It was inevitable. Flip had felt it coming for a while now, the same way he could just tell when
one of his usual bullies was searching for a way to cause him trouble, back at the school in
America. Except that the tension in the air ran deeper then just a dip in the toilet and a mean
laugh, it crawled over everyone’s skin, it echoed in the talk of open air and blue skies and
stalked each one of the people as they went to bed each night and stayed awake in the dark,
leaving them wondering about tomorrow.
“Y’en a marre!” Cried Tina. Her real name was one of the oddest, oldest-fashion name he had
heard in his life: Albertine. She hated it, so it was a forbidden word among them. “P…, y’en a
marre que tu fasses ton macho!” Apparently her husband had taken it a step to far in his
protectiveness; from what Flip had understood – he didn’t talk much French – she was the one
that was used to wear the pants in her couple with Arbias. But since they had started hiding, all
had changed, and the usually aloof husband had decided to man up and sometimes acted in a
sexist way towards his strong-headed wife in his attempts to keep her out of harm’s way as
much as possible.
She pressed a finger into his chest to push her point and he stared down at it, as if taken aback
by the suddenness of the attack. If Arbias had two pennies worth of brain, he would understand
that reacting was a dangerous road to take and that he should try to settle down the disagreement
as diplomatically as possible.
“Qu’est ce que c’est que cela, femme?” Flip sighted upon hearing Tina’s husband respond
sharply. That tone sure wasn’t the one of an apology. “Je fais ce que je veux, c’est moi l’homme!
Je suis le mari, je décide, et toi, femme, tu n’es que bonne à rien si tu ne fais pas comme je te
“Tu n’parles pas à ma mère comme ça, espèce de gros c…!” This time, it was Élodie’s turn to
speak up at him and defend her mother. Way younger than Flip, he estimated her age to be
around thirteen even if she sometimes acted as a grown-up. Alien invasions did this to children.
They had celebrated her birthday last weak, a cold meal as always and a few songs that weren’t
too pushed so that the voices wouldn’t echo through the empty tunnels. Flip had learned how
to say Happy Birthday in French and he had promised himself to sing ‘Joyeux Anniversaire’ to
his children one day… if he ever had any. If they survived long enough to consider having any.
If they survived.
“Tu veux une claque?” Roared Arbias, worries of being heard by the Radirini long gone. He
was tensed and his fist were balled. Flip guessed what was coming next, got up, but didn’t know
how to stop the drama unravelling in front of his eyes.
“Ta gueule!” Cried Élodie.
The slap was a warning; Flip saw it. Arbias, as furious as he was, had held his strength back,
only wanting to make his daughter shut up, only wanted to ease the tension that was driving
them all crazy, didn’t know what he wanted, just saw an annoying brat and his own anger. She
yelped at the hit and stumbled back, holding her cheek, her eyes wide with surprise. She looked
around. Louis, the homeless man, Corentin, her big brother, Marcos, her father’s friend,
Antoine, the one that never really spoke, Sitting Bull, Flip’s grandfather, Tina and even Flip
himself, all were looking at her, too shocked to do anything. Humiliation at being slapped in
front of so many people flashed in her eyes.
“Alors? C’est comme cela que ça se passe? Quand y’a plus la police tout le monde se met à
traiter les femmes comme de la m…?” She screamed. A second later she was rushing down the
tunnel that lead to the tracks, running away as fast as she could.
“Reviens ici, petite sotte!” Cried her mother, obviously demanding her to come back this instant.
Her daughter didn’t react and disappeared in the darkness of the tunnel. There was a moment
of stunned silence, where nobody moved and everyone watched the others. The girl had run
away and it was dangerous out there: no one wanted to be the one that went first.
Written by Clayem on 16 April 2016
He goes to get her