Simi feels a new fear numb through her.
“They were at the meal.”
“Next to us, when we got up to leave the tables.”
“If they’re together, Fred and Bernard will be fine,” someone shouts.
Simi is not so certain. She remembers Sal helping her uncle to his feet. He had not been steady.
“We need to find them.”
“Don’t worry, we will,” Rudd shouts.
“Hope they’ll be okay Simi,” says Marybelle, her hand on Simi’s arm. “They’re old soldiers so they should be fine.”
Simi pats the hand, but is not convinced. She turns back towards the doors, as keen as the others to catch a glimpse of the pair out in the storm. Bodies squeeze to either side, forcing her and Marybelle close to the tug and rattle of the glass as the wind tumbles through the tables outside. Suddenly, Simi sees a table fling towards them. It spins round, and then its corner smashes into the glass just beside her. As it does somebody screams and slams into her from behind. Simi falls, and tries to push herself up with her hands, but a sharp stab in one lifts the other straight up to Marybelle, who catches it and pulls her to her feet, dragging her towards the middle of the room.
As they squash back through the guests the gong rings out over the chaos, and Rudd yells out, urging all to come away from the glass. He shouts that they must stay inside, but not everyone agrees.
“We need to search man.”
“Let’s get out there.”
Rudd pleads again. “This is not your average storm. This is a cyclone.”
“Nobody warned us …”
Rudd shouts more loudly. “This is the cyclone that’s just hit Beira. They said it might get here. May get worse.”
“How come we never heard anything?”
“Agh man, it’s just another storm.”
“No way. Beira’s drowned.”
“You never said.”
“Well …wasn’t much info out there …” Rudd shouts. “Should be over by morning.”
“By morning!” Groans fill the room.
“Meanwhile, we’ll get a search party together to look for Fred and Bernard,” Rudd yells.
There is another splintering crack, and more wind sweeps through at knee height. Rudd is still saying something, but Simi can barely hear him.
“… old bit of the lodge the safest … watch out … glass … working on the generator …”
A frantic banging twists in from outside, cutting Rudd short.
“It’s the walkway roof!”
“The lower end is lifting …”
Simi and Marybelle turn around, Simi stretching up to see over peoples’ heads. She just catches sight of a section of roof flapping wildly in the flickering light of the storm. Beside it another sheet lifts, and starts to peel back, then both rip free, and tear away into the night.
“Like washing from a line. Gone,” someone shouts.
Again bodies tiptoe, but there is not the rush forwards. All are wary of the glass. Simi’s nerves are scraped raw.
“We’ve got to find them!”
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023