Chapter I – Timothy Teller
Timothy Teller pushed through the entrance of Café Chocolaté, barely noticing the mug of hot chocolate painted on the etched glass of the door. He’d seen it so many times that it hardly registered anymore.
He adjusted the strap of the laptop bag hanging from his shoulder and ambled to the counter, shivering as he acclimated from the clouds and wind of the outdoors to the warmth of the café. He tapped his fingers against the strap while the waitress spoke to a rather loud woman, who didn’t like her how her order turned out. He stared at the wood flooring and rubbed his shoe against a scuff on the polished surface.
“Sorry about that. She always comes back about something. What can I get you?”
Timothy raised his eyes and nodded in response. “Black coffee with a shot of chocolate, please.”
The waitress bounced in sync with the bell over the door and took his cash. Her ponytail bobbed as she put the money into the register. “Will that be all Timothy?” She gave him the smile that always made him shudder.
He waited by the counter until his drink appeared at the hands of another employee. The one room café smelled mostly of coffee with a hint of chocolate; the dark brown wainscoting and the deep crimson walls had long been permeated with it. One might wonder if the wooden tables and the dark chairs with their crimson cushions had undergone the same treatment.
Timothy barely avoided brushing against the loud woman on her way back to the counter and frowned at his usual corner booth. The only seating in the narrow area between the end of the counter and one of the front windows, he preferred that seat to the rest of the café. He didn’t recognize the middle-aged gentleman with graying hair and square face who sat there, intent upon a tablet.
I’ve never seen anyone else sit there before. Timothy shook his head just a bit. Oh, well. I can work somewhere else for once.
He found an open table across the café, set down his laptop, and opened the lid. The screen began glowing, but it never got any further than a glow.
An eruption, louder than anything Timothy had ever heard in his life, split through the air, shaking the café and everything in it. Timothy jumped, knocking over his coffee and drenching his laptop. The screen went dark with a spitting sizzle. He hardly noticed. The café darkened, several people screamed, and glass shattered.
The sound drifted away and with it, most of the screams. Only the woman he had heard complaining when he came into the café, continued to keep up a ruckus. Timothy leapt to his feet, hurried passed the woman in screaming hysterics, and reached the doorway. Neither the glass door nor the two windows on either side had broken or even cracked.
Timothy shook the door, but it refused to open. He pulled down the handle and pushed with all his might. Nothing happened. Straining to see through the etched glass windows, he could just discern a foggy haze of rubble. He thought he saw a tree branch, but he couldn’t be sure.
Who thought etching the glass on all the windows would be a good idea?
“Can you see what’s going on?” a deep voice behind him asked.
Timothy glanced up at a man, over a head taller than himself and wearing business attire. He shook his head. “No. I can’t see much of anything. The door is blocked by something; I can’t move it.”
“Let me try.”
The woman’s screams had dissolved into a continual repetition of the same sentence. She pulled her arms up and down with each exclamation, her eyes wide and staring at the ceiling. “What happened? What happened? What happened?”
Timothy winced. A tall brunette, very with child, had her arm around the hysterical woman trying to calm her. She didn’t seem to be making any headway.
I don’t think she’s even hearing her.
He turned to help the other man push against the door. It still didn’t move.
The man finally stepped back. “I don’t think we’re getting anywhere.”
Timothy agreed, finally allowing his gaze to drift across the room, noting the number of frightened faces. Faces that he vaguely knew, but could barely identify.
“I’m sure the police will be here soon. They’ll get everything taken care of.”
Timothy looked up at the tall man beside him. “I’m sure.”
The patter of rain began to tap against the glass and Timothy realized the cause of sudden darkness as his companion walked away.
The electricity is out. Something took out the electricity and the door is blocked. He scratched his head. Does that make sense for both to happen at once? I suppose it depends on what caused the explosion and where.
“You have a phone, don’t you?”
Timothy turned back toward the voice of a young woman. She stopped just next to him, her bright green eyes filled with worry.
He nodded, pulling the device out of his pocket.
She stared at it for a second, as if confirming that it was, indeed, a phone. “Does it work?”
Timothy looked from her to the phone and then back again. “Work?” he repeated.
She nodded, tugging on several strands of her auburn hair, her eyes trained on his face.
Timothy typed his pass-code into the phone. He could see nothing amiss. “Do you mean can I call anyone?” He looked up again.
The young woman nodded once more.
He clicked through a screen or two, dialed, and put the phone to his ear. He waited. Silence.
“Mine wouldn’t go through. It didn’t even ring,” the young woman said.
Timothy waited another ten seconds, before dropping his arm. He shook his head. “Mine doesn’t work either.”
The young woman sighed.
The waitress who had taken his order spoke from behind her. He hadn’t noticed her walk up. “It doesn’t sound like anyone has a phone that’s working!”
“Landline?” Timothy asked.
The waitress shrugged. “It quit working yesterday.”
The young woman twirled away from the waitress, her auburn curls swinging, and looked back at Timothy. “We have no phones at all?”
Timothy finally felt a pang of dread. “The electricity appears to be out as well.”
“Which means all of our communication is cut off and we can’t leave with the door blocked either.” The young woman glanced around the cafe, her gaze lingering on one of the patrons for just a moment. Her eyes narrowed slightly, before she looked back up at Timothy. “What are we going to do?”
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