The streets were empty. Downtown Sacramento, 2pm in the afternoon, and the streets were empty.
"Damn," Trevor whispered to himself. The public had been told to stay indoors following the recent terrorist attack, and they listened.
Trevor shifted in the driver's seat. He had been out for hours, driving from neighborhood to neighborhood to attempt to regain the public's trust. Polls had shown an extreme drop in approval ratings for President Walker since the attack. As an intern for the California Democratic Party, it was now Trevor's role to convince his community to not lose sight of the President's dream. Many had begun to believe, as the media propagated, that the President was to blame for the attack. It was President Walker, they said, with her lackadaisical foreign policy approach and her even looser immigration policies who allowed this attack to happen on US soil. People were angry. People were scared.
Trevor sat at a red light on the corner of L Street and 10th. He glanced over at the pile of water bottles on the passenger seat. He must have still been in shock, as he could not believe that the chemical attack was so well designed that even the nation's water system was infiltrated. His heart clenched at the thought of it.
The driver behind him honked the horn. Startled, Trevor jumped in his seat. The light had turned green. He shifted the gears and pressed firmly on the gas.
Thump! Trevor felt the impact in the right front end of his Jeep. A man, sweating and bent over, collided with Trevor's hood as he ran across the street. Trevor's heart stopped.
"Shit!" he yelled.
The man stood up, his eyes set on something across the road, and continued running. Trevor watched in confusion as the man tripped and fell along the opposite curb..
"The world is goin' to hell," the man cried as he sat on his knees, glaring up into the sky.
"What? Crazy." Trevor muttered, then shook his head and continued down the road.
The rock song blaring from his car stereo suddenly shut off. Dead air.
"You are being directed to Media News One." A male voice recording interrupted.
"Now what?" Trevor huffed. He slowed the car and pulled into the right lane, focusing on the radio as it shifted to a pair of radio newscasters.
"Oh my God, I just...I can't believe this," a woman's voice said.
Trevor pulled over and stopped. He hadn't noticed the cars around him that had done the same.
"If you are just joining us," the male newscaster breathed, "we just received confirmation that President Walker has been shot and is confirmed dead."
"Shit!" Trevor spat.
"We do not have many details at this time. We know that Walker was at a fundraiser in New York. She was in the process of entering the conference room where the fundraiser was being held and shots rang out from within the hallway. She was killed instantly. Three Secret Service agents were also shot. Two agents remain in critical condition."
"I-I, I just have no words," the female newscaster sighed. "For the first time in my broadcasting career, I have nothing to say. I am in complete shock."
"No, no, no, no, no!" Trevor shouted, banging his hands against the wheel. "Shit! Fuck!" He dropped his head down into his hands. "This cannot be happening," he whispered.
His heart folded. He tried taking a deep breath. His heart squeezed and his lungs pulled in. An ache protruded his right temple. His stomach turned and sweat grew on his forehead. He felt nauseated.
He pushed the Jeep's door open. Running over to the curb, he felt his stomach flip. He ran into an alley between two buildings and pressed his hand against a wall. Bending over, he threw up.
Spitting the remainder of his breakfast onto the concrete, Trevor wiped his mouth with the back of his hand as he stood up. Glancing around at the silent city streets, the few cars that were out remained stopped, frozen. The wind picked up. The sky grew white.
"Angie!" Trevor remembered. His heart raced as he reached for his cell phone, he saw that she had called, six times.
"Shit!" He whispered as he called her back.
"Baby," her voice urged.
"Yeah, I'm here." He tried to remain calm.
"I can't believe this is happening," she sniffled, and he knew she’d been crying.
"I know." He looked down and noticed his leftover breakfast spattered on his shoes. "I'm shocked. Are you okay?"
"I don't know," she responded. Silence.
"Are you at the Sanctuary?" he asked.
"Yes. Trevor, what are we going to do?"
"I don't know." He shook his head. "I'm coming up there," Trevor decided. He needed to be with her.
"Did you hear the news," she urged, "about the Ecoterrorism bill?"
"No." He shook his head and narrowed his eyes. "I haven't checked my phone yet today."
A pause. The silence stopped his heart.
"It passed." She had stopped crying. "The bill passed."
"What?" How could it happen so quickly, and with what just happened, he thought.
"When?" he asked.
"This morning," she responded, her voice now cold.
"Shit, this is fucking bullshit!"
"You need to go check on your brother."
Trevor thought for a moment. Todd was most likely home, probably still asleep. He hadn't been back to work in six months. His experiences as a private investigator for California4Animals had left him with a serious case of post-traumatic stress disorder.
"You think they'd arrest him now? After what just happened? I mean, the bill just passed," Trevor said. His stomach turned again.
"Yes, I do. Think about it: the whole country's distracted now. I-I just have a feeling."
Angie always had feelings. It was one thing he loved about her. Oftentimes, he felt that she was a bit paranoid, and she would say the same about him. But today, with the way the world had turned, he knew what he had to do.
But today, with the way the world had turned, he knew what he had to do.
"Okay," he agreed, "I'll go check on him now."
"Thank you, sweetie."
"Are you gonna be okay until I get there?"
"I think so. We're all just sitting here, grieving together. Just get here when you can."
"Okay," he felt like he could smile, "I love you."
After he listened for Angie to hang up, Trevor switched over and attempted to call Todd. The call dropped. Trevor frowned.
"That's weird," he murmured.
He tried again. The call dropped.
Trevor felt nervous. Maybe Angie was right. He jumped into the Jeep. Slamming the door, he turned the engine. The newscasters were still talking, but he turned the radio off. For now, he needed to pretend that his idol hadn't just been assassinated.
Todd lived half an hour away, but the streets remained empty, so it took no time to get there. Todd's suburban neighborhood stood quiet. Trevor glanced around at the houses, noticing the shades pulled down and curtains closed. It all felt eerie.
Trevor slowly pulled into his brother's driveway. The garage door was open. Neither Todd nor his wife Vicky were anywhere in sight. Trevor felt an unusual sense of discomfort. They never left the garage open. Their mini-van and Todd's motorcycle were resting inside.
Stepping out of his Jeep, Trevor shut the door. He stood there for a moment, listening. No sounds save the increase of wind blowing through the empty neighborhood. He pushed through it with his whole body.
Trevor stepped up to the front door. It was open, slightly. He held his breath in concern for his brother, pushed at the door to encourage it to open, and spoke.
Entering the darkened living room, Trevor noticed no indication of foul play. Everything appeared disturbingly normal. He noticed a light on in the kitchen. He walked in, expecting to find them in the next room. Empty. Shit. His heart dropped.
He quietly stepped back into the living room. Something felt off. He grew cautious. He glared up at the staircase. A feeling of dread seeped into his chest. He gulped.
"Where is Cage?" he whispered to himself as he ran up the stairs.
Stopping at the top of the stairs, Trevor glanced around. Still, nothing appeared out of the ordinary. He felt afraid to speak. He closed his eyes and prepared himself for a potential attack.
"Todd?" He called.
A muffled sound, like movement. Trevor's heart raced again.
"Cage?" he yelled as he turned toward her bedroom.
"Uncle Trevor?" Still muffled, her voice sounded as though she was hidden away, or locked away, somewhere.
"Yes, it’s me! Where are you?" he stepped closer to her room.
"I'm in here!"
He glanced around the corner and in at the lavender-painted walls of her room. He could not see her. He hurried inside.
"In the closet," she yelled.
Trevor stepped over to the closet and pulled the door open. There, sitting in the corner amongst a pile of shoes and stuffed animals, sat Cage. Her tiny, 45-pound body shook. Her hands grabbed at her knees, eyes bloodshot.
"Jesus!" Trevor gasped. He reached in for her, "C'mon, it's okay, you can come out."
He felt her shivering hand inside of his.
"I don't know, Sweets." He didn't feel that now was the time to question his six-year-old niece.
He felt her grasp onto him. She began to cry. He knelt down and picked her up into his arms, feeling her wrap herself around his torso.
"It's gonna be okay," he whispered, "Let's get you outta here."
Grabbing a pile of clothing from her dresser, he found her orange backpack and tossed them inside.
"Okay, let's go."
He walked out into the hallway and glanced around one last time. He peered into Todd's bedroom from the doorway. The sheets on the bed were mangled. The nightstand lamp sat broken on the floor. Whatever happened, there had been a struggle.
Knowing that he had to get Cage to some place safe, Trevor elected to leave. His heart fell empty. Cage sat silently in his arms.
Stepping out onto the porch, Trevor heard a nearby rumbling. To his right, a dust storm pushed into the spaces between houses. He ran over to the Jeep and opened the back door, quickly releasing Cage into the back seat. She lie in a fetal position and stared blankly at the seat in front of her. He slammed the door shut. The houses at the end of the street had disappeared into the dust.
Shifting himself into the driver's seat, Trevor turned and watched as the dust folded over the Jeep. He could see nothing but gray. His brother's house disappeared from view. His head fell heavy into his hands, and he broke down.