As promised yesterday, here’s the continuation of Lacunae: Chapter 3. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
If you missed Lacunae: Chapter 1, you can go right back to the beginning and read it HERE.
“I told you! But no, nobody listens to little Iris do they?” Iris’ panicked tone broke the stunned atmosphere that had descended in the bar, making all three men jump. Engrossed in the news report, Cooper hadn’t seen her return from the bathroom.
“Jesus Sis,turn it down a notch! And what precisely did you tell me about, because I don’t remember you saying anything about evacuations, acid rain and possible death!”
“The volcano! This is bad, really bad. People could die Coop, or get melted by some acidic downpour and that man knew! He predicted it, with all his talk of fire water and sky demons and what happened? They locked him up to keep it quiet. It’s a conspiracy, they don’t want the public to know they messed up their monitoring and now it’s too late to save people, oh God…”
Iris clung to the bar-rail, shaking. She was having a panic attack and was now doubled over wheezing, her eyes wild and desperate. Coop made towards his sister as he realised she was frantically trying to find her inhaler with a free hand. But Max arrived first to help, guiding Iris to a seat and placing a soothing hand on her back.
“Just take deep breaths Iris, look at me and listen to my breathing. In and out. In and out.” Max audibly exaggerated his breathing to allow her to mimic his rhythm.
“When did he become Florence fucking Nightingale?” Trent scoffed, yet his tone was anything but mocking. Cooper could understand why his friend seemed shaken. Trent had never seen Iris have an attack before, an event that was always dramatic.
Cooper, however, was unfazed. His little sister had been having episodes for a couple of years now, diagnosed by her doctor as social anxiety brought on by the trials of being a teenager. Her wild imagination didn’t exactly help matters though, and she was prone to bouts of paranoia that fuelled her stress levels.
Thankfully, her attacks were short-lived. The sound of more relaxed, regular breathing was now coming from Iris and she looked up at her brother with subdued eyes.
“You okay?” Coop enquired kindly, “You have to find ways to calm yourself ‘Ris, you’re being silly. Nothing will happen this side of Mount Ludlow. We’ll be fine. And even if something does happen, the news just told us what to do. So chill.”
Despite often antagonising his sister, Cooper knew how to calm her and be supportive. He still thought the world of her, and so, it seemed, did Max. Cooper mentally logged the surprising shift in maturity that his friend had just displayed, choosing to respond with a simple slap to his back and, “Thanks man”.
Iris’ eyes widened. “I’m sorry, it’s just we’ve never experienced an eruption before and as much as I’m fascinated, I’m terrified. Don’t you think that man they took to St. Austen’s is a weird coincidence?”
Coop was acutely aware of a raise in pitch that could signal another episode. As if one volcano wasn’t enough! “Stop. You’re doing what you always do – transferring things you’ve seen or heard and applying it tenfold to your own life. One crazy guy and a news report does not the apocalypse make. Okay?”
“And besides,” Trent chipped in from across the room, “All the tremors have been felt nearer to Romanside. We’ve not had the slightest rumble.”
With movie-scene timing, a row of glasses moved in unison, a chorus line of clinks that kicked some off stage, to smash below. Tables shook, possessed with the rage of an unseen entity that engulfed the bar, lashing out at chairs in the way of its anger. A low growl, like a motorbike starting up in a nearby street, grew louder and more sinister as it exhaled, scaring bottles from their racks and prompting the friends to flee.
With heart pounding, Cooper witnessed Max drag Iris under a nearby table, shielding her head against his chest. Trent, screaming in a fashion he’d be ashamed of later, fell awkwardly on his side as an invisible carpet was whipped from under him. Cooper himself miraculously remained upright, managing to surf the waves of ferocious energy, whilst grabbing the bar rail.
And then it stopped, abruptly. Cooper listened as a hesitant silence fell on O’ Rourkes. Light and sound were missing from the TV and fridges. The power was out.
“Everyone alright?” He called unmoving from his position, scanning the bar floor. Iris’ face emerged first, her eye make-up leaking down her cheeks, closely followed by Max who gallantly helped her to stand.
“Trent, you okay? Can you get up?” Confident the tremor was over, Coop started navigating the smashed glasses and displaced furniture to get to his friend.
“I think so, it’s just my arm. Smashed it into the floor as I fell.” Trent groaned, rolling into a sitting position and cradling his elbow. Cooper looked it over.
“Don’t think it’s broken but maybe you should go get it checked out?”
“Fuck that! I’m not getting in a moving vehicle to get flipped skyward by the ground! Jesus, that was intense!”
“Alright, then at least come to mine and I’ll have my mom look at it. Iris, try calling Mom. She should be at the airport now. Check she’s alright will you?”
A sudden movement at the front of the building caused the group to pause, tense. The door opened slowly, its normally seamless swing hindered as tables and chairs tried to keep it shut.
“Whoa, looks like there’s been a bar fight in here!” Vaughn, the bar manager, entered stepping over liquor soaked debris. The friends’ breath was released in a joint sigh. “Bit of a clean-up needed Mr.Bradford!”
“How are you so calm?” asked Trent, his eyebrows raised to his hairline.
“What? That little thing? Just a baby. We had worse tremors round here as a kid, and living out in LA you get to use to them on a regular basis. Begin not to notice.”
Vaughn walked into the back area, flicked switches on the circuit breakers and returned with two brushes. He handed one to Cooper then began putting chairs back in order.
“Well that told us, Trent!” Laughed Cooper, sweeping up glass. “But I’ll not deny it was pretty intense for the few moments it lasted.”
“Mom’s okay…it’s like it happens every day,” declared Iris, shaking her head. “She was more bothered about you forgetting the wine.” Cooper’s sister had cleaned her face, but was staying quite close to Max.
“If you can find an unbroken bottle, you can take one from here, as long as you help me set up for tonight before you leave,” said Vaughn, scanning the damage.
“Sure thing, cheers boss. Max, will you see Iris and the walking wounded get back to mine in one piece, and I’ll join you in an hour?”
“Hey, I can take care of myself,” pouted Iris, but made no indication of moving.
“Absolutely. Let’s go, get you some ice and a blanket Trentboy!”
Scowling, Trent ambled towards the door, saluting a farewell to his friend and the proprietor. “Best take a rain check on tonight. Not sure I can take any more excitement or explosive females today, no offence Iris. But assuming we’ve not all melted in the fallout, Sphinx tomorrow?”
“Cool, you might even get lucky if you play the sympathy card!” Cooper winked as the group left the building.
Credits: All words copyright of Aloada Bobbins. Image from Getty Images.