Word Count: 891
Kathleen watched as the gray explosion blossomed into red, rose into the air, and then mushroomed further into a beautiful gold and orange. Nothing should be so beautiful when it was so deadly.
“Take care of him for me, Sis.”
Lords, it had seemed such an easy request. Kathryn was so shaken lately, and raising a boy on her own was beginning to wear on her. She had just wanted a day to go into Caprica City alone and do some window shopping. Kathleen had groused internally, but hadn’t really hesitated to take Boxey from her. She had often watched her nephew for her older sister; it was a simple request.
“Boxey, hurry,” she called out to her nephew. The boy was forever taking an hour in the bathroom. She tried to be patient – she knew how much he missed his dad – but her patience had worn to nothing when the third bomb had hit the ground. Kathleen didn’t know what was happening, and couldn’t find out with the wireless and vid not working, but they were under attack.
Her mind flashed back to the old vids they’d watched in school of Cylon Raiders blasting their way down crowded city streets. War had been horrifying then; bloody, and scary, and far too real. She and Kathryn had listened to more than one story from their father about the days of the war. Their father. Oh Lords, I can’t think it. Mom and Dad… Oh Lords, keep them safe.
“Boxey we have to go!”
“Fine,” he told her as he ran down the stairs with his backpack slung over one shoulder. “I’m ready. Where are we going? To the city?”
She looked down at the brown hair and innocent brown eyes, so much like his father. She had to take care of him. She’d promised Kathryn she’d take care of him. He couldn’t know that the first of the bombs had dropped in just the direction of the city…
“I think I saw a ship,” she said quickly as she grabbed her purse. “If we run, maybe we can get there.”
“What about Mom?” Boxey asked.
No, she couldn’t think of it how. Not Kathryn… her big sister who always knew the answers, shopping where the first bombs had hit. Kathleen knew that was the right direction; how many times had they watched the fireworks on Caprican Independence Holiday? The cloud had been right where the largest of the displays had always been.
“She’s fine, Honey,” Kathleen told her nephew as she pulled the door closed behind them. “I know she’s fine. Maybe we’ll meet her if we hurry.”
It was a lie, but it did what she could not… Boxey moved a little more quickly. He had used to be a ball of energy, but that had been before losing his father. Hysterical and beyond reasoning, the doctors had given him medications to keep him calm. He still took them, one pill each morning. Oh Lords, she’d forgotten the medications; they couldn’t go back now.
As they ran across the open countryside, she watched three more explosions, three more clouds. They were so close. Boxey dropped his backpack somewhere along the way, as she had her purse. Speed was important, although she didn’t know why.
As they approached the ship, Kathleen was dismayed to see Colonial Warriors with weapons drawn. It was not a civilian vessel after all; it was one of those new warships that the Battlestars were using. It was military. What would they do? Lords of Kobol, hear my prayer, she thought frantically. I promised to take care of him and I can’t. Please Lords, Please. Take care of him for me.
“Children first,” the woman with the gun yelled. “Children.”
With a grateful wave of thanks, Kathleen pushed Boxey forward. He was tall for his age, but definitely a child. As he looked back at her, the glazed look that she’d come to realize meant he was overwhelmed, she reassured him. “Go, Boxey. Go. I’ll stay and let your mom know where you are.”
He nodded, his face free of tears. He didn’t understand. Thank the Lords he didn’t understand. His mother was gone; she would be too before long.
Kathleen waited impatiently as a lottery took place – a choosing of adults to accompany the children. When passed around, she didn’t take a piece of paper. She couldn’t. She’d lied to her nephew, and she couldn’t go back on it now. Even if she were to be chosen, she couldn’t go. Lords, get him out of here, please.
Finally it was done. There was some confusion as one of the warriors stayed behind and the crowd around her grew restless. Let them go, she thought. Let them go.
The spacecraft finally closed and began to lift. She screamed as a man tried to climb onto the wing and was shot down by the warrior who had stayed behind, but it was out of fear for the ship rather than the man. Kathryn, I’m so sorry, she thought. I tried. Tears streaked down her face as she watched the craft disappear from view, taking her nephew out of her hands, out of her responsibility. Lords, Kathryn, I’m so sorry. I can’t keep him safe. The Lords will, though. They have to. I promised…