Brad leans back in his chair, stretching his arms wide open then up above his head. Tim appears on the security monitor and waves.

“Hey Brad!”

The door buzzes open and Tim signs in. He leaves a big wet splotch on the clipboard and attempts to wipe it off with his sleeve but only seems to make it worse. “Sorry about that, Brad.”

“Looks like the storm hit us a little earlier than expected,” replies Brad as he reaches for a napkin from his pocket and dabs the paper. He heads to the coat stand, slips on his jacket, and grabs his umbrella and travel mug. “I’m gonna fill up for the drive home. You wanna cup?”

“Sure, thanks.” Tim reaches inside his duffle bag for his stainless steel coffee mug and sniffs it a few times. “You mind giving it a rinse first?” He takes off his soaking hoodie and pulls a clean shirt from his bag.

Sirens outside start screeching non-stop on the 401. Tim tunes into 680News to find out what’s going on. Working in the “box”, as the security crew like to call it, is like being in a padded cell. There are no windows; there’s just enough room for a desk and a few chairs. Even the walls are white.

“All I need is a straitjacket,” Tim says out loud as he struggles with the buttons on his white shirt.

Brad hands Tim the coffee and laughs. “Already losing it after only 6 months, eh Tim? Try 5 years.” He shakes his head in disbelief at his own words.

Tim brings his mug up to his lips. “Did you add sugar?”

“No. I thought you took it black?”

“Yeah, I do. It just smells a bit sweet.”

Brad sniffs his coffee and confirms: “Mine does too.” He opens the lid. “Whoa. I think the beans were off. Smells more like gasoline than coffee.” He shrugs, puts the cap back on, and removes the sleeve from his umbrella.

The traffic report plays in the background: “High winds are wreaking havoc at Pearson tonight as overseas flights are being redirected back east to Montreal. Emergency crews are overrun with uprooted trees and flying debris across the 401 and 427…”

“You’re not going to need that. The wind will blow it right out of your hands.” Tim tosses Brad his soaked hoodie. “Here. Just throw that on your head and walk fast. I have another one in my bag.”

A loud bang flies at them from the side of the building.

The traffic report continues: “If you absolutely must drive, stay off overpasses and avoid the area near and around— (whispering) Oh my God…are you sure? (throat clearing)…”

Brad and Tim stare at the radio as the voice struggles to maintain his composure.

“A tornado has touched down on the runway at Pearson and is flicking tarmac debris into the terminals and as far as highway 27. There is glass and pavement everywhere and people are running to the inside of the buildings. Highways 401 and 427 are grid-locked in both directions as drivers and passengers flee their vehicles and…wait…No!”

Tim’s hands are pasted to his travel mug as he listens. He takes a sip of his coffee, then spits it violently into the garbage pail. “Tastes like gasoline.” The ground shakes. “What was that?”

The answer comes screaming from the radio. “Holy Frack!

“The tail of a United Emirate AirBus 380 just flew out of the twister and side-swiped the E gates. A huge explosion just blew a deep pit into the ground and… Oh my God! There are chunks of the rest of the plane spinning around inside the funnel. This is insane! The twister is headed east…”

Tim and Brad look at each other in horror.

“No,” the voice retracts. “It’s turning North.”

The two stupefied security guards stand frozen for what feels like hours and then sigh in relief. The storm has spared them but the sirens and explosions continue.

Tim runs out the building quickly followed by Brad. He takes out his smart phone and films the transformers glistening against a wall of orange flame to the west. The black plume stretches up into the sky for hundred of metres. The wind is gone.

“Wow!” Brad exclaims. “We have horseshoes up our butts, man!” He takes a sip of his coffee and spits out a stream of it right across the scene Tim is filming. “You’re right. It tastes like someone poured gasoline in the coffee pot.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it. All those people.” Tim staggers still in shock as he zooms in. He then pans south at the 401 in complete chaos and zooms back out. “What’s that?” He focuses in on something thick and black oozing from cracks in the ground by the southern most transformers.

A haze forms over the ground. The sound of a spark cuts through the sirens and panic-stricken screams coming from the west as the cement at their feet ignites into a flaming carpet.

…to be continued in Line 9 On Fire.