14. The Stars and Stripes Forever
The screen door to Kris’s house opened abruptly and Kris heard someone wrapping their knuckles against the wooden front door. “If there is anyone alive in this house, open up!” A voice called out. His sounded sharp and stern – pure business. Kris immediately hated him. The tone of his voice reminded her of a piece-of-shit guy she met at a college party. Bastard wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Loosen up, baby. It’s just a shot of Vlady. Won’t hurt anything. The Voice reminded her. But six shots and three beers later, Kris found herself on the bathroom floor of the frat house, screaming for him to stop and anyone that was nearby only peered in the door to watch it unfold. No one pulled him off of her. No one tried to save her like they always did in the movies. That was the day Kris decided that the only person she could depend on was herself and to hell with anyone that tried to get in her way.
And once again, Jeff had proven her wrong. He had drifted into her life, not caring about what baggage she had. Hand in hand, he walked the road of recovery with her. By his words and actions, he had won her heart and her trust, never asking her to be anything other than what she was. It was them against the world…
Us against the world.
Kris groaned and turned over in her bed. Maybe if she ignored him, the man with the prick-ish voice would go away. The silence that followed that was long enough for Kris to drift back off into blissful slumber. Then the knocking returned and she was jarred from her sleep. “If no one comes to open this door in 15 seconds, we’re breaking down the door.”
Jeff always told her that you could tell a lot about a person by the way they sounded. If he sounds like a sumbitch, then he is a sumbitch. Dealing with people on a regular basis gave him a wonderful, insightful view of humanity. He had a unique talent to look at someone and immediately know everything about them. It was a trait Kris had always deeply admired.
“Fuck me,” Kris murmured and rolled out of bed, “Yeah, I’m here. I’ll be right there,” she shouted. The room was completely dark as Kris shuffled awkwardly across the floor to her antique Rococo, six drawer dresser. It was painted dark teal with black stripes sponge-painted onto its face. The antiques dealer almost had a heart attack when Kris told them what she was going to do with the iconic piece of furniture. But like with most things, Kris didn’t give a fuck what anyone else said. It was her way, or the highway. Christ, what time is it? She thought and looked to her side table clock. It was flashing 12:00, 12:00, 12:00. Red flashing lights. It made her feel desperately uneasy. There must have been a power surge sometime when she was sleeping. One, two, three o’clock, four o’clock rock, the Voice sang. Shut it! Kris screamed in response.
Kris shook her head, trying to clear the Voice out of her mind. She pulled open the top drawer and grabbed the first panties and bra she could find. Pulling out the second and third drawers she grabbed khaki coloured linen Bermuda shorts and a plumb coloured long sleeved tee shirt, respectively. She pulled them onto her body as she hopped her way over to the door and opened it by a crack.
The men standing on her front porch were not from the police department. The two of them wore green military digital camo with heavy black boots and huge guns that Kris didn’t recognize. They did not carry a sense of calm control. Their presence actually pissed her off. As the door opened, the men tightly raised their guns in a greeting. She greeted them with the raise of her right eyebrow in response, “Can I help you?”
It was obvious that the men in fatigues were not impressed as one of them roughly pushed the door open, shoving Kris to the side. “What the fuck!” She yelled as she stumbled over herself and tripped to to the floor. The two men took the liberty of inviting themselves inside her home. Kris noted that their boots were muddy as they took a step into her tiny foyer. Mud ran down the side of their boots and dripped down onto her restored cork floor. Bastards.
“Were you bit?” The one on the right said, pointing his overly ambitious gun in her face. He was the one that sounded like the prick from college.
She glared up at him from the floor, incredulous. “What? No,” she spat at him. “Why the hell do you even care?”
“We’re clearing everyone out of the area. Get your shit in gear. Don’t bother with any weapons; bring only what you need.”
“Clearing everyone out?” She asked as she stood up. Kris looked over at them, hoping for a response. The two men only stood there, watching her intently with their jaws tightly clenched down. They were silent.
Kris was seething as she packed four days worth of clothing, six apples, four packets of Lance crackers, two bottles of water, sunscreen, a Maglight flashlight and a change of batteries. These pricks were treating her like a criminal in her own home. What right did they have? If Jeff were here…
She pushed the thought aside as she moved from the bedroom and back through the kitchen. Kris had traded her linen pants and bare feet for denim cropped shorts and heavy, steel-toed Timberland boots (Daisy Dukes, bikinis on top, she thought as she laced them up) and walked back into the living room. The military men never moved as she slung her backpack over her shoulder and stood in front of them. Kris stood at 5’7” and she could look the one with the prick-ish voice in the eye. So she did.
The man shifted his weight out of annoyance and then snapped, “Let’s move,” and stepped to one side to let Kris walk past him. They were in tight against her, rapidly moving her across the deck, down the stairs, across the sand and threw her into the back of the green Humvee. “Lovely manners, gentlemen,” she muttered and they closed the door in her face.
Inside the back of the vehicle with her were two men and she didn’t recognize either of them and they certainly didn’t look like locals. One of them had blood streaked through his silver hair and over his hands. He was shaking violently as he stared at the floor. The other man had red hair and was looking absent-mindedly out of the Humvee window. He was humming “Stars and Stripes Forever” lightly to himself and his fingers were drumming against the seat, mimicking the part of the low brass. As the Humvee bounced over the sand, Kris could see that the man covered in blood was getting progressively more and more angry at the ginger opposed to him. Each time the other man’s digits hit the seat, the blood-stained man cringed and gritted his teeth.
The Humvee bounded across a yard and rattled onto route 12, heading south towards Hatteras Island. That seemed strange to Kris. Why would they take them farther away from the mainland? Route 12 ended in a ferry that would take them down to Ocracoke Island and from Ocracoke Island, they could take another ferry inland to either Swan Quarter or Cedar Island. Both of those areas were rather remote and very under populated. If they were going to set up a quarantine, those would be ideal locations. The only reason Kris could see that they would bother taking the ferries was because the main road was completely blocked. Just the idea of the road being impassable even by military made her uneasy.
“Hey,” the man with silver hair and black swimming trunks said, “Could you stop humming? I’m dealing with a lot of shit, here.” Kris could hear that his tone was sharp, pinched and boarder-line hysterical. If the military men sitting the front seats heard anything, they were ignoring it completely.
Expression of rage can be very intense, often distinguished by distorted facial expressions and by threat (or execution) of a physical attack. Rage is associated with individuals who experience psycho-pathological issues. This can lead to physical violence resulting in serious injury or death.
The red-haired man suddenly changed from soft humming to a whistle. As the pitch of the whistle approached piccolo heights, the silver-haired man growled through clenched teeth. “If you don’t shut the hell up, I am going to make you shut up.”
The singer paid him no mind and the tone of his whistle went higher and higher as the piccolo solo hit its peak. Kris watched a vein on the silver-haired man bulge out of his head and a bellow exploded out of his mouth. In a flash, the ginger had his face mashed up against the bullet-proof glass. Blood stained hands were driving his forehead into the glass again and again. With each blow, the grey-haired man shouted in triumph and screamed, “Watch you sing now, you fat fuck!”
“Jesus Christ!” Kris yelled, throwing herself back against the seat of the vehicle. His head smashed into the glass until Kris saw blood trickling down the side of the Humvee. The man was convulsing now and Kris heard his heart stutter and then stop beating. The men in uniform in the front were shouting now and the vehicle screeched to a stop. Kris’s body lurched forward and her head bounced against the back of the driver’s-side seat. Silver Hair turned her way and had an insane smile on his face. His head was tilted slightly to the side as he said, “You’re next, princess,” and lunged for her. Kris screamed and felt the dome around her harden into a solid brick wall. The man’s fingers collided with the shield and he shouted in pain, gripping his hands as if he had jammed them in a car door. The man looked at her with pure horror on his face and just as he was about to dive at her again, the military men opened the Humvee door and tore him from his seat.
“She’s one of them!” He roared. “She’s one of those freaks that killed my Emily!”