|AIR DATE 2011.08.15|
|Synopsis: Traffic escalates into a collision on the street. ACRU happens to be on scene, rushing to help along with the civilians — but when things get more dangerous…|
Traffic. Melrose is living, breathing, and suffering in traffic. In a sleek, hefty black van slyly outfitted with law-enforcement grade protection, Kev swipes his palm over his brow and squints over the top of his black sunglasses. The vehicle in front of him has stopped moving and so must he. A vague grumble emits from the man and he slings his arms over the top of the steering wheel and leans back. "You'd think with all this fancy stuff in the van it'd have working air conditioning," he complains to his passenger. It really must be a slow day if someone is letting Kev drive one of the ACRU vehicles.
… "Ugh, we should have left earlier," says a woman in a silver convertible several cars beyond. She turns up the radio and rolls her eyes, ignoring the driver because it's all his fault. The young man looks sternly ahead and clamps his jaw trying not to be annoyed at both his girlfriend and the lively people on tour bus in the next lane over up ahead.
Ethan comes out the comic store, a bag in his hand but his phone at his ear drawing most of his attention. "No, I'm sorry, I—" He pauses as if listening, but rolls his eyes as he does. Finally he says, "Look! My telepathy doesn't work on dogs. I'm sure there's someone out there that can help you figure out what your… Momo, yeah, what's wrong with him. But it's not me."
"I think it's in the handbook that we can't be comfortable on company time," Harry remarks back to Kev from the passenger seat. Her long brown hair is pulled into two braids that she's winding against the top of her head to attempt to get them off her shoulders. Pinning them there, she looks longingly at the trees lining the street, willing a breeze to pass through the palm tree's fronds. "And who knows, air conditioning may be straw the broke the remarkably expensive and technologically advanced camel's back."
Pacing back and forth outside the Urth entrance, Simon is on the phone as well, shaking his head. Because whoever's on the other end of the line will see that. "No, I understand it's two hours earlier, but I won't be there. I had to shuffle my schedule around once already—" A pause, listening, and glancing back inside to regard the increasingly lukewarm chicken plate at his table. "Yes, I appreciate the offer, but no, stick with the original appointment. Thank you. No, I'll call you if anything changes."
Kev narrows his eyes in general displeasure at Harry's concept and attempts to distract himself from both the traffic and the weather by fiddling with the radio below the official dispatch center. It blares rap music. "Whoa buddy!" he argues it. Turning it down, he turns the dial until Van Morrison plays. He squints at that skeptically, too, but seems to decide that it'll do. "You know, what I think is," he sets in with a conversational tone but vaguely annoyed-at-the-world tone, "we should hire one of those people who— you know, what's it called? They go wherever they want with like a snap of their fingers." Snap! He snaps his own fingers an instant later, pointing at Harry as it comes to him: "Teleporters! Shit, man. That's what this city needs."
As if refuting needing any such intervention, the city's traffic lurches along Melrose through the most mysterious mechanisms: traffic's moving again, if only slowly.
The woman in the convertible up ahead won't shut up. "We're going to be late to Hannah's party, she's never going to let me live it down after last time." A glare aims at her driver boyfriend to direct proper blame. There doesn't actually appear to be anything he can do about it, not in the eyes of logic, and so, as he eases the car along, he simmers quietly having the longest ride of— at least— the week. "I'm going to text her," the woman goes on, "to tell her we're going to be late because of your stupid— " The car ahead of them pulls away to park, and seeing some sliver of opportunity, the driver boyfriend speeds up to take its place. Nice and fast. Maybe then she'll shut up. At least he's trying.
What he doesn't account for is the pink t-shirt wearing guy jogging away from Urth who sees an opportunity of his own to jaywalk right across Melrose. The convertible swerves — there's a screeching moment of chaos in every direction. The running, now spooked, jaywalker finds himself in the path of the tour bus, until that, too, swerves — the people sitting on top, sight-seeing the star hotspots, sway and scream. The convertible can't stop itself from slamming into the rear wheel of it and, dangerously off-balance already, the bus — still on the move — looks like it's about to go down right onto traffic.
Ethan looks up again as he's starting to listen again, only to see the chaos happening on the road. Quickly he hangs up, getting ready to dial 9-1-1, he watches with wide eyes. Absently he tosses his comic bag into the window of a nearby parked car.
"The company teleporter?" Harry laughs at the idea, waving a hand in front of her face now that her hair is taken care of. "I'm all for the idea, though I'm not sure how the poor teleporter would feel about being what amounts to our chauffeur." She grins at Kevin. The joking, however, stops quite abruptly when the convertible in front of them swerves and sets off a chain of events. The screaming and screeching of metal immediately grabs her attention. "Kev!" She scrambles for the car radio to call in the accident. He's more equipped to go help pull people from wrecked cars.
"Yes, I know your number, I called it this morn—" Simon stops in mid-pace; his back is turned toward the street, but he knows what tires being pushed to their limit sounds like. "I'm gonna have to call you back." Without waiting for a response, he hangs up, looks around - good, someone else has got 911 covered already - and focuses his attention on the vehicles instead. The chicken parmesan will have to wait a bit longer.
Emerging from his bored and perturbed state to crack an amused smile at Harry, Kev is immediately propelled by her shout and the screeching and screaming that break into his perception in the same second. He scoots himself ahead in his seat, eyes ahead. Gone is the lazy lean. All systems are ready to go at the sight of trouble. He crunches the brake pedal to a stop, as many vehicles all around are forced to— the thumps of a few harmless collisions of bumpers sound behind them— and, glancing to notice Harry has the radio covered, unbuckles and piles out of the van. He starts to jog and the jog turns into a run.
For one long, volatile moment, the accident hovers on the edge of minor and something worse. The bus wavers. The roof seat tourists clamber to the left side of the bus like passengers on a boat about to go down. O'er she goes—
The female passenger of the convertible is already scrambling out, running blindly into traffic. All the driver sees, as he's half out the door, is the bus coming down on him. Fueled by a roaring scream that would fit in on an amusement park ride, but with a fear meaning something much more real here, the bus crushes the car. People rain into the street from the top of the bus, scrambling, trapped awkwardly, falling; a teenaged girl from the tour group is flung by the momentum straight at Simon.
Ethan winces and puts a hand to his head as the bus crashes over, but with his other hand finishes dialling 9-1-1 and says into the phone, "There's been a major accident on Melrose Avenue, between Santa Monica and San Vincente. An open-topped tourbus toppled over onto traffic. Multiple casualties." With things reported, he stays on the line but quickly runs forward, into the mess, to try to help anyway.
Much like Kev, Harry's joking manner is switched off at the disaster unfolding in front of her. As the detective smashes down on the brakes, she braces herself against the dashboard as she calls over the system, "We have a 902-Tom in need of 901-Nora at Santa Monica Boulevard. Repeat 902-Tom in need of 901-Nora." Clicking off the broadcast button, she waits until she hears an affirmative response before relaying to the dispatcher that she and Detective Parrish are on the scene and helping. Then, she quickly puts the radio back and climbs out of the car, running to catch up with Kev. He's got a lead on her - even without his ability - and so it may be a little bit before she reaches him, and therefore the crash.
Okay, think. How do you roll to minimize injury - with a flustered partner - across hard and not-quite-even ground? Simon does the best he can in that split second, ending up with some scrapes and bruises but nothing actually broken; meanwhile, the girl just slumps to the ground, still in too much shock to do much else. As soon as the bus stops moving, he runs up and presses his face to the side of it, once, twice— is he looking through the windows? "There! There's a man trapped down there!" he shouts, looking to Ethan and pointing to one spot before getting down on hands and knees to scout out another.
There's more than one of them, upon assessment; the people inside the bus have all fallen to the side that fell atop the car. There's a dozen, at least, some injured, all trapped like sardines …
The quiet moans underneath the bus itself are easily to miss. A decorative green curtain that had been attached to the rail atop the bus hides what became of the driver of the car; it moves, every so often, amidst the chaos.
A cluster of girls — children, all, every one of them crying — land on their knees on the pavement at the front of the bus and wind up in Ethan's path. One them grapples onto his pants leg and points desperately back at the bus, but can't get her little words out.
Kev halts before blindly rushing into the fray — barely. On the outskirts of the wreckage, the ACRU detective shoves his sunglasses up into his mess of dark hair and assesses the scene as the colliding metal settles; the bus bounces once atop the car as its passengers clamber.
"I'm police. I'm police!" shouts Kev from the rear end — not exactly booming, but gruff and demanding of attention all the same; he has little to say after that. He breathes heavily after the emergency-fuelled run, blinks away sweat. He looks less like an officer of the law and more like a disheveled car salesman — the wear of the day and the heat have wrinkled his white, short-sleeved button-up. He mumbles a curse under his breath before his rush picks up. "Help's on the way ma'am," he says as he passes an alarmed woman picking herself up off the pavement. He comes up alongside Simon and immediately tries to scale the bus to get at its door which, naturally, is jammed. "Can you get up here and look inside for me, man," he shouts to Simon in the same gruff voice as he hauls on the thing, shaking it to no avail. "Whaddaya see!"
Ethan almost rushes to help Simon, but when the kids land in his path he stops and crouches down. He looks to the one trying to tell him something, and says, "Don't worry, we'll do everything we can to get your daddy out fine." And he checks the girls out quickly to see if any have serious immediate-attention injuries.
Dashing, Harry reminds herself that she really should run more often. Weaving between stopped cars and gawkers, she calls out as she goes by, "Pardon me, pardon, pardon, LAPD, excuse me!" Finally, she manages to make it to the outer perimeter of the scene. Seeing chaos and stunned people, she immediately starts to direct those who are mobile but stunned out of the area in an attempt to clear the scene. Making sure everyone has companions to keep an eye on them should their injuries turn out to be a concussion, she moves forward to seek out Kev. On her way, she stumbles upon Ethan and the sobbing girls.
Assuming that Ethan is a part of the family, Harry quickly asks, "Are your sisters okay?" She targets the closest girl and asks, "Are you okay, honey? Where are your parents?" She glances up at Ethan again at the question, hoping he'll answer.
Simon turns, looking to Kev and then Harry. Oh, hey, good idea to announce your relevant credentials at a time like this; he's accustomed to it being obvious from what he's wearing. "I'm a doctor!" he calls out to no one in particular: the right kind of doctor, even! And then it's back to Kev's question. Never mind the door, he just squints at the side again for a moment. "Go around to the other side, there's a group all jammed together over there. Just a couple over here, but they're hurt worse." If he can just get through the cramped quarters and the broken glass…
Scraped and bruised knees and elbows and a bewilderment are all the little girls have sustained. They all blink tearfully and half-comprehending at Ethan as he assures them. The smallest, whose thoughts implored him, stares with the most hopeful eyes that then turn to Harry as she points at the bus. Smoke has started to curl up from the pile of vehicles.
Kev, having clambered all the way onto the overturned side of the bus, crouches. Inside, the driver has fallen unconscious; his weighty shape bears down on the mechanism he normally uses to open and shut the door. Even after Simon's instructed him toward those hurt the most, he doesn't immediately abandon his effort. His assault on the door keeps his blood pumping and his frustrations rise until, after he's aggravated enough to punch the glass, he grabs the handle. The door comes off with it, and he tosses the lightweight barrier onto the ground.
At least the way is freed for people to climb through it and out of the way; Kev clambers along the length of the side to the rear, where he works at opening windows one after another. Grabbing the hand of a woman bleeding more than is safe for her head, he hauls her down to the doctor.
Chaos has erupted despite the well-meaning efforts all around; screaming, crying, honking traffic, everything screams emergency, help. A moan, beneath it all, is literal… "He…. help… help me…" The dull call is desperate but almost void of life. The green curtain on the ground is tugged and clasped. The man's face is revealed as the driver of the convertible, looking up at the sky. The bus, and the car door, are on top of him.
Ethan looks up to Harry and shakes his head to the sisters question, "I'm just here to help. They're fine, but their father is still trapped in the bus." He almost moves to check the next injured person, but waits to see what Harry says. He frowns, glancing around as he catches the sound of the moan, but in the chaos he seems to have trouble pinpointing it.
With all the screaming and crying, Harry certainly doesn't hear the soft moan of the man trapped beneath the bus. Instead, she's preoccupied with the children and Ethan. He seems fine as well, and hopefully they can all manage to get this chaos organized. "Ah," she says at the revelation he's not related to any of them. When he moves on to the next injured person, she nods and looks around. "Alright, why don't we all stick together. Hm?" she gives a reassuring smile to the crying children. "There's a police officer is in there right now. I'm sure he's saving your dad. I'm with the police, too." Keeping her voice calm, she glances around and stands up again.
Simon twists onto his side, wincing as he hears the guy in the convertible at last— but he's too far away, already halfway through the other cramped area by that point. "Someone's coming!" he yells - hoping he's right - then, bracing himself, pulls himself along another little stretch. He reaches out to the guy in front of him, motioning for him to grab his hand so they can work on getting back out.
One such man helped out of the bus by Simon calls out the names of his children; girls. They break away from Ethan and Harry and run toward the crash.
Kev is hurried, not helping anyone who doesn't look on first glance like they're in dire need. "Doc!" he shouts, not looking back to spy where Simon has gotten to. "I ain't an expert but, I dont think this dude in the back here should move, his leg looks pretty screwed up! I'm not touchin' him!" He squeezes through the tight space of a window and hops to the ground. Hurrying in a slightly uncertain manner in the general direction Simon shouted in — somebody's coming to who… — he scrubs a hand over his face, and spies— the man on the ground, trapped. Kev's eyes pop slightly; since he can only see the guy shoulders-up, it means nothing good. "Uuh, hey, you, Parker!" he calls to Harry. "How are you with live people— "
"D-Dennis?" A woman's voice, made frail by trauma, inches into the fray. The passenger. She clutches nervously at her blonde hair as she practically tiptoes back to the scene she ran from, peeking around the front of the overturned bus. "O-oh God— " Her high heels step in something wet dribbling out of one of the vehicles. Shaking, her whole body starts to shimmer, rippling with heat that spreads out to mingle with the already warmed air. She's special. She has an ability, and it she's triggered it just in time to heat up something else.
A blaze of fire springs up under her feet, tearing with voracious suddenness toward both vehicles.
Ethan's eyes pop open wide as he sees the fire moving so fast towards the vehicles… and then looks to the kids. "Oh, man," and he runs towards them, trying to get them away from the bus before the fire comes, even if it means he'll be too close himself.
Hearing her name, Harriet glances one way and then the other to find where Kev is. "What do you—" She trails off as she sees the woman starting to glow. Oh. That's…that's not good. "Everybody back," she bellows as she pulls at everyone. "Kevin, fire, get out of there!" Pulling at those around her, she attempts to get everyone away from what will soon be a very explosive part of the sidewalk.
"Fire?" Simon whirls around, looking for— oh. Very extremely not good. Another quick look around, this time to seek the clearest path out of the upcoming blast radius, and then he takes off. "This way!" he shouts to the people nearby, some of whom are still fighting to get their bearings from the crash. "Somebody call the fire department!" And somebody look for a hydrant, he thinks to himself, but that's a more dubious proposition without the right tools.
The girls have tunnel vision, running toward the figure of their father. They barely stop in time when a wall of flames appears right in front of them, but thanks to Ethan, they scramble back in time. Their dad manages to avoid the fiery fate, too — he appears around the fire to collapse to one knee in front of them and the young man.
Others are not so lucky.
The fire is eager to eat up the car and lap at the bus; finding incendiary fluid, it blazes the sight-seeing vehicle further, barricading those left inside.
It all blazes in Kev's eyes — they widen, dilating — and he looks primed to run toward the unstable crash than get back, as Harry's yell wisely commands. It's only as a freed accident victim has the same thought and rushes toward the burning mess, bumping Kev's shoulder, that he redirects; he grabs the well-meaning man, spins and shoves him safely away, only to entangle with him when the man rushes again.
A whole cavalcade of sirens are already on their way; their shrill calls blare into the street.
But even they can't save everyone.