Unexpected events change the lives of a group of people causing their worlds to collide
| Gemma lay on her bed replaying the images she'd seen that morning. The colours had fascinated her, a blending of oranges and reds floating into a swirling mist of charcoal grey. She grabbed her pencils and sketchbook, took them to her desk, sat and began to draw what was in her head. Once finished, she studied it, feeling the dimension of colour used and sensing the power they held. Yes! She was pleased with the result; she closed the book and went down for breakfast.
There was not much evidence of the unexpected earthquake, there had been some broken crockery and ornaments but Jackie had been quick to clear it all away. The morning then appeared like any other, however, the mood wasn't. The air was thick with apprehension and a little sadness, Gemma, after all, was still leaving. Nobody, it seemed could quite look her in the eye; this didn't bother Gemma she'd been through this before, felt the awkwardness; she concealed her own feelings, locked them away, she'd let them feel it. Today Gemma had decided to go with the routine and so she just settled down to eat her breakfast. Gemma was also more distracted by the colours in her mind than what was going on around her, they were taking all of her focus; they had begun to grow stronger as breakfast progressed. After a while, she began to feel uncomfortable with the strength of them but didn't know why. She felt that urge to hide as she had in the early hours when the earthquake came.
Jackie was talking to Tiana and Penny, explaining the itinerary for the day.
'You have a couple of hours of free time girls before we all have to get ready to take Gemma back'.
Then she turned to Gemma, 'Have you put all your last bits together so that I can pack them, I don't want you to leave anything behind that you want'.
Gemma jumped up from the table, ran into the living room and hid under the coffee table. There wasn't much room under the coffee table but Gemma was small and could just get under it. Jackie ran after her, she thought Gemma was running because she didn't want to leave; this of course was true, Gemma didn't want to go but this wasn't the reason, the colours had overwhelmed her with a sense of terror, she knew she had to hide. Jackie found her under the table and saw how terrified she looked.
'John, she's frightened, what if the orphanage is horrendous, what if she doesn't want to go back there because something awful has happened?'
No sooner had the words left her than a huge explosion like nothing they'd ever heard before shocked them all to a standstill. It shook the house more violently than the earthquake. For several seconds nobody knew what to do. Jackie gradually realised Tiana and Penny were screaming she could hear John's voice trying to calm them down. He sounded uncertain, his voice shaking as he spoke, but their screams lessened and were replaced by sobs. By this time, Gemma had emerged from under the table and stood silently in front of her. The look of terror was now absent from her face, instead, a perfectly calm demeanour was evident all through her body. This had a strange effect on Jackie; she drifted into another place, she found herself standing by a stream on a summer's day, the sun was shining, its warmth was pulsing through her. It lasted just a few seconds but she felt an unusual peace flow over her. She looked into Gemma's eyes and Gemma just smiled at her and took her hand.
From then it was chaos, they had all headed for the nearest windows, looking in the direction of the sound. Outside they could see a huge plume of smoke coming from the volcano and they realised that an eruption had begun without any warning except for one unexpected earthquake.
They quickly grabbed essential belongings as well as Gemma's cases and paperwork, and then they all piled into the car.
'Where are we going John?' Jackie enquired with a quaking in her voice that she tried hard to hide.
'South to Victoria Point, at least we'll head that way, trouble is so will everyone else, hopefully, we've got on the road fast enough. We can drop Gemma at the home on the way.'
'Should we still leave her John? At this point, it might be safer to keep her with us'
'It's ok the home is far enough south that she will be fine and if they need to evacuate they can evacuate together. If we keep her with us there could be legal issues because we'll no longer be her guardians.'
'I hadn't thought of that, ok we'll drop her off '
By this time, an orange light was trying to outshine the sun and a grey snow had begun to fall lightly around the car. John was right, the roads were full of people trying to head south but the traffic was moving well. However, they had been driving for about twenty minutes when they came to a roadblock. It was by a small hotel and they were guided by the island police to pull into the hotel car park. They were told that all vehicles were to be left there and that shelters were being set up in Victoria Point; army trucks would take them from this point. There was a huge field at the back of the hotel, plans, it seemed had been in place in case of this scenario, it was well organised. Cars were to be left in both the car park and designated areas in the field. All luggage, such as there was, was taken on separate trucks, to be collected at a later time.
As they pulled in, they saw that there were already a huge number of people there. After following instructions, they joined the queues to wait for transport.
Jackie and John grabbed the hands of all three girls and John spoke firmly to them.
'Whatever happens we all stay together ok'.
They all agreed and held tight to each other's hand. As they waited, word began going around that there were limited spaces on the trucks and in the shelters. People did what they often do at times like this they became restless, from restless came pushing, shoving, arguing and fighting. Gemma tried hard to stay with John and Jackie but it became harder as the crowds pulsated and moved in different directions, eventually she let go and lost sight of them all, the sea of people swept her away.
She found a corner on the outside of the hotel and she hid; the sky had darkened now and the grey snow was falling heavier around her. She watched as people fought for space on the trucks; children and adults alike fell into the mud, never to get up again. Gemma didn't know death but she understood this was wrong, that danger was surrounding her, so she cowered out of sight. Gradually the crowds thinned, soldiers came and took away those who hadn't made it aboard the transports. Still too afraid to move, she wondered what she was going to do, all she had was her backpack with a few sandwiches, prepared for her the night before, her sketchbook, a small notebook, a set of cards and her pencils. The cards had her personal details written on them, including her name, date of birth, address and a few useful phrases. The notebook was to write any answers to questions she was asked that the phrases didn't cover.
Her sketchbook and pens were always with her, nobody had been able to separate her from them since she first began to draw. Some of the staff noticed how well she drew and it was Jane, a favourite of Gemma's, who had bought her first sketchbook one Christmas, she'd had several since then.
There had been no more trucks for a while and the sky lay heavy above; the glow of oranges and reds now a reality as the swirling grey snow continued to fall; Gemma recognised this from her picture. She took out her sandwiches and ate them slowly, she hadn't come out when the other trucks arrived, she didn't know why, it just didn't feel right. However, a sound had been rolling into her mind for some time now and a feeling of hope had grown within her. She thought at first it may be the volcano but this was different from what she'd felt earlier, then lights broke through the haze, she saw another truck. Gemma knew the time was right to leave her hiding place; gradually she dragged her aching limbs from their stationery position and quietly slid out into the ash-covered field. She heard a voice ahead of her.
'Hey, I can see someone, it's a child,' it was one of the soldiers aboard the truck. He jumped down, scooped Gemma up, wrapped her in a blanket and sat her alongside a woman and opposite two girls who confused her; they were the same, as in the same as each other. She had never seen twins before, they both smiled at her, she smiled back and for the rest of the journey she tried not to stare. Thankfully, it wasn't too long a journey to get to the nearest shelter and Gemma was taken off the truck and quickly settled into her temporary home. She watched as the twins were also settled into their own places, she took her sketchbook out and drew their faces, both the same, yet distinctly different.