It’s getting so hot here under the dome. People’s nerves are on edge, the whole town is ready to.pop. Wait, wrong series. Just kidding, folks. Was out all day, and just can’t seem to get the muscle to cut open the vein and let stuff out. Oh wait, here it comes.
Grey drove through a stop sign and a traffic light, sliding to a stop in front of his parent’s house. There were no police cars, no ambulances in front of the house. There were several pulled up in front of the neighbors across the way. An officer directing traffic walked up to his car. Grey rolled down the window.
“License and registration, please.” Grey handed both over without thinking.
“What’s going on, officer? Is anyone hurt?” Grey could now see smoke billowing out of a side window.
“You’re a long way from the D, Mr. Farben. What brings you to our fair city? Not enough grime and cold at home?”
“My folk’s place is across the street.They passed a while back, and I’m trying to sell it.” Grey struggled with remembering the people across the street. This place had not been a community for Grey. His community was in hobby stores and game conventions. Dave and his dad both would have known them, but Grey’s world was always inner, not outer.
“Well, you might want to just go inside. Some guy in there just put his head in an oven and set it to broil. Definitely not an open casket funeral.” Chicago PD were not known for their sensitivity. He handed Grey back his cards with a grunt and walked off.
Grey walked into the house,legs weak. In the last 24 hours,,it seemed as if his world had gone completely insane. He shouted hoarsely for his wife.”Frida! Where are you?” He looked around for the kids as well. Dead silence met his call,so he slipped off his overshoes and went upstairs.
They were gone. Frida and the kids both. Their coats were still drying on the radiators. Boots were still piled on the floor grates. Dread filled his mind, until he saw the legal pad propped up in front of the flatscreen in the living room. It had been the last thing he’d given his dad. If they were going to just sit around and watch TV when he visited, may as well do it in style, he’d thought. Six months later ,his father never watched anything again.
The legal pad had just one terse blurb on it. “You’re crazy, This whole city is insane. Taking the kids to sanity.”
Taking them to sanity? What the hell did that mean? And how did they leave? Grey thought about walking outside and talking to the police, but the weirdness of the day and the officer he’d talked to left him uneasy. He tried calling every number in his cell that Frida might have gone to, but none of them answered. Not surprising, if Frida had actually left him. Her family had been politely cold to him at most, with her brother being openly disdainful of Grey’s prospect as a husband.
Grey sat down on the couch, wondering at how his life had unravelled so fast. The TV switched on, Dave’s face filling the screen.
“Hey bro!” Grey jumped about a foot in the air.
“What the fuck, Dave!” Grey picked up the remote and threw it at the screen, missing the TV but not the wall behind it, shattering the remote.
“I see Chicago traffic has had its usual calming effect on you.”
“Fuck you, asshole! Enough of your practical jokes. Where’s Frida? This shit is not funny anymore.” Grey sat back down, his eyes boring holes into Dave.
“You think this is a joke, Grey?” Dave was grim, his jaw set. Grey had seen that look before, usually when they’d fight as kids.”You think I subverted the nation’s civil defense grid as a gag? And what happened to Frida?”
Grey told him the story. As he did, Dave’s face tightened even further.He sighed at the end.
“Shit, that’s it. They’ve fucking taken her.”
“Who’s taken her, Dave? When are you going to start telling me what’s this all about? And how can you know what ‘they’ did?”
“because if I was them, it’s exactly what I would have done. Don’t worry, she and the kids should be fine, mostly. I’ll explain more later, but you’ve got company.”
That’s when the doorbell rang.Which scared Grey even more, because his folks never had a doorbell.