This… is unusual, I think as I pull to a stop behind a large pickup with “Don’t Tread on Me” printed above a “Make America Great Again” sticker. The morning rush doesn’t usually begin until seven-ten. I examine the clock to confirm with myself that it is, indeed, well before seven-ten.
The minutes tick by on the clock and I eventually put the SUV into Park. I push open the door and step out onto the freeway, as a number of others already have. The road bends around to the South-West a half mile away and the line of cars disappears around it. I realize I haven’t seen any vehicles pass in the East-Bound lane since before I caught up with the traffic. It must be a very big accident if they’ve closed both sides.
“Going to be one of those days is it?” I sigh as I return to my vehicle. “Hope everyone survived.” The chances of them closing the freeway for a non-fatal accident are pretty slim.
My assistant, Leonard Dispil, is number three on my speed dial. I call him and arrange to have all of my morning appointments pushed into the evening, and my evening appointments redistributed across tomorrow. I can work a few extra hours Friday and bring home some cheesecake to make up for my tardiness.
I guess I may as well settle in, I tell myself as I recline my seat and click on the current audiobook sitting in the disc player. The smooth voice of the reader fills the cab and I close my eyes. If things start moving, someone will politely honk and let me know.
It’s hard to say which one catches my attention – the noise, or the shockwave – but the explosion jars me away from my relaxed state of mind. Suddenly, my eyes go wide, watching a massive fireball rise from the ground several hundred yards ahead of me. My SUV rocks as the ground shakes. I think I see a car in the sky, falling from nowhere, but it disappears behind an overpass. A large plume of dust shoots up from the ground to the left of the explosion.
I hear screams as the people closest to the incident abandon their vehicles and flee from the explosion. A massive wave of chaos comes my way as they all clamber over parked vehicles trying to escape. One of the larger trucks forces its way through the parked vehicles and drives up the side of a hill, up to the road overhead. A few others follow it. Every family for itself, it seems.
The people int he vehicles around me are either gawking at the disaster ahead as they stand in the street, or are fleeing from the crowd charging at them. I notice a few select heroes running in the opposite direction, towards the chaos; likely the off-duty firemen, police, and soldiers.
I realize I’m not doing anything.
My God, what the hell are you doing?! I berate myself internally as I throw open my door. GO!