Escape – (Aerials)
Part 9 of Aerials
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Ro yanked her beat-up old Toyota’s door open and stuffed herself inside. I stopped next to the car. Stay and face a development crawling with G-men or get out now while the we could?
An electronic banshee wail startled me. I fumble for the door handle. I got it open as the engine turned over. Ro shifted to reverse and I fell into the front passenger seat. She peeled out of her space and shot towards a knot of our neighbors from building four, whose roof was also alight.
“Outta the way! Move it people!” Ro shouted; she fumbled with the crank to lower the windows. A pick-up truck honked from behind us. Someone else had the same idea: escape now while the getting’s good. The crowd parted and we sailed through cleared asphalt with a wall of parka wearing fools to the right and the left of us.
Ro kept her foot hard down on the gas petal and I braced both hands on the dashboard as she corned building four on two wheels and then banked hard left onto Dove Court. Rubber burned as we hurled towards Riverside Drive, aka Route 9A, and freedom.
We turned out of our development onto a Ball’s Place and the firetruck turned in blocking the pick-up’s egress. Sirens screamed and horns honked as the pick-up backed up to let the truck pass. Ro hit the gas and spun the wheel; we slalomed out of Ball Place sliding on a patch of black ice onto 9A as two Town of Croton police black and white crossover suvs turned in.
Neither one paid us much attention. Buildings six, seven, eight and nine now had fiery crowns thanks to twenty mile an hour winds that gusted up to fifty miles per hour. That’s winter in Westchester county for you–frigid with gale force winds.
The car went airborne as it hit the first of the minor hills that gave the road its charm and threw me against the door panel as the road curved a sharp right before heading towards a bunch of strip malls and the entrance to Route 9. This far west, north-south options narrowed down to a two lane truck route. I clicked the seat belt into place just before the straight away ended in a sudden left curve and then grabbed a few deep breaths.
“Where are we going?”
“The diner,” Ro said, “they have tvs and we need to know what Phil told his g-men buddies. Whatever story they’re pedaling will be on News 12. Count on it. Those anchors know everything that’s going on. And a fire like that should be a top news item.”
But it wasn’t. Events 47 miles south of here happened to spiral out of control within minutes of our 4 alarm fire fiasco.
Ro slowed down enough to pause at the light where Route 129 crossed Riverside Drive. Cars in neat rows ready for purchase lined the dealership to our left and on the right, the wind kicked the Hudson River up sending waves sloshing too near the Metro North train tracks.
We motored through another intersection where the entrances to Route 9 lay and then pulled into a squat building with wrap around windows that faced the river. Wind gusts plastered us against Ro’s car and exploited every seam, seeping in to chill our bones. When it died down, we jogged the few feet to the door and yanked it open. Another gust tore the handle from my hand and shoved me inside, Ro right on my heels.
Every tv in the establishment showed the same image with a CNN voice over–the UFO that had buzzed our building lowering, like an elevator, onto the UN Building. White lights from its undercarriage spot lit the roof. Security stood, guns drawn and aimed at the spacecraft.
aliens within await,
fingers on triggers…
For a solid minute the scene remained unchanged; the ship descended, aiming towards a convex section of roof; security sighted and then a wall of noise–like static blendered with a million electronic voices each speaking a different language–poured out of the craft. Its percussive force knocked the guards down, sending their guns spinning across the roof tiles.
I glanced at Ro. Her pursed lips and furrowed brow said it all. Our problem just downgraded. The coverup wouldn’t start in Westchester. It might not even start at all.
Ro slid into a booth and I shuffled in after her. A middle aged waitress wearing that ‘now I’ve seen it all’ look in her tired eyes shook her head at the tv. She turned her back on the the image of a spaceship, alien in design, hovering over New York City in favor of earning a living. Aliens arriving forty-seven miles south of here ranked low on her list of things to worry about.
“Can I take your order?”
We nodded. Tomorrow might not come or it might show up at the wrong end of a weapon during an alien invasion. So I chucked caution to the wind and ordered certain stomach death–chocolate ice cream topped with maraschino cherries, hot fudge and whipped cream. Ro ordered the same thing plus fries.
We watched the end of the world as we knew it over ice cream and a plate of fries. Armageddon never tasted so good.
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