The Cars of Tomorrow
by Rix Roundtree-Harrison
A drizzling rain falls from the gray sky as military helicopters buzz over the city of Washington DC. The helicopters fly in the direction of the billowing smoke that spews from the smoldering remains of the Springfield Mixing Bowl and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
Grounded planes sit on the tarmac of the airport. Thick throngs of stifled traffic have built up on Interstate 95 to the north and south of Washington.
The headline on the front page of the Washington Times newspaper reads, "THE WILSON BRIDGE DESTROYED!" On the front page of the Washington Blade is, "THE SPRINGFIELD MIXING BOWL DESTROYED!" The Washington Post's front page headline reads, "NOXIOUS GAS CLOUD KILLS HUNDREDS! ACCIDENT? TERRORISM? SOVIET ATTACK?"
With concern etched deep in his face, Nick Thime places the Washington Post on his desk where there sits several books on radio controlled aircraft and cars. He walks out of his office and into Powaqa Nightbird's office where she sit at her desk with worry written all over her lovely face. "Nikolas where is Strode? He has been gone all night, and he’s still not here this morning. Why hasn't he called?"
"I don't know Aqa, I don't know. My guess is that with the Wilson Bridge and the Mixing Bowl destroyed that leaves the clogged route #1 and I-66 as the only remaining highways in or out of the DC Metro area, he is probably stuck in Virginia and just can't get back."
That explanation seems to sooth Powaqa for a moment. "Yes, yes, I heard on the radio that the Army National Guard is only allowing essential personnel back into the city until they can figure out what happened." Then a look of horror blankets Powaqa's face, "Or, oh no, no, he was on his way back last night and was one of those killed at the Mixing Bowl." Tears begin to roll down Powaqa's cheeks. Nick takes Powaqa into an embrace.
"Don't think that Aqa, Stroddy is alright, I know it." But the distressed look on his face does not hide the fears he shares with Powaqa Nightbird.
The bell atop the front door jingles and Nick and Powaqa anxiously look up to see if it is Strode who enters the law office. Disappointment covers their faces when they see little Chevy Erle walk in. Then their disappointed looks turn to looks of happiness at the smiling little boy. "Good morning Mr. Thime and Miss Nightbird. How are you this morning?"
"Chevy what are you doing here? Nick asks. “The city is under a code orange alert until it can be determined what caused the highway explosions."
"I know Mr. Thime. Everybody at the hotel is all nervous and scared. Nobody is talking to me. I got bored and thought I'd come watch a movie with you, you've got a gazillion of 'em."
"Chevy the subway may not be safe today. You shouldn’t be running around alone on a day like today. You have probably frightened your mom and dad out of their minds.”
"I don’t have a mother; she died when I was a kid. My pop is busy working on car stuff; he doesn’t know I’m gone. And, I didn't take the subway, it's not working today Mr. Thime, so Ahmed brought me over here."
"Yeah, he's our driver."
The expression on Nick's face turns to one of curiosity. "Oh really? Did this Ahmed pick up your grandfather at the airport when he came to town?"
"Um, I think so Mr. Thime."
A contemplative look blankets Nick’s face. "Chevy, how would you like to see the movie "Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman?"
Chevy's eyes widen like saucers, "COOL! I love the fight they have at the end!"
"Alright, you run out and have Mr. Ahmed step in here for a moment and I'll set up the projector."
Nick steps into the screening room pulls a film canister and places the reel on the projector. When he steps back into Powaqa'a office Chevy is there with a man of Arab decent in a dark suit, standing next to him. The smiling Nick walks up to him hand outstretched, "Mr. Ahmed?"
The smiling man shakes Nick's hand. "Actually sir, it's Mr. Mosaudd, Ahmed Mosaudd."
"Well good morning Mr. Mosaudd, I'm Nikolas Thime, thank you for coming in. Aqa, could you take Chevy into the screening room and get the projector going for him?"
"Sure Nikz,” says the Native American sorceress who turns and smiles at Chevy Erle.
“Come on Chevy." With her hand on his shoulder Powaqa leads Chevy into the screening room. A minute later she steps out alone closing the door behind her. With her pad in hand she joins the seated Nick and Ahmed Mosaudd in Nick's office and asks, "Mr. Mosaudd, could I get you a cup of coffee?"
"No thank you."
"Mr. Mosaudd,” says Nick, “I asked you in here to ask you a couple of questions, if you don't mind."
"How can I help you Mr. Thime?"
"Chevy tells me that you picked up Bentley Erle from the airport on the night of his murder."
"Yes that is correct, Mr. Thime."
"When you picked him up he was not alone, correct?
"Also correct, the young woman, Miss Bascopolous was with him."
"How was their behavior towards each other?"
"As I told the police Mr. Thime, they were having an argument. When they got into the limo they closed the glass partition that separates me from them, I imagine so that they could talk in private."
"So you have no idea what they were arguing about?"
"The police asked me that too. I told them, I'm not sure, but I think it was about a car.”
“Why do you think they argued over a car?”
“Because right before the partition closed I thought I heard the name of a car brand, an Oldsmobile perhaps."
"Are you sure it was an Oldsmobile? Could it have been about a Buick, maybe Buick M-1?"
"I'm not sure, but something they said before the partition was closed led me to believe it was an Olds, but I guess it could have been a Buick, I'm not sure."
“You delivered Mr. Erle and Miss Bascopolous to the convention center correct?”
“Yes, when we arrived at the convention center Mr. Erle got out of the vehicle and Miss Bascopolous remained inside as Mr. Erle had instructed me to deliver Miss Bascopolous to her hotel, which I did.”
The phone on Nick's desk rings and Powaqa answers it. Her face lights up and she shouts out, “STRODE! Oh Strode we've been so worried about you. Where are you? Why didn't you call us?" Powaqa is silent for a moment. "Yes, Nikolas is right here, here he is." Powaqa passes the receiver to Nikolas who also has a relieved look on his face.
"Stroddy, man you had us worried. You had poor Aqa thinking the worse. Where are you? Why didn't you call us?" Nick is silent for a few seconds. "What! You're here in the District, at the FBI? What the hell are you doing there? Melendez? Who is Melendez? Alright, hang tight, I'm on my way."
Alarm now covers Powaqa's face. "Nikolas, what's wrong? Why is Strode at the FBI?"
"I dunno Aqa, I'm on my way to find out. You hold down the fort, I'll be back as soon as I can, and with Stroddy. Aqa, let Chevy continue to watch the movie, Mr. Mosaudd will take him back to his hotel when he is done. Mr. Mosaudd, thank you." The worried lawyer puts on his dark suit jacket and hurriedly leaves the office.
On the cement plaza the starred and striped Old Glory flaps in the rainy breeze. Behind the American flag the large building has "FEDERAL BEREAU OF INVESTIGATION" chiseled in stone above the bank of glass entry doors through which the back of Nikolas Thime is seen entering. Nick walks up to the security desk where two Latino guards have watched him enter. "I'm Nikolas Thime, I'm expected by an Agent Melendez."
The guards looks Nick up and down suspiciously, "Yes, they've been waiting for you; come with me please." The guard leads Nick to an interrogation room and opens the door. Inside the office is Strode seated on a sofa with a cup of coffee. Sitting on the edge of the desk in front of Strode is the dark suited Latino male that had been at the destroyed car dealership in Woodbridge. Behind him large windows that look out onto the bustling avenue below flood the room with morning sunlight the peeks through the dissipating rain clouds. The security guard speaks to the suited male, "Agent Melendez, here is Mr. Thime."
The FBI Agent walks over to Nick Thime with an outstretched hand that Nick Thime shakes. "Good morning Mr. Thime, thank you for joining us."
"What's this all about Agent Melendez?"
"Mr. Thime, I understand that Dr. Strode works for you?"
"No, Dr. Strode works with me; he is my business partner. Why is he here Agent Melendez?"
"Well Mr. Thime, when I was investigating the destroyed car dealership in Woodbridge Virginia where the manager was killed and the automobiles stolen, I happened to notice a truck sitting across the street from the dealership with one occupant inside. I paid it no attention at the time, but then when I was investigating the destroyed truck stop in Quantico, I noticed this same truck across the street. Naturally I became suspicious. I wondered if this gentleman had anything to do with the Woodbridge and Quantico crimes. I had some police officers apprehend Dr. Strode, and I brought him here for questioning."
"I can assure you Agent Melendez that Dr. Strode had nothing to do with the destruction of the car dealership or the truck stop."
"Yes, that's what he tells me. Dr. Strode said that your office is working on a case involving stolen automobiles?"
"Yes that is correct."
"And you feel that there may be a connection between the auto theft case that you are working on and the dealership and truck stop destruction?"
"Well I don't know if there is a connection or not, that is what Dr. Strode and I are trying to determine. We just felt it suspicious that on the night my clients supposedly stole these automobiles, that and hour later, the automobiles at the destroyed dealership were stolen. Then when we heard of the theft of all the trucks at the truck stop we knew then that there was definitely a connection between the Woodbridge and Quantico incidents. Then we also felt even stronger about the possible connection to our case."
The FBI agent gives Nick a quizzical look. "Mr. Thime, Dr. Strode, come with me." Nick and Strode follow the silent FBI Agent out of the office. As they walk down a shiny stark white hallway Strode leans and speaks into Nick's ear. "Nikolas, they brought me back to the District by helicopter. I had never been in a helicopter before, it was exhilarating."
"I'm sure it was Stroddy, hmm, that explains how you got back into the city when the roads are closed and clogged with traffic."
The FBI agent pushes open a set of double doors and they step out of the building to a waiting dark 4-door government sedan.
They get into the vehicle and car speeds off with its lights flashing and siren blaring as it navigates through the thick traffic. After the vehicle passes the Lincoln Memorial it approaches a bridge that the military have blocked the incoming lanes so that none can enter the city and checks the cars of the outbound lanes that are allowed to leave. The military wave the government sedan through.
From a bird's eye view the speeding sedan roars across an empty bridge and head straight for the famous five-sided building that is known to all the world as, the Pentagon.
Inside the Pentagon they approach a dark door which Agent Melendez opens and gestures for the two men to enter. Inside the room is busy as a beehive as phones are ringing and men and women frantically and anxiously walk to and fro with papers in their hands. There are large blackboards with sticky notes attached all over the face of then. There is a large floor to ceiling wall map of the city and surrounding area. The FBI agent leads Nick and Strode over to this map where there stands an Asian-American Army officer.
"General Hoang, this is Dr. Strode and Nikolas Thime."
The General gives Nick and Strode a bored uninterested look before he speaks, "Oh, the lawyer."
Agent Melendez turns to Nick and Strode. "Mr. Thime the case you are working on involves five missing concept cars constructed by GM, correct?"
"Yes, that is correct," says Nick.
"Mr. Thime after the destruction of the Wilson Bridge and the Springfield Mixing Bowl, five large mysterious futuristically designed vehicles were spotted fleeing the area in the southbound lanes of I-95, here,” Agent Melendez points to a spot on the large wall map, “near Woodbridge. By witness accounts these five vehicles fit the description of General Motor's five stolen concept vehicles."
"Thank you for telling me this, it’s interesting. But shouldn’t you also be telling this to the DCPD, specifically Detective Kumnick?"
"Oh we've talked with Kumnick, and maaaaan does he have an intense dislike of you. What'd you do, steal his girl?" Nick does not respond to the FBI agent's question and Melendez continues. "At any rate, the DC police are not really searching for the stolen vehicles. As far as Kumnick is concerned your NASCAR drivers are the thieves and they have been booked. And they are not currently out looking for the stolen SUVs because they concentrating on keeping order in the District in wake of the Mixing Bowl and Wilson Bridge destruction."
Nick gives the FBI agent a questioning look and then asks. "But you're not convinced that the NASCAR drivers had anything to do with this theft, are you?"
"Why don't you tell me what you discovered thus far, Mr. Thime, specifically these concept cars, what do you know about them?"
"Well,” says Nick, “the cars have computerized brains, they can be voiced activated by Harley Erle and the team of scientist he has working on them. I'm not yet sure how they were actually stolen, Strode was working on locating the keys to these vehicles."
"Yes,” said Strode. “I sent some operatives to check that out the convention center." In Strode's mind the images of two cockroaches appear. Their tiny antenna lights up throwing a beam of light on their surroundings. The roaches enter boxes and bags, crates and luggage. Inside a metal lockbox packed for shipping their tiny lit antenna shine a light on eight sets of keys, each has the logo of the brand they represent, one key each for a Buick, an Oldsmobile, a Pontiac, a Chrysler, plus two Chevrolet keys and two Cadillac keys.
Strode's mind comes back to the present when he hears Agent Melendez ask, "What made you suspicious about the keys, Mr. Thime?"
"Something one of the NASCAR drivers told me."
"What was that?"
"He said on the night that they went to take a joyride in The Cars of Tomorrow, they were attacked by three vehicles being driven by someone. One of the vehicles was a Corvette convertible and the NASCAR driver said that the Corvette had no driver. Now keep in mind, the drivers had been drinking heavily prior to entering the convention cen….." Nick's sentence trails off when he realizes that the FBI man is no longer paying attention to him as he has turned his attention to General Hoang and is whispering to him.
The FBI agent turns to Nikolas, "Mr. Thime you aren't aware of this but, the destruction of the Wilson Bridge and the Mixing Bowl was no accident. We now know that the trucks that were used in the destruction of the mixing bowl were some of the same trucks that were stolen from the Quantico truck stop. We also have reports that these same trucks were, driverless."
Stern consternation forms on Nick's face. "The driverless Corvette, driverless tractor trailer trucks, this can't be a coincidence. Radio controlled vehicles?"
"Quite possible," says General Hoang.
"This means I was right, there is a connection between all this, but by who, and why?"
"We don't know that yet, but we are in agreement with you that those NASCAR boys have nothing to do with what’s going on.”
Nick Thime stands before the large map with a serious look on his face. “General, Agent Melendez, the Wilson Bridge and the Mixing Bowl are both major traffic arteries. Their destruction cripples the traffic flow in this area."
"Yes, the Army realizes this too Mr. Thime," says the General. "That's why we believe that this destruction was a definite terrorist attack. And I believe the aim of the terrorist is to cut off major traffic arteries making a second attack more devastating and thus bringing about more casualties."
"I disagree and agree with you General," says Nick Thime. "You see, I don't think it was a terrorist attack at all as no group has claimed responsibility for the destruction and no demands have been made such as, "give us X amount of dollars or we will destroy more highways and bridges.” But I do think there will be a second attack, but not in the DC metro area.
“You see, one of the reasons that President Eisenhower created the interstate highway system was for the easy deployment of the military. The destruction of the Wilson Bridge and Mixing Bowl has made it difficult to dispatch troops from Forts Belvoir, Meyer, A.P Hill and Marine Corp Base Quantico to the District.
“Now, look at your map. Look here, Richmond Virginia; this is where I-64, I-85, I-95, I-295 and I-395 all converge, and to the south of all that is the Army base, Ft. Lee. Imagine the difficulties of deploying the troops from Fort Lee were that interstate interchange to be destroyed.”
The FBI agent steps up to the map. “So Mr. Thime you’re thinking……..”
“Yes,” says Nick, “Where the interstates converge in Richmond will be hit, and with the Mixing Bowl, the Wilson Bridge and Richmond interchanges all destroyed, almost all vehicular movement from Southern Maryland to Petersburg Virginia will be stifled. ”
"For what purpose?" The annoyed General asked belligerently.
"Two things, one to keep the military and law enforcement distracted so that whoever is behind this can concentrate on whatever it is that they really have planned. And two, to hamper the military’s ability to deploy with ease.
“So Mr. Thime,” the FBI agent asks, “you believe that the Wilson Bridge Mixing Bowl destruction was a calculated distraction?
"Yes I do. Think about it, no one has seen any suspicious automobiles since they were spotted approaching Woodbridge, so that means those vehicles are headed south and are somewhere between Woodbridge and Fredericksburg. I think it's imperative that they be found and soon before they reach Richmond."
“Balderdash, Mr. Thime,” says the General. “I completely disagree. As I stated, I’m positive this was a terrorist attack and I’m also certain that it was specifically aimed at this region with the goal of shutting down or destroying the U.S. Federal government.”
“But General, what if you are wrong, I…”
The angry General stops Nick in mid sentence. “Mr. Thime the only reason you are involved in this is because Agent Melendez thinks you might possibly have valuable information to offer, I do not. I admit these stolen concept vehicles are somehow involved in this and must be located, but I feel that we will find the answers we need here in this area and I will not send troops down to Richmond on a wild goose chase. Thank you for your opinions Mr. Thime, Good day."
The FBI agent gives Nick and apologetic look as they exit the office and walk into the hallway. Nick turns to the FBI agent. “Do you believe as the General that the Wilson Bridge/Mixing Bowl destruction was a terrorist attack and that all resources should be focused on this area?”
“Thime, I don’t know what to believe at this point. All I know is that something crazy is going on and we need to get to the bottom of it quickly, before more people are killed. Thime, I want you to do something for us, the FBI.”
"What would that be Agent Melendez?"
"We want you to continue to work on your case Mr. Thime. Even though we are in agreement that the NASCAR racers had nothing to do with the theft of the concept vehicles, continue to dig. See what you can find out and then relay your findings to us."
"Gladly, but since you feel that the NASCAR racers are not involved I want you to do something for me."
"What would that be Thime?"
"You’re the Feds, you carry a lot of weight. Speak to DA and have all the charges dropped against my clients, the NASCAR drivers?"
"That should be easy enough,” says the FBI agent who smiles and adds, “especially since we've learned that the security guard that the '59 Caddy landed on is off the critical list and will be fine. Alright, we can do that."
"Then you've got my assistance,” says Nick as he and Agent Melendez shake hands.
Inside the Nick Of Time office the beautiful journalist Layna Jade and the five NASCAR drivers are there engaged in a heated verbal exchange. Powaqa Nightbird watches them with a defeated look on her face.
"LordhavemercyJesus, why don't you try writing something positive ‘bout us foe a change?" asks Wendell O. Scott who is in the face of Layna Jade.
"You do something positive and I’ll write something positive,” answers the journalist.
Wendell O. Scott has fury on his face, "Lord gimme strength, or I'm gonna slap her."
"Don't you lay your grimy hands on me you, you, inbred hillbilly!"
"LordhavemercyJesusPLEASE give me the strength not to kill her,” says the angry Wendell O. Scott.
"Don't worry bout Wendell Miss Jade," says Hooker Hood. "I aint gonna let him hurt you baby, I got your beautiful back."
Layna Jade gives Hooker Hood a disgusted look. "You won't have my back or any part of me so get that thought out of your head you wretched two-bit racetrack Romeo, and don't call me baby."
"God, she has got to be the meanest woman I've ever seen,” says Axel Anderson. “Je-zus, she's even meaner than me."
Hooker Hood's has a wolfish grin stretched across his face. "I like my women mean daddy-O."
"Hah,” says the smiling Bo Fields, “like, you like ‘em with a pulse.”
Insult blankets Hooker Hood’s face and he is about to protest. But then he thinks for a second about what Bo Fields said, and a look of accepted realization blankets his face. "Well, yeah, that too."
Powaqa sees Nick enter the office and runs to him. "Nikz, thank goodness you're back. Miss Jade and the racers have been at each other's throats and I'm tired of playing referee."
Nick Thime shouts out, "Children, behave!" and the arguing comes to an abrupt halt.
The NASCAR racers and Layna Jade turn to see the handsome, stern looking attorney standing before them.
"Well Mr. Thime,” says Junior Johnson, “here we are. What's this all about, why did you have Miss Nightbird call us and tell us to meet you here?"
"Like, yeah Mr. Thime what's up?” asks Bo Fields. “Have you got news for us?"
"I certainly have. Miss Jade, you wanted a story, well here it is. All the charges against the NASCAR drivers have been dropped, they are free men."
Junior Johnson, Wendell O. Scott, Axel Anderson, Bo Fields, and Hooker Hood all look at each other with open mouth disbelief. Axel Anderson is the first to speak. "You mean it's over, just like that?"
"It's over for you gentlemen, yes."
"What about the security guard at the convention center?"
"He's off the critical list and will be fine. The FBI persuaded the DCPD that you had nothing to do with that."
Junior Johnson exclaims, "Mr. Thime, you are the best," and the five NASCAR drivers break into loud boisterous cheering.
Layna Jade, with a look of disappointment on her face interrupts. "Well, that's no story. Okay, the charges have been dropped against them, but why? Who did commit the crime? What's going on here Mr. Thime?"
"Awww, poor LJ,” says Axel Anderson. “I think she's all bent out of shape because now she won’t get to barbeque us in that rag she calls a magazine."
"Well, Mr. Anderson,” says Layna Jade in an acidic tone, “with all your drunken antics off the track, I've plenty to barbeque you with.” She then she turns her attention to Nick Thime. “Well I feel cheated Mr. Thime, you promised to help me get a story."
"That I did Miss Jade and I always keep my promises. How is this for a story, “NASCAR Drivers In Desperate Race To Save Lives?"
The racers and Layna Jade all look at one another with silent flummoxed expressions and respond in unison, "Huh?"
"I'll explain later,” Nick says. “For now gentleman I suggest you go out and celebrate, and don't get too tipsy, okay?"
"Tipsy?” says Axel Anderson. “We're gonna get blind stinkin' drunk, you hear me, drunk."
Nick and Powaqa watch the ecstatic NASCAR racers loudly leave their office as Layna Jade stands before Nick with a bitter look of unhappiness on her face. "I want info Nikolas Thime! If the charges have been dropped against the drivers, then who stole the SUVs?"
"Well I don't know that yet Miss Jade, but it has been ascertained that it was not the NASCAR drivers."
"Nikolas Thime there is a lot more to this story than you are telling me. I know you've met with the FBI and this all may be tied to the Wilson Bridge and Mixing Bowl destruction."
"My my, Miss Jade you are a busy little bee, aren't you? How did you obtain that informa.......ooohh, you've been talking to Kumnick."
Layna Jade flashes a wicked smile. "Yes, Brian told me all about FBI Agent Melendez wanting to talk to you. He was hoping that you had committed some awful transgression and the FBI would destroy you and throw you in prison for the rest of his life."
"Gee, why doesn't that surprise me," said Nick drolly.
"Mr. Thime, I'd like to meet this Agent Melendez."
"Yeah, I just bet you would. You’d like to see how much info you could get out of him for your story. And speaking of stories Miss Jade, what’s the story of you discovering Bentley Erle’s body at the convention center, how did that come about?”
Layna Jade’s face is suddenly covered with a sorrowful expression. "Bentley called me before he left Detroit and told me to meet him the following morning at the convention center, we were going to talk over some information he had sent me for a story I'm working on."
"What kind of info."
"Oh nothing sensational I’m afraid, just some information regarding the German automobile industry, before, during, and after the war."
"How did he obtain this type of info?"
"Bentley was an officer during the war and spent time in occupied Post-War Germany. After the fall of the Nazi regime he was placed in charge of rebuilding the German auto industry. Because of this he had access to a lot of information pertaining to German automobile manufacturing.
“When I told him I was doing a story on European auto makers he told me he had info that I may be able to use and sent it to my hotel. We were to meet at the convention center the next morning to discuss it. I went to the convention center that morning and I found Bentley. He was dead and nailed to that cross, it was horrible."
"Miss Jade when I saw you at the convention center after The Cars Of Tomorrow had been stolen you told me that you had unrestricted access to the convention center because you were "special." This was because Bentley Erle had contacted the DC police before he left Detroit and got that access for you didn't he?"
“Yes he did,” replied the journalist sadly. “If it had been up to his sons I would not have been allowed anywhere near the crime scene.”
"Was there a romance between you and Bentley Erle?"
A startled expression registers on Layna Jade’s face. "Heavens no, as I told you we were friends, he was always in my corner, helping me when he could. We were not lovers, we were friends, and I liked Bentley Erle Mr. Thime, I liked him a lot."
"Then from what I've heard you were one of the few who did. Most everyone else hated the man."
"I liked him and actually he liked me too, I think it was because we understood one another and shared some of the same character traits,"
"You mean like…..ruthlessness," Nick says with a smile, but with a tone that itself is more ruthless than playful.
"Exactly," said Layna Jade with stoic pride on her face but annoyance in her voice.
"The Erle brothers, NASCAR, Jo Bascopolous, they all dislike you Miss Jade, just like almost everyone dislikes Bentley Erle, I can see why the two of you got along."
"No Mr. Thime, it's not so much Bentley and I that people don't like. What people don't like is the truth and Bentley and I happen to tell it, and it’s the truth that people don’t like.” With that statement Layna Jade’s demeanor degenerates into one of hostility.
“And the truth Mr. Thime is that you just asked me that series of questions to try and determine if I may be the murderer of Bentley Erle, the truth is I am not.”
“The truth, Mr. Thime is that Loretta Josephine Bascopolous will be arrested for the murder of Bentley Erle. The truth is you will defend her, but despite your best efforts she will be found guilty of his murder. The truth is that she will fry in the electric for Bentley’s murder, and the truth is, I-will-be-thrilled. Then, after she is executed, the truth is, I hope to God that she burns in hell for all eternity, because Mr. Thime the truth is, Jo Bascopolous killed Bentley Erle."
Layna Jade then spins on her on her heels and turns away from Nick Thime, in doing so her long braid whips through the air almost slapping Nick in the face as she angrily walks out of the Nick Of Time office and into the rainy night.
The fresh morning sunlight shines down on the glistening bodies of the five Cars Of Tomorrow. They roar down a country road passing a sign that reads "WELCOME TO STAFFORD COUNTY," and then swing to the right down an exit ramp marked "I-95 SOUTH TO RICHMOND."
The Cars Of Tomorrow enter the interstate chocked full of vehicles and their front headlights emit their deadly beams of light, destroying all the cars and their inhabitants in their way. As they clear the highway the SUVs create the "V" formation as if they were a squadron of threateningly dangerous, deadly, war planes.
The Pentagon sits beneath a bright sunny day. Inside, a Native American soldier rushes into a room, where General Hoang and several other military officers stand transfixed before a large wall map.
"General,” says the soldier, “The Cars Of Tomorrow have been spotted on I-95 in Stafford County and they are destroying everything on the highway that moves."
“So, here they come,” says General Hoang to the other officers. “Let show them what we are made of.” General Hoang picks up a telephone and speaks into it, “Commence operation “TERMINATE T.C.O.T.”
Army tanks quickly roll out of a military base where the brick wall at its entrance reads "FORT BELVOIR."
Roaring fighter jets screech down a runway as their landing gear folds inwards and then they take to the skies, flying over tall metal fencing that has a sign attached to it that reads, "ANDREWS AIRFORCE BASE."
In the shadow of the U.S. Capital, the Washington Post newspaper delivery truck drops bales of papers on the street corner. In the middle of the bales of newspapers an African American paperboy in a ball cap and denim jacket yells out the afternoon headline. "Extrie, Extrie, read all about it! Killer Cars in pitched battle with US Army and Air Force! Read all about it!" A horde of inquisitive Washington DC citizens surrounds the boy to obtain a copy of the evening paper.
A white male unfolds his copy of the newspaper. The newspaper's entire front page is in glorious full-color. The Washington Post logo sits at the top of the paper. Beneath the logo is a one inch grass green border that also runs along the sides and the bottom of the newspaper that frames the entire front page.
Within the top border, directly beneath the newspaper’s logo is printed in bold black all capital letters, "THE DAY THE WORLD WAS DRIVEN TO TERROR."
Below this headline and to the left are the five large beautiful futuristic looking automobiles. The images of the automobiles go from small to large in perspective as they cascade within the green border down the page from the top left of the picture plane to the bottom right.
At the top left fighter jets fire missiles at the small image of the grey Oldsmobile Eternity. Beneath the Olds is the silver Chevrolet Valhalla, beneath it, the white Buick Skyscraper and beneath it the silver Pontiac Amazon. To the right of those three vehicles is the panoramic image of a factory sitting atop a rocky island being lashed by the waves of a violent sea. To the right of this, the sea pours down from a broken dam smashing into a metropolis, pulverizing skyscrapers.
Beneath this is the large image of the front end of the Cadillac Xcaliber. To the left of the Caddy is a panorama of Washington DC, in front of the White House, Capital and Washington Monument tiny armed soldiers with rifles fire at the cars on the left. In front of the soldiers, screaming citizens with faces contorted with terror run for their lives, beneath them reads in large yellow capital lettering about three inches tall the words "ATTACK Of The,” sits atop the word “AUTOMOBILES" which sits atop the paper’s bottom green border.
A breeze carries the Washington Post newspaper away and comes to rest against the entrance of a small radio and television shop.
In the large plate glass window of the shop is a bank of stacked televisions. On all of the television screens appears in black and white, the handsome young face of the grey haired reporter Timothy Getter. From the speakers of the televisions comes his frantic British accentuated voice.
"This is Timothy Getter reporting from Stafford County where The Cars Of Tomorrow are bringing terror to the roadways."
Timothy Getter's face vanishes from the screens but his frantic voice remains as the image of the front ends of The Cars Of Tomorrow in their V formation fill the screen. Their headlights begin to glow and suddenly the screen is filled with the bight light of their destructive head light ray, the newsman shouts, “THE CARS OF TOMORROW! SUPERIOR TO ANY AUTOMOBILE EVER CREATED! THE CARS OF TOMORROW! ARE THEY HERE TO DRIVE MAN INTO THE DARK ABYSS OF EXTINCTION?”
Then on the screen there appear Army men with their rifles, shoulder rocket launchers and flamethrowers assaulting The Cars Of Tomorrow. But as the bullets, shells and fire strike and damage the bodies of The Cars Of Tomorrow they suddenly and amazingly repair themselves, restoring their auto bodies to their glamorous, glistening showroom luster. All the while the voice of Timothy Getter wails, “MODERN MILITARY WEAPONS CANNOT STOP THEM!"
Next, armored tanks fire at The Cars Of Tomorrow to no avail as their assault is repelled by SUVs glistening sheen that surrounds the SUVs seems to act as a sort of protective force field. Timothy Getter screams out in horror, "TANKS ARE POWERLESS AGAINST THEM!"
Then, Air Force fighter planes unleash a barrage of missiles at the SUVs they unleashed their deadly headlight ray, blasting both missiles and fighter jets from the skies. The frenzied voice of Getter shouts out, “AIRCRAFT ARE SWATTED FROM THE SKY LIKE FLIES! Witness the DESTRUCTION! Experience the TERROR! Scream with HORROR!"
As the sun begins to set the Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Chevrolet SUVs turn their attention to the soldiers and again release their deadly headlight ray, engulfing tanks, buildings, and soldiers in flame, melting the tanks, destroying the buildings, and reducing the men to cinders. Filling the screen and cascading superimposed over this scene of carnage are the white all caps words “DESTRUCTION,” “TERROR,” “HORROR,” and “DEATH.”
Once more the frantic voice of the reporter shouts out. "CAN NOTHING STOP THE UNBELIEVABLE, UNIMAGINABLE, INCREDIBLE ASSAULT OF THESE AUTOMOTIVE ABOMINATIONS?"
In the background buildings, men, weapons and equipment slowly crackle and burn as the reporter exclaims, "THIS WAS THE DAY THE WORLD WAS DRIVEN TO TERROR! THIS WAS THE DAY OF, THE ATTACK OF THE AUTOMOBILES!"
As Getters completes his over-the-top reporting the all caps white letters of the words "ATTACK Of The,” sits atop the word “AUTOMOBILES" which sits superimposed over the complete destruction on the television screen.
The words "ATTACK Of The AUTOMOBILES" fades away, leaving a clear view of the now smoldering brick, mortar, metal and human wreckage.
Viewing the destruction is a cadre of military officers one of which is General Hoang. The officers are approached by a solemn looking soldier.
"General, most of our forces have been wiped out. But I have just received word that another jet is coming in to make another strike at T.C.O.T."
As the sun begins to set The Cars Of Tomorrow roar across a long wide bridge that crosses a wide river. From out of the clouds above screams an Air Force fighter jet.
In the cockpit of the jet the helmeted pilot whose eyes are covered by the helmets dark lenses speaks into his radio. “This is Tango X-3-1-7. Have spotted target T.C.O.T crossing I-95 Rappahannock River Bridge. Missiles locked on target.” The pilot throws a switch on a stick, “Missile one released,” the pilot flicks the switch again, “missile two released.”
One shiny missile disengages from the underside of the aircraft followed by another. Both missiles streak through the dusky sky in the direction of The Cars Of Tomorrow.
The Cars Of Tomorrow in their V formation scream to a halt in the middle of the bridge.
Missile one is a direct hit, striking The Cars Of Tomorrow and creating a hellish explosion. Missile two strikes and a second explosion erupts. Within this massive ball of flame and destruction twisted wreckage goes falling into the river. When the smoke clears half the bridge is no more and the river waters beneath churn violently as debris from above continues to fall into it.
The jet pilot again speaks into his radio, “Target T.C.O.T terminated, Tango X-3-1-7 returning to base.”
As the screaming fighter jet fades from view in the sky above, the debris filled river waters below ominously churn and bubble.
Next month: The Cars Of Tomorrow roar down memory lane
Auto magnate Bentley Erle is dead, murdered, who killed him? All the principle players have been introduced, which of them is the murderer? Well the murderer will not be revealed until the end of summer. So if you think you know whodunit, why not post your murderous choice in the EGN Forum’s section under General Discussion. Let’s make this fun.
© 2010 Rix Roundtree-Harrison