Chapter 7:

Learning About Tragedy

Ludicy - Reaching Out

Alex whispered in his ear: "I want us to go to my house and check if my parents are there." Daniel agreed, but he was concerned about Jean and what would happen if she were to get hurt. "It isn't likely that she would get hurt, but what if it happens? And not to mention, it appears that some kind of apocalypse is happening outside. I don't want to risk it, but we have to go and check Alex's house, just in case her parents are there. If we go, I'd like to leave Jean here, but I don't want her to feel lonely ever again. There is also the possibility of somebody breaking in while I'm out. I think I'm going to have to take her with us, and if something happens, I'll just have to try my hardest to protect both of them, not that I'm particularly confident I can actually do that" Daniel struggled internally. "We're heading out as soon as Jean feels like she can walk. Jean, do you think you can do it?" he said decisively. Without a moment's hesitation, Jean replied: "I can walk. I don't want to be a bother." Daniel's heart tingled from being overwhelmed by her uncontested cuteness. "Alright, let's go then," he proclaimed in a serious tone. And so, they all headed out once again. The destinations, in order, are Alex's house, the police station, the site of the recent explosion, and the park where Jean was with her parents. Alex's house is fairly close to Daniel's, and they got there in some 5 minutes. Alex went in first, and Daniel followed, carrying Jean on his back. There was nothing of note in the house, say for a window on the backside of the house being cracked open. Alex had a solemn look to her because her worries had grown in size due to there being no clues. Now they were walking to the police station, Daniel comforting Alex with warm words and Jean holding his hand tightly. Arriving in front of the station, the lack of people gave birth to an eerie silence in the air. Pushing open the heavy door caused loud creaks to ring out and reverberate in the grand hall. There is but a single person visible from the entrance. It's the receptionist. The nameplate has "Pvt. Harris" written on it. Daniel starts: "Hello there. Mr. Harris, we've come here to ask about some things. We're unsure as to what we should do. Can you please offer us a helping hand?" The man responds with a complicated facial expression: "Nancy Harris was our receptionist until yesterday's incident. I am sergeant Michael Parks, at your service. Please, ask whatever it is that troubles you. If it is within my power, I will do my best to help, as is my duty." He was surprisingly charismatic for a man with a face as weathered and stern as his. "There are two main things I would like to address, if possible. We found this little girl here in an alleyway, all alone. She says her parents were attacked in a nearby park, and she hid in the alleyway. I would like to return her to her parents, or in the case of that being impossible, send her to a relative, so she can be with her family. The other request, if you can call it that, is to help us find the parents of Alex Afton. We haven't heard from them since around noon yesterday," Daniel beseeched. In response to this, Parks frowns in confusion, and after thinking carefully, replies: "You're an interesting one, I will give you that. When I saw a young lad enter carrying a small girl on his back, this wasn't what I expected. I expected you to be another older brother coming here to complain about his precious little sister getting attacked in the street. However, all those guys had some blood on their clothes. They all claimed it was because the assailants were covered in blood, and after the fourth time, I was forced to believe them. I could tell you more, but I digress. Currently, we are severely shorthanded and have too much work. For the time being, it would be best if you could take care of the girl. You seem reliable enough. You can also help reduce our workload so we can start looking for her family sooner. You will, of course, be compensated for your efforts. Now, about miss Afton's case. I seem to recall seeing their names somewhere earlier today. Let me check some files. It will only take a few minutes." Parks got up from the desk and went into the back. Jean's eyes are sparkling as she's looking at Daniel. Almost as if to agree, Alex's eyes are also full of hope. After a couple of minutes, Daniel hears a slight gasp coming from the room that Parks entered. As Parks re-enters the room, the change on his face is obvious. No longer is there a stern look to him. Furthermore, there is a certain air of sorrow about him. He cleared his throat before starting: "It is with great dismay that I must inform you about the deaths of both William and Clara Afton. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the knowledge that they died painlessly. They were running away from their office building, which had exploded just moments before when a chunk of concrete broke off and spelled out their demise." Alex teared up, and Jean hugged Daniel unconsciously. Daniel was left speechless. Everyone just stood in silence for a few minutes, not knowing what to say or how. Breaking the silence, Daniel started: "Thank you for confirming our fears. While we may wish it were not the case, we must accept how it is. We will head back home now, and tomorrow morning I will come back to discuss whatever it is you need me to do. Well then, until tomorrow." And so, the three returned back to Daniel's house. Daniel showed Jean to his old room. When he moved rooms, nobody bothered packing up the old one because it didn't seem that urgent, so it was left untouched the entire time. It was ready to move someone in if the need ever arose, and now it did. Jean got somewhat anxious when she learned she would be sleeping alone. She'd thought she would be sleeping with Daniel. Back at home, she would often sleep in her parents' room when she got scared or wanted some company. There was also a night light in the room since Daniel had trouble sleeping in the dark as a child. Daniel made some dinner, and after eating, they all went to their respective rooms. Alex went with Daniel. She was too unstable to be alone after finding out about her parents' deaths. Jean looked around the room for a bit before going to bed. It was just how she imagined her brother's room would be if she had one. She fell asleep giggling to herself not long after that. Alex had heard her, and it calmed her a bit. She talked with Daniel for a little longer before heading to bed. This time, she insisted they both sleep under the covers.