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Morning Rush by Richard Dickson
SUMMARY: Entry for the September 2009 Flash Fiction Contest
"It's the bottom of the hour, time to check traffic with Commander Dave in the WSPH Eye in the Sky chopper! Dave, what we got going on?"
"Mitch, the battle with Giganticus is intensifying over by the Ridgeway Overpass, so you may want to take the 512 instead if you're headed to the airport. Crews are in the late stages of cleaning up after Superior's fight with Ultimatum on Interstate 10 near mile marker 89, so expect a tap of the breaks there. And members of DELUGE still have traffic blocked in both directions between the downtown and Highland exits as they duke it out with the Role Models –"
"Dammit," Jeff muttered, flipping the radio to some innocuous pop station. Already the cars were slowing down in front of him as he neared the heart of the city. In the hazy distance of his rear view mirror, he could see Giganticus swatting at some tiny flitting speck, most likely an army or news helicopter. Good thing he'd checked traffic before he left the house, or he'd probably be back there stuck in the middle of the giant dinosaur's latest rampage. The forecasters had predicted only three this year, but this was the fifth of the season already.
Jeff fumbled in his coat pocket for his cell phone. Best to call work now while he still wasn't technically late. A familiar nasal voice answered. "Dunham and Beckett, how can I help you?"
"Janice, it's Jeff."
"Good morning!" Janice replied cheerfully. "Please tell me you're not stuck in that Giganticus mess?"
"No, whole different mess over here. DELUGE fighting the Role Models again."
Janice tsked sympathetically. "They really should do something about those awful men."
"I'm sure they're trying. Look Janice, I'm going to be a while, so –"
"I've already cancelled your 10:00 with Chuck Peterson; his flight's been delayed due to some sort of inter-dimensional rift."
"Janice, you're the best. I'll be there as soon as I can."
"Take your time; they're holding the morning status meeting until you get here. Just be careful."
"I will." He ended the call and noticed a police officer walking down the row of cars, stopping to speak to each driver. Those he'd already talked to were getting out of their cars. Never a good sign.
He rolled the window down as the officer approached. "Morning, officer."
"We're advising everyone to leave their vehicles and continue on on foot," said dully. "Is your tag current?"
"OK, the Role Models have agreed to return all vehicles to their owners' homes once the crisis has passed."
"Any idea how long?"
"The Home Guard of Nega-Earth and Slipstream just showed up. Looks like it might be a crossover, so who knows?" He moved on the next car.
Jeff gathered his brief case and overcoat, shut off the engine and got out. What should have been a crisp fall morning was instead cut with hot wind from the fires raging around Giganticus, who now seemed to be backing down in the face of a squadron of fighter jets. Most likely scrambled from Kirby, Jeff thought, that's where Taskforce G was based.