End-Time Volcanic activity... Part 3 of 4
As the lady takes off, she is driving like a maniac, & the van careens & screeches around the corners I can tell the engine has seen better days by the way it shrieks & grinds in protest. I have to hold onto the racks to keep from being slammed around, even though I'm sitting; when I notice something sliding around on a bottom rack to my left, as we turn around another bend. I scoot over to look - it WAS a baby she was holding; it appeared to be unconscious, but with all the noise & crazy movements of the van, how could a baby be sleeping? The racks didn't look safe or comfortable to be laying on either, so I pick up the child & hold it closely, only then realizing that the baby was either very sick & drugged, or perhaps had suffered a head injury/concussion; because it wasn't just sleeping, but passed out cold - totally unresponsive. Horrified & afraid for the tiny child, I slowly & sickly realized that I just MIGHT be holding a dead baby in my arms; but the van schreechs sharply & distracts me from that thought, & then the older child suddenly flies out from whatever dark corner he was hidden in, slamming into a rack just a foot away & landing at my feet. I push forward past him & grab the back of the passenger side front seat for an anchor hoping to put the baby there to free up my hands - only to then realized that there was only a metal frame where the seat cushion & sitting part of the chair would have been. Someone had shoved a plastic crate in the empty space there instead of just replacing the chair, & the crate was filled up with greasy engine parts, tubing & tools, so no one could actually sit there if they wanted to.
Since I couldn't seek refuge there for me or the children, I turn around quickly, bracing my foot against a rack while pressing my back into the back of the passenger chair so I'm pinned between them; I move the infant to my left arm so I can reach over & grab the other boy to me, who instantly clings to me for comfort & safety. I lean down & press my cheek to the top his head as I wrap a protective arm around him, telling him "I got you baby, I won't let you go, I won't let you fall again" - and I can see out of the corner of my eye the mother suddenly glance over; I could tell she was surprised that I would look out for the welfare of her children. Seemingly reassured by that, she returned her attention to driving, & we continued on like that for what seemed like another hour.
When the van finally sputtered to a stop, I couldn't say if it was because we had reached the lady's destination, or because the engine had failed - or perhaps we just ran out of gas, who knows. But it was twilight now & the shadows were dark & long as I scooted out the back of the van. Without a word to me, the woman came around to the back & snatched her baby from my arms, who was just starting to come around, groggily. She barked a command at the exhausted little boy, & grabbing his hand, they fled away together into the oncoming night. I felt my stomach sink in fear for the children, as the mother had seemed so harsh & cold towards them but I reassured myself that she was just afraid & doing the best she could for them I had to remind myself they're not my responsibility. While I walked slowly, looking around to get my bearings, I realized I was VERY high up here - & yes - NOW I could tell this was definitely a mountain... or perhaps a dead volcano? I froze immediately. >> My mind clamps down on that thought immediately, ordering: DO NOT think about that, girlie, you NEED to focus.<< Accepting this, I purposefully put it out of my mind, & start walking faster to distract me; a little farther up this road here there is a very large, 3 story concrete building... an apartment? It's kinda like the kind you see in Michigan, with one main entrance in the front, & probably a rear emergency exit in the back... this was reassuring to me, for some reason (I'm from Michigan, originally).
Going up the front stairs & across the large front porch to the door, I felt myself relaxing a bit at the familiarity of it; the hallway inside is very wide & carpeted, with VERY widely spaced-out apartment doors, indicating that the apartments themselves were both spacious & luxurious inside; probably with amenities the rest of this island doesn't enjoy. THANK GOD, I think PLEASE let me be able to pick one of these locks. The thought of a shower was suddenly so enticing, I felt overwhelmed with the crazy urge to just break down one of the doors with brute force. Good thing I didn't try, though a thickset, balding & well dressed man suddenly comes walking down the stairs at the end of the hall. I glance up at him then away to the side as I walked towards him, as if I meant to purposefully pass him by to go up the way he just came down and I was seriously hoping I didn't look like I was loitering, as I didn't want any reason to be ordered out of the building.
As we neared each other, I can smell he's freshly groomed & pampered with some kind of pleasant, expensive smelling cologne; and the man addresses me with perfect English, saying, "I hope you're not staying in the building, are you? The few people that were actually here have already left since it's safer to be off shore; or at the very least - on the far side of the island - just in case, you know."
I look him in the eye as steadily as I can, saying "Oh, yes, I just wanted to grab a few small things & make sure everything's really locked up properly before I go. You never know these days, how people will act when they're running for the hills in fear". The man chuckles in a tired, sad sort of way & nods understandingly, as he continues down the hall & leaves the building. I rush up the steps to the top/third floor, happy to know that it would be deserted, & choose a door that's near the far end, away from the stairs. But I realize I don't actually know how I'm going to get in; frustrated, I shove my hands in my pants pockets and find I that I have stashed there a tiny yet powerful LCD flashlight on the left side, & two long, very narrow bits of oddly shaped metal & a paperclip in the right side - that were wrapped up in some tissue paper, explaining why I didn't feel them there prior. I sensed, vaguely, that it was a remarkable coincidence that I should have these items, but it did tie into my previous thought of picking a lock, so I really wasn't that surprised by this in the least although I cannot honestly say that I recall having actually put them in my pockets. Nevertheless, I quickly unbend the paperclip & shape it appropriately, and fit the other pieces of metal into the lock - which happens to be an old, skeleton key shaped keyhole. The thick, heavy door swings open easily after a few minutes work, & I quickly walk in & turn on the flashlight, happily closing the door & locking the additional triple bolt locks I find - to my delight - on the door's interior.
Looking around, so relieved I could cry I can feel the air in the apartment is surprisingly cool, & I could tell by the stillness & taste of it that no one had been there for quite a long time months, if not years. I can see a simple, cozy yet open living room area in front & to the right of me, with a gas fireplace on the far right wall ("now who would need THAT here" I think) & a posh stereo system along the wall horizontally next to me, with racks of CD's & DVD's on either side of it. Walking straight ahead & around a small corner to the left it opens immediately into a bedroom, without any wall of separation or doorway to enclose it from the living room. Taking up the majority of the room is the bed, which stands about 4 feet tall & must be King-sized, it's so spacious; & it has a gorgeous, lush white comforter spread out on it. It looks so soft & inviting that I forget everything else & walk over to the far side to sit down, experimenting. "Ahhhh", I sigh I think "heaven feels JUST LIKE THIS". I kick off my shoes & stretch out, knowing immediately that once I close my eyes, I will not be able to get up again; so I don't fight it - I just set the flashlight down on the little bedside table next to me, click the off button & sink into a deep, exhausted sleep...