2010-06-28: Darker Than The Inside Of A Cow



Date: June 28, 2010


The eclipse happens. People shouldn't be on their phones while driving…

"Darker Than the Inside of a Cow"

Bruckner Interchange

Afternoon rush hour has struck the Bruckner interchange in the Bronx. Rows and rows of vehicles weave in and out of the long stretch of road. Red cars, blue cars, white cars, black cars all drive in and out of the interchange. Not as quick as normal hours would enable them, mind, but things aren't entirely gridlocked. Among the many cars is one rather large looking white semi, hauling a rather large vat of noxious fluid behind it. The driver? Forty year old Henry White watches his mirrors as the traffic changes around him. In and out. Out and in. Carefully he signals and moves to the right hand lane, very slowly mind, the vehicle itself is massive.

Happily driving her car and unsure where she's going, twenty year old Kiki Watts sings merrily to the radio in her red El Camino, "Apple bottom jeans and the boots with the fur! WITH THE FUR!" No, it's not musical, but she bops along in front of the large semi, dancing to the music a little as she sings.

Unlike the people in front of her, Janet leans against the steering wheel of her car and sighs heavily. She's going to be in traffic forever and Parker is going to start complaining. A fleeting glance is given to her phone, but she doesn't dare make a call while driving; only an idiot would do that. And so she waits in traffic, her fingers rapping gently on the steering wheel.

"I think that was our turn," Claire says, turning in the passenger seat besides Kiki to point at the sign she had pointed out moments before so that the driver could move onto the exit ramp. But no, Kiki is much to interested in singing along with the radio. "You're the one who wanted to go shopping — didn't you Mapquest it?" The blonde is a little irritable, because the shopping errand was not her idea, as she really couldn't care less about 70 percent off whatever fru-fru designer purses Kiki has her heart set on. "Why didn't we take the Subway? It's way quicker," laments the girl who has given up on owning a vehicle for a few reasons.

Oh, damnit. Not traffic again. It'd been a while since Elle had been back in the city - this was a bit of an understatement - and remembering which areas were congested when had yet to once more become a habit of hers. So here she was, stuck almost in a standstill, and Elle was - ready for another understatement? - not a patient person.

The little electric blue VW bug she was driving wasn't horrible for manuvering, and she does this, pulling up in front of a red El Camino as it hesitates on the road. Elle gives a snarky little beep of her horn as she passes, turning to scowl at the driver. "Driving tests are just too easy to pass these days," the blonde mutters crankily under her breath as she checks her watch for the upteenth time.

And just like before the world begins to darken, even though it's much too early for sunset, especially in summer.

"Because the subway makes your hair fall out and your nails shrivel up!" Kiki quips all-too-happily as she turns the radio up again. "C'mon Claire~ I make driving FUN! AND. Besides. You obviously need to go shopping with those cuticles you'll never get— " but for once the insatiable ditziness that is Kiki notices the world is dimming. With wide eyes she glances up at the sun. "Too. Awesome. Ohmigosh April is gonna need a picture of this!" She glances down at the emergency brake— the place she keeps her phone.

The red phone is clutched and Kiki lines it up with the sun that's now eclipsing… while continuing to drive, without looking at the road. She doesn't notice the blue VW Bug pull in front of her so she doesn't think to brake…

The darkening of the sky gets a worried look from Claire out the window; she tips her head against the window, looking up and not noticing the fact that Kiki is reaching for her phone to take a picture. "I have a bad feeling about this…" she murmurs, narrowing her eyes and shielding them with her hand as she peers into the sky, then turning to look at Kiki with wide eyes.

Through her peripheral vision, Claire catches sight of the Beetle pulling in front of them, and one hand moves to the dash board to brace herself. "Kiki, look where you're going!" she hisses, though it might just be too late.

Elle, about to turn in her seat to look out the back and check the car behind her, was halted mid-motion as the sky began to darken. At first she rubs her eyes, then as she notices headlights flicker into being on other cars, she realizes it's not just her eyes playing tricks with her. Elle leans forward to look through the windshield, catching sight of the eclipse as it begins.

The veil of darkness continues to sweep across the sky like a curtain being pulled over the Sun. Yet it's darker than a night sky; almost like pulling the blinds over a window. Darker than the inside of a cow.

Claire's warning comes just too late as Kiki tries to slam on the brakes. Her car balks against the pressure, skittering left and right some before it spins out slightly and promptly rear ends Elle. "OH SHITBALLS!" Kiki exclaims just prior to impact, wincing.

Unfortunately, Kiki isn't the only one on the road. Henry was somewhat distracted by the eclipse as well. The darkening sky left him glancing up at the sun more than once, and turning on his headlights. Unlike Kiki, however, he glances at the road still, and when she slams her brakes, he slams his. The large semi truck spins out, its vat of fluid turning landscape on the road, crashing into vehicles in all three lanes of road.

Lazily, Janet had been looking between the eclipse and the road. Eclipse. And Road. Eclipse and— "Sweet Mother Mary and all that is holy!!!" Janet exclaims as she also slams on the brakes. Narrowly she misses a car to her left as she pulls her small Toyota Echo right, only she corrects too much and barrels into one of the cement barrier and causing her airbags to deploy.

Claire's eyes open wide, though with no fear for herself. She'll be all right, after all. The squeal of brakes and Kiki's cry have her squealing anyway out of instinct, if not fear of pain or death. Her free hand comes up to cover the back of her head, and she grits her teeth and narrows her eyes in expectation of the crunching of metal and shattering of glass that will come with impact.

"Motherfucker!" Elle's awe over the eclipse is halted by the little red car slamming into the back of her little blue one. She's thrown violently forward, though luckily the airbags and her seatbelt stop her from going straight through the windshield. Pulling on the wheel to try and move her car into the side lane, it ends up almost perpendicular to Kiki's car, only slightly out of the flow of traffic. Not that traffic's really flowing about now.

The truck creates instant chaos, the cars it struck screeching and spinning all over the road. Some drivers try to escape via whatever direction they found themselves in, and others are just immovably crashed — into each other, into the shipment. Emerging onto the pavement on elbows from a flipped SUV, only seconds after the accident, dangerously close to the truck, is a typical soccer mom. She's shouting— and so is someone inside the vehicle.

El Caminos don't have airbags — That thought goes through Claire's brain as the world moves in slow motion until Crack goes that wrist that's bracing Claire's body's weight on the dashboard; her eyes widen at the excruciating pain that floods through her. She has only a moment to register the knowledge that not only is she feeling pain for the first time in months, the pain is worse than she can remember feeling in years. She turns to look at Kiki before the impact of another vehicle into their side has her had knocking against the window, hard enough to crack the glass and split Claire's brow, blood seeping down her cheek. Her lids flutter closed, even as she murmurs, "Kiki…" to the driver but whatever she was going to say fades away as she too fades into darkness.

It's as if someone has entirely turned out the lights amongst the mayhem on the freeway.

And in a way it's a good thing. For Kiki's vanity, anyways. Her head had hit the dashboard, and bleeds— profusely. Woozily, she grabs a scarf from the back and holds it to her head before saying, "Wow. I think I'm blacked out. Everything is dark." Or dark-ish. Some people still have their headlights on. Until she reaches to her left and opens her door, causing the light in the car to turn on. "CLAIRE?!" she calls as Claire doesn't respond to her. Dizzily she tries to step out of the car and reaches for something to brace her but she begins to collapse to the ground again.

Meanwhile the semi behind the El Camino screeches as its momentum struggles against its brakes. Noisily it sparks against the pavement, continuing to move against it. And while the truck itself stops, the vat of chlorine doesn't. It spins and topples to the ground, bursting a hole in the side of the large truck cargo.

Janet pushes on her air bag as she rubs at her reddened skin, burned by the impact and friction of the airbag— not that she can see it. She rubs at her eyes woozily.

Several moments of darkness pass before Claire's lids flutter open, seeing red for a moment before she reaches up with her uninjured hand to scrub the blood out of her eyes. "Kiki!" she calls, seeing the door open and no one in the El Camino with her. The screeching of the truck has her peering into the rearview mirror, watching that semi come this close to plowing through their vehicle. "Oh, my God," she gasps. The fact her wrist is clearly broken, grotesquely with a compound fracture, is not too shocking — what is shocking is that it hurts and that a quick touch to her brow reveals that the wound there isn't sealing. Taking her arm in her other hand, Claire takes a deep breath — she's had to put her bones together before, after all — and wrenches the two parts to put her arm back together.

Darkness again. Claire Bennet just passed out from pain. Something is very, very wrong.

Elle, like Janet, sports reddened skin from the rough surface of the airbags against her skin. There are a few minor cuts on her arms from something that had shattered in the car - there's no obvious sign of one. With a wrench of might, the petite blonde gets her door open and climbs out of the car.

Looking up at the sky, Elle squints as she views the eclipse, and a shudder runs through her, an electric pulse from her scalp to her toes. When she hears a shriek of 'Claire' from a female teenage through, Elle turns, her curiosity piqued. Granted, Claire wasn't the most uncommon name ever, but still.. she had to look. Making her slow way to the El Camino, Elle begins looking around, seeing people emerge from the cars. Her senses are dazed, and for a moment she just stands there, staring dizzily at the scene before her.

At least chlorine isn't especially flammable. A small blessing, because there are certainly several cars up ahead with smoke drifing into the darkened sky. But its high concentration does nothing good to what it touches on the road — namely, the people on it. The soccer mom on the ground — narrowly missed by the tumbling vat — for instance, starts to cough even before she's met with the liquid the flood of amber-hued liquid as it leaks onto the pavement. "Help m— !" Her screams escalate as she holds up her hands and scrambles back against her upside-down SUV — her hands are red from more than crash injuries. They're burned. "SOME— SOMEBODY HELP US!"

But her shouts are overtaken by those in another car— a bunch of roadtrippers who were driving in the opposite direction before the crash who are unlucky enough to be in the way of the chlorine spill. With their windows down.

The eclipse begins to fade as quickly as it came. The veil of darkness is slowly lifted a section of sun at a time, revealing carnage along the freeway. At least a dozen cars are involved in the accident— some pinned underneath the vat of chlorine, others smushed against the concrete barriers designed to prevent oncoming traffic from hitting each other.

Kiki reaches over to Claire and does exactly what first responders are taught NOT to do. She shakes her. Hard. "Oh god, oh god, oh god, Please wake up! Claire! I swear I will take your shift and be your bestest friend for the rest of all time, even leaving April behind if you wake up… c'mon Claire! C'mon!!!" The yelling causes the waitress to pale as she glances from Claire to the soccer mom yelling for help.

Henry, meanwhile, can't get the door of the truck open. It's jammed shut from its weaving through the wreckage. He pushes hard on the door, determined to pry it open, but to no avail. Not now, anyways.

Shaking her head, Janet manages to come to just a little before she opens the car door and makes her way into the carnage, but then she stops. She may be a doctor, but as her eyes survey the scene, something becomes apparent. They're going to need more than one of her. Running back to her car, she reaches over the gear shift and tugs on her purse which is now wedged in the wreckage that is her car. "Freakin' should… never… keep.. so much.. crap.. in…" Finally she grasps it. Quickly she dials 9-1-1… twice because she dials wrong the first time. "Hi. There's an emergency at the Bruckner interchange… there's been an accident, it's massive. My name is Janet McCarty. You're going to need multiple ambulances, it's a multiple injury crash. Get here. Yesterday— "

Coming to once more, Claire glances down at her arm that's still very much broken. The shaking from Kiki isn't doing it or her head any favors, and the pain is almost sickening. "I'm … I'm okay…" Claire manages, head coming up and moving to open the passenger door to get out — this car isn't driving anywhere. The wrenched frame of the El Camino makes it a bit sticky, so she shoves with her good hand, and tumbles out to look up at Elle. Her eyes widen at seeing the electrokinetic when she herself is actually killable. "You…" she mutters, getting to her feet and backing up, finally turning to survey the wreckage. "Oh, God…" her power may be on the fritz, but she's still suddenly running into danger, heading toward the soccer mom to hopefully try to pull her to safety — with one hand.

Elle's brow furrows as she looks the girl up and down. Yes, it's Claire alright, but why is she still so obviously wounded? All of the snark goes out of her in a whoosh, and she can only manage to gape, fish-like, at the other woman. "Are you.. you're not.. Claire?"

But the other girl is gone already. Noticing Janet on her cell phone, she pulls her own out of her pocket and begins dialing, but the line is busy. "Shit!" Elle curses loudly, then follows Claire at a run, going to help the blonde. "Some help here!" is Elle's contribution to all of the yelling, her blue-grey eyes fixed on the wave of chlorine steadily approaching.

The woman — roughly the age of Claire's mom — would appreciate her help, and indeed her wide eyes are full of gratitude, if she didn't have other priorities. She pulls back from Claire and clambers against the flipped SUV, trying and failing to open the door with burned hands. "My son— !" Wincing through pain, crying, barely on her feet, the woman gestures wildly past Claire to Elle. More help. "He's— he's trapped inside— "

The teenager in the passenger seat is upside down at an awkward angle, trapped by his seatbelt and by the jammed doors. If he's hurt, though, it's not obvious.

Everywhere, people are trying to navigate their cars out of the mess or climbing out of their vehicles in various states of injury to get away from the spill. The sounds of pain from the roadtrippers' car is one of many, as the chemical overtakes the vehicles it trapped.

A yellowy coloured gas wafts from the vat that has pinned the vehicle. Seeping slowly into the atmosphere in very poisonous air taker.

Kiki is relieved as Claire stands up, but as Claire moves, the flakier blonde collapses. SHe's fainted from losing too much blood in her head. Should be fine, but she's down for the count.

"No! Not yesterday as in actually yesterday, yesterday as in get here as fast as you can and send as many units as you can! I'm a freakin' doctor! Listen to me!" that said, Janet hangs up on the paramedics and literally runs around the front of the semi towards the woman needing to get her son out of the vehicle. She turns to the pair of blondes, "We need something to pry the door open— the firemen are gonna have an H-E-Double-Hockey sticks of a time getting through this traffic— "

Her attention, is promptly turned to the teenager in the passenger seat, "Kid. Are you okay?" She reaches into her purse and extracts a flashlight to purposely shine in the teen's eyes.

"Does anyone have a crow bar?" Claire yells, but no one responds quick enough for her needs, so she's crawling into the flipped SUV from the opposite side through the broken window, knees grinding on broken glass — at least she's wearing jeans. Her hands slide to the seatbelt, hoping to unclip him. "I hope your neck's not broken or anything, but being burned up isn't any better, so out we go," she tells the boy, whether he's conscious or not. She glances out the window to Janet and Elle. "Get those people in the other car, we can get him out, me and his mom!" she says, decisively.

"I think, in this situation, it's okay to say the word 'hell'." Elle manages to quip before her survival instincts kick in. "Did I hear you say you're a doctor? Because that'll help a lot. Do you know how to triage?" This is a word Elle has only heard in medical television shows, never actually used. "Where are we needed the most?"

As if in answer to that, there's a shriek from the tour bus, and Elle begins to run that way. "Hey! Doctor chick! This way, I hear more than one person!" It's her turn to be decisive as she reaches the overturned van, yelling to the occupants, "Can you hear me?"

The teenager squints and nods at Janet — clumsily, upside-down — while his mom coughs and tries to keep her burning hands from shaking. And then a pretty, if somewhat gruesomely bleeding girl is coming to his rescue and he squirms, trying rather desperately to get free of his own accord. "I've been tryin' to undo this seatbelt— I almost got it! Maybe if you hold it down 'n' I pull— " That's exactly what he does while Claire works to unclip it, and with after a few hefty tries, the guy goes tumbling. Over Claire's shoulder, his mom is there to help drag him out.

To Elle … there's no real answer, only shouting, clambering sounds against the sides of the vehicle, and the strong, pervasive smell of chlorine gas in the air.

A nod is given to Claire and then one to Elle. "Yes, I'm a doctor! I worked in a busy emergency room for a year— " she chases after Elle towards the van. "Hold on! We're going to help you!" she calls to the occupants as yanks at the door. But it doesn't give. Not even a little. "We need the jaws of life! Where are emergency services!!" She twitches as the fumes fill the air. "And we need to move away unless we can get this car out— " Out of there. She glances around at the vehicles in the area. "We need a big vehicle to essentially bulldoze it away from the fumes! There's no cure for chlorine poisoning…"

And then, as if on cue, a string of sirens can be heard approaching the area, causing Janet to sigh with relief, just a little. Regardless, they need to get this van away from the noxious gas.

As the boy's body clips her broken arm, Claire winces, then turns around to follow, wincing as her knees grind into the broken glass. "Go get upwind," she tells them lifting her head and closing her eyes to feel the wind on her bloody face, feel which way her hair moves. "That way!" she points, then scrambles back to her feet. "Run that way!" she yells, pointing to the lookyloos. "Get out of the path of the fumes!" She pulls her t-shirt over her nose, baring her midriff, and runs off toward where Elle and Janet are helping the other vehicle.

The heroes are very quickly let off the hook as emergency crews arrive and go about their work. Madly they free people from cars and cart them off in ambulances. The gas is quarantined from the rest of the area and will be dealt with by the chemical unit of the fire department, and the rest of the carnage is a slow clean up for police and clean up crews. Elle and Claire and quickly carted off to hospital while Janet tries to attend to more people on site (although, she too, will eventually find herself in an emergency waiting room).

And as quickly as it came, the eclipse is gone. And everyone's abilities with it.

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