“Hey, Tina, check it out!”
Tina pulled off the sunglasses she had been trying on and looked further down the block. Chet held up something toxic-pink in a green paper cup.
“Shave ice!” he yelled, pumping his other fist.
“That’s nice, honey!”
“You want some?”
“Uh, no, thank you. I’m still full from the last shave ice cart we found.”
“This one has new flavors!”
Luckily, it wasn’t an enticement. Just Chet being Chet. Something Tina was finding more and more…annoying.
“Still going to break it off?” Brittany asked, watching over Tina’s shoulder as Chet and her fiancé, Hank, counted to three and each shoved the entire cup of ice and syrup into their faces at the same time.
“I mean…” Tina said, gesturing.
“You used to think that sort of stupid thing was cute,” Brittany said.
“I know. That was when we were in college and still doing molly at festivals,” Tina said. She pulled a new pair of sunglasses off the rack and tried them on in the little mirror. “I had to grow up. I guess Chet didn’t.”
Both of their current partners began moaning, palming their foreheads.
“Ice cream headache!” Hank yelled.
“Shave ice headache!”
Tina turned back to Brittany to catch her wearing a small smile. The other woman could only shrug.
“I still find his stupid antics charming. Sue me.”
“Hey! Babes! Come look at-”
Chet’s call was cut off by a sound. At first, Tina couldn’t even tell where the sound was coming from. If it was a small sound close by or a loud sound far off. If it was an animal or human or machine. It definitely wasn’t a hallucination. Up and down the street people had stopped in their tracks, and in her shock Brittany had gripped Tina’s arm.
“Ow, Brit, your nails.”
The sound solidified. A loud sound. Far off. From above. Like a siren. Yes, it sort of sounded like a tornado siren. Only it wasn’t quite the same. And did they get tornados here?
Tina noticed that some of the locals were already reacting. The owner of the store she and Brittany had been looking at started frantically packing up, slamming cases closed and dragging the sunglasses rack into the shop.
“What the fuck?” Brittany asked. “What’s happening?”
“This is not a drill,” a voice said over a loud speaker Tina couldn’t find. “I repeat, this is not a drill. Ezra Miller has been spotted in the vicinity. This is an Ezra Miller alarm.”
“Ezra Miller?” Tina asked. “The actor?”
Suddenly Chet and Hank were there next to them, shuffling the women down the street.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
“Didn’t you hear the alarm, babe? We have to go!”
“He has been spotted coming from the airport,” she caught the voice over the loudspeaker saying. “His hair is greasy and standing in every direction and he is slurring his words. He speed is reported at approximately thirty miles at an hour and he is headed for town. This is a Code Red Ezra Miller Alarm. Please seek shelter immediately.”
“We have to get inside!” Hanke yelled, pushing Brittany in front of her.
“Everyone is closing their doors!” Chet pulled on the door to a coffee shop. Inside frightened faces peered out. No one moved to unlock the doors for them.
“Seriously, what the hell is happening?”
“It’s Ezra Miller, babe! Haven’t you heard?”
“That guy from those weird Harry Potter movies?” Brittany asked.
“He’s just a guy!” Tina yelled, trying to get Chet to stop pulling her down the street.
“No,” Chet said. He paused long enough to pull his sunglasses off his face as he peered down the street, straining to find something among the sea of panicking tourists. “He’s a force of fucking nature. And we’re in the middle of his path.”
“Didn’t you check his location before we got here?” Hank practically squealed at him.
“Of course I did! The day before we landed here he went to Paris. I thought we were safe!”
Hank grabbed Chet by the lapels of his brightly colored shirt. “You fool! It’s Ezra Miller! Nowhere is ever fully safe!”
“Stop panicking, man!” Chet pushed him back and slapped him across the face.
“Chet!” Brittany screamed.
“We have to get to the hotel!”
Tina still had no idea what the hell was going on. But she’d never seen Chet or Hank this freaked out, and the hotel was only a couple blocks north.
“This way!” Chet charged up the street, and the rest of them followed.
“He’s just one guy,” Brittany said through heavy panting. “How could he-”
From somewhere east, toward the airport. A dull roar soared over the town, eliciting screams from people who jostled against them. Then, shadows.
“What are…” Tina saw, and gasped.
“Get under something!” Hank screamed.
The four of them managed to get into a bus shelter seconds before a volley of chairs rained down on the street.
“How…” Tina swallowed. “How the fuck did he do that?”
“Keep moving!” Chet yelled, pulling them down toward the hotel. “If we’re still on the street by the time he gets here, chairs will be the least of our worries!”
It was hard now. Everyone was running everywhere. Some people were spread out on the street, either unconscious or dead. As they wove through the panicked crowd, people in front of a fancy French bakery started banging on the windows with some of the fallen chairs, trying to break in.
“Why won’t they help?” Brittany screamed.
“We unleashed him!” Chet dodged around a knocked over gyro stand just as another roar, this one much closer, washed over them.
Close enough to make Tina and Brittany cover their ears.
“There’s the door to the hotel!” Hank yelled.
They had to push through a crowd of desperate tourists, all trying to convince the four bellboys on the other side of the glass doors to let them through.
“Guests only! Guests only!” they shouted. Chet and Hank tore through the crowd and Brittany and Tina stayed close behind, pushing away hands that tried to tear at them.
“We’re guests! We’re guests!”
“Keys! Let me see keys!”
Hank managed to pull out his wallet first, keeping it overhead as others clawed at it. Finally, it was out, and Hank slapped it against the window.
Another roar, and then a worse sound.
Single, individual screams.
“Ow, fuck, he just slapped me!”
“He choked out my boyfriend!”
“He just crushed that car!”
“No, I won’t sleep with you! Perv!”
Hank pounded the glass with the key.
“Just let us in man! He’s coming! He’s coming!”
The bellboys looked at each other, and in a single motion all fled deeper into the hotel.
Tina had finally managed to get her key out from where she’d shoved it into her bra earlier that day, and she’d wiggled through the crowd to get to the key slot. After finally managed to push a chubby twelve-year old out of her way, she got the key in. It lit up green and made a sad chirp sound.
The door released.
The crowd fell in as air conditioning rolled out.
“Go!” Chet yelled, pushing people into the hotel in front of him. “Go!”
It was the single most heroic thing Tina had ever seen him do. After the last couple was in, he gave her a dashing smile.
“WHO WANTS AN AUTOGRAPH.”
Chet spun around Tina, getting between her and the unhinged ball of fame and various uppers that was barreling down on them. With a smooth motion he picked her up and tossed her into the hotel.
Slamming the door behind her.
“Chet!” Tina screamed.
“I love you,” Chet said through the glass door.
Then he was gone, whisked away by a large ball of cocaine, hair, and Taco Bell wrappers.
“I’M THE FLASH. BARRY SOMETHING OR OTHER. FUCK DC. OR MARVEL? WHO CARES.”
Tina pounded against the window, watching as her boyfriend was dragged down the street.
“Damn you, Ezra Miller!”