THIRTEEN‘s characters try to celebrate Christmas in an occupation zone.
Click to go to – Part 1 – The Crawlspace
Brock found a pair of earrings he thought his mom would like and traded the seller a couple of hats, a candle, and some pads of paper. Aiden bought his mom a beautiful purple silk scarf, which had cost him a protein bar. They went from stall to stall looking at the items and trading what they could to get gifts for their family members by giving away items they’d taken from their homes.
Jack didn’t see anything he thought his mom would like in all the junk lying around. He was about to give up on getting her a gift when he saw a man with stacks of books. All his mom ever did was read and she probably was out of reading material. He chose 5 titles that looked like the ones she read.
“Will you take these books and toys in exchange for these books?” Jack showed the man five of his old children’s books and his old toys.
“That’ll get you 3 books.”
Jack looked at the five books he’d chosen. Were three used books going to be enough?
“I’ll take that goose and you can have as many books as you want.” The old man suggested.
“No.” Jack shook his head.
He didn’t have anything else to trade, he should have kept one can of fruit. Three books would have to be enough he thought. He handed the man his payment and took three of the books.
The high pitch of whistles screamed through the building and everyone froze.
No one moved for what seemed like forever, but was only seconds. Then all at once the shoppers started running for the front broken windows. The sellers looked at each other, their stuff, and the fleeing crowds unsure what to do. Some started stuffing what they could in their carts, strollers, and wagons. Jack looked at the old man with the books, he was frantically throwing them into a grocery cart and Jack knew the man would not be able to outrun the soldiers while pushing the cart.
“If I help you and show you where you can hide your books instead of running with them can I have a couple more?”
“You help me, I’ll give you 10 more.”
“Jack come on.” Aiden was pulling at him.
“You go, I’m gonna help hide this stuff.”
“You’re nuts. We got to run now.” Brock yelled.
Jack looked at the crush of people trying to make their way out the broken front door and shook his head.
“There’s a better way. Come on, help me and I’ll show you.”
Jack dropped his backpack and threw the books into the cart, taking 10 for himself, until the cart was full and covered by the blanket the man had used to stake out his shop.
“Come with me.” Jack said.
He led the man and his friends to the back store room. They went through the swinging doors into the the pitch black darkness. Jack felt his way past the garbage, empty boxes and shelves to the back concrete wall. He moved along it until he found the round cold metal door handle he was looking for and cracked the door open. A beam of light filled the room showing the disrupted dust dancing in the air.
People started screaming as gunfire erupted out front of the store. Jack and his friends looked at each other, terror in their eyes.
“Put the cart in the office there and shut the door.” Jack told the old man. “Let’s go.” He said to his friends.
Jack and his friends ran out the back door, their backpacks full of contraband and soldiers on their way to shoot shoppers, sellers, and those who ran the black market. Jack wondered if Paige’s step-dad would get away and if he didn’t how Paige would feel.
The boys made a beeline for the woods behind the shopping centre. Screams and soldiers yelling filled the air. Jack looked around expecting to see a soldier come around to the back at any minute. All he saw was the old man coming out of the door and walking the opposite way toward the homes to the north side of the stores and wood.
Part 12 – The Goose
Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN and is currently working on Book 2 in the series about a boy, his mom, a cop, and an invading army. She has brought war to a North American town to answer the question, what if it happened here?