“You sure you should be on the phone like this?”
“Traffic’s at a standstill, hon. I have the car in park as it is. Once we start moving again, I’ll let you know and hang up,” Victoria gave a quick glance to the sleeping toddler in the back seat, hoping he’d stay that way a little longer. A long line of traffic stretched out towards the horizon. The mountains above them were a faint blue against the dark clouds that were gathering.
“I just want to make sure you’re safe,” Shannon said. “Both of you.”
A police car rushed by the backed up traffic on the shoulder, lights flashing. “Must be serious,” Victoria muttered.
“What’s going on?” Shannon asked. “Is everything all right?”
“That’s the third cop that’s gone by in the last half hour,” Victoria said. “No ambulance, though.” She leaned out the window of the car and stared into the distance. The clouds were building up now, faster than she would have thought possible. It looked like midnight over Bear Creek Pass, even though it was barely noon.
People were getting out of their cars. Milling about in the safe spaces between them. An older man fanned himself with his hat, and a few kids up the road were sitting on the hood of their car passing a joint. Victoria frowned at the smell and rolled up her window.
A loud boom filled the air, making the ground shake. Some rocks skittered down the side of the mountain.
“That’s some serious fucking thunder,” Victoria said quietly.
“Aaron’s asleep, I take it?” Shannon’s voice was equal parts amusement and annoyance. Aaron was at that stage where he repeated everything he heard, and Shannon had an easier time adjusting to the “no swearing” rule than Victoria did.
“He won’t be once that storm hits,” Victoria said. “I just wish I knew what the hold up was. We’ve been sitting here for an hour.”
There was another boom, louder this time. The car rocked a little from the impact. A loud squeal came from the phone. Victoria winced and checked her connection. The call had dropped. Behind her, Aaron shifted in his seat a little.
“Goddammit kid, just stay asleep a little longer, please,” Victoria whispered.
“Dmmit,” Aaron muttered in his sleep.
The phone dinged as a text came in from Shannon, “News says big storm in the mountains. Stay safe. Love you.”
Victoria smiled and was about to respond when the mountain in front of her crumbled. Heavy rocks slid to the ground like water, and a giant cloud of thick brown dust filled the air in front of the car. She watched it rush towards them and instinctively reached back for Aaron. Her fingers brushed against the straps of his car seat as the car rocked in the sudden impact of the landslide. She closed her eyes as another boom echoed around them.
When she opened her eyes, Aaron had wrapped his chubby hand around two of her fingers. He was smiling and looking up at her. Around them, the dirt filled the air. Victoria thought about the old man and kids, then shook her head. The only kid she needed to concern herself with was the one giggling in the back seat.
There was another boom and the car jumped. That one rattled the fillings in her teeth. She could just make people out in the dust, running past the car with shirts pulled up over their faces. In the distance, the pop of police gunfire echoed over the screams of people pushing past the car.
The next boom decided it. Victoria scrambled in between the seats in to the back seat of the car and began to unbuckle Aaron. Whatever the hell was going on, she couldn’t just wait in this car for it to happen.
“C’mon you fucking thing,” she said as one of the straps refused to move. She looked down at her son and forced a smile. “Don’t repeat that around Shannon, okay?”
Aaron stared out of the windshield behind her, as a giant foot smashed down through the car in front of them. He clapped his hands to his ears as a roar shook the air around them. Victoria hugged her son to her. She closed her eyes, praying that it wouldn’t notice the two of them stuck in this tiny plastic shell.
There was another roar, and then a boom as it moved on past the vehicle. Victoria forced herself to stare after it. Her brain could barely process the size of the thing. Bits of rock dropped down off its body, leftover from the mountain where it had been sleeping. Each leg had two thick and scaly feet, with small claws on the front. Pieces of moss and lichen hung from branches that had become embedded in the skin.
Her eyes followed the body up into the air. The top part of it was hidden in the clouds above. Glowing eyes pierced the darkness. It stepped forward confidently and bellowed again. A long, whip-like tail lashed through the air above them. She squinted and saw a series of plates running along its back. Victoria pressed Aaron against her chest, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Hours later, when they left the car, a thick layer of dust coated everything. Flattened and overturned cars stretched in both directions along the highway. Her phone hadn’t worked since the creature escaped the mountain. With no idea where to go, she started walking, carrying her heavy child in her arms. They stumbled after the monster, following its wake to the nearest town.
Behind her, the other mountains waited for their turn to break.
©2015 Chris Page. All rights reserved.