unnamed story (Part 12)
It was dark and the conversations were getting harder to come by between Denise and Abby. They had agreed to drive until Pittsburgh and then find someone to sleep.
The idea of pulling into a major city and sleeping anywhere they wanted had a certain appeal to both of them. Being unfamiliar with Pittsburgh they didn’t know what the fanciest hotel was but you can be sure they’d find it and take the penthouse suite.
After an hour of silence Abby finally spoke up.
“Do you think that, maybe … Clay is God?”
To go from silence to that question made Denise produce a sound somewhere between a laugh and a snort.
“No. I don’t think Clay is God.”
“Think about it though” Abby said in a tone that made it clear that had been thinking about it. “Everyone disappears except for Clay and his wife and two of his ex girlfriends. Doesn’t it seem like we’re being called home … on some level?”
“No” said Denise in a tone that made it clear that the idea of Clay being God was right up there with helping elephants escape from zoos.
“So how do you explain it?”
“I can’t. None of it makes sense. I keep thinking that I’ll wake up in my own bed and this whole day will have been some dumb dream.”
Abby was just getting warmed up. “Well, it’s our job to figure it out now. Everything happens for a reason.”
It’s at this point that both of them realized that the everything that was happening was Pittsburgh was glowing. The reason? It was on fire.
I don’t mean to overstate it, the entire thing wasn’t burning, but a couple significantly large buildings were alight and they seemed to be encouraging the structures around them to join in the fun.
Abby slowed the car on the bridge leading into the city and turned to Denise with a questioning expression. Sort of how a dog looks at you when he’s not sure whether it’s dinner time or not.
Denise looked back at her with the expression a bird usually makes before it shits on your car.
Finally she dropped her (blank) bird face and said “I don’t think sleeping in a burning city is a great idea. Of course, I could call Clay and see if he can use his mystical powers to put it out for us.”
She immediately regretted saying it and wondered to herself why she enjoyed being such a dick to Abby. Maybe it was the vegan thing.
Abby was fascinated with the scene in front of her. Knowing there was nobody at risk she felt a sort of rush at seeing a large building going up in flames. That was until there was an explosion somewhere out of sight that they both felt more than heard.
A dull thud somewhere in the city, behind the burning building. Suddenly a new plume of black smoke started to make happy little clouds as if Bob Ross had been put in charge of redecorating hell. A charming charcoal backdrop to the growing orange and red highlights.
On cue Abby asked “Do you believe in God?”
“God God or Clay God?”
“Either or. Something bigger. Timeless.”
It was the perfect time for Denise to make amends and pretend to mull the question over. The truth is that she’s a hard atheist but given the fact that she was sitting on bridge watching a vacant Pittsburgh burn it might be time for her to revaluate things anyway.
So she did.
“Nope. We die and turn to dust and nothing we do in this life makes any difference.”
“What about this life?” Abby asked with a heavy emphasis on the word this. She looked around to emphasize her point.
“You know what we need to do? Find a roadside hotel and see if we can sleep this off. If, Clay forbid, we wake up and we’re still here and things haven’t gone back to normal, we can go shopping.” Denise suggested.
“That sounds good. I’m sure there are a ton of outlet malls between here and Philly.” Abby put the car back in drive and missed all the exits into the city.
“You’ll be ok if we have to do a little breaking and entering?” asked Denise.
“Of course. Who’s going to arrest us? In fact, I taught myself how to hot wire cars so if we find a particularly fortified store I can just drive a car into the front of it.”
“Seemed to work alright at the zoo” said Denise with a wink.