Part 4 of 5
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I met Kayla mid-morning the next day in the concourse outside of Glenna’s Gifts. The concourse was busy, Christmas was only a day away. I had my eye on a bracelet made from gold found right here on Mars with a red Martian stone set in the middle for my mom. She lounged on the bench until Tommie and Albert showed up, then the rest of the gang. Amber showed up last, Tayln getting up to give her his spot on the bench.
“What’s the news?” Amber asked.
I shrugged. “Just Christmas.”
Tayln laughed. “Oh. It’s going to be a good one, all right.”
Amber gave him a look that was plainly meant to mean shut up.
“Something going on?” I didn’t like the way Tayln was grinning. He was up to something.
Amber sighed. “Nothing important.” She changed the subject and it was an hour before we all began to drift away.
“Don’t be on the concourse on Christmas Day,” Amber said to us before we left.
Again, Tayln smirked.
“Why not?” I liked to come down to hear the Choral Society sing. It was something my family always did. I’d even sent a message to the Korians about it.
Amber shook her head. “Just don’t.” She turned and left, Tayln on her heels.
Everyone else was gone, even Kayla so I couldn’t ask her what she thought about Amber’s comment. Did she mean something was planned? Something bad? I didn’t like it. I went to the Security office at the end of the concourse. At the desk I asked for my dad then sat down to wait. He came a few minutes later and took me back to his console.
“What’s up, pumpkin?” He drew up a chair for me and sat in his spot.
“I don’t know for sure, Dad.” I took a breath. “Something Amber said a few minutes ago.”
“Not to come to the concourse on Christmas. But we always go, to hear the music. Why would she say that?” I twisted my hands in my lap.
He turned to his console. “What’s her last name?”
He typed a few strokes. I could see her file come up. The picture was from last year. Her hair was longer now. His fingers tapped on the desk as he read. “Anyone else?”
“Tayln Roose. They both talk about separating from Earth.”
He typed and Tayln’s file came up. Dad read and sighed, then typed some more. Other reports came up, which I was too far away to read. “She talk about a time?”
I shook my head.
His fingers twitched on the keyboard. “Could be nothing.” He spun his chair around to face me. “Thanks for bringing it in.” He stood up. “I’ll check it out.”
He walked me out and I wandered down the concourse. What if it was something? Something bad. I hoped not.
The next morning was Christmas. Mom loved the bracelet and Dad loved the new shirt I’d bought them. They gave me three new games, just up from Earth, a new tunic top and a bracelet. The bracelet had a tiny button and when I pushed it, a tiny hologram of mom and dad appeared over the bracelet. I couldn’t wait to show Kayla.
Mid-afternoon we went to the main concourse. I was a little worried. “But what about Amber?” I asked dad in a soft voice so mom couldn’t hear.
“We rounded up some agitators yesterday.” He wagged an eyebrow at me. “It’s all taken care of.”
That made me feel better. I took his hand as we walked along. “Good.” I saw the Korians at the concert spot and introduced my parents to them. We sat together and enjoyed the music. Afterward, we were all walking together back to our berths, when from behind us, at the end of the tunnel where the Security office was, there was an explosion. The blast knocked me and Ali off of our feet. People were screaming and smoke filled the air. I could hear the blast doors slam shut, trapping us in the tunnel.
Idai was yelling, “What do we do? What do we do?”
Dad pulled me and mom together. “Get them,” he pointed with his chin, “Somewhere safe. I’ve got to go.”
Mom nodded. “Be safe.”
Dad ran toward the blast site and disappeared into the smoke and crowd. I grabbed Ali’s hand. “Stay with us.”
Mom got Idai and David together and pushed David to take Zane’s hand. “Follow me.”
She led us to the other end of the concourse. Many of the shops already had their blast doors shut. She hustled us into Frank’s Grocery, just as Frank was closing the blast doors. “Come on,” he said as he waved us in. “Hurry.”
We hustled in and joined the small crowd at the back of the store. The blast door clanged shut. Frank came to the back. “We don’t know how long this is going to be so everyone get comfortable. I let go of Ali’s hand and she went to her mother. All of us had smoke streaked faces. We sat down, backs against the shelves and I leaned my head on mom’s shoulder, her arm around me. The Korians sat across from us.
“It’ll be fine,” Mom told them. “I’m just sorry this happened so soon after you’ve arrived.”
David nodded, his arm around Idai. “What do you think happened, the separatists?”
“We won’t know until it’s over.” Mom shook her head. “Sorry.”
He gripped his wife tighter and with his other arm, hugged his son. Idai had her arm around Ali. “So be it.”
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