By ANDREW FLYNN, Storyteller
The green-hued metallic road sign they just had whizzed by beckoned their viewing.
KANKAKEE TOWNSHIP – 3 MILES
“I think we’re far enough away that we can stop to stretch our legs at least,” Levi said while pointing up at the road interchange ahead.
“You think that’s a good idea at all?” Stephanie wondered.
“Look, if it would have gotten us, we’d already be feeling it in some respect. Besides, I’ve got to change these pants, and from the smell of it, you do too.”
She glared at her brother with a dagger in her eye.
“Oh, so what was I not supposed to react to any of that back there?”
“Oh man, I so don’t even care about it and am not judging you at all. I’m merely stating facts here. Don’t take things so personally, Steph.”
Stephanie breathed in a deep sigh, and choked halfway, resulting in a short spell of gag coughs.
“Yeee-ick, yeah let’s stop already. You know, to stretch our legs…and whatnot.”
Levi looked at his sister without moving his head. His eyes had a sarcastic glaze.
“Mmm-hmmm,” he muttered to himself.
“Well! Sooner the better right?”
“Yes yes, sooner is better.”
Levi glanced at his gas gauge. Almost empty, but the warning light wasn’t on yet. The rental car could possibly get them farther than the upcoming town.
After pulling into the nearest Sinclair gas station, Levi did his triple-stop. He tapped on the brakes three times as a force of habit, one that he picked up when learning to drive. Tap…tap…tap. This annoyed Stephanie to her wit’s end, probably a reason she wouldn’t purposely drive with her brother.
Rising out of the passenger’s side of the car, Stephanie wiped the day off of her face in a cartoonish fashion. Much like how Curly from The Three Stooges would after Moe zinged him. Levi exited the car the same way, but took his forearm to wipe his forehead like a normal human being.
“You think anyone is still around?” asked Stephanie.
“Hard to say, Sis. But there sure are a lot of abandoned cars on the roads. Yeesh, you think people would drive the heck out of here when they heard the news,” Levi stated while trailing off into a frozen silence of a familiar sort as he glanced into the gas station-adjacent convenience store.
An old rabbit-eared 19-inch television blared from inside, at its pinnacle volume. It was tuned to CNN, and The Situation Room had its work cut out that day. A bearded newsman stepped into the frame after a smash-cut montage of introductory graphics set in front of somber, yet ominous tones.
“Wolf Blitzer here in New York on one of the most tragic days in American…nay, world history. The Midwestern hub of trade and the heart of American’s homeland, Chicago, Illinois, has been obliterated from the map of these United States.”
Blitzer paused, and removes his trademark glasses, both arms shaking uncontrollably.
Stephanie, now standing right by her brother Levi, grasps his hand in pure horror. He squeezed back.
“I have no idea how we’re going to cover this, but we’re sure going to try.”
Next time, on Afterwards: Earlier that morning. In Chicago.
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