There's just something about pizza. Other foods are great, sure. Burritos? Pretty solid. Cheese burgers? They're good every once in a while. But pizza? I'm always in the mood for pizza.
No, I'm always craving pizza. And 95 percent of the time when I can't have it, is when I want it the most. It’s kind of like my last three boyfriends. Wait, who was I kidding? My boyfriends were never as good as pizza.
Anyway, on a long day like this one, I've been craving it. Badly. The pizza, that is. It’s that perfect mix of melted cheese, red sauce, every topping, and extra anchovies. I sigh aloud just thinking about it.
I’m sitting, waiting at the only decent pizza parlor in town, my foot tapping away under the checkered table. I’ve got my family’s drink orders but no family. Even worse? No pizza. Service is so damn slow I have half a mind to jump behind the counter and make my order myself. Except I’m off the clock today and I don’t work for free.
Georgia probably won’t even care. She knows I'm her best customer as well as her best employee but if I go back there then everyone will need me for something. Plus, if I move I'll lose my table. Then my mom will complain whenever she decides to show up.
Waiting for my family is becoming a mission and the thought of having a friend with me through this dreaded family dinner doesn't sound that bad. Then again, I have no friends.
I look around the crowded pizza joint. It's filled with the same people I had to deal with growing up, before I was shipped off. The kind of kids who didn't have to spend most of their teenage years in a secret military base, preparing for a war they never got to fight in.
It’s also the same kind of people who are my peers at the local college. They seemed fine before I left. Now, not so much.
I’m glad what they’ve started calling World War III is over and all but, in a way, it kind of sucks. I would've loved to kick some Russian butt. Not to brag or anything but I was ranked first in my class of elite soldiers. Well, not officially because my commander was a sexist jerk but unofficially, everyone knew it.
Now I'm just considered a 19-year-old outcast in lala-land. I live at home but I work here part-time so I can save up to get my own place. I go to the local college, change my major about every other week, and last of all, I keep to myself.
My mom promised me that I could have a normal life now. I did everything my parents asked of me. Now they were giving me the space to be just like everyone else.
The flaw in this plan? I’m not like everyone else. I’m not normal. I’m not going to forget all that I’ve seen and done.
I scan the room discreetly. Yeah, with their shiny hair and perfect smiles these kids are soft, vapid, and normal. I change my mind about having a friend. It’s better to be alone.
I honestly am going to slam my head against the table if my parents take any longer to get here or if I have to keep waiting endlessly for this pizza. Patience isn’t exactly my strong suit.
I watch as a waiter brings out a pizza. The guy is a new employee here. I think his name is Fred but I’m pretty sure I scare him so we don’t talk much. I stare at him, hoping the pizza he’s carrying is mine. Actually, I’m praying a little. He’s holding it way above his head, so I can't be sure.
I try to make eye contact with him so I can try and convince him it's mine but he just walks right past me and brings the pizza down to the table next to me. My eyes fly to it even though I know for sure it’s not mine.
Ugh cheese? Are you kidding me? That's the worst kind of crime. These people seriously need to rethink their whole lives if they’re just settling for cheese. I scrunch my nose down even as my stomach growls loudly at the site, it is pizza after all. It’s just missing a few magic touches.
I glance up from the pizza. There’s a girl at the table with long blonde hair and a stuck-up sneer.
She’s sitting with an attractive guy who probably doesn't know what he’s gotten himself into. He looks like he just took her out because she has a nice rack that happens to be popping out of her tight dress if his stare there is any indication.
I watch as he keeps trying to cut at the pre-cut line of the cheesy goodness but the plastic-looking chick keeps telling him to cut a smaller portion.
Is that supposed to be attractive? I find it ridiculous. There, in front of her, is the best human creation and she wants tiny crumb-sized pieces?
I roll my eyes and turn toward the guy. He seems to find her appetite ridiculous too by the annoyed look on his face or maybe it’s in response to her constant complaining. I don't know. It’s a tough one.
He catches me staring and I notice he has dreamy eyes. He winks at me, which immediately causes Plastic Chick to turn her bitching my way. "Want to take a picture? It’ll last longer and you can go drool somewhere else, freak!"
I turn back to her to see her giving me a dirty look.
Dreamy Eyes starts laughing. So, he was a jerk after all. They deserve each other.
Soon other people are turning around to stare.
I grit my teeth. I could snap this chick in two in a battle but here in lala-land I choose to stare down at my hands like an idiot. Sadly, kicking civilian ass is frowned upon, especially at my workplace. "I don't want Dreamy Eyes. I just want my damn pizza," I mutter under my breath.
"Baby, I'm sorry we took so long. Traffic was horrible," a familiar lilting voice says, stopping me from my detailed imaginings of annihilating the snobby couple in front of me.
I look up to see my mother. My father and my brat of a little brother are trailing behind her.
"Finally," I say, rolling my eyes.
"And don't call me baby. It's H, Mom," I add, annoyed. Mom just rolls her eyes and doesn't reply.
I used to be fine with my parents calling me pet names before the whole war broke out and I was sent off to become a human weapon thanks to my dad, the great freaking General. After that experience, I don't let anyone call me by my real name or anything cutesy.
"Here you go, H," Georgia says as she pulls up to our table. "Sorry for the wait. We're swamped today."
"It's fine," I say quickly, digging in before anyone else. I’m pulling the slice to my mouth and burning my hand in the process, but heck, I don't care. I blow on the pizza and open my mouth.
"Helgason?" My boss asks with a narrow in her eyes. I hear Dad choke on his soda and Mom giggle. I snap my mouth closed and bring the slice down for a minute. I almost feel bad for saying no but mostly I’m relieved she hasn’t guessed it.
Still, she was so sure this time. I shake my head of dyed white hair, a look that I totally rocked.
"I'll get it next time," she says as she bustles off.
"Good luck," Dad mutters with a smirk.
"You really won't," I holler after her but she just waves us off. I’ve assured her countless times that she won't guess my name but she still tries every time she sees me.
I lift the pizza again. My mouth waters as the cheesy goodness just brushes my open lips then-
The sirens ring out, piercing my ears.
No. It can't be.
Bomb sirens. They get louder and louder. I spring to my feet in a fighting stance and check the exits. My beloved, uneaten slice falls and lands near my black combat boots.
This was really happening. It was my worst nightmare and secret fantasy coming to life. A shock of adrenaline runs through me. After two years of peace and everyone thinking the war was over, it looks like it wasn't as over as we thought.
I look at my dad and he just gives me his reassuring nod. Then I turn to look at my mom cradling my brother, hot tears already beginning to stream down her face as what this could mean dawns on her.
I know I have to help get everyone to the nearest bomb shelter. There are 233 in the D.C. area, where I live. If my incessant studying is right, and I know it is, then there should be a shelter less than a block from here.
As I walk to the front to get everyone's attention something honed deep in me tells me to look back, and I do.
I see two figures running full force towards the pizza parlor with eyes shockingly white, pupils nowhere to be seen. I bolt for the door to lock it.
The figures keep on running. Moments later the piercing sound of shattering glass surrounds me like a flood as they crash through the storefront windows. I instinctively block to cover my face and head but my feet are already moving towards the first figure I see.
Over the shattering and screeching one woman’s voice seems to break through from somewhere in the distance.
She yells, “Dear God!”
Suddenly I'm pulled from behind. I try to fight off my attacker but feel a sharp pain all over my body. I push past the pain and elbow him in the head. As I'm freed I take a giant step forward and feel my feet slipping beneath me on some shards of glass.
I’m falling and everything starts to fade. My last thoughts are of blinding white eyes and the sound of horrified screams ringing in my ears.