T-Minus 15 Seconds
“Next time we come, let’s stay the night at the village?” Lulu asked. Russell knew the place she was referring to. A bed and breakfast house with a claw-footed tub in the room. A huge fireplace with wood stacked by the workers and an expansive view of the lake.
A hot tub on the balcony to watch the sunset over the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was the perfect spot to spend time away and to themselves.
The very thought of it made him smile.
In space, photons were leaving the orbit of Venus behind and approaching the orbit of the moon. A this distance, the moon would be barely more than a bright spot on the edge of the Earth’s blue disk, the shape and distance became clear as the seconds ticked by.
Four-hundred meters ahead, a quarter-mile away, Lucy Sprecks, irritated and frustrated with the traffic, moved her right foot off the brake, moving it to the gas pedal, while doing the trick that her husband showed her years before, to use the left foot on the brake, letting her have a quicker dash if she needed.
Lucy had picked up a few tricks over the years, she was an expert driver, no matter what the Motor Vehicle Nazi’s said. She had more years driving than the testers had been on this earth. She was not about to listen to the young’uns about changes in rules that had worked for years.
Seat belts! Heaven’s sakes. She never had seat belts as a child and she lived. But now, even that kindly State Patrolman who talked to her at length, even if it seemed that he and his girlfriend partner camped out at the corner down from her gated driveway. He would pull her over before she even got to the stop sign down at the end of the street and lecture her.
Once again, she would put it on at his goading. Even the cute little girl who carried more equipment than Lucy felt the officer needed, lectured her on a few occasions when her man-partner was not there.
“Are you two married?” Lucy asked once, “You should be, you make a cute couple.” She added when the young lady answered “No.”
One late afternoon after Lucy got another lecture from Officer Karen, Lucy sat at the stop sign an extra hundred feet down the street with the police car right behind her when a man from the place she had fled long ago with Joshua after the death of her children, had a seizure at the wheel while coming to the intersection that Lucy waited at.
Drifting over the line, the pickup truck with the big camper on the back went through the intersection without slowing down and hit Lucy head-on as she sat still.
With air-bags and seatbelts, Lucy walked away from collision with nothing more than a skinned nose.
And she walked quickly! The smoke from the airbags made her think that the car was on fire, her knees hurt, but she would have walked barefoot over chilren’s toy blocks rather than to burn to death.
Ever since that day, she had panic reactions when something came at her from any direction. She even became unable to watch the news when it showed car crashes on the TV.
Ten times the orbit of the moon away, photons closed the distance to the earth and moon had separated into two points of light, the brightest points at this distance, other than the sun that was falling behind.
On the back of a rumbling Harley-Davidson, Lulu talked into the microphone of plans with the children and a weekend on the lake with the entire family as they cruised along.
A spluttering sound and a complaint from Russell interrupted Lulu, Russell suffered a direct hit by a butterfly to his shoulder that spread to his chest and cheek. He would need a shower.
Lulu offered to help, after the children when to bed, the tip of her finger playing with the back of his neck, below the helmet.
Nevada Douglas County Fire Department Station 2315, Engineer Hank Kettleman stood up and looked at the Captain.
“That will not leak again this summer. All new parts.” Hank smiled, pulling off nitrile gloves and throwing them into the can in the corner.
Captain Thomas nodded and looked down the drive as it opened out on to the highway, the sounds of a deep rumble, like an earthquake, but constant and growing louder.
A group of motorcycles, Robert Thomas owned his fair share of iron horses and would never miss an opportunity to watch a club ride by.
As Bob watched the highway, he noted a late-model Mercedes sitting to the right of the fog-line with its turn signal on, but it was not in a turning lane, nor was there an intersection.
Bob had seen this before, a triple-fatality accident a few years before, teenagers in an old VW Bus pulled an illegal U-turn in the highway after a missed corner, the broad-side impact from the delivery truck split the teen’s car in half, spilling bodies out on to the pavement.
Two died at the scene, and the third, the driver, gave up and willed himself to death a few days later. No amount of medicine would save the soul who felt responsible for the death of his own brother and girlfriend.
The length of a football field away, Russell and Lulu enjoyed their conversation while they drove the hour’s ride home with plans about dinner and a shower later.
It was Saturday night, after all!