Café Chocolaté

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Next: Chapter V

Chapter IV

Chapter IV – Timothy Teller

Timothy watched the discovery of the dead man with a growing sense of horror.

He was alive when I got here. He looked fine!

His head began to ache from the constant screaming. Ginger put her hands to her hips and marched across the room toward the wailing woman.

“Mary Dill! You get ahold of yourself! I don’t care if you’re two heads taller than me and twice as round; I don’t want to hear another shriek and neither does anyone else. Do you hear me?”

The silence that followed brought sweet relief. Timothy tried to relax the tension building in his shoulders. Lord, I don’t approve of how she did it, but I am thankful for the silence.

The conversation of the two men nearer the corpse, made Timothy forget his short-term relief.

There’s a dead man and I’m worried about my hearing.

The young woman beside him shuddered. “It’s all rather like a nightmare, isn’t it?” She spoke in a low, even voice that Timothy could barely hear.

“It does seem rather surreal.”

She shuddered again. With the dead man gently covered by the coat, the young woman turned a bit and sighed. “I suppose the explosion must have been too much for him.”

“What does it matter to you?” The stringent tones of another woman made Timothy jump. A gray-haired, gray-eyed woman had joined them, her wrinkled, oval face stamped with the lines of a permanent frown.

The young woman didn’t reply.

The gray-haired woman stared at her for a long moment, then grunted. “You’ve no call to bother your head about him, Anna. He’s dead. You can’t help him.”

“No, of course not.” Anna spoke in a barely audible tone once more. “Still, I-” Her words cut off as another explosion ripped through the café, drowning all other sounds except Mary Dill’s scream.

Timothy lost his balance, hitting the ground and narrowly missing the window. Instinctively, he shielded his head, but nothing hit him. The noise died down, the cries of those around him becoming more audible. From somewhere above him, Mary Dill kept up her cries.

Timothy opened his eyes and pushed himself upright. He rubbed his neck and looked around. Beside him Anna started to move, very slowly trying to sit up while holding onto her left arm. She bit her lip as Timothy scrambled to help her.

“Are you going to be all right?”

She didn’t look at him, but nodded, still holding onto her arm. She bit her lip so hard that it nearly bled and she made no move to stand.

“You don’t look like it.”

She’s fine.” Timothy wanted to glare at the gray-haired woman behind him, who struggled with the legs of a chair. “I’m not all right. You could help me get disentangled.”

Timothy looked back down at Anna again. She nodded once more.

He never knew before that so few people could create such a din of noise. As he extricated the gray-haired woman from her chair, the noise hovered about the room, buzzing like a hornet’s nest.

Not everyone in here is even talking. Neither Anna nor I are currently saying anything.

Mary Dill had ceased to scream, but still made plenty of noise with her wailing exclamations. Chatter seemed to come from everywhere. Once he’d pulled the gray-haired woman to her feet, she glared in Mary’s direction.

“What a ridiculous woman! Who does she think that she’s helping? She’s not even helping herself! Everyone is going to hate her soon. Some people already do.”

Timothy followed her nod to where Ginger glared daggers at Mary.

Some people handle stress and fear in different ways than others, I suppose. Still…

Anna still held her arm close to her side, but color had come back into her face as Timothy reached down to help her stand up. She shivered and her eyes traveled around the room. Timothy followed her gaze.

Two people, a man and woman who Timothy had often seen, stood beside Mary Dill, apparently trying to calm her. The woman’s hands shook while she spoke as soothingly as her shaking voice allowed and Timothy wondered if Mary even noticed The two men who had been near the body, stood looking around and seemed to be conversing.

There’s no doubt that those two are related. They couldn’t hide it if they tried.

Both looked distressed. One of them frowned, before hurrying across the room. Ginger and Eddie stood together, neither speaking, Ginger still glaring.

Timothy looked back toward the window and sighed. Lord, I wish I knew what on earth was going on.

“How long has it been since the first explosion?” Anna asked quietly.

Timothy thought for a moment, but shook his head. “I really don’t know.”

“Half hour? Three hours? Time doesn’t seem to be keeping track.” The gray-haired woman sighed, then lowered herself into the chair she had fought with a few minutes before. “Why are you concerned about the time?”

“I’m not concerned. It’s just…” Anna bit her lip, gently this time. “I know it’s difficult to hear what’s going on outside, but shouldn’t we hear them by now?”

A shriek from Mary Dill caused everyone in the café to jump. Again.

The gray-haired woman stood. “Someone needs to slap some sense into that woman before we all go deaf!”

“Kimberly, don’t.” Anna shook her head, a pleading look on her face.

The woman stopped in the act of moving forward.

“She’s right.” Timothy could see the determined glint still lingering in Kimberly’s eyes. “You shouldn’t. It won’t help. Not for long, anyway.”

“Even a moment of silence would be glorious relief!”

Timothy bit back a laugh that quickly dissolved as soon as he recalled the gravity of the situation.

Anna nodded toward the exit. “I don’t suppose that the second explosion would have cleared a pathway on the other side door…”

Timothy tried pushing against the door again. It didn’t even shiver under his weight. “No. If anything, it’s holding stronger than before.”

Anna nodded a bit vacantly.

“What were you saying that we should be hearing, but aren’t?” He watched Anna’s face, her bright eyes clouded with pain. She still held her arm.

“Sirens.” Anna sighed and her eyes met his. “We should be hearing sirens, shouldn’t we?”

Timothy frowned and tried to listen. He heard nothing, even though he stood by the window. Granted, the noise indoors continued on, but something as piercing as sirens ought to have cut through. So, he thought.

Anna watched him, raising her eyebrows a little. “Wouldn’t the police and emergency personnel be running their sirens as they make their way to us?”

“I would think so.” Timothy wished yet again that he could see through the windows. “You’re right though. I don’t hear anything.”

“Then…” Anna lowered her voice to a whisper. “Where are the police and why aren’t they coming?”

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Previous: Chapter III
Next: Chapter V

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