Shelter Skelter

by Elizabeth Beramendi

“Dad, this is so stupid! We are not going to get bombed; this is ridiculous.”

Another Saturday night of sitting in my dad’s emergency bunker because of his extreme paranoia is getting very old very quickly. He’s a veteran with PTSD, and ever since he got back, he has been paranoid that some Arab country is going to bomb us.

“Lily, you never know what can happen, so we need to prepare for anything. It could mean the difference between life and death. And this new door on the ol’ bunker will definitely protect us from a lot.”

Dad special ordered a new door from Switzerland or Germany or some foreign place. I watched as the the delivery guys hauled and assembled the door. The door probably could protect us from bombs, I’ll give him that, but I still think this is absurd. There’s no way we’re getting bombed anytime soon.

A half hour ago, Dad sounded his bull horn. Me and my brother and sister all knew what this meant. As it was still three in the morning, we grabbed our emergency packs that we kept in our closets and ran as fast as we could in our pajamas into the backyard. Dad was there holding open the door and we ran down the steps into the bunker below. The door slammed shut behind us and I and my siblings knew this was going to be a long night.

“All right, it’s six a.m., gang. This is a good practice run, but I still think we can shave off a few more seconds with a little more practice.”

We all mumble. We’re just happy that we’re going back inside.

“C’mon, Dad, let’s go. I want to go back to my own bed.”

The cots in the bunker are the furthest thing from comfortable.

“O.K., O.K.”

We follow him as he heads toward the door. I can’t wait to go back to bed and enjoy the rest of my weekend. I have plans to go to the mall with Matt and get lunch, but first, I need to go back to bed.

“What’s taking so long?”

“Nothing, nothing. I’m just having a hard time finding the handle in the door. It’s one of those indented handles.”

“Ugh, let me look.”

I push past my little brother, Tom, turn on my flashlight, and feel around the door for the handle.

“Dad, I don’t see anything.”

“Shit! Shit!”


Dad goes silent. An overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia fills inside me as I come to the realization.

“The handle’s on the outside, isn’t it?”

“Those idiots must have put the door in backwards! I knew I should have done it myself! It’s O.K., though. Lily, get out your cell phone and call Tim.”

Tim’s our next door neighbor. Just like me, he doesn’t understand Dad’s obsession with the bunker either.

“Uh, I don’t have the cell phone…”

“What do you mean you don’t have it?”

His voice takes on a scary controlled tone.

My lip trembles.

“I was using the phone to text Matt last night and I fell asleep with it next to my bed. I forgot it when we were running out here.” The vein on Dad’s left temple enlarges and throbs as his face quickly turns red….