Derek pulled into the parking lot of the community centre with enforced calmness. The car park was full but there didn’t seem to be anyone about. “Stay here” he told his daughter.
Derek got out of the car and scanned around him. He found a spot in the trees that looked disturbed; as though a sniper had been sitting there. The spot was empty now through, and Derek started putting one foot in front of the other and walking the long walk down to the community centre entrance.
It wasn’t as though he was afraid exactly. It was just that the last time he had attended his wife’s transcendental stick fighting class he had been quite badly beaten up and told to come back when his chakras were properly aligned; so he was understandably averse to entering the community hall again.
He reached the door and entered anyway.
There were some fifty or so middle aged housewives pacing around solemnly while saying ‘Om’ a lot and periodically belting each other with sticks.
Derek picked his way around the edge of the hall; being careful to stay out of the range of the deepest thinkers, and he spotted Christine near the middle of the throng.
“Christine!” he called out. Several of the closest housewives gave him disapproving looks and brandished their sticks threateningly. “Christine” he whispered across the hall. It didn’t look like she had heard either one of them.
Derek rubbed his face; it was just typical of Christine to put him into a situation like this. He rocked back and forth on his heels at the edge of the hall; like a man debating whether to run out into traffic.
Maybe I don’t have to run out, he thought; maybe if I wait long enough she will come to me. But even as he thought it he could see that it wouldn’t be that simple. Damn! It was so like Christine to walk in little circles at exactly the wrong time.
Derek resumed teetering; the knowledge that he could expect men with guns to show up fighting with his desire to not get beaten up by a group of people who somehow managed to mix up yoga and cage fighting.
In the end it was the realization that he had left his daughter in the car total undefended that finally spurred Derek off the wall. He ran with his hands over his head and tried to imagine that he was made of iron.
Miraculously he managed to get to the centre of the hall without someone deciding that it would further the development of their spiritual self to hit him with a big stick. He grabbed his wife’s shoulders yelled to her, “Christine, we’ve got to go!”
“Oooommmmm” said Christine
“What?” said Derek; completely failing to see the stick as it whistled towards his head.
“Ow. Damn it!” said Derek, recovering nicely, “Christine stop this; we need to get out of here; theres-”
“Oh, to hell with this” Derek grabbed Christine’s stick off her and hurled it at the other end of the hall; were it contributed to another woman’s spiritual growth by collecting on her head.
Christine opened her eyes and looked at him. “Now really, dear Derek, I do wish you wouldn’t interrupt my spiritual growth; it’s bad for the chakras you know”
Derek bit back his retort; there was no time for an argument now. “We have to get out of here now” he said, “We are in real danger”
“Oh dear. Well whatever it is I’m sure it can wait another half an hour for my class to end.” She started walking away to get another stick.
Derek dodged under a random thinker and tried to run after her. “You don’t understand” he said, “These people want to kill us”
“Oh now really Derek, I do wish you wouldn’t bring your work home with you” for some reason no one was attacking her and she was already picking out another stick. “Anyway” she went on, “I’m quite sure we can handle ourselves”
“Yes” said Derek, hating that he had to play this card, “But they’re going to go after Jade as well”
His wife suddenly seemed to solidify in front of his eyes; compacting down into a tough, diamond edged woman. “Take me to her” she said.
Derek gratefully took her arm and started to lead her out of the hall when the doors burst open and three men walked in.
They were wearing the uniforms he had seen out in the desert; although they weren’t carrying their weapons and they hadn’t bothered with helmets. They also were looking directly at him, but Derek didn’t think they had seen him; they were transfixed by the sight of fifty middle aged housewives turning to them, raising their sticks and going ‘Om’