Jessica admitted it. She’d been terrified to have Matt go outside and into their own front yard. What was this world coming to? A week ago she wouldn’t have thought twice about it. But now? Now, everything had changed. Friends and family were dropping like flies and she and Matt had to do all within their power to keep their family safe.
She stood beside the sidelight, anxious to know what was happening. All of a sudden Jack raced across the lawn in the direction Matt was coming from. Panic, stark and clear, shot through her and she flew to the front window to see what was happening. The kids were right on her heels.
“What’s going on?” Kayla asked, her voice constricted with fear.
The three of them stood at the front window, but they couldn’t see a thing. Not with the way the house was situated. Jack had run to their left, toward the garage side of the house. Jessica had heard him yelling that he needed help, but that was all she’d been able to see. “Dad needs us.”
“What should we do?” Dylan asked, his eyes wide.
Jessica thought about the gun and ammo she’d seen Matt bring in on the day of his shopping spree. Matt had shown her where he was storing his weapons.
Not taking the time to answer Dylan, Jessica ran to the closet in the master bedroom and quickly found a gun. Then she grabbed a loaded magazine before dashing to the garage. She pressed her ear against the door, but after hearing nothing, she opened the door, her gaze darting around the space until she saw Matt, bent forward with his hands on his knees.
“Matt,” she said.
He straightened and spun around, his eyes wide as he took off his face mask. “Jess, what are you doing?”
Seeing that he was alone and that the door leading to the backyard was locked, she took the two steps down into the garage, and with the gun pointed at the floor and the magazine in her other hand, she walked toward Matt. “Are you okay?”
“I saw Jack running.” She stopped beside Matt and held out the gun for him to take. “I was worried so I brought you this.”
He stared at the gun in her hand like it was a foreign object, then he gazed at her before finally taking it and the magazine from her.
Not sure what she expected him to do, she stood there watching him, waiting for some kind of guidance. When he didn’t say anything, she asked, “What happened out there?”
With a look of disbelief, he slowly shook his head. “Jack’s gone stark raving mad.”
At that moment, pounding sounded on the man-door.
Jessica let out a scream, her heart in her throat. “Is that him?”
Matt’s gaze shot to the door, then he shoved the magazine into the gun. “Yeah.”
He seemed rather calm, which helped to settle Jessica’s nerves.
Matt walked to the door and shouted, “Jack! Calm down.”
“Open the door,” Jack yelled. “Open it right now.”
Matt shook his head. “No can do, man. The Tylenol is out front. Grab it, then get off my property.”
“Or what?” Jack said, his voice shaky yet defiant.
Matt racked the slide, the sound loud and clear. “Or I will shoot you.”
Jessica stared at Matt, her eyes wide with shock and fear. Would Matt really do that? But one look at his face and she believed him wholeheartedly.
There was silence on the other side of the door.
“Do you think he left?” she whispered.
Matt looked at her, his expression serious. “Don’t know, but I’m not gonna open the door to find out.”
They stood there for at least two minutes before Matt lowered the gun.
“Let’s go inside,” he said, tucking the gun into the back of his waistband.
Jessica was more than happy to comply. She led the way, and the moment they stepped into the house, the kids began asking what had happened.
Matt came into the house, locking the door behind him, then, without answering the kids, he strode to the front room. Jessica and the kids followed him. When they caught up with him, Jessica looked over his shoulder as he peered out the window, and to her great relief, she saw Jack trudging down the sidewalk, away from their house.
Exhaling audibly, Jessica felt her shoulders began to relax. “He’s gone,” she said.
“But will he come back?” Matt muttered.
She didn’t want to consider that, but she knew Matt was right. After all, Jack had hidden in the shadows waiting for Matt to appear. Who knew what he was capable of? His family was dying. He had to be desperate.
Matt stepped away from the window and turned to Jessica and the kids. “I’m going to board up the windows by the front door.”
Anything to keep them safe. “Good idea.”
“I want to help,” Dylan said.
“What happened out there?” Kayla asked. “I mean, we saw Jack running, Dad. Did he…” Her eyebrows tugged together. “Did he touch you?”
Matt smiled and shook his head. “No, sweetie. I made it back into the garage before he caught up with me.”
This was surreal. Their neighbor had chased Matt down and Matt had threatened to shoot him if he didn’t leave. All because of a virus. A deadly virus.
Blinking to clear her mind, Jessica forced a smile but she felt like a fraud. She’d never been so worried and so terrified in her life. She liked to be in control, and right now she wasn’t. Not in any way, shape, or form. And she was pretty sure she wouldn’t be for a long, long time.
While Matt and Dylan went out to the garage to get scraps of wood along with a hammer and nails, Jessica thought about Jack’s comment that no one was answering 911. Curious if he was exaggerating, she went into her bedroom and closed the door, then dialed 911. A moment later a busy signal sounded. Just as Jack had said. Frowning, Jessica tried again. Same result. Then she tried one more time. Busy.
What was happening? Why was no one answering? Was help even available? Was everyone home with their families? Or were so many people sick or dead that there simply weren’t enough people to help?
The thought that there was no one to call in an emergency made Jessica extremely nervous. What if someone got hurt? Or what if someone tried to break in? What if Jack came back with a gun of his own and shot his way into their house? There was no one to call for help. It was all up to them.
With shaking hands, Jessica tucked her phone into her back pocket.
They were on their own.