Mason looked out at the stretch of cars ahead of him. The roads were clogged with honking horns and screaming drivers. He sent a glance at the bus stop in front of him. The striped lane was blocked by the traffic. He patted the key in his pocket and started to jog down the sidewalk. Mason wasn’t sure what was going on, but it was big. His interview had been canceled in the middle of a question, and it seemed like the entire building had left already. Someone had remembered that the guy from HR was talking to a hopeful employee. The lady at the desk was on the phone and crying. The HR guy had hurried him out of the building before he could figure out the conversation.
His plan, so far, was to get to the hotel and call Sydney. Maybe she would know what was going on. He could check the news too, but he needed to make sure she was doing alright. Her parents had let them shack up in their cabin by the lake while the income problems settled. It sounded better than it was. Their ‘cabin’ was pretty much a big shed, had an old fashion wood stove for heat and cooking, and a rotary phone that couldn’t make outgoing calls. It was just big enough to fit a twin bed and their suitcases. They currently called it home. The flight out and the hotel room had to be paid with a portion of the little money they had left.
Mason slipped through the crowd of people as quickly as he could. He was jostled, shoved, and pushed, but he continued along his path. Pieces of conversations drifted around him. Roads were closed. Flights canceled. Someone shouted at their cellphone and was swiftly joined by dozens more. He pressed on. Finances hadn’t allowed for a cellphone in quite a while.
The intersection ahead was blocked by a wreck. A head-on collision had turned pulled four other cars into the mess due to the tightly packed lanes. He stopped at the edge of the sidewalk. There was a small crowd trying to pull the people out of the wreckage. It would have been impressive if most of those gathered were focused on clearing the intersection than helping the injured. He looked at the gridlock directly in front of him. The cars were literally bumper to bumper. He couldn’t see an open space to move through. There wouldn’t be anywhere for the traffic to go once they got the wreck cleared.
Mason took a deep breath. He stepped away from the street and pressed his back against a building. The smell of the surrounding throng was thick with panic. He could feel something on the horizon. A hammer being drawn back as he stood on the nail. He needed to get to the hotel. It was the only place he actually knew in the city and could use it as a point of reference. From there he could find his way to the airport. The flights would probably be going again once he got there since he had to walk.
A shrill scream filled with fear and pain cut through the noise. There was a brief moment of silence before the world around him burst into chaos. He caught a flash of movement near the wreck. A splash of blood. His attention was hijacked by the roar of an engine.
An eighteen-wheeler barreled down the center off the lane. It broke through four pairs of cars before the engine died. The momentum did not. Mason watched as the trailed wrenched to the side. It lifted off the ground and crashed into the traffic immediately before it.
He watched in a detached way as the shockwave moved through the cars. A part of his brain told him that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to move to the city anymore.