28 Days Earlier
“A traffic jam earlier today went from tragic to horrific as what was already a major incident escalated to a major disaster. It all began with a train; authorities are still looking into the cause for why the North Bound passenger train derailed and threw itself across almost eight lanes of traffic, blocking both north and southbound lanes. Emergency response teams arrived to find dozens of injuries, but no deaths at the time.
“Things became much worse, however, as one hour forty-seven minutes after the initial incident, a meteorite, one of several reported across the globe, struck a freight truck carrying several thousand gallons of gasoline. The impact ignited the contents of the truck causing an explosion that sent flames hundreds of feet into the air. Many emergency responders and pedestrians were near the truck, assisting to the injured from the train when the truck exploded. Seventeen are confirmed dead, with nine in critical condition and man, many others with serious injuries.
“Emergency teams from nearby counties were called in to address the situation.
“Several locals who were unfortunate enough to be caught in the initial traffic jam rose to the occasion and proved themselves heroes during this tragic event. They did everything in their power to assist the response teams, which were greatly under-manned, more so since several of them were caught in the explosion. We at KCPH News and the County of Riverside would like to recognize some of the most notable individuals for their services today; Mary Bohdry, Shannon Clayton, Eric Smithy, James Davidson, Brian Greeto, Christopher Star-“
The reporter on the television goes silent and a small red speaker with a red line through it appears at the bottom corner of the screen. Corey, the bartender, mutes the tv as he turns his back to it and looks at me.
“A real-life fucking hero,” the bartender declares, loudly, and draws the attention of the bar’s occupants. He fills a glass from the tap and sets it in front of me, leaning in close. “Drinks are on the house tonight.”
The man beside me goes wide-eyed with excitement and leaps up from his stool, turning to address the room. “Drinks are on th-” he begins to yell but Corey quickly cuts him off by yelling even louder.
“HIS drinks are on the house!” The bartender corrects himself, much to the moaning dismay of the room. With a chuckle, Corey leans back across the bar top near me. “So what happened out there? I know; train, crash, traffic, explosion, but a rock from space? Really?”
I can only manage a slight shrug of my shoulders and a shake of my head before taking a few sips of the offered beer. I’m not sure what to say. I’m not sure what I can say. The news never mentioned the black vans, the mysterious people in suits, or the people in hazmat gear tending to the meteor. They had suggested he not share too much before they had a chance to speak again.”Yeah,” I say, then take another sip. “It was definitely a meteor. I saw it myself at the bottom of the crater, I was only a few feet away. Hardly larger than a soccer ball. Amazing something so damn small can cause all that.”
A young lady slides up into the stool beside me at the bar. Corey and I pause briefly to look at her, and she looks between us before pointing to the tv.
“Did they say it was one of several reported around the world?” She asks.