The screams, helicopters, sirens, and megaphones directing people to higher ground turn into white noise. Gisele can only faintly hear her own thoughts as she tests out her treadmill endurance on real terrain. Ms. déjà-vu had not seen this coming.
But someone did.
CleanCar Inc. opened in 2015 with natural gas vehicles and a clever carbon offsetting program. Soon after, it completely dominated the American car industry with its multi-million dollar campaigns igniting another gold rush fever mentality that almost doubled the population of the Monterrey shale region in less than 10 years while other areas of the country fell into bankruptcy and migrated west.
However, not all residents bought into the hype.
Although fossil fuel corporations are bound by law to monitor air, water, and seismic data, 48% of the residents do not trust the industry-funded study results. The rise in local pollution is one point of contention as is the recent increase in roadway closures due to fracking tremors.
Scientific measurements floating around the internet backdoors plainly show that almost 80% of L.A. drill sites are leaking methane, a greenhouse gas over 20 times the potency of CO2, which more than offsets any gains from switching to the so-called “clean” fuel. L.A. is now a hot spot on many fronts.
Of course the Freedom Frackers claim these regular earth murmurs are much too weak to have any effect on the city’s infrastructure which has been upgraded over the years to withstand an 8.0 quake, but as expected several “unapproved” independent reports claim otherwise.
The official political stance is that whatever unlikely minimal damages that could occur are economically insignificant compared to the billions of dollars the Monterrey Shale formation provides in revenue for the state coffers and no doubt to a few local politicians.
Gisele runs for 30 minutes until she notices that she is in the lead. At first she feels mighty high on her own Kool-Aid but soon she realizes that everyone else has fallen to the ground, jaws dropped and staring towards the south west.
The surreal phenomenon is just about to claim Gisele’s balance as well, when a man catches her from behind.
“Didn’t you read the sign?” he chuckles. It’s Mr. Tarfield from earlier this morning at La Petite Coquette, sporting a matching gas mask to his boxers.
He points to the “No Parking, Tow-away zone” sign beside her. Gisele is speechless. She looks out towards the ocean and all she sees is the water gushing in.
“Manon!” Muffled whimpers come from behind her mask as she witnesses building after building disappearing into the deep.
Mr. Tarfield grabs Gisele by the arm and starts dragging her back down the hill and further up the coast. Gisele screams in protest: “Are you crazy? We have to get to higher ground!”
“No. It’s not a tsunami. It’s a sink hole. Trust me. I’m a geologist. I know where the shale is stable. This hill will be sucked in. Run!” Her urges.
Gisele figures she can’t outrun the collapse anyway so she has nothing to lose. She follows Mr. Tarfield and prays for the best. She tries as best as she can to block out the sound of death and desperation behind her and picks up the pace.
Ten minutes later, the rumbling subsides and an eerie calmness blankets the valley. As the dust settles, Gisele can see further south to where the airport used to be. All that is between her and LAX is a ditch almost 10 miles long. She drops to the ground, rips off her mask, and starts sobbing into a filter.
In an attempt to cheer her up, Mr. Tarfield strips off his suit jacket, tie, and pants and does a Zoolander walk-off wearing only his gas mask and boxer shots coordinated squirrel set. Gisele’s funny bone whoops her guilt over the head and she starts giggling.
“You ARE crazy!” she chokes as she straps her gas mask back on. “My sister.” She pulls out her cell phone and sees a voice mail from about an hour ago. It’s Manon. Gisele swallows hard before she listens to it.
“Allo Gisele, I’m on the Sky Phone. The airport is closed so we are landing in San Jose. I will call when I know more. Bisou.”
Gisele picks up Mr. Tarfield’s clothes and moves in to give him a kiss on both cheeks but knocks him to the ground with her mask instead. “Ah Merde! Pardon.” She helps him up, laughing, and hugs him closely. “Thank you. How can I repay you?”
Mr. Tarfield looks down at his soiled boxers then back up at Gisele, suggestively. “Free dry-cleaning?” He winks.