Danny Fairbanks had a hard time not taking her hands off the steering wheel at the pounding in her head. She instantly began to try and turn down the radio, thinking it was her speakers blaring for some reason. Nothing helped, and soon her car was sputtering and jerking as she tried to drive it down the street.
She tried to down shift, and while the car continued to roll, all of her dashboard readings dropped to zero, and the car finally died. The steering wheel locked up and the car soon rolled to a jerky halt against the curb. She closed her eyes pushing her fingers in her ears as her head pounded.
Plugging her ears did not help her more than it did anyone else. She pushed open the driver’s door and staggered onto the sidewalk. Looking for a source of the noise she saw Dwayne up ahead standing almost a block away in his front yard. He stood holding his ears as well, eyes wide and motionless in the dead yellow brown grass.
She jogged up the street, a little worried about her car stranded in the road, “Where’s the demolition squad?” she screamed but couldn’t even hear herself. She ran up to Dwayne who obviously did not hear her either. She approached him waving one arm yet he still failed to seem to notice she was there. She hit him half playfully on the side of his shoulder, quickly returning her hand to her ear.
She wanted to shout to him about jumper cables and getting her car out of the road. He briefly looked at her then turned forward, his lips silently moving. She could not make it out but instead she followed his gaze to the East.
Her eyes, like Dwayn’s, widened and her mouth went slack. Despite the pounding all around them her arms went limp to her sides as they stared at the rising gray and red mushrooming cloud.
‘Why is everything so very bright?’ was her last coherent thought.
The vibrations began to dull and the same cloud his mother and girlfriend were also watching rose into the sky. Dwayne did not scream. He saw no reason for screaming or yelling or cursing; but instead lowered his hands and grabbed Miss Fairbanks tugging on her hand to follow him into the house. There were things he needed to get done inside, including getting his mother on the phone. He didn’t try to speak, his head still hurt and his ears ringed. He doubted either of them could hear much of anything yet.
She did not move as he pulled on her hand as he walked towards the door. He let go and ran to the front door. When he turned he saw his tug on her hand had pulled Danny over onto her side in the yard. She was not moving.
He looked back up the street towards the East. His gut was tight, and other people were standing in their yards, other people were running down the sidewalk away from the direction of the explosion. He ran across the yard, moving fast now. He grabbed Danny by both wrists, and none too gently, dragged her across the yard.
One of her sneakers pulled free from her foot as he strained and pulled her up the steps through the front door.