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Stopover in a small town
“Hannah, could you please hand me the map?” I asked my sister in the politest tone I could manage. She laughed at the sweetness in my voice, and reached over, handing it to me.
“What’s up with you?” She asked.
“Nothing, just hurry up,” I said looking down at the map.
“This is so much fun, Kelly!”
“Yeah, it’s simply thrilling,” I replied sarcastically. The truth was, I hated traveling. If not for my cousin, Lisa’s wedding, I wouldn’t be here. My sister, Hannah, and I were traveling to Los Angeles, a whole three hundred miles away from home. We were traveling alone; after much begging and pleading from Hannah, our mother had allowed us to drive instead of fly with them. I was against this idea from the start, but Hannah had talked me into it.
“Kelly, please don’t be like that!” She laughed and playfully hit my shoulder. I took a moment to glance around the small café where we stopped for lunch. Was everyone here locals? They all had some sort of disability. Some had no legs, some had no arms, some had faces not fully developed, some were clearly had developmental delays. Even our waitress had a cleft lip.
“Are you ready yet?” I asked Hannah in an impatient tone.
“Yes, fine, I’m ready, are you happy now?”
“I’ll only be happy when we arrive at our destination.” She rolled her eyes. We both walked to the counter, and paid a woman in a wheelchair. I had debated even stopping in this town, all the buildings were old, and all painted a dark color. They all looked as if they were about to fall down.
Suddenly as we were making our way to the car, a siren sounded. I looked around to see people running to their underground shelters. My first thought was a tornado, but it was a sunny day. I began to panic.
“Are you ladies okay?” I heard a deep voice ask. I turned to see a short man with almost no neck, walking with a limp towards us. “Do you have anywhere to go?”
“What’s happening?” Hannah squeaked to my left.
“Follow me,” The man said, waving his hand. We followed him to a nearby underground shelter. Outside, the siren was louder than ever.
“What’s happening?” Hannah asked for the second time. He didn’t answer, but threw us a blanket and a couple of bottles of water. I noticed there were other people in the shelter: A woman, who appeared to be about thirty, but had Down syndrome, a boy, probably about fifteen with no arms, an elderly women dressed in all white, who had a deformed face.
“Would you please answer me?” I screamed, demanding an answer. “My sister and I have a wedding we have to be at tonight. We have to go!”
“You’re not going anywhere until they stop.” The fifteen year old, armless boy said.
“Please tell me!” I begged him.
“Every year or so,” He began, “The government does a nuclear bomb test here. We’re all stuck. You see, long ago, the people of this town made a pact with the government, we could continue living here, as long as no one could ever move out, and we all had to deal with this bomb testing. The owners then were scared of leaving, so they agreed. None of us can leave.” He looked up at me with tears. I looked around the room at all the deformed people around me.