Chapter 1 : Quake
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It was early Monday morning and Robert Schillings sat in his car on the way to work. His commute had been normal thus far. The traffic had been moving quite nicely for the majority of it and it had put him in a good mood. As he drove, he hummed along with the songs playing on the radio.
Everything seemed fine as he drove up the incline at the beginning of the Brockdale Bridge, but in an instant, flashing red brake lights indicated a traffic jam ahead and Robert huffed in annoyance. He had been a bit ahead of schedule, but now it looked as if he might be late after all. His boss certainly wouldn’t be happy about it.
“Third time this week,” he muttered to himself. “Wish they’d get this damned bridge fixed.”
Leaning his head out of the window, Robert tried to get a glimpse of what was causing the slow down this time, but he couldn’t see anything aside from the line of cars in front of him.
“Oh, well,” he sighed to himself as he cranked up the music on his stereo. The sounds of a guitar crying ricocheted from his speakers and he swayed to the rhythm. At least if he were going to be stuck in traffic, he’d enjoy himself.
Just as the song was hitting its crescendo, a massive tremor shook the entire bridge. Several of the joints in the bridge groaned loudly.
Quickly, Robert turned off the music and looked around. The people in the cars next to him looked as panicked as he felt. Rolling down his window, he called to the lady just to the right of him, “Was that an earthquake?”
“Could be,” she shouted in return.
Another jolt moved the bridge again. Robert looked up and noticed that the suspension cables that held the bridge in place were twisting and warping. A sudden fear overtook him. If those cables snapped, all of them would end up in the frigid water hundreds of feet below them. He doubted that anyone could survive the fall.
It seemed that the same thought had occurred to the other drivers. Horns were honking loudly and people were shouting out of their windows at the cars in front of them. A few people even tried to drive up over the curb and through the narrow bicycle lane, but were forced to stop within a few feet. Everyone wanted to get off of the bridge as quickly as possible.
The third tremor caused three of the cables to snap. The bridge listed dangerously to the right causing several of the cars closest to the edge to skid sideways. Full-fledged panic was taking over the masses. The shouting became more frantic as people tried desperately to find a way to escape.
Just when Robert thought things couldn’t get any more terrifying, he saw something that defied logic. A few feet in front of him was a woman. She had curly black hair that flew up around her in a frenzy and her eyes glistened with manic hatred. Under normal circumstance, he might’ve written her off as a crazy person, except at the moment she was floating about seven feet above the ground.
Robert rubbed at his eyes, thinking that perhaps fear was making him hallucinate, but the woman did not disappear. He searched for rope that might be holding her up, but found nothing. Somehow she was truly levitating.
The woman raised her left hand as if she were a maestro conducting the orchestra. Her arms slashed forward in a series of complicated movements and bright flashes of light shot from the stick in her outstretched hand. In the same instant, the bridge began to thrash from side to side.
The joints within the bridge creaked as more and more cables snapped. Every time the woman slashed her arm through the air, another one broke. Soon people were climbing out of their cars and attempting to escape on foot.
Robert stayed inside of his car. He was frozen with fear and something deep inside told him there was no escaping. In the rear view mirror, he could see the terrified citizens running towards freedom. They were just getting to the edge of the bridge, when they seemed to slam into an invisible wall one by one. Every time one of them connected with it, sparks shot off and the person was thrust backwards several feet. A few of them even slammed into the cars parked along the bridge.
To his horror, all of the people that had tried to flee were lifted several feet above the ground. Their unconscious corpses floated eerily through the air towards the woman. Soon they were all around her, partially blocking her from Robert’s view.
A loud, shrieking voice ripped through the air.
“Mudblood filth. I wouldn’t wipe my shoe with scum like you. Avada Kedavra.”
Body after body fell from the sky with a sickening thump. Robert cringed every time one of them connected with the pavement. Deep in his gut, he knew they were dead as soon as they started to fall, but logic did nothing to make it less horrific.
The crazy woman lifted her wand once more high above her head and Robert knew that this was the end. She was preparing for her finale. Her wand flashed bright blue sparks as she brought it sweeping down in front of her body.
Life slowed down to a crawl for Robert. The final few unbroken suspension cables snapped, but it looked for just a moment like the joints might manage to hold the bridge. With one loud cracking sound, the bridge began to break into pieces. It took several seconds for him to realize that he was falling.
As the bridge and all of the cars on it descended toward the river, Robert heard the madwoman cackling with glee. Had he not been about to die, he might’ve said it was the stuff of nightmares, but before he could give it much thought, his car slammed into the freezing water.
Air bags exploded from the steering wheel and passenger console, slamming into Robert’s face. He felt his nose shatter from the force of it. The bitterly cold water began pouring into the car as he fought to remain conscious. He grasped blindly at his seatbelt trying to wrench it free, but it was jammed in place by the crushed door.
Flashing lights up on the remainder of the bridge drew Robert’s attention.
“Oh good, the authorities,” he murmured as darkness overtook him.
This story was written for The Muggle challenge where we were to write about a muggle witnessing magic for the first time. The character that I was assigned was Bellatrix Lestrange. For some reason, as I started writing about her, my mind kept wandering to the Brockdale Bridge collapse and eventually this little story came of it.
Thank you as always for stopping by to read and if you have a moment, I’d really appreciate any feedback you may have.
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