As Myrah sat pondering this, there was a sudden loudness that could not be described. A violent rush of air blew over them sending the pages of Jill’s book fluttering in the air. Glass began to fall from the ceiling. People dropped down and covered their heads.
Myrah went into a fetal position in her seat while Jill dove beneath the table. Metal groaned and tore. The wall nearest to the ice rink buckled inward and collapsed across the stark white surface of the area where people were skating. Clouds of mortar and dust filled the air.
A twisted I-beam spiraled across the food court. The builder’s wife saw it sweep through the cowering shoppers. It cleared a path of victims before it slammed into a kiosk at the far end. Bodies lay crushed and broken in its wake.
There was fire and chaos. Bits of burning debris flew through the air. People grabbed their bags and ran.
Myrah screamed. A piece of burning insulation settled on the seat next to her and she beat it out with the palm of her hand. Jill looked up at her shaking.
“What happened?” The girl cried.
“Meteor.” Myrah answered.
Without thinking the builder’s wife pushed herself up and looked around. Exposed wires sparked as broken lamps dangled from the ceiling. A man stood nearby missing an arm. He glanced over at his good hand and then at the bloody stump that protruded sickly from his other side as if he were trying to figure out what was wrong.
Behind Myrah a mass of steel and shattered glass trapped people beneath it on the ice. Past the fallen wall beyond it, the parking garage was filled with burning cars. The front of Decoys and Ducks had what looked like a set of tires and an axle jutting from the sign above the entrance.
Everywhere, those who weren’t injured were taking out their cell phones to call 911. Alarms were going off; some from cars, others from the malls store security systems. Blood could be seen smeared along the floors and walls.
Reaching out, she pulled Jill from off the floor. “We have to help.” She said. “You see if you can find Clara.”
Jill nodded frantically. “What happened?” She asked again.
“Meteor.” The builder’s wife repeated.
A young mother stumbled past holding a toddler. The little girl’s face was flush from shock and tears. Above her right eyebrow a deep wound poured blood.
Myrah reached into one of her bags, pulling out a sweater. “Here.” She said, handing it to the woman. “Put this on her head. I’ll go get some ice to dull the pain.”
As the woman pressed the soft wool against her daughters head, the builder’s wife walked over to the Chinese restaurant. The workers behind the counter were just picking themselves up off the floor. “I need a cup of ice.” She said to them.
“What?” The boy asked as he dusted spilt food from his clothes. Myrah could see that his arms were badly burnt. Probably from the lo mien that had fallen on him during the blast.
“Ice.” She repeated more forcefully. “I need you and everyone else to start emptying your soda machines of ice.”
“Ice?” The kid said. He was quite obviously still stunned.
“You’re going to need some ice for your scalded arms.” Myrah said, pointing down at his wounds. “Give me a cup now, then get some for yourself.”
Absently, the boy filled a cup of ice and handed it to her.
The builder’s wife went back over to the little girl. The new sweater that she’d handed the mother was already deeply stained with blood. “Tie a knot in the sleeve and fill it with this.” She said, handing the cup to the woman. “Keep pressure on it. It will cause the blood vessels to constrict and help out.”
“Thank you.” The woman said.
Satisfied that she had done all that should could for them she grabbed her purse and went back over to the kid at the Chinese restaurant. Reaching inside she took out a tube of moisturizer. “Once you’ve cooled your skin, use this.” She said pushing it across the counter towards him. “Your burns are first degree so you’ll be okay. This should help them heal and prevent you from having too much pain.”
The kid picked up the container and looked at it.
“Give me ice.” She said.
The man with the missing arm was next. Several people were already gathered around him, helping him lie down and trying to keep him calm. It took three of her sweaters to stop the bleeding and make a quick tourniquet. Myrah packed the stump with as much ice as she could scavenge.
Jill returned with Clara. The woman was looking uncharacteristically unsure of herself.
“Can I have your keys?” She asked as she stomped up to Myrah extending her hand urgently.
“I want to get my scarf.” She said. Her eyes darted from side to side taking in the scene.
“What for?” The builder’s wife asked.
“I hate this haircut.”
Myrah cocked her head. “It looks like the same haircut that you always get.”
“Give me your keys!” The woman demanded.
“My car is probably on fire right now!”
As if to punctuate this, one of the burning vehicles in the parking lot exploded. The women turned to see a fireball spiraling upward from the second story of the garage. More glass broke. It rang out as it cascaded down onto the pavement.
“You’re in shock.” Myrah continued. She turned to Jill. “Make her lie down and use your jacket to cover her and keep her warm.”
The girl nodded.
“Check her clothing to make sure that its lose. If anyone has some coffee around try to get her to drink some of it. She needs warm, salty beverages.”
“What about me?” The girl asked.
“You can lie down too.” Myrah offered. “Just be sure to make sure that you take care of her first.”
Turning she headed towards an older woman who was propped up against the wall nearest the food courts bathrooms. She had a broken arm. Quickly Myrah made her a sling out of a leather purse that she’d wanted for weeks and had found on sale that morning. It fit her perfectly.
The fire department, police and paramedics arrived. News helicopters hovered overhead filming the scene. People began to dig victims out of the rubble.
All through the tragedy, the builder’s wife used her newly bought clothes to tie off peoples wounds and stop the bleeding. She went into autopilot mode, drawing on what little knowledge that she had gained in her time volunteering at the hospital. The fast food places kept the ice coming and other people helped her in setting up an impromptu triage center in the middle of the mall.
Both Jill and Clara lay on the ground and watched. They were shocked and stunned to see what their neighbor was capable of. It was as if this moment was made for her.
When she ran out of people to treat, Myrah walked to the center of the mass of wounded and asked if everyone was comfortable. She called out, telling them all that she was there to help them. Hands went up and more ice was delivered.