A jumbled, scratchy voice makes an unintelligible noise and Stick Chick’s two-way radio is silent again. Even so, her gut says it is the final warning. Never one to cringe in a crisis, she reacts, bolting toward the door leading to the hallway. Her instinct is to escape the building as quickly as possible and alone, but she must meet Adam in the parking garage as planned.
No deviations from the plan. It is the difference between life and death. The four had agreed; a safe exit requires all of them.
Stick Chick reaches for the doorknob and hears the first explosion in the complex. Her legs feel like thick leaden weights and she struggles, running full-bore, though her mind warps time and her perception is of slow motion. Gathering all of the speed she can muster, she sprints to the hallway’s end, throwing her full body weight against the crash bar to the outside.
The moment she crosses the threshold into the bleached air, she catches a rancid, rotten egg, sulfuric whiff coming from the east. She turns westward, heading towards the rendezvous point. A deserted access road separates the complex from the garage. Another day she would have wondered where everyone had gone.
She becomes aware of extraordinarily fast movement in her peripheral vision coming toward her from the north. Thrilled that it is Margareth Anna, she cannot waste precious moments to acknowledge her elation. Instead, they extend an arm, each to the other, and run in unison, matching strides. Just as they arrive at the garage entrance, another explosion roars in the complex behind them, shattering what remains of the glass and sending a twisted mass of furnishings, bricks, and metal upward into a fireball and in every direction showering them with debris. They escape by forcing themselves through the revolving doors, already spinning and beckoning long-forgotten commuters into the abandoned concrete monster.
If they can meet Adam inside, there is a chance to escape through the tunnel.