A to Z 2016 : OVERTURE

Molly woke to the blaring of sirens. Their wails sounding in intervals, growing louder before eventually fading off in the distance again. The rush of vehicles speeding past and pulsing lights accompanied the high-pitched, chirping clamor. She was slumped back in the seat, squinting her eyes, trying to drown out both the light and the migraine it was triggering to flare. She reached up with her left hand, gripping the steering wheel, pulling herself up.

In front of her, smoke seeped out from under the hood of the car, fluttering skyward in the breeze. The windshield was completely shredded apart, chunks of glass spread across the entire dash of the car, in her lap, on the floor. She became aware of her right hand gripping something fleshy and she slowly averted her attention to what she was holding. In the passenger seat, slouched in her direction, was a motionless man, his fingers wrapped tightly around hers. Blood was running down his arm, leaking from under the sleeve of the shirt he was wearing.

Molly noticed that blood was splattered all over the car's interior, mingling with the sparkly shards of glass. She leaned forward, panic beginning to set in as she began to recognize her companion. His short-cropped black hair, his ruggedly handsome — once handsome — face, his trimmed beard framing his strong jawline, his steel blue eyes. Eyes that were glazed over and vacant.

"Tom. Thomas?" She instinctively shook his shoulder with her free hand, the other refusing to loosen its grip. She began gasping for air and heaving, tears welling up. "Thomas, wake up. Say something, baby." Her lover's head lolled back and forth from her throttling that began to grow more violent when he failed to reply. "Baby, talk to me, please..." She squeezed his enclosed hand.

His chest was ripped open, massive holes displayed in a random pattern, blood soaking through the shirt and pooled where torn flesh was exposed. The right side of his face was decimated, from the cheek down, struck by a projectile at high velocity. She reached over and wrapped her arm around him, pulling him as close as she could, ignoring how awkward it was with them both still being belted in. Molly didn't notice the blood flowing over her from his head wound as it rested on her shoulder, beginning to heave more as she began to cry.

Her mind whirled, yet she felt numb inside.

She slid her hand down Tom's back, feeling the much larger exit wounds each projectile made as it passed through his body. She leaned him forward, inspecting the red splattered passenger seat, baring a matching series of holes. Hefting his body back into a slouched position against his seat, finally letting go of his hand, she turned back and as she expected, the back seat was riddled with holes as well. Out of the corner of her eye, however, she saw that the holes stretched across the entire back seat. Red specks splayed equally across its width.

Her heaving slowed and she shifted back, staring out the empty windshield, smoke still bellowing. There was a new set of incoming sirens. Molly's image in the rear-view mirror, torqued and barely intact, demanded her attention. Half of her face was smeared in red, strands of blonde hair sticking to its tackiness. Small fragments of glass jutted out of her cheek and neck, embedded just beneath the surface of the skin. Her fear-stricken, green eyes searching for more damage, even though she wasn't in any pain.

Accepting shock could be a factor, Molly knew it wasn't a full explanation. She took a deep, labored breath, fighting back a continuous stream of tears, before looking down. Her body shook uncontrollably when she saw similar wounds, surrounded by dried blood, dotting her torso. She quickly unbuckled, kicked open the door, and flung herself from the car. Molly hit the asphalt on her hands and knees, but quickly scrambled to her feet, feeling over her stomach, chest, and shoulders.

There were no wounds, but her shirt was damaged and stained in multiple places where it looked like she had also been bombarded. Her mind wrestled with what she was discovering. None of it made any sense. Feeling faint, her migraine intensifying and causing her to feel nauseated, she leaned against the car frame with both hands, staring down at the driver's seat. It was almost identical to the other. Her body convulsed and forced her to eject bile and what little she had eaten that afternoon.

Emergency vehicles rushed by, but some remained in close proximity as their sirens didn't completely fade away. One hand resting on the car, Molly wiped her mouth with the other. She addressed the lifeless body inside the car, "I'm sorry, Tom. I don't know what's going on. I could really use you right now. I love you so much. I'll get help"

She stepped away from the car and turned to flag down one of the emergency vehicles, or some medical personnel that had surely been called to the site, but the scene stopped her dead in her tracks. The highway ahead of her was littered with glass, steel, blood, and bodies. Vehicles that had collided with one another, some overturned, others just stopped in the middle of the highway like their car was. A handful of police cars were among those that cluttered the street, sirens silent, lights still rotating. All of them exhibited familiar impact damage.

Something else glinted in the sunlight. Brass shell casings spreading as far as she could see among the carnage that had unfolded.

She had a feeling the nightmare was far from over.