The Event – Earth
With her hands pressed tight over her ears, Jaz Brooks crouched beneath her desk in her office in the thriving heart of Harlem, a silent scream escaping her as a horrible sound vibrated through her bones, making her brain ache in protest.
The cacophony— three terrible blasts, like erupting flames—stopped as abruptly as it had come. For a moment she remained frozen in terror, her mind trying to identify what that noise had been. When she couldn’t come up with any logical answer, she forced herself to fight back the animalistic panic that made her want to hide beneath her desk forever. Every inch of her body still rang with the deep intonation while she crawled out and used the leather arm of her office chair to steady herself as looked for her patients, a young couple that was having issues due to differences in their upbringing.
Raul, the charismatic Puerto Rican husband, was as macho as could be, and very handsome in a hot Latino lover way that perfectly complemented his wife’s pale beauty. His bride was a beautiful wide-eyed model from Canada named Christie, who grew up in suburbia. Having never lived the harsh street life that Raul had experienced growing up in Brooklyn, she didn’t understand his constant need to protect her. A former gangbanger, Raul knew just how ruthless the world could be, and he took the job of shielding his wife from those who would harm her seriously. He loved Christie with a passion that not many women got to experience and Jaz knew his wife meant the world to him.
True to form, Raul hunched over his wife, sheltering her body beneath his while he looked at Jaz. Their gazes met and Raul’s nostrils flared over his perfectly groomed thin mustache. She could easily see the terror beneath his bravado and instantly went into protective mode.
Yeah, ignoring her own fear in favor of helping another was a coping mechanism, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t effective.
Christie clutched her husband’s white t-shirt, her breath coming out in harsh sobs. “What was that?”
“I don’t know,” Jaz said as she cautiously let go of the arm of her chair, kicking off her heels and flexing her feet on the oak floors before fiddling with her carefully styled, curly black hair out of nervous habit. “Only one way to find out.”
Giving her pristine, fitted grey slacks an unnecessary smoothing, as if her being neat and tidy would somehow fix things, she then crept toward the windows covered in decorative wrought iron security bars that looked down at the street a story below.
Her newly renovated three-story brownstone was sandwiched between her father’s church, where he lived, and another brownstone occupied by more of her huge but close extended family. People carrying the last name of Brooks had lived in this section of Harlem for well over one hundred and fifty years and during that time, they’d slowly taken over this particular section of the city. Situated on a normally busy street, she was worried when she realized the constant noise of horns honking and engines revving was silent.
The skin of her arms tingled as goosebumps broke out and the fine hairs on her arms stood on end as she took in the terribly surreal sight before her.
The view between the green leaves of the old tree out front was an eerie one, like something out of a movie. Not a single car was moving, all of them at a standstill, frozen in place with most of their drivers outside of their vehicle. Everyone, every single person in the street, was looking up at the sky with dazed expressions.
Because the memory of the terrible black smoke from the Twin Towers burning still lived in her heart, Jaz’s gaze went to the sky, expecting vast clouds of smoke—and she let out a harsh gasp.
The sky wasn’t dark with smoke. No, it was filled with long, winding ribbons of rainbow light that slowly undulated like a curtain blowing in a gentle breeze. Here and there, bits of the blue sky shown between the colors, letting her know it was still there, but for the most part the vibrant shades completely blotted out the pale blue of the spring sky.
A large boom came from somewhere to the north, followed by another some distance to the east, and she took a shaky breath as the high-pitched call of faraway sirens began to fill the unnatural quiet.
Another explosion, this one strong enough to rattle the walls, hit not too far off and she let out a small scream, while Raul extracted himself from his wife and went to the window. He then let out a similar sound of shock and swayed before turning abruptly and sliding down the wall with his knees akimbo. Christie stared at them both, then with a strength that surprised Jaz, wiped her cheeks and strode over to the window, jerking the curtains back wide enough that Jaz could see a small slice of the rainbow sky.
Instead of freaking out, Christie stayed still for about thirty seconds before saying, “Well, if it’s going to kill us it’s a very pretty way to die.”
Raul and Jaz’s eyes met and they both burst into laughter.
It only lasted for a few seconds, but it helped clear Jaz’s mind as some people out on the street started shouting and waving their arms around in an agitated manner. “You guys live in Brooklyn, right?”
“Yeah,” Raul said as he stood and moved behind Christie.
Joining them, Jaz looked out into a chaotic street before pulling her curtains closed so only a sliver remained, blocking them from the increasingly disturbed crowd outside. “I think you guys should stay with me until things settle down out there.”
Christie pulled out her cell phone, frowning when she saw she was getting no service. “I need to call my mom and dad.”
Biting his lower lip, Raul stared at the nonmoving traffic as people poured out of the surrounding businesses and filled the sidewalks like ants swarming out of a disturbed hill. “Mi corazon, I think Ms. Brooks is right, we should stay here. You know, shelter in place and shit like they taught us in school.”
A visibly agitated Christie shrugged out of his embrace and frowned at her cellphone. “Raul, I need to make sure my parents are okay, but I can’t get a signal.”
Jaz picked up her desk phone and, like she suspected, got nothing but static. “I think all the lines are down, or jammed right now.”
Christie shoved her cell phone in her purse, tears filling her eyes. “Shit, what am I supposed to do?”
Raul grasped his wife’s hands in his and held her gaze. “They’re out in the middle of nowhere in Alberta, Canada, right? Nearest neighbor is miles away from them, and they have the generator for emergencies and your mom cans her own food. They’re gonna be okay, but we might not be if we go out in that shit.” He flung his hand in the direction of the street. “I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m telling you right now, there is gonna be riots and shit, gonna be a lot of people trying to get the fuck out of New York City. Bad people are gonna be out on the streets, babe, taking advantage of the confusion, and we don’t need to be out there with them. Your mama and papa would want you to be safe, yeah?”
The front-door buzzer activated and Jaz was startled to realize they still had power. Moving quickly to the wall where the intercom was, she pressed it and said, “Hello?”
It was hard to hear over the noise of the beeping horns and shouting people, but her dad’s voice rang out over it all. “It’s me, baby girl, let me in.”
She quickly buzzed him in and was already moving to the door that led out to the stairway. Glancing back over her shoulder, she pointed up. “Go upstairs, my door is on the left. Type 53593 into the keypad. I need you to start filling pots and pitchers with water. Fill up the tub as well. Also, get out the fresh chicken in the fridge and try and use up any perishables we have. Christie, can you cook?”
“Great, you take care of that. Raul, come with me.”
“Why is he going with you?”
“He’s going to be doing the same thing in my aunt’s apartment downstairs. She’s on vacation in Florida right now but I have a feeling we’re going to need all the supplies we can get our hands on.”
Not wasting any more time, Jaz practically flew down the steps in her bare feet with Raul following behind. When they reached the foyer with its new travertine tile floors and double security doors, she pointed at her aunt’s apartment with a shaky finger. “Code’s 74772, leave the door open so you can hear me if I yell.”
He nodded and threw open the door to her Aunt’s place while she let her father in.
Terrence Brooks had always been a big man, and age hadn’t changed that. He’d played professional football in the ’90s before he badly injured his knee and returned to Harlem to become a preacher. Today he wore his usual dark jacket and button-down shirt, but his normally neatly knotted tie was askew and the lines on his face appeared deeper. Quickly embracing her, he glanced over at the open door of the apartment. “Who’s in there?”
“One of my clients, Raul. His wife Christie is upstairs. They’re filling up the tubs and cooking any food we’ve got that might spoil. I’m going to have them stay with me because I don’t think it’s safe for them to try to travel anywhere on foot right now. Any idea what’s going on?”
“None at all. Internet and phones are down but electricity is still working. Lots of people running their mouths and got opinions on what happened, but not much fact.”
“Have you heard anything official about what this…this whatever this is?”
“Saw a couple police officers, but they don’t got time to answer questions with people acting like animals out there.” Her dad gave her shoulders a squeeze. “All you need to worry about is keeping yourself and your guests safe, let the police do their job and we’ll help out as we can. We already got people coming into the church and seeking refuge. Your brothers are there right now with a couple of your cousins, guarding the flock from the wolves that are sure to come out tonight. I got a feeling it’s going to be bad, honey, but the Lord will keep us safe. We’ve been in dark places before and he’s always brought us back into his grace, but I won’t lie, I fear some evil times may be upon us so I’m gonna need you to be strong for me. You’re a candle in the darkness, always have been, and it’s time to let your light shine.”
To hear her father say those words struck her deep inside, in that secret place deep in her heart that believed her dad could do anything. The fear lurking behind his words scared her more than the rainbow ribbons in the sky and she drew in a shaky breath. Okay, he needed her, Raul and Christie needed her, and she wouldn’t let them down.
He rubbed her shoulders gently before moving towards her aunt’s place. “I’m taking Bee’s guns and ammo to the church with me. I want you to arm yourself and the young couple if they’re familiar with guns. Word is the National Guard is setting up around the city and they’re gonna institute martial law. You need to defend yourself against the thugs that will use the confusion as an excuse to hurt others. I want you to do it without a second thought. Understood? They threaten your life, you use your gun to take them out as you’ve been trained. Clear?”
While some people may be shocked that a preacher would have no problem with guns, she knew her father had faced off with more than one drug dealer and gangbanger, refusing to let them deal around his church. After being shot in the hip one night by a pissed-off pimp trying to get to one of his girls seeking shelter in the church, her dad had gotten everyone guns and taught them how to use them. She had several stashed around her home and office in biometric gun safes, and had used her firearms more than once to warn off an angry spouse or an addict thinking she had drugs in her office just because she was a therapist. While she couldn’t imagine actually ever harming anyone, she wouldn’t lie that the fact that she had the ability to defend her home gave her peace of mind.
She was still standing there trying to process what was going on when her dad returned, wearing what had to be his grandfather’s old raccoon-skin jacket while carrying a large purple crocodile purse bulging at the seams.
“What in the world?”
He grimaced. “I’ve got six handguns on me and a ton of heavy ammo, need to hide it somehow or I’ll get mobbed the second I walk out those doors.”
While she knew better than to try to talk him into staying here, she couldn’t help the tears that escaped as he strode to the door leading back out into the chaos outside. “Daddy, please be safe.”
“Don’t you worry ’bout me. I might be sending the boys over later for some food. We got women with kids, and while the church’s kitchen is set up for feeding the homeless, we’re gonna need help ’fore order gets restored. Here are the keys to the two empty apartments. Might not have any furniture in them, but they got bathrooms and they’re a safe place for people to wait this out until things calm down and people stop runnin’ around like chickens with their heads cut off.”
“Do you think they’ll be able to? I mean, what if this is happening all over the world? There’s no way there are enough police to keep everyone safe.”
His dark eyes softened and he said with utter conviction, “I know they will be, because good people are gonna step up and do the right thing. This ain’t judgement day and the good Lord isn’t done with us yet. We still got a lot of work to do before we earn our reward. Have faith, honey, ’cause God’s got faith in you.”
“Gotta say,” Raul’s voice came from inside the apartment after her father left, “your dad ain’t like any preacher I’ve ever met.”
Pride somehow helped ease her fear and she nodded before wiping away her no-doubt smeared mascara from beneath her eyes. “He’s one of a kind. Come on, you heard the man, we’ve got work to do.”
Twenty-five hours later, Jaz crawled into her bed after a quick bath to wash the dried sweat from her tired body. The building she lived in was filled with people who had sought shelter from the random violence of the streets, and one of her brothers was here with his family as well.
Once the sun had gone down, and the rolling blackouts had begun, chaos had erupted in the city and Jaz had been seriously scared for a little while. Gangs of armed men had roamed the streets, setting cars on fire, breaking windows, and looting everything. They started to come near the church, but a few well-placed shots from her brother’s on the church’s roof sent the mob off in search of easier prey.
Candles burned in her windows, visible signs that her home was open to being used as a shelter. The National Guard had set up a command post around her father’s church and she was worn out from caring for the endless stream of terrified people who were drawn to the promise of safety the men and women in uniform provided.
Outside her hallway, voices still murmured but she ignored them, content in the knowledge that her family would watch over things while she finally crashed.
The faint scent of her lavender body lotion puffed up from her sheets as she pulled them around her, falling almost instantly to sleep.
Standing before Jaz in the oddly ethereal desert landscape of her dream were three of the most beautiful men she’d ever seen, each striking in his own way. All three were built like professional athletes, thick and toned with cut muscles; utterly delicious in their loose black pants and lack of shirts. The first man had creamy golden skin, with slanted eyes and long dark hair that gave him a slightly Asian look. The second also had long black hair, but his skin was pale and his eyes a lovely light blue. The third had blond hair liberally streaked with mahogany brown that fell to just below his shoulders, along with a square jaw. With their gazes focused on her, they began to creep forward, stalking her with obvious sexual intent.
A glance at their pants showed the fabric now tented by three very large erections and she swallowed hard and took a step back, only to find the earth crumbling beneath her feet.
With a gasp, Jaz looked behind her, the fabric of the long emerald-green gown she wore whipped about in the suddenly harsh wind. She balanced on the edge of a dark cliff and far, far below her lay a huge caldera that appeared as if it was filled with black sand. Moving black sand. It swirled and writhed, making her dizzy before she managed to tear her eyes away and back on the men.
They remained poised, fear obvious on their faces as they held their hands out to her and begged her in some language she couldn’t understand. The cliff disintegrated more and without thought, she reached out and grabbed the arm of the man in the middle, the other two quickly grasping her under the arms and hauling her away from the edge.
In the odd way of dreams, the world shifted around them and she found herself kneeling in the center of a soft and elaborate carpet that reminded her of an Oriental rug, done in shades of green and gold. The rest of the room had a similar color theme, with curved ceilings and golden lights glowing as they floated in the air overhead.
Movement caught her attention and she found herself looking at the pussy-tightening sight of two hot guys kissing on a massive gold bed. Then the third, with the blond and brown-striped hair, joined them, their muscular bodies a sight to behold as they kissed and caressed. The pale man with the dark hair and light blue eyes held his hand out to her with a smile that made her nipples tighten with need.
She slipped her soft brown fingers between his pale ones and let him draw her into their embrace with a sigh. Warmth, devotion, and happiness filled her soul as they caressed her body. The feel of their love for her soaked into her very essence, marking her and sealing her soul to theirs forever.