Rebecca’s requirement that I dived before I met Casey saved my life. I barely reached a safe distance before the blast destroyed my house. The shock propelled me belly-first on the pavement. I scrapped my face but my clothes protected most of my front. My back wasn’t that lucky. I yelled as walls’ smithereens dug there way in my skin.
Before I even realized what happened, a car swerved to a stop a few feet away from me and Rebecca stepped out, cell phone in hand. She was at the curb when the explosion fired off. I heard her dial a first time and whisper quickly her agent number and a brief report. Then, like any civilian, she hit 911. She belted out explanations to the emergency services while examining my wounds.
I thoughtlessly tried to push away from the ground and sit. Becky kept me from making that mistake. I mentally thanked her when I registered that my butt burned with pain as much as my back. I could smell the fire and the vaporized building materials. The fumes were heavy and I coughed up a fair amount of darkened secretions.
The screams were deafening.
I managed to glance over my shoulder and immediately regretted it. My house didn’t exist anymore. The flames engulfed half of both my neighbors’ house. Tears rolled down my cheeks. Rebecca grabbed my chin and forced me to look at her.
“You do not move. Do you hear me? Do not move.” I muttered a reply and she ran off to one of the burning bungalows. She kicked down the door. The flames spread quickly after she rushed into the house. I worried about her so much I nearly forgot about my pains. She finally walked out with a young girl clutched around her and a lightly wounded mom in tow.
The paramedics, police and firemen arrived moments later. The frenzy seemed to only increase. Paramedics attended to Rebecca’s survivors and tried to look at her too.
“There’s one wounded man in the other house. He’s in the kitchen. The backdoor’s the closest access point.” She yelled to the firemen. “No one else alive in this one.” The paramedics attempted to force her to sit but she brushed them off and pointed them in my direction. Becky’s car hid me from their first assessment of the scene.
I lost consciousness periodically from that point on. The paramedics attempted to keep me awake. My attention stabilized a bit once I lied face down on a gurney. As the paramedics hauled me into the ambulance, I saw my neighbor furiously struggling with two men in uniforms.
“This is all your fault.” She yelled at me. I knew it should affect me but I couldn’t find the strength to care. “My husband is dead because of you. Murderous psychic!”
The rest of her speech eluded me since the doors slammed shut. Rebecca was already sitting in the ambulance. She touched an unharmed part of me.
“You’re going to be fine.” She broadcasted. “You’ll be moved to a secure location as soon as the doctors clear you for transport.” Casey crossed my mind. “I can’t contact him.” I complained internally. “You’re in no shape to keep a secret. He’ll survive being stood up and hopefully, you’ll be out of reach by the time he hears the news.”
The world closed around me again. Every time I let go of the pain, the paramedic forced me back into it with stupid questions about myself. I couldn’t figure out the answers to some of them. My ears rang with the memory of the blast and souvenirs were etched across my back. The breeze on my skin made me realize that most of my clothes were cut open for the preliminary exam. The paramedic kept a watchful eye on the cuts and bruises. At least, he didn’t apply pressure. I probably didn’t bleed too much.
I rolled into the ER at a dizzying speed. I lost track of Rebecca. The doctor shot something in my back and the pain gradually disappeared. During the whole process, she repeated the questions the paramedics already asked. My name, the date, the recent events; I provided all the information while she extracted pieces of house from my flesh. A nurse cleaned each wound after the intruding chunks clinked in the metal bowl by the gurney.
“Tell me if it hurts.” The doctor said regularly. I complained once and she shot more stuff into my back. Sometime after that second shot, she finally allowed me to sleep.
I came to in a room that looked somewhat familiar. Rebecca woke up a few seconds after I did; the renewal of activity in my brain probably disturbed her sleep.
“I’m high as a kite,” was the only opening line that came to my mind. “And you’re all blurry.”
“That’s the drugs talking.” Becky dropped my glasses on my nose and I saw she was smiling. I also recognized the bedroom Daniel reserved for us over the bank.
“This is the secure location?”
“Since it’s in the whirlpool, it’s probably the more secure we have. Daniel didn’t want to risk the future of someone not included in the whirlpool to give away your location.” I moaned a vague understanding string of onomatopoeias. “You suffered from a mild concussion and several surface lacerations. No major damage but you need to rest.”
“I wasn’t planning on going out.” My mouth dried on the words. Rebecca ended me a glass and a sipped the water thankfully. “Do we have any lead?”
“Right to business, huh?”
“Someone tried to blow me up. It trumps the weather topic.” We both laughed.
“A man dressed as an exterminator came to your house. No neighbors saw fit to report it since he entered like he had a key. Our hypothesis is that he knew your role in this investigation.”
“Knew? Why?” Rebecca eyed me a moment, clearly evaluating how much she should share. She finally picked a picture from the table in the corner.
“The FBI found his body ten blocks away. When he visited your house, he burnt this with acid in the pavement.”
She handed me the picture. It showed a piece of asphalt reading: “How smart do you feel now?”