Café Chocolaté

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Chapter II

Chapter II – Ginger Thomas

Ginger Thomas had been employed at Café Chocolaté for over a year. When the explosion occurred, she had been trying to please her most persnickety customer. Again. The complaining woman jolted with everyone else, then spun away from the counter, screaming over and over at the top of her lungs.

Ginger couldn’t move. Her feet froze in place, yet her legs shook like jelly. “What was it? Louder than anything I’ve ever heard. What was it?” No one paid any attention to her mutterings or her shaking hands. She leaned against the counter in an attempt to steady her limbs.

The other woman changed from mere screaming to wailing a repeat of the same sentence over and over, bringing Ginger out of her haze. She glared at the woman, her normal dislike reaching new heights.

“You’re not the only one startled and frightened, Mary Dill. Stop acting so self-centered.” She crossed her shaking arms. “Too bad I won’t say it loud enough that she can hear me.”

Instantly self-conscious, Ginger looked around to see if anyone had heard her. No one seemed to have even looked her direction, much less noticed her speaking. Eddie, her fellow employee, had bolted from behind the counter to help a gray-haired woman on the other side to her feet. No one else stood anywhere near her. Ginger pouted a bit in the direction of the young man by the window, but he didn’t notice her either.

She sighed and glanced around at the café patrons. A few had phones out, chatter arising as the phones appeared to lack service. Ginger raised an eyebrow.

She could just hear bits of the conversation by the door. Not enough to satisfy her, but enough to assure her that they wouldn’t be getting out for help.

She watched the young auburn-haired woman with the puppy dog eyes head toward the window. Ginger uncrossed her arms and tucked a brown straggler into her ponytail.

If she can go talk to him, so can I. She hurried around the counter.

It took her longer to reach the two than she anticipated. When she did reach them, neither the man nor the woman seemed to notice her until she stood directly behind them. Timothy and Anna. Ginger knew everyone’s names.

No two people could look more different; he with his caramel-chocolate hair and pale blue eyes, and she with her auburn curls and bright green ones. Even Ginger couldn’t help noticing the contrast.

Anna’s voice shook just a little. “Mine wouldn’t go through. It didn’t even ring.”

“Mine doesn’t work either.”

Ginger crossed her arms again. “It doesn’t sound like anyone has a phone that’s working!”

She saw Timothy’s eyes widen just a bit. “Landline?”

Ginger shrugged, enjoying just a little of what she could see of the growing panic in Anna’s bright eyes. “It quit working yesterday.”

Anna took a shaky breath. “We have no phones at all?”

That’s pretty much what we just said, dearie. She silenced her internal dialogue before it could make its way to her tongue.

“The electricity appears to be out as well.” Timothy didn’t look at Ginger when he spoke, and it annoyed her.

“Which means all of our communication is cut off and we can’t leave with the door blocked either.” Anna’s voice still shook, but not as much. “What are we going to do?”

Ginger shook her head, dropping her arms. “No one got hurt. So, what do we need to call out for?”

Anna fully turned around this time, her eyebrows raised in astonishment. “To find out what is going on? To let others know that we’re all right?”

“We’ll find out soon enough, I imagine.”

The young man looked at her this time. Ginger smiled.

I know that his name is Timothy. Though I doubt that he knows my name. He’s never asked. She almost frowned at a new thought. Suppose he could have read my nametag though.

Timothy turned back to Anna. “Do you know of anyone that’s hurt?”

Why did he ask her? I just told him.

She shook her head. “No. It’s just that my father will want to know that I’m all right. I’m supposed to be heading over to meet him. If I don’t show up and I don’t answer my phone, he won’t know what has happened to me.”

“Does he know where you are?” Timothy asked.

Ginger frowned, but hurried to hide it when Timothy glanced her direction.

“Probably.” Anna shrugged, glancing back at Ginger and then up at Timothy again. “I’m usually here on Tuesday mornings, while he’s at his Bible Study.”

Ginger sniffed. Weird time of day for a Bible study.

“Then, he’ll probably figure some of it out.” Timothy sounded reassuring. His eyes strayed toward the useless windows. “We’re not the only ones who heard and felt that explosion. We’re probably not the only ones affected by it. It’s on the news or will be soon. Someone will figure out that we’re here and get us out.”

“Dad might get more worried, if he hears about the café. I’m sure there are others who have anxious family members on the outside too.”

Ginger opened her mouth to speak, but Mary Dill’s wails reached an ear-splitting decibel.

“That man! That man in the corner! He’s dead!”

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