fluffy white thing bouncing up and barking furiously at him even though the car it was protecting was now just scrap metal. Harry had no idea how they’d get the creature out.
He huffed in a relieved breath. He could see right into the kitchen of the bakery, everything looked perfectly normal, if you ignored the fact that there was no exterior wall. Thank god, there didn’t seem to be any injuries there.
His hands were shaking as he tried to get his key in the car door. Sarah had managed to chew up the remote door opener mechanism just yesterday. Jayden was trying to fix it. In the meantime he was back to the old fashioned key in the lock and he could barely manage.
Sitting in the car he took a moment to try phoning Jack. That didn’t work. Then he tried the kids’ mobiles; they all had them. No mobile phones seemed to be working. In desperation he sent Jack a text. “Ok?” Then he sent a bulk text to Kathleen, Jayden, Wilson and Jenny. “Cmng 2 gt u.B rdy”, and wondered inanely if they’d understand his version of text speak. Then he wondered if they’d even get the text in the first place. He threw his phone on the passenger seat.
Roads which an hour ago had been ordinary suburban streets were now four wheel drive territory. Harry’s car was just an ordinary sedan. He was negotiating a flooded street with unexpected sink holes and small hillocks when his phone chirped to say he had a text. He grabbed for it as he kept driving, trying to see who it was from. Kathleen. He stabbed at the buttons. “Wth Jny” she said.
So texts worked.
And Kathleen must have left high school and walked or possibly run three kilometres to get to her sister’s primary school. Another chirrup. Jack? No, Jayden. “U hv 2 sin us out”. Really? No one had signed Kathleen out.
Harry kept waiting for another text. It didn’t come.