An explosion occurs in the middle of the night and a family is left stranded
At one- thirty, Lizzy woke up. She couldn't sleep. The curtains had been left open because the night was hot and the moonlight filtered into the bedroom giving it a silvery glow. Dela was snoring softly beside her, his eyelashes fanning his cheeks.
She got up, slipped her feet into her slippers and padded her way down the corridor to the children’s room. They were asleep. Cyril was sucking his thumb and one of Lorraine's hands and legs were hanging off the edge of the bed. Lizzy entered and placed her properly on the bed before returning to her bedroom.
She went back to bed, but the sleep was not coming. Something was not right, and this was more than a feeling. She got up and went to stand by the window, overlooking their neighbour’s yard. She saw the silent shadow of the neighbour’s dog prowling the yard. It gave her some reassurance. She had heard that dogs had got a sixth sense, or something like that, for when things were not right.
The explosion came at three.
The house shook. Fragments of the moulded Plaster of Paris ceiling came loose and fell on them. Then the lights went off.
The children called from their bedroom
She didn’t bother with a robe, just switched on the torch on her phone and hurried towards the children’s room. She had to be careful. She had forgotten to wear her slippers, and there were fragments of broken glass on the floor mixed with pieces of broken P.O.P boards.
She found Cyril in Lorraine's arms on her bed, his head buried in her shoulders. She was just six, but she acted more like a mother than a sister to her two-year-old brother.
They joined the neighbours out on the road, in their various states of undress.
The explosion had come from the direction of the electricity transformer, which had been installed two days earlier. Two men went to check.
“You can all go back to your homes now”, they said when they came back ten minutes later. “It’s nothing serious. We can call in the electricity company to fix it tomorrow.”
The second explosion came some thirty minutes after they had returned to their homes.
There were shouts of, fire! fire!
Dela and Lizzy's house was one of the few still standing. The neighbourhood, with fresh painted bungalows, houses with gates that said, "Beware of Dogs" had been changed into rubble, dust and smoke. What had not collapsed already, threatened to fall at any time.
There were screams, people running, helter Skelter. Nobody wanted to be around for a third explosion.
The acrid smell of smoke stung the nostrils and the roads were blocked with rubble from fallen houses. She carried Cyril and followed Dela as he fought through the chaos with Lorraine in his arms. Now and then he checked to see if she was following. He did not see the man sitting on the ground, his head in his hands, howling like a baby, and bumped into him.
"Sorry." Dela said, stepping carefully around him.
"Where do you think you are going?" the man snarled.
"Nowhere man, nowhere!"
They fought rubble and man. Avoided those who were injured for the children’s sake and stopped beside a wall to decide what to do.
Then they heard the whimpering. Soft sounds coming from close by.
A little boy about ten, was stuck in a pile of rubble. Dela put Lorraine down beside Lizzy. He removed stone after stone till the boy's legs were free. He pulled him out just as the sound of the sirens filled the air.
"You will be fine." He patted the boy's head, Lizzy smiled.
They didn’t ask of the boy’s parents. They didn’t want to know.
They waited till the ambulance came, and handed the boy to them.
There was nothing more to do.
The Chief of Police came to assess the situation and see what could be done. He had driven his own car, a low rider sedan. By the time he was leaving, it was seven in the morning. He passed by Dela and his family, just standing there looking confused, and asked, “where to?”
"My brother’s place. Thirty minutes away" Dela said,
"Get in" he waved them over,
“I'll take you.”
The Chief of Police was not one to do random acts of kindness, didn't go to church. But after all he had seen that night, this little deed made his heart light.