We rolled the box through the doorway and onto the sunny sidewalk. I wasn’t in front, but I could imagine that Food Emporium looked a million miles away. There were little peep hole slits everywhere, and I could see a small section of 42nd St. to the east. It was deserted.
“Sidewalk,” Mike yelled, over the dog/cat fight racket. He and Jonathan could see through peep holes in the front of the box, so they were the drivers. We’d made it to the edge of the sidewalk and we bumped down to the street. “Hup two three four,” counted Trish, quietly. She and Moira shuffled behind Jill and me. And things actually seemed to be going well. We were almost to the middle of the street. I know that my personal spirits rose. That was before something started banging the hell out of us.
I honestly thought we’d been thumped by a car, at first. That’s how hard whatever it was hit us. But I hadn’t heard a car. We struggled to keep walking in a straight line, and we struggled to hold onto our handles. Trish struggled to keep hupping. “Bam bam bam,” bammed the bammer outside of the box.
I caught a glimpse of big feathers fluttering around us through my peep hole, and I wondered if we were good and truly screwed. One of those big birds was flying into our box again and again. Sturdy construction was in our favor, but that wasn’t going to last long. We hadn’t intended to build a tank. We’d intended to build an illusion that obviously had fooled only us. Bird shrieks rose over the recorded Lexington and Bethel shrieks.
I looked over at Jill. Her face was as pale as snow, but she tried to smile at me. Lexington was frozen on her chest, eyes like saucers. I couldn’t bear to look down at Bethel, but I was grateful that she wasn’t barking. My head couldn’t have taken it. Sweat rolled into my eyes, but I couldn’t spare a hand to wipe it away.
“Sidewalk,” Mike gritted. We all hoisted frantically up on our handles to clear the bottom of the box from the sidewalk. We were almost there. We were almost to the doorway. But there was a better chance that we would be trapped against the building, with nobody opening the door to let us in, than there was a chance of salvation. We weren’t going to have time to knock on the door, we weren’t going to have a few minutes to try to jimmy the locks. We’d be eaten, once the giant bird succeeded in cracking the big metal nut we were hiding in, and that wasn’t going to take long. The joints between the aluminum sheets had separated. There was daylight in the box with us. There was no way the box would hold together long enough for a return trip. If we didn’t get in, we weren’t going anywhere else. Forever.
“Door door door door,” Mike chanted. I didn’t know if he was praying to the god that opens doors or what.
“Mike, what’s going on? We have to know what to do,” I shrieked.
Just then, Mike and Jonathan threw open the front doors of our box. A dark cave yawned in front of us. Someone had opened the doors of Food Emporium. We hupped straight out of the box, abandoning it behind us. I spun around in time to catch a flash of the bird’s head peering angrily into the box through a hole it had ripped in the top. People I could barely see shoved the box and the bird away from the building with metal poles, then used the poles to yank down a metal gate. The glass doors slammed, and we were safe. Maybe.
“You people are crazy ass people,” a man frankly informed us.