M is for More
Many of you asked for it, so here’s a continuation of the scene that began HERE. I hope you still enjoy it!
In the rearview mirror he watched in horror as Cami sprinted unfazed towards the semi-trailers thundering down on them, and the baby blanket.
“CAMI,” Ted hollered while fumbling to free himself from his seat belt. When the strap came loose he started out the door, but the car began rolling forward again. Cursing loudly he reached back to the center console and rammed lever into park, then was out the door running.
The first thing he noticed as he got his bearings was the black skid marks scarring the road for just over a football field in length, leading from where the car had just slid off the shoulder to this side of the squirming white bundle on the road. The stench of burnt rubber hung heavy in the air despite the stiff breeze blowing from the north. Cami had already covered half the distance to the blanket, running in her bare feet, paying no attention to the rapidly approaching semi-trailers.
Ted’s heart was pounding furiously in his chest and he swore it skipped a beat when he heard a chilling sound. It was faint at first, so much so that he almost attributed to a trick of the wind, but then he heard it more clearly. It was the unmistakably wailing of a baby. This couldn’t be happening. Who would leave a baby in the road out here in the middle of no man’s land? He urged his travel weary legs to move faster.
Although his wife was sprinting like he’d never seen, Ted was still making up the ground fast. The semi’s, a pair of them running side by side like some twisted heavy weight drag race, were closer than he first thought and were giving no indication of slowing down. Cami had to be difficult to spot in her black t-shirt and blue jeans against the dark pavement, but she making no attempt to flag them down. She was entirely focused on reaching the baby. Their car had been doing 80 miles an hour when he hit the brakes and it took them almost 400 feet to stop, the trucks were probably doing close to that same speed and with their size and mass it would take them considerably longer. A couple more seconds and they’d be unable to stop in time.
Ted tore off his yellow beach shirt, ripping out the red buttons in the process and sending them flying left and right, and then began frantically waving it over his head as he ran. He heard himself screaming “STOP” at the top of his lungs, despite the utter futility of it. With every passing second his anxiety clawed its way from his gut into his throat and the more animated his waving became. See me! See me! Please dear god let them SEE ME!
His efforts were rewarded by a plume of white smoke billowing from the back of the Semi on the left, followed quickly by the other. When he heard the almost rhythmic sound of tandem tires fighting for traction against a concrete surface, he allowed the wind take his shirt and set his sights on Cami. It was still going to be extremely close.
Ted was now only twenty yards from Cami and with one eye on her and the other on the quickly approaching semi’s he could see that the truck on the left with a red cab must have been pulling an empty trailer because it was having no problem stopping short, but the one on the right was a different story. It had a solid white cab and just as it skidded past the other truck its trailer began to jack-knife ominously across the road. Ted reached Cami just as she was picking up the baby and using strength he didn’t know he possessed, scooped her up in one fluid motion and lunged out of the path of the careening trailer.
Landing just off the edge of the shoulder with Cami still in his arms, he spun around in time to see the white semi-trailer finally come to rest midway between them and where their car sat in the medium. Ted gently set Cami down and took a few steps towards the white cab, staring in disbelief. Imprinted on the side of the trailer was giant baby face with the words Gerber Foods underneath.
He turned back to his wife, who was standing there with her eyes shut and the blanket clutched tightly to her chest. The bundle in her arms was now oddly still, and silent. When she opened her eyes and met his, the emotion of what had just transpired silently passed between them. He wasn’t sure if he should laugh or cry, but the hyper-reality of the situation prevented him from doing either.
Both of their attentions turned to the blanket. Using a special kind of tenderness, Cami pulled on the corners and pealed the bundle open. When the last layer fell away she appeared confused, and then her expression froze completely. Ted could tell that something was definitely wrong.
The edges of the blanket obscured whatever she was seeing from him, so he took a step closer. Cradled in her arms, unclothed, with a cell phone taped to its chest with a single piece of black electrical tape, was a very life-like plastic doll.
Oops…left you hanging -- again. Never fear, I’ll post a third and final piece on “T” day. Have I ever mentioned that the original title of my very first novel was SLOW DANCER? You’ll find out the title for this piece on April 23rd. Also, were you aware I was holding a contest during the A-Z Challenge? You can read all about it HERE.