30-Day Flash Challenge, Day 8
She was supposed to have gotten off two hours ago, and she is exhausted, as tired as she’s ever been.
Suzy pulls her name tag off her Nurse’s smock and places it in the center console. She flicks her smartphone on, unlocks the screen, sees she has a lot of new notifications.
Clicking the text message app open, she sees several of the messages are from Mindy.
Mindykins – 8:13 PM – Yo, wassup, girl? Hey, I heard a weird story on NPR. Something about experts advising people not to look at the moon tonight? Did you hear about this? You know me, I depend upon my Suzy Q for anything science-y like this, please advise. LOL! I know you don’t get off for another 45 minutes, but I was spinning.
What is that girl smoking now? Still, it’s not like Mindy to play pranks. Suzy advances to the next text message.
Mindykins – 8:38 PM – I’m really starting to freak here. The moon stuff? I’m like WTF! Sorry, I broke down and tried calling you a few minutes ago. Sorry girl! I know Dr. Peters still makes all nurses switch off phones, lock em up, etc. I swear that man is a tyrant! You need to get a better gig. Call me?
“Moon stuff? What is she talking about?” Suzy says to herself, sets her phone down, turns onto Preston.
She flips the radio station from jazz to NPR. She catches the tail end of a report.
” … and to repeat, the CDC and NASA are advising every American citizen against watching the full moon tonight. Especially between 10:15 and 10:45 PM, central standard time. We don’t fully understand the science, but the UV sunlight reflecting from the moon is supposed to be as harmful as the sunlight during a total lunar eclipse. Stay tuned for updates as they happen.
That was a screw-up at NPR; they didn’t make many mistakes. It was already after 11 PM. It was obviously a pre-recorded segment.
Well, that sounds like some made-up, War-of-the-World’s nonsense, Suzy thinks. She was a nurse, but she didn’t understand astronomy. In college, Suzy had dated a guy briefly that loved to talk about it. Suzy must have absorbed more than she’d realized. She floats her Nissan into the left turn lane at Frankford; the light is red, so she picks up her phone again and unlocks the screen.
She scans her notifications before returning to Mindy’s meltdown.
FACEBOOK – 10:09 PM – Pete posted three new photos. “Check it out. The moon is rad tonight..,” Click to open.
Suzy moves her finger towards the link but then swipes the notification, removing it from the queue.
“What the hell was that Suzy?” she asks herself, feeling spooked.
She chalks it up to Mindy’s anxiety and having worked a FOURTEEN hour day rather than her anticipated, TWELVE.
Mindykins – 9:17 PM – Okay, real funny girl! Answer your damn phone already. I know you’re off now. I need to shut the news off, but I can’t. The reports are horrible. Call me before I melt entirely? Seriously.
Mindy had been Suzy’s best friend for years, but she was wound pretty tightly. Suzy winces with a stab of guilt about working late tonight. The ER had been crazy. She suddenly realizes that this is probably all moon-related. Somehow this piece must connect with whatever Mindy had been seeing. For the last two and half hours, Suzy had assisted Dr. Warner as he removed three bullets from a seventeen-year-old boy. The boy nearly died, but they got him out of the woods at least. He may end up losing his right arm, but they at least saved his life. For now, at any rate.
Suzy stops at the red light at Coit and resumes scrolling through her notifications.
HuffPost – 10:09 PM – “BLOODBATH in Baltimore Moon Watching Party: Despite nationwide, official press releases discouraging …” CLICK to OPEN.‘
Suzy swipes the notification into oblivion. Her anxiety is rising. She should call Mindy, but she needs to get some ground under her feet before doing so.
MINDYKINS – 10:03 PM – Look, I’m sorry for being such an anxious worrywart earlier. If I did something to piss you off, please forgive me and call me. My neighbor, the hot firefighter I told you about? He gave me a dot of Ass Id (winky face). The colors are electric. Still, call me? Mkay?
“Jesus Christ, with the antidepressant cocktail she’s on, she has zero business doing acid,” she says to no one. She flicks the radio back on, returns to the smooth jazz station, anything that will calm her mounting anxiety.
Suzy whips the Maxima into a parking lot, does a U-turn, then heads towards Mindy’s apartment.
FACEBOOK – 10:22 PM – Laurie posted: “OMG! Pete is dead! He fell off his apartment building. His last …“CLICK TO OPEN FACEBOOK for ANDROID.
Suzy again swipes the notification away, sees the light is green, sets the phone down, and continues towards Mindy’s.
Suzy feels divided by two opposing desires. She wants to be a responsible motorist and a good friend but she also feels the pressing need to be at Mindy’s now. She will not do well on acid.
Sighing loudly, Suzy whips her car into a Wendy’s parking lot, unlocks her phone, continues to read her notifications.
MINDYKINS – 10:23 PM – I apologize for being so needy earlier. Lloyd, the weird guy with the man-bun in 3C, has organized a moon-watching party tonight. Max and I are going up to look at it. The whole thing is stupid; the moon can’t hurt me. I’m going to be okay! Come on over if you’re still my friend and want to.
Suzy has the sneaking suspicion that is the last she will ever hear from her best friend.
When she arrives at Mindy’s building seven minutes later, the street is awash in light. Not from the streetlights or the moon. The entire top of Mindy’s apartment building is on fire.
Suzy steps from her car in a daze. Then she hears the splats the burning corpses make as they hit the sidewalk in front of the building.
Suddenly Suzy is sure that Mindy’s body is among the charred corpses already on the ground.
Despite its futility, Suzy begins the task of looking for and helping any survivors.