Check last Thursday for the first half of this… This was a scene I couldn’t fit into my story. What I didn’t tell you last week, this is raw. It’s not even first draft, but actually what left my fingers without any polish or tightening.
Tariq inched the van forward. It was 8:07, and traffic was even more gridlocked than usual in Los Angeles. He briefly wondered if he’d made a mistake. If he got out of the van now and started running, he might make it. Might.
Or the police might find the device, and spread the warning. That would risk the entire event. Tariq knew now that to pull this off, his life was probably forfeit, He decided that this was the way it was going to be.
Tariq pulled onto South San Pedro Street, thumbs thumping the steering wheel in frustration. He was stuck behind a bus, and there was a family in the passing lane in a beat up car…just poking along. He was frustrated. He wanted to get closer to the city center before time ran out!
And then he saw the police car.
Officer Lightspeed watched the van weave. The driver kept looking back in the rearview mirror. That was normal, but Lightspeed’s every instinct, honed from years of street patrol in Los Angeles told him something was wrong. Very wrong. He reached up and flipped the switch, his lights beginning to rotate.
Tariq glanced back at the device. I’ve failed. He thought. He was still a mile out from the very heart of Los Angeles. Well, it will have to do. He thought.
The police officer tapped at the window, and Tariq rolled it down. “license and registration.” He said. Tariq pulled his wallet out. “Yes, of course.” he smiled. He saw the countdown on the device. 8:28…. There was no getting away now. Tariq was prepared to meet his destiny. He opened the glove box, papers spilling everywhere. Tariq smiled at the Police officer. He pulled the papers off the seat, and leafed through them. He handed the registration to the police officer.
“Where were you going?” The policeman wanted to know. Tariq glanced at the mirror. 8:29.
“Paradise, my friend.”
“I’m sorry?” The policeman looked very suspicious. 8:29:30
“To paradise, my friend. Allah awaits me.”
“What are you talking about?
The police officer stepped back, drawing his weapon. Something is wrong…. He thought. Just then, Tariq raised his hands, a wide smile on his face…
…and the van exploded. The flash reached the officer, and he had a brief moment to think, “Jesus….” The officer felt the blast hammer him…..
The blast happened too fast. Anyone nearby had no time to react. The closest automobiles were turned into dust, and all buildings for two hundred yards were turned to ash. For the next three hundred yards, massive chunks were demolished from most buildings, the debris scattering. The pressure wave had begun.
Gilliard looked down at his cell phone to press the “2” key, the speed dial for his wife. He was looking up as the flash hit his eyes. “Oh, my Lord!” He was dazzled, but he had missed the flash by a critical second. He swerved the SUV, hitting another car and turning off his ignition. He popped the door open. “Get out of your cars! GET DOWN!!!!” He shouted. People panicked, but many obeyed him. They crawled up against a building, and hugged the pavement. “open your mouths, so the explosion doesn’t blow out your ears!” He shouted.
The sound hit them, powerful and loud. Gilliard was too busy praying. “Oh, Lord God, save my wife…” the pressure wave was intense. It felt like he was being crushed for a second. Then pain hit him as heat flowed over him, and they heard the crunching sound as debris began impacting the cars on the street. Shattering glass was the loudest noise, as the windows in the building above them shattered. Glass pieces began raining down around them….