“Hold still Frank,” Sean says as he pushes the blade into the sleeve of the man’s jacket, cutting the fabric between Frank’s arm and the door.
“Ah, shit! Careful!” Frank growls when the blade of Sean’s knife nicks his forearm. Sean mutters under his breath as he works the knife through the fabric.
“Missile ALERT!” A preprogrammed voice announces from the speakers around the fence. Sean recognizes the voice immediately; after all, his wife had spent several weeks in the recording booth making sure all the lines were perfect. “Lockdown procedures have begun.”
Following the announcement, an alarm begins to sound, accompanying the flashing lights over the door.
“Missile?” Frank asks. “I thought this was a meteorite?”
As if on cue, several fast-moving lights flash, passing overhead. If they didn’t know better the objects could easily be mistaken for airplanes. A few seconds after the missiles pass a loud rumble rolls over the hills. The lights streak toward the fireball in the sky.
“Oh,” Frank says. “Ge me loose!” He says with more urgency.
“I’m trying!” Sean says. He works the knife faster but the small, dull blade of his pocket knife isn’t making great progress.
“I knew this damn thing was useless!” Sean curses and throws the knife, chucking it somewhere behind him and out of sight. He grabs a handful of Frank’s sleeve, braces a foot against the car door, and pulls as hard as he can. The sleeve makes a satisfying ripping sound. Sean and Frank fall away from the car as the sleeve tears loose, collapsing on top of each other in a tangle of arms and legs.
Frank groans as he rolls off Sean, cradling his purple hand to his chest.
“Come on,” Sean says as he rises back to his feet. He grabs Frank by the elbow, pulls him up, and shoves him toward the door. Frank takes off, sprinting up the path toward the door of the habitat.
Sean takes one step to follow and his right leg gives out, sending him collapsing back to the ground. A sharp pain travels up his leg and he cries out. He rolls onto his back, pulls his leg up, and finds his pocket knife sticking straight out from the back of his thigh. He grips the handle and with a howl rips it from his leg. He sits up and throws the knife as hard as he can in the opposite direction of the habitat.
Sean gets back to his feet and begins to make his way back toward the habitat. Every step feels like shards of glass cutting into the muscle of his leg but he pushes through the pain and hobbles up the path.
Ahead of him, Sean sees Frank reach the door. Frank barely passes the threshold when the large door begins to slide closed. Sean stumbles in his panicked rush, catches himself on his hands, steadies himself, and hurries on.
Frank places himself in the doorway, bracing his back against the frame and trying to push the door back to give Sean more time, but his actions are completely ineffective; the door was designed to withstand nuclear blasts and one man is not going to impede it.
“Wait!” Sean yells. He can see an inactive guard standing just inside the habitat. “I’m right here!”
Frank turns to yell at the guard, but the man shrugs his shoulders. There is an exchange of words, but they’re too far for Sean to hear over the alarms.
Sean slams into the front of the door and immediately tries to squeeze through the gap, but it’s much too small for him. He pulls his arm back before it is crushed. He stands outside, understanding he has no chance of entering, and peers through the narrowing gap at his wife. His gaze catches Sam’s, then turns to the infant cradled to her chest. He smiles, eyes watering as he enjoys his brief experience of fatherhood.
“My boy,” Sean whispers.
The door closes.