This is the 94th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
Polish Haven by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 5th March 2013
Word count: 991
The kids were excited, this was there first time in an aeroplane, at six and eight it was possibly the most exciting moments of their life.
Their parents were less fussed, it had been a stressful day, last second packing, trying to keep the two young boys clean, and getting through the airport. It was their first time flying, and it was nerve racking.
The mother rested her head on her husband’s shoulder, he smiled and patted her hair.
“We made it,” he said reassuringly.
She sighed wearily. The flight was only a few hours, then the chaos would resume as they gathered their bags with two over excited kids fit to burst, that’s if it wasn’t sooner.
The seat belt sign came on, the kids were already fastened in, but mother checked just in case before strapping herself in.
“Its strange, you know, that Daddy wanted us to come in holiday right away,” the mother said.
“Carol, you know what Henry is like. He can be a bit odd sometimes,” the father said, just them Carol noted on odd expression in Simon her husband. She was about to comment when the plane started moving, and she forgot in the fear and excitement as the plane got into position to taxi.
Several hours later the plane landed in Krakow, Poland. The kids predictably were all over the place with excitement.
“Can we back now?” the six year old Lewis asked, speaking at the speed of light.
“Soon, my love,” Carol said having lowered herself down, “First we’re going to explore a new country.”
The words didn’t mean much to the boy, until his mother likened it to Dora the Explorer.
They arrived at the hotel and settled in, unpacking their things they’d brought for the next two weeks.
They went out for tea, nothing fancy they had the kids with them who were exhausted after the day’s excitement.
As they were walking back to the hotel, Simon carrying a sleeping Lewis, and Michael the oldest son holding her hand, they became aware of how deathly still everything was. It was only six in the evening here, yet the whole world seemed to have vanished.
At the hotel the receptionist looked at them through tear streaked lipstick and a look of anguish. “I’m so sorry,” the she said in broken English.
“Why what is it,” Carol said letting go of Michaels hand and rushing up to the reception desk.
“Its, its, well its on the news,” the previously confident English speaking receptionist was struggling for words.
The family rushed off back to their hotel room and the television. The news was on nearly every channel, there had been a huge explosion in their home city, the one they had left that very morning.
“Oh god,” Carol said hyperventilating.
Simon just sat there clutching his two sons who had no idea what was going on, but scared because of how their parents were acting.
“Daddy,” Carol gasped.
“I’m sure he’s fine,” he said draping his arms round her shoulders, but he was worried, worried about his father-in-law, worried about his friends, his colleagues. The English speaking news was stating that it was some kind of nuclear explosion, the nightmare scenario television had warned about for years.
“He knew,” Carol said recovering her breath.
“Daddy,” she said simply.
“He couldn’t,” Simon started to say, but he didn’t believe it either.
“Mummy what’s happened?” Michael asked.
“Something bad honey,” Carol said.
“But you’re safe here,” Simon said, “You’re safe. We’re all safe her.”
“I want you two to go to bed, your dad’s right. We’ll talk about it in the morning,” Carol said soothingly.
They didn’t argue, didn’t fight, they just went into their adjoining room.
After Carol had settled them in, hugged them close, and told them it would all be okay she returned to her husband.
“What did he say?” Carol demanded once the adjoining bedroom door was closed.
“He said we needed to be away for a while,” Simon said, “Made me promise.”
“He wouldn’t say, no matter how much I pressed him. All he would tell me is that we weren’t to go back for some time. That and an account number we’re to use, if anything happened, ” Simon said soberly.
“He knew this would happen then? He knew, and he didn’t tell anyone but us,” she half collapsed onto the bed. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“He said it might be nothing, and made me promise not to say anything,” Simon said, “If I’d known about this…” the man said struggling for words.
“I know,” she said dead seriously, “He told me years ago that he retired. I guess old spies don’t go quietly into the night.”
“You okay?” Simon asked holding her close.
“Its hard to be angry with him, he saved you and the kids,” she said with a sigh, “But what about our friends? Our neighbours? Our jobs? What’s happened to him? Was he there? Why isn’t the news telling us more?” like the tears before the questioned swelled up and then fell with abandon.
“I don’t know. I guess we find a consulate in the morning?” he asked uncertainly.
“Don’t mention Daddy,” Carol warned, “It would have been kept secret for a reason I’m sure.”
“We’ll find out answers tomorrow. You should sleep,” Simon said tenderly.
“So should you,” she admonished.
“I will, I want, no need, to watch the news some more, and keep an eye out for the kids.”
“Okay, wake me later and I’ll take over watch,” she said crawling into the sheets. As she struggled to sleep, the tears fell freely, until finally she lost the battle against nothingness and fell asleep.
Simon kept his lovely vigil watching the news, listening out for his sons, and occasionally trying to phone friends, but there was never any connection. The emergency lines on screen were jammed too. They were on their own.