2017 Falsh Fiction Championships - Round 1 Challenge 2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Location: Machine Shop
The Good People of Harvey
A couple get out of danger thanks to some good Samaritans and are reunited with their daughter.
We sat in the machine shop, it was dry and we were eating hot dogs again, for the fourth day straight.
“I hate the smell of hot dogs,” I said.
“At least we have food. Good planning, We will go out for some Good Dog Houston as soon as this is done,” my husband replied.
Of course, it wasn’t going to be ‘done’ with, for us, for months, probably years for the city.
It was Wednesday. Hurricane Harvey had made landfall Friday and tore down on Houston. The entire place was drenched, houses ripped up and flooded, trees and road signs scattered everywhere, no power, no cell phones, people lost and broken, some people dead, the entire city demolished.
Cassie and I were out of town last weekend visiting friends and I left Cassie with them so she was safe and on ‘vacation.’ Tom and I stayed in our house with about two feet of muddy water covering the floors, eating one of the dozen or so packages of hot dogs I had cooked on Thursday, and deciding if we had to leave.
“We can’t save it,” Tom said, gentle, soothing, but still slightly pained. It was Tuesday. “We should head to Austin with Cassie before we get trapped.”
I scowled, but I knew he was right.
“We can wrap some hot dogs and water, take your phone, Cassie’s pet turtle and a few clothes and put it all in the mountain climbing backpacks and head out early,” he said.
So we did, and stepped out into waist deep water outside our front door in the morning.
I walked behind Tom, holding Excalibur the turtle in his plastic case, as we slowly made our way down the front steps, along the sidewalk and down the driveway into the street. It was like sludging through a marsh. There was cold, dark water at least a couple feet deep everywhere. Rain was still coming down steadily and the wind was blowing pretty fierce. We walked down the middle of the road, hoping the footing underneath us would be solid and debris free. I floated Excalibur along in his case, which stayed mostly high and dry. As we neared the first intersection we notice the water rushing faster and then heard a bull horn screech. A young woman was standing in the entryway of an apartment building off to the right and was yelling into the bullhorn. She told us to head toward her and wait, ‘cause there would be a boat soon to pick us up.
My husband and I looked at each other and shrugged then went toward her.
The woman with the bullhorn, Mina, lived on the 3rd floor of the apartment building, her and some friends had thrown a hurricane party, but when the liquor ran out and she started noticing cars trying to make it down the street and getting stuck and swept away at the intersection she grabbed her raincoat, the bullhorn, which someone had brought to the hurricane party, and she started warning cars. She had been doing it for two days. I asked if her place and her family were alright. She told me everything was mostly fine but she had family up north she hadn’t been able to call and update them. I reached into my backpack and took out the satellite phone I had bought when I was working as a freelance journalist in some war zones, and handed it to her.
“You can call anyone you need to with this,” I said. “The battery charge only has a few hours tho and I don’t know what I’ll need it for so try and keep the calls short.”
Tom and I stood beside her as she called her family to let them know she was alive. We were waiting for some guys from the neighborhood who had stayed with their dogs and now were using their fishing boat to help people get around, using the machine shop as their base of operations.
The guys and their boat pulled up, we all exchanged greetings and they gave Mina a package of food, then Tom followed me into the boat and they started to move us toward the edge of Houston, then pulled up the boat outside Big Jim’s Tools machine shop. Jim had apparently stayed home and been safe during the hurricane, but came back to check on his shop on Sunday, then opened it up to volunteers and those in the neighborhood who needed a fairly dry place and some coffee and help.
Jim had a backup generator in the machine shop, which put out a bit of power, enough to keep on the lights and have heat and run the Coffeematic in the break room. I let him and everyone else coming through use the satellite phone to contact loved ones and eat some of our hotdogs while Tom and I made a plan to move to a dry area to catch a bus to Austin or have Cassie and the crew some pick us up when they could. Tom and Cassie and I would have to stay in Austin for a while anyway.
As a small group of volunteers gathered, and we ate hot dogs, I asked Jim where the closet shelter/police command center was so that Tom and I could have our friends pick us up there in a few hours. Jim said he would take us to his house, let us rest and wait for our ride there. I hugged him way too long after he said that, and probably made him think twice about making the offer.
Although, when Cassie ran to the door of Jim’s house and pounded on it, later that night, I saw her and hugged her about five times as long. I also smelled hot dogs on her and decided hot dogs weren’t really that bad after all.