The town’s alarm resonated through the bedroom windows of Ellie’s Australian, riverside house. Her reflex action was swift. She tugged the bed covers from her shoulders, instantly alert. She knew the siren only roared through the town when something serious occurred, or was about to occur
Her thoughts flashed from one possible disaster to another. A flood? There had been little rain for weeks. A severe storm approaching? Not this early in the day. Clouds need time to build with the heat. Whatever it was, it had to be an event of some magnitude for the siren to alert the Bundaberg inhabitants so early.
Ellie slipped her feet out from under the crisp, white bed linen as a knock sounded on her door.
Ellie’s husband, Garth, nudged the door open with his foot as the siren rang out its alert for the third time. Ellie looked towards him in expectation. He might know what the alert was for.
Garth entered carrying a gleaming, silver tea tray. Ever since they had discovered that after nineteen years they were to become parents for the second time, he had risen early to prepare a light breakfast for her.
His piercing, dark-brown eyes were serious. It was the mask he wore when dealing with people who could easily frighten or panic. He spoke calmly, “I’ve brought your breakfast, Ellie. Did the siren wake you?”
As Ellie lifted her eyes in query, Garth preempted her question.
“No. I haven’t been summoned…yet. We know the siren means there’s an emergency. That probably means casualties, so I need to be at the hospital.”
Garth hastily placed the tray on her bedside table. “Stay resting as long as you like, my sweet. There’s no need for you to get up.”
As Ellie lifted her face for his farewell kiss, she said, “Have you any idea what the emergency is?” Anxiety creased her forehead.
Garth paused, glancing towards the door. “Not at this stage. A distinct smell of smoke is tickling my nostrils. I think it may be a fire.”
Ellie could see that he was already thinking about what emergencies could be awaiting him at the hospital. She rested back on her pillows. As he made haste towards the door she called out, “Take care, Garth. Come home as soon as you can.”
Without a backward glance, he disappeared through the doorway.