“Spike?” Vanessa Davis squinted up at the dark imposing figure in the bathroom stall doorway. “Oh, thank Heaven it’s you,” she focused on Craig ‘Spike’ Stephen’s redheaded man bun and unruly goatee instead of the big ass gun he trained down on her.
“Jesus Christ—” He holstered the weapon under his leather cut. “What the hell are you—?” He glowered down at where she had squished her body between the wall and toilet, the first place she dove at the sound of gunshots upstairs in the chapel. “Never fuckin’ mind. Let’s go.” He held out his hand.
“What’s going on up there?” She uncurled her arms from around her knees and knapsack and struggled to her feet. “Is anyone hurt?”
“Fucking Sadistic Jacks are up there shooting up the place looking’ for you.” He helped her steady herself and looked around the stall. “We need to get out of here, before they clue in you’re down here.”
“What, me?” Panic exploded in her chest, her eyes darting to the door. “What do you mean looking for me? Why?”
“I’ll tell you later.” He pushed out of the stall and dragged her with him.
She barely held onto her knap sack as her boots skittered over the chipped tiles. “I need to go back to my room and—”
“Fuck that.” Spike’s pale blue eyes searched the empty women’s bathroom. “We’re leaving. So far they’re just shootin’ and stampeding but….” His voice trailed off as he stared at the small window near the ceiling. Several pairs of legs ran by, followed by stomping black biker boots and roaring motorcycles. Spike looked back at her. “Take that off.”
Vanessa looked down at her Southern Baptist Christian College graduation gown. “Why?” She shook off the cap before stripping out of the standard issue black robe. So much for her big graduation day.
“Because once we’re on the road you’ll stick out like a sore thumb in that get up.”
She stuffed her hard earned cap and gown into the garbage bin and watched five years of blood, sweat, and tears fall unceremoniously to the bottom of the can. “Could be worse,” she mumbled as the bin slammed closed. “Could’ve have been my wedding dress.”
“What?” Spike pushed at the window then cracked open the bathroom door.
“Never mind.” She caught a glimpse of the long black skirt and smudged white sleeved shirt she had on beneath the gown in the mirror. What a mess. She grabbed her disastrous mass of hair, stuck to her scalp in the form of her cap.
Spike turned back from the deserted church basement hall. Her graduating class had long since gone upstairs. She had run back for her knapsack and list, two things she never left home without. The sound of pounding feet and a crash banged down from the chapel above.
“What are they doing up there?” her eyes darted to the ceiling, paint chips and plaster crumbling down into her eyes.
“Goddamned Sadistic Jacks don’t respect shit.” Spike pulled her into the common room, her thigh high boot heels echoing through the empty space.
He glowered back at her, his eyes taking in her attire from noisy boots to her white shirt in one glance. “We’re still gonna stick out.”
She glanced at herself then at his tattoo-covered arms, black t-shirt beneath his leather club vest, then at the chaps that covered his jeans and motorcycle boots. The sight they’d make together was laughable. “Yeah, we’re going to stand out.” And, the second he climbed onto his classic Harley and looked, even more, the motorcycle club outlaw he was, and with her on the back, looking like an escaped Pilgrim, they’d stop traffic.
“We always do.” Spike looked at the ceiling when more noise crashed down. This time she went up on tiptoes as he pulled her across the room.
Nothing about the two of them ever looked normal. Since high school, anytime they were together, which was rare—him being her father’s favourite soldier and Sargent-at-arms, and her being the boss’s daughter—they stood out, and for more reasons than the black and white thing. Spike couldn’t help looking dangerous. He was over six-feet tall and weighed two-hundred pounds of pure muscle, had strawberry blonde hair, and a scar under his left eye. Plus, he’d always donned a scruffy beard and goatee long before they were fashionable. She wasn’t any better. Everything about her screamed American black princess, private school and church on Sunday. Anyone who saw them together couldn’t help doing a double take. They just looked all wrong together.
Vanessa shifted the piece of paper she’d just written on and stuffed in her boot as they crossed to the exit on the other side of the room. The paper was her prized graduation bucket list of the six things she promised herself to do after graduation, and before she had to go back and face her father.
“How did you know where I was?” she whispered at Spike’s broad back as they neared the stairwell.
Spike cracked open the exit door. “You’re never far from a church basement, Mouse.”
She grit her teeth. “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“I say it like it’s an obvious thing. Anyone who knows you, know where to find you. You’re predictable like that.” He pulled out his gun as they crept up the stairs, the sounds of chaos growing louder and more real with every step. Was she ready for this? Her life had been so quiet, predictable for the past five years.
Spike looked over his shoulder and narrowed his eyes on her. “Now stay behind me and with me no matter what. Don’t look right or left and keep a hand on me all the time. Got it?”
It wasn’t a question. It was a Spike order. Well, at least that hadn’t changed.
“We’re going right through this shit to the parking lot.” He grabbed her hand and pushed open the door that led to the churchyard.
“Sweet baby, Jesus . . .” Vanessa’s voice gave out at the pandemonium before her.
There were no other words. Fire and Brimstone? End of days? A horrible B-movie rendition of Armageddon—attack of the killer tomatoes and Godzilla unleashed! People, her classmates with their gowns hiked up and their caps fallen off, screamed and ran from thundering motorcycles, the bikers hollering and shooting at the sky as they drove through the church graduation picnic. Red checkered table cloths flew from the back of the bikes as they circled and revved their engines through the hysterical guests. One of them laughed uproariously before he leaned down and slapped the pastor’s wife’s ass as he went by.
“Yehaaaaaw!!” He screamed before pulling up her dress.
Vanessa’s mouth dropped open.
“Keep your eyes on me.” Spike yanked her out of paralysis and forced her to run through the crowd and jump over her graduating classmates while he pushed men and bikers out of their way.
“Spike!” Her fingers clutched his hand tighter as she hurdled over a fallen rider. “Where—what!?” She pushed at bodies in order to keep up with him, crashed into people and dodged bikers when they yelled in her face.
The sights that whirled past her were unbelievable and unspeakable but she kept running, clutching her knapsack in one hand, Spike’s hand in the other.
“James!” she yelped when her classmate stumbled before her.
“Run, Nessie!” he barely looked at her before he disappeared into the maniacal crowd.
“Almost there.” Spike tugged hard on her hand when she got tripped up and squeezed between a woman and man that collided against her. It felt like she’d been punched in the head and the gut at the same time. She shook her head and focused on Spike’s back as they neared the frenzied parking lot. People ran in-between the cars or jumped onto the hoods as panicked drivers blindly pulled out of parking spaces and collided with each other.
“Is that—” Vanessa stared at a set of static riders sitting on Harleys in the centre of the melee. They stood out being the only things not moving in midst of all the chaos. Three Harley’s with six riders, the drivers each had a bandana pulled up over their face, the passengers were all black girls with long frizzy hair. They all aimed a weapon out at the crowd or toward the street where people flooded across the parking lot and into the swerving traffic, running into the front doors of the houses that lined the normally quiet street.
“Yes.” Spike pulled her toward the static riders, and to his bike which sat protected within the enclave the riders created. “Decoys.”
Spike holstered his gun as he got on his bike and revved the engine. “Get on!”
Vanessa didn’t hesitate. She swung her knapsack onto her back and dragged up the ends of her skirt past her thigh highs before she jumped on the back of his Harley. She bunched the extra material into her lap and sat on it. “Okay go!” She pounded Spike’s shoulder once as he pulled up his bandana over his nose.
The other bikers revved their engines and tore away, maneuvered through the bedlam before one dragged out South, another East, the other West before she and Spike tore out North.
North to home.
Was she ready for this impending disaster?