Twin Oaks 2.3

I lift the hatch on the back of the SUV and fish out my First Aid kit from under one of the floor panels, then weave through the crowd and cars to reach the inside shoulder of the road. With most of the crowd fleeing to the outside shoulder or running between the cars, the inside is faster.
I stop briefly to check on a few people who seem dazed. None of them seem severely injured. I warn them of head injuries and the possibility of serious injuries after the adrenaline wears off, then instruct them to get to safety and seek medical attention as soon as they can get themselves to a hospital.
The source of the explosion is readily apparent when it comes into view; the remains of a large big-rig truck is on its side, and well into the median. Pieces of the truck’s trailer are strewn about across the grass and the other side of the freeway. I recognize a few pieces enough to piece together that it was likely a fuel tanker. The fires and way the way the other vehicles around it are strewn about seem to suggest it exploded.
What the hell happened? I ask myself, and I find the answer a few moments later. Behind the truck, I find a long trench burrowed into the ground, running off from the median of the road and across four lanes on the other side. It descends into the ground deep enough to swallow a car. The sides of the trench are littered with jagged pieces of car and trailer… and more than just a few bodies. Some people are still alive, groping and digging into the dirt to drag themselves away from the wreckage. It seems futile since most of them seem to be missing limbs, or are too badly broken and burnt to move by their own power. Most of them are motionless.
My hand comes up to cover my mouth as I try to take in the scene. I feel useless as I try to figure out what I’m supposed to do here. I’m not an ER Doctor, I’ve never dealt with this. I help kids.
Help these people, I yell at myself. Help them… somehow.
My first aid kit is almost useless; the smallest injuries will require a lot more than a few band-aids and aspirin. My eyes settle on the nearest person still moving; a woman at the bottom of the trench trying to roll over in the dirt. One of the brave people from the road beat me to her and is trying to help. He settles his hand on a chunk of metal in her side.
“Don’t pull that!” I find myself yelling. The man freezes and looks up at me. I shake my head at him. “Don’t remove that. It could be the only thing keeping her from bleeding out.”
The young man nods. I slide down the side, jogging to keep myself from losing my footing and falling. I approach and lower myself beside them.
“Use your shirt. Press it here. Apply pressure, and wait for an ambulance.” I give him instructions. He follows them, and nods again, thank me as I stand again.
Instinct begins to take over and I find myself running more in auto-pilot than actually thinking. I don’t have the supplies I need, but I have the knowledge. A dozen or so others have joined in the effort and I offer them instruction as best I can. A lot of the people on the ground are bleeding profusely from multiple wounds, and those who aren’t already missing limbs likely will be later due to the severity of their burns and injuries. I have to put flames out on three people, one of which I’m certain is already dead.
The emergency responders arrive in record time; a whole swarm of them trickle in. I find myself off to the side, speaking to an officer and sharing what I know. I only half pay attention to him, as I watch the scene over his shoulder. The paramedics cart people off into ambulances; the firemen help carry and move people and bodies; a black delivery truck full of people in biohazard suits set up a tent at the deeper end of the trench; law officers are rounding up people who can move and escorting them to safety.
It clicks in my mind that something is unusual as I watch the scene. I’m drawn to the black van and the people in the biohazard suits. One of them is searching the bottom of the trench with some device in their hand.
“Sir?” The officer beside me repeats.
“Temecula,” I state. He had asked me where I lived. He nods, saying something about commendations and gratitude of the city. I barely hear him, as the person in the trench uncovers a red-hot glowing mass from under a pile of dirt.
“Thank you, sir,” a new voice says. A man a head taller than me, wearing a dark navy suit, steps in front of my view. “Thank you for your help here. You are a true hero.” Before I can reply, he’s taken me by the arm and escorting me away from the trench.
“The city is grateful for men and woman like yourself willing to throw themselves in harm’s way to assist those in need.” The man says. I notice several other individuals in my peripheral vision being escorted away as well.
“What’s going on?” I ask as he moves me around an ambulance and releases me.
“I am not at liberty to say at this time. We will be contacting you. The situation is as well in hand as it can be at this time, sir. This site is not safe for yourself or others. Please, find your way home.”

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