Copyright J. S. Raynor 2017
Chapter four : Teenage Tantrums
The wind blew hard against Jason’s face as he hurtled along the track of the Incredible Hulk at Universal Studios in Florida. He was thankful for the safety fastenings and body clamp as the carriage turned upside down while still twisting and turning. An unusual feature of this ride was the noise, as the makers had managed to create a distinctive, howling roar as the carriages sped along the huge track. In fact, this noise could be heard over quite a large area of the park. He looked sideways at his Dad, Steve, who seemed to be enjoying the ride and, as always, appeared quite calm. Many girls behind them were screaming loudly and yet, these would be the same people who would, on the completion of the ride, run to the end of the queue, ready to endure the journey yet again. At last, the carriage screeched to an abrupt halt and the body clamps rose automatically. Jason and his Dad unfastened the buckles and climbed out, following the crowds of people from the ride. Several seemed unsteady on their feet after their stomach-churning experience, but, even so, everybody agreed that it was one of the very best Theme park rides in the world.
The two walked quickly to the photo collection point where they met Jason’s sister and his Mum. Rebecca and her ever-patient Mum refused to endure the thrills of the Incredible Hulk. They had already spotted the photographs of Jason and his Dad and were laughing loudly at the expression of terror on Jason’s face. Suzanne insisted on buying a photograph, which he knew would be used to embarrass him in the future. Still, he was proud that he had experienced the thrills of universal’s best rides.
“Do you think you could manage some food, after your ride?” Suzanne thought that food may not be tempting after such an experience, but was surprised by Jason’s reaction.
“Oh, yes, please! I’m starving.” They all laughed at Jason’s insatiable appetite, as they walked towards one of the many food areas. Suzanne re-filled their large Coke container and bought burgers for all the family. While they were eating their snacks, the sky grew ominously darker.
After four full days staying at the theme park, the family was used to the extremes of weather and carried a poncho for each person. Within minutes, torrential rain splashed noisily on the hard ground, while everybody quickly sought shelter. After ten minutes, the rain had eased a little and Steve thought they should return to their hotel, since they had exhausted most of the attractions in this area and it was now eight-thirty and quite dark.
“Oh, Dad, can’t we stay a bit longer?” Jason pleaded.
Steve was not going to be persuaded by his demanding son. “No, I think we have done enough, today. We can come back again, tomorrow.”
“But, Dad! It’s only a bit of rain.” He shrugged his shoulders, knowing that his Dad would not change his mind.
Rebecca was quite happy to end their day in the hotel room, but Jason had a long face as they waited for the transport to take them to the group of hotels within the theme park. Many of the passengers on the water-taxi were soaked, though the atmosphere was, generally, quite relaxed.
When they reached their suite on the seventh floor of the Hard Rock hotel, Jason threw himself on his bed, displaying his level of anger at having to end his fun prematurely.
Typical of a teenager, Jason was prone to dark moods, where, to his mind, the whole world was against him. When Rebecca came into their room, he threw his slipper at her in a pique of temper. She ducked and the slipper hit the door, harmlessly.
“Don’t take it out on me! What’s wrong?” Rebecca was used to his changeable moods and, quite often, had to bear the brunt of his temper.
“I don’t see why we had to come back to the hotel so early. There’s nothing to do, here!”
“You can always watch the Disney channel on TV”, Rebecca suggested, helpfully. She already knew what his answer was likely to be.
“Those are for little kids. Nothing for teenagers.”
Rebecca ignored his comments and looked, dreamily, through the window. Torrential rain was splashing hard on the ground, while a vicious storm raged noisily overhead. The hotel’s huge swimming pool was, understandably, deserted. “Well, I’m happy to be in my room. Just look what it is doing, outside.”
“I don’t care! We could have gone inside somewhere. Anywhere would be better than here!”
Giving up on her annoying brother, Rebecca left him and returned to the more relaxed atmosphere of her parents’ room. Susanne was writing postcards, while Steve was reading a newspaper, both of them sitting in the comfortable seats, close to the large window.
“Jason’s in a mood.” The family was used to the teenager’s volatile temperament and accepted Rebecca’s statement without comment. The nine-year old lay on her mum and dad’s bed and began to read a magazine.
Steve began to laugh, apparently instigated by an article in the newspaper he was reading. “There are some crackpots in this world. This guy…..”
Rebecca, preferring to read her magazine, did not bother to listen as her Dad described the article, in great detail, to his wife, who nodded in agreement as she continued to write a postcard.
The storm outside raged on relentlessly, seemingly more violent than usual. Jason was standing at his window, looking at the spectacular effects of the storm. “I hate adults! Who needs them?” The lightning flashes lit up his face as his anger simmered on.
In the other room, Rebecca jumped off the bed and ran into the bathroom, desperate to relieve herself. “Be back in a minute.”
Jason continued his words of contempt for the older generation. “I wish that all adults would disappear and leave those younger to look after themselves.” In that instant, a crash of thunder seemed to shake the whole building, while the many flashes of lightning illuminated the room spectacularly. Jason seemed to be mesmerized by the storm and stared at the night sky.
Rebecca returned from the bathroom, singing to herself. Absent-mindedly, she returned to lie on the bed and continued to read. It was only when she turned to ask her mum a question that she noticed. Steve and Susanne were nowhere to be seen. Her Dad’s newspaper was on his chair and Susanne’s pen and postcards lay on the table. There were some clothes on the chairs, but Rebecca assumed that these were waiting to be put into the suitcases, as they had already been worn. Puzzled, Rebecca opened the door to the other room. “Have you seen mum and dad?”
“No, why?” Jason feigned interest.
“I just went to the bathroom and, when I came back, they were gone!”
“Don’t be stupid! They can’t be far away.” A sudden thought occurred to him, but he instantly dismissed it. He followed Rebecca as she went back into her parent’s room.
“See!” Rebecca checked the bathroom, only to find it empty. Jason opened the outer door and looked up and down the corridor. There was no sign of their parents and the only sound, apart from the background music and now-decreasing storm, was that of a baby crying.
Rebecca’s anger was obvious, as she said, “Where on earth could mum and dad be? I don’t understand how they could just get up and leave us, without saying a word!”
Jason said nothing and, unusually for him, seemed rather sheepish and reserved. The two of them sat quietly on the bed for a while, but Rebecca’s impatience, mixed with anxiety, became too much to bear. Huge tears ran slowly down the nine-year old’s face. “I want mummy and daddy, Jason. Please find them.”
Touched by his sister’s anxious state, he put his arm around her shoulder, saying “I don’t know where they are, but I’m certain they won’t be long.”
Rebecca could not remember a time when her brother had tried to comfort her and, sensing something unusual about his demeanor, she said, “Are you sure you don’t know where they are?”
“I’ve no idea where they can be.” His flushed face made Rebecca even more suspicious.
“You’re lying! I can tell when you are not telling the truth. Please just tell me where they have gone?”
Jason’s lips quivered slightly. His dry mouth made him cough, as he falteringly replied, “It can’t be true… I didn’t mean…”
Rebecca’s eyes grew wide as she realised that her brother knew something which he was concealing from her. “Just tell me! What have you done?”
“I was angry at having to come back early. It was only a wish. I don’t see how…”
Rebecca wondered if Jason had killed them, but, if so, where could their bodies be? “Just what was this wish of yours?”
Again, another nervous cough. “I wished that all adults would disappear, but it can’t have really come true! Can it?”
Rebecca looked stunned. “But, what if it has? Does that mean there are no grown-ups left on Earth?”
“It was only a stupid wish. I don’t have that sort of power…”
His words trailed off as he had obviously thought of something.
“What have you thought of? Please tell me, Jason.”
He swallowed and continued. “The storm has stopped, now, but, when I wished, there was a lot of lightning filling the whole sky and, I’m not certain, but it seemed to be centred around Hogwarts. Perhaps…”
A sudden thought sprang into Rebecca’s mind. “The television – switch it on!” Jason grabbed the remote and jabbed at the controls. “Try CNN”, suggested Rebecca.
The children breathed a sigh of relief when they tuned into a CNN financial report, with some deep-voiced City expert being questioned about the state of the U.S. economy. “There, see! I told you it wouldn’t be true.” Jason seemed relieved.
“Okay, but that doesn’t explain where mum and dad are, does it?” At that moment, there was a knock on the door. “Mum! Dad!” Rebecca ran to the door, quickly pulling it open wide.
A small boy, about five years old was standing in the doorway. He had been crying and asked them, pleadingly, “Have you seen my mummy and daddy? I can’t find them anywhere.”
Rebecca was taken aback by the distressed state of this small boy. “Sorry, no. Our parents have also disappeared.” Rebecca was not certain just what to say to the distressed child.
“But, my sister won’t stop crying. Can you help me?”
His plea could not be ignored. “Show me where your sister is.” Rebecca followed the boy into the room opposite to hers, while Jason stayed behind. She could hear the cries even before the door was opened fully. A baby, probably only about six months old, was lying in a carry-cot, screaming for attention. Rebecca hesitated and then picked up the baby. Once in Rebecca’s caring arms, the baby’s cries grew less and she seemed more settled. “What’s her name?”
“Kelly. What’s wrong with her?” The boy seemed genuinely concerned for his little sister.
“She just needed attention.” Rebecca had a sudden thought and placed her hand inside Kelly’s nappy. “And she needs changing.”
The boy seemed alarmed. “But, I can’t do that!”
Rebecca felt a heavy responsibility. “Listen, if you can find her clean nappies, I will help you, but I think you should both come into our room, for now.”
The boy looked devastated. “I want my mummy”, he wailed.
“Yes, I know you do, but you need to be big and think about Kelly, who needs you to be close. Come on, bring some things and I will do what I can.” In those few, short minutes, Rebecca had grown up into someone who was willing to put her own concerns on one side just to care for her new, younger friends. Holding Kelly snugly in her arms, she carried her into her own room.
Jason was still staring at the television. He was switching between channels, while appearing more and more frustrated. “Damn!”
“What is it?” Rebecca asked.
“The channels working are showing recordings! I can’t find anything live.”
“Oh, God, no!” The impact of what Jason was telling her sank home immediately. “So, you think that there are no adults? Anywhere?”
“I think so”, he answered gloomily.
Copyright J. S. Raynor, 2013, 2017
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