Thirty-one (part 3)

Breath burned in Brendan’s lungs and his vision blurred.  It was a long way from base down to the shore—a few kilometers, a long way for someone to be running full-tilt, especially someone who had barely recovered from major trauma and a following series of surgeries.

The sirens were still going, but they wailed at a city that was all but empty of bystanders; its population had sought safety only a few minutes after the first blast of sound.  In a city with as many psychics as Nova Spexi, it was somehow easy to know the difference between a drill and a situation where the danger was very, very real.

Fighters screamed overhead, arcing upward through the atmosphere, toward the approaching ships that Brendan knew were heading for orbit.  He hoped that they’d avoid some kind of orbital bombardment, but the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach that might have been his and might have been hers told him different.

Things were about to get very, very messy.

Very, very quickly.

He wanted to throw up but there wasn’t time for that.

His feet hit the last stretch of ground between the main road and the shore.  Bile burned his throat and the world was quiet—for now.  All he could hear was the sound of his heart thundering in his ears.  His vision was starting to double as he skidded to a halt on the gravel that marked the boundary between grass and sandy shore.

No one here.  I didn’t pass them on the way.  Where the hell did they go?

He cleared his throat and spat to one side, catching his breath as he looked up and down the beach.

They couldn’t have gone that far, could they?  Frederick couldn’t have, not very quickly.

“Hell,” he breathed, shaking his head.  Gabe’s.  They would have headed for Gabe’s.  It’s the nearest shelter.

Brendan sucked in another breath, pivoted, then resumed his run, heading toward the vineyard, though is legs felt like they’d turned to lead somewhere between the shore and the grass.

The first bombs began to fall twenty yards later.

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