Chapter 3: A Shocking Occurrence
The rain had just begun to fall in Hidden Valley when Dr. Theodore put down his phone. He was sitting in the waiting room outside Mark’s surgery, Tinkins on the seat next to him, her head in his lap. Dr. Theodore scratched her head absent-mindedly, tapping his chin with his phone.
A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts. Looking up, he saw a woman in overalls, her brown hair tied back in a ponytail.
“Hello Miss... er, I don’t think I know your name.”
“I’m Juliet. I helped carry you in here this morning.”
“Theodore. Call me Theo. It’s a pleasure to meet you. And to what do I owe the honour?”
“Oh, I just had an appointment about my leg and took the opportunity to see how you were doing.”
“I’m doing fine. Mark says I’m OK to go.” At this he sighed. “Not that I have anywhere to go anymore...”
Juliet sat down next to Tinkins.
“Did something happen?”
“I was going to go teach at Gryphon University, but they don’t want me anymore. I used to live on campus in my previous position, but I can’t go back there.”
“Let’s just say I didn’t leave on the best of terms. So, now I have no home, no job, and no ideas. All I have left is my car and what’s in it.”
“Ah. About the car... I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s in pretty bad shape after that trip you took. It’s reparable, but the parts are going to take a while to get in and they’re not going to come cheap – in fact, it’s likely that the repairs will cost more than the car is worth. Frankly, you’d be better off just buying a new one.”
Theo put his head in his hands.
“Great. Just great. Could this day get any worse?”
A sudden flash of light was accompanied by an incredible boom. Juliet gave a sharp scream as she simultaneously tried to cover both her eyes and her ears while dropping to the ground. Tinkins yowled and bolted upstairs. Theo, his ears ringing, snapped his head up and looked out across the street to where the lightning struck. Juliet, getting back to her feet, did likewise.
“What was that?”
“MY HOUSE!” Juliet yelled, dashing out the door.
Theo, blinking madly from the flash, leapt up and raced after her. He reached the street just in time to see an explosion about 10 metres behind the petrol station and Juliet running into the garage. Walking out across the street, he saw a house ablaze, the heat noticeable even from where he was standing. Juliet ran back out of the garage toward him, weaving around the people who had gathered, drawn by the fire.
“I’ve shut off the pumps and called the fire department, but they’ll be a while.” she said, her voice coming in between deep gasps, “There’s not much we can do until they get here.”
With this said she sat down on the grass, hugging her knees. Theo sat next to her, and together they watched as her house burned. After fifteen minutes the fire truck arrived, too late to save the house, but in time to stop the fire spreading. Throughout it all Juliet did not move, but just sat and stared impassively. It was only as the fire truck pulled away that she started shaking and collapsed into tears. Theo, unsure of what to do, sat next to her and held her tight.
They sat there together for about an hour, Juliet curled up and Theo holding her. Between the sniffles Juliet managed to choke out “T’nkyou”. A few minutes later she uncurled herself and wiped her nose and eyes.
“Are you OK?” asked Theo.
“I’ll be alright.” A sigh. “I don’t want to live here anymore.”
Theo looked across at her. “Do you have anywhere else to go?”
“I have a cousin who lives in Farrer, we might be able to stay with her until we can arrange something. That is, of course, if you want to come with me.”
Theo looked at her sitting there.
“I think I’d like that. I really do.”
“Good," she said, with a wan smile, "I’ll ask Mark if we can use his spare bedrooms tonight, and if he can give us a lift down to Dusk Village tomorrow. We can get the train from there.”