Rated: E · Short Story · Action/Adventure · #2091385
Hurricane Katrina is wreaking havoc on mankind and the land. Its' Parishes now underwater.
|"Howard, what's that sound?" Rita said, instinctively hugging her two small children to her breasts.|
"Oh, Lord! Honey, The levee has broken! Go! Go! We have to get up on the roof. Now!"
Rushing through the house, they were treading water up to their ankles, which was rapidly rising. Rita let out a small prayer, "Lord, don't let my babies die. Protect us, Lord. Oh, please protect us!"
When they arrived at the attic ladder, the water was lapping against Rita's thighs. Both Rita and Howard carried a child in their arms. With a look of sheer determination, Howard climbed rapidly up the ladder and deposited his child into the attic. He hurried half-way back down and grabbed their other kid from Rita's arms, telling her to follow closely behind. The quickly rising water slapped up against the fourth step of the ladder, as it engulfed their home. As much as they missed their beloved pet dog, they were relieved that they did not have to worry about keeping Lady safe during this horrific time. She was laid to rest just a few months ago. Oh, Lady I'm so sorry you're not being able to rest in peace.
Strange the thoughts that go through your head in an emergency, thought Howard. He slammed the attic door closed and started looking for something with a bit of weight to lay on top of the door.
"Ya'll stay over there in that spot away from the door and away from me. I'm gonna have to break through to the roof, Rita. It looks like we may have to go up there."
"Howard, you think the water is going to come up to the attic? You really think it's going to get that high?"
"Rita, we have the Gulf going into Lake Borgne. So there's no telling how high the water's gonna get. I think several of the levees have given way. It's gonna look like the Gulf of Mexico for miles around. You won't be able to tell the difference." Howard bowed his head staring at the floor. Lord, what are we gonna do? You have to lead us, Lord.
Snapping his head up, he knew it was time to take care of business. He'd have to worry about what happens next when the time came. Not now.
The kids started whimpering, "It's hot, Momma." Bryce whined. "I left Sally, Mommy! Cried Cheyanne, who was the baby at three-years-old.
"I know babies, just hold on. We'll be okay. Cheyanne, I'm sorry we left Sally behind. We'll have to find you a new Sally, okay Baby?"
Howard found an ax and a step ladder and made his way to a safe spot where he could make an emergency exit if needed. He swung the ax in short precise chops. A fountain of wood splinters rained down dusting him. He finally slowed upon seeing the grayish-black skies, quickly followed by the stinging rain pelting through the hole like bullets.
"Howard! The water's seeping through the attic door cracks!"
"Find something to cover up with Rita. It's still bad outside. See if there is any rope that we can tie around each other. Look around for those old pool floats, and anything that you think will help us in case ... in case we end up in the water."
Rita stared for a few seconds with disbelief of what Howard was saying. Then she shook her head as if to shake the bad thoughts out and got to work as quickly as she could. Trying to occupy the kids and keep them from being so scared, she invoked their help. "Kids, you help Mommy look for rope, floats, and something to cover our heads or to wrap around us. But stay close to me. Don't wander off."
"Momma! Look, here's two floats! Do you want me to finish blowing them up?"
"Good job, Bryce. Yes, Honey, that will be very helpful."
Rita found an old chest, upon opening it, she let out a prayer of thanks. Inside were old winter jackets, spreads, and even a couple of old stuffed animals. "Look, Cheyanne, here's a couple of babies. Which one do you want, Honey?"
Cheyanne's eyes grew wide, "I want them both, Mommy!"
Rita knew that she shouldn't let her have them both, but she had an idea: "Bryce, would you mind holding onto one of the teddy bears for Cheyanne?" She knew her seven-year-old wouldn't admit it, but holding onto a stuffed animal would give him a sense of security and peace. Hell, holding onto a teddy bear right now would probably give me a sense of peace and security.
"Okay Momma, for Cheyanne."
The eerily moaning wind swept through the attic sending a chill and vibration through every cell of our being. It was as if Mother Earth herself, were in mourning, for the utter destruction, being ravaged upon the earth and man.
The agitated water bubbled through the attic cracks, bowing the attic door, causing strain on the already tired wood.
"Howard, I can't find any rope. I'm going to tear these old sheets into strips, and we can use them."
Howard returned to his family and helped Rita rip and tie the sheets together.
"Let's stay in the attic as long as we can. It's still pretty bad out there. Hopefully, the rain and wind will die down soon. The storm should be about over. But with the levees broken, there's no telling how high the water will rise."
As if on cue, the attic door cracked across the top. Water was flowing in like a faucet was tapped into it. The water was warm, but with the tumultuous wind and the rain, it still gave a chill. A creepy glow lit the attic as the battery-operated lantern's light reflected off of the water's surface. With the rain subsiding outside and the water climbing higher inside, Howard decided that it was time to go onto the roof and wait for rescue.
Howard pulled himself up first through the opening, then tied the sheet around his waist. He brought each child up, tying the sheet around them as they came through the hole. At last, Rita climbed through. The water in the attic was now lapping through in waves.
Sitting on top of the ridge of the roof, everyone was silent. The ocean slapped against their home at the roof's edge. The sky was black, with bright flashes of lightning that seemed to cross from one horizon to the other. As they peered through the darkness, it looked like their whole neighborhood was underwater. Flickers of light appeared in all directions as families made their way upon their rooftops. Saint Bernard Parish would never be the same. Hurricane Katrina made sure of that, along with the neglected upkeep of the levees.
"Mommy, I'm hungry," Bryce said.
"Me too, Mommy!" Cheyanne whined.
"I know, Babies. But our emergency food is downstairs. It's gone. We'll have to wait for rescue then we'll get something to eat."
Just about that time a helicopter flew over.
"We're here, we're here!" They all called in unison.
Howard and Rita lifted the lanterns, though it was breaking dawn: it was still dark as dusk.
The helicopter circled letting everyone know they were spotted and help would arrive soon.
The family huddled together awaiting rescue. Their home was gone, their emergency food supply also gone along with everything they own. They only had what they wore on their backs. But they were all alive and well. What happened next, and where they would go, what they would do, was beyond thinking about right now. As if Howard and Rita read each other's minds, they looked at each other, as their mind and eyes took in all of the night and early dawn terrors.
Within each other's eyes, they also saw a deep love, respect, and support for each other. They carried the determination that helped them through many other hard times. They knew as long as they all had each other, no matter what, they would be okay.
The rescue boat arrived with a couple who lived a few houses down. With a sigh of relief, they settled onto the boat. Howard nodded at the huddled couple and asked them about the elderly couple who lived next door to them.
"Do you know if the Rondelle's are okay?"
The couple just shook their heads, and their eyes told Howard all he needed to know. He scooted closer to his family and adjusted the spread over all of their shoulders, trying to keep them in his cocoon of security.