Kirk was driving down the highway, 1966 thunderbird he’d bought as a rustbucket from the back lot of a mechanics ^W auto shop a few years back and spent the summer rebuilding and fixing up. The desert stretched on for miles in either direction, and as he looked around, he chuckled to himself about how much it really did resemble the Chuck Jones backgrounds from the old road runner cartoons. The COlor & tone, the far-off mesas moving nearly imperceptilby as they paralaxed past each other as he drove.
He’d set off from [find some highways that look like this and find a town nearby] for a two week road trip vacation, visions of old school road trips, route 66 and all that shit lodged firmly in his minds eye, unble to be shaken by the insistence by his coworkers that most of that roadside fun and these small towns were rotting and in depressing disrepair after the advent of the Interstate system rerouted all the traffic elsewhere, leaving all the original routes to go to pot over the intervening years.
Even if that were the case, he was fine with it. He need^L even the first few bombed out ghost towns he came trhough were unable to dampen his spirits as he re-set his expectations – this might have been exactly what he needed, a glimpse in the the past, and a ephemeral nature of mankind’s creations, even in the wake of humankind’s self-inflicted change. Especially after the last few months at the institute. A two week road trip solo something something
The phone in the passengers seat buzzed. [put earlier, have him set the phone down over there]. Kirk picked it up, and saw that it was a missed call from Dr. [name] at the institute. Kirk scrunched up his face – they weren’t supposed to call; everything was wrapped up before he left, and thye were in something of a holding pattern. This is why this had been a suitable time fro him to take the time off. The cell indicator in the upper left showed only a single semicircle lit fromthe fan of service indicator. “Hm, I guess I’ll call her back when I reach the next town” [Lets also include a green sign with mileage here for env].
The next few dozen miles were along the same windwswept dustbowl as the last 50, and the cell service dipped between one bar and zero the whole time. Anxiety crept through Kirk, until he was, even without realizing it, edging the gas pedal further and further, trying to make it to town and call Liz back. The [land formation, figure this out later] that [driving] must have edged him close enough to the Interstate on the other side of the ridge to catch the edges of the 4G coverage. Because the phone buzzed again – once, then twice, then a third and fourth time in rapid succession. He picked up the phone, trying to keep one eye on the road. 32 missed calls from Liz. 10 voicemiails. 64 more missed calls – another 3 messages – the notifications had clearly been sent in batches. Anxiety began brimming over, not quite to anything resembling panic, but the pot was in danger of boiling over.
With trembling hands, he swiped the vm notification and there was enough ^H ^H the other end began to hesitatntly ring, stutered hiccups of static cutting in.
“Jesus Kirk, did you get my VMs?” Liz blurted by way of ‘hello’
“I haven’t listened – service was bad, I called as soon as the notifictioan came through”
“Okay, whatever – where are you. We need you back here as soon as possible. It’s happened–”
Kirk’s stomach dropped, and he momentarily lost focus on driving, swerving across the double yellow before he snapped out of it. He stepped on the brake and pulled over, realizeing he couldnt’ be of any help to anyone if he wrecked out here in the middle of nowwhere. “ — Kirk did you hear me? It happened.”
“Wha… whe… Ho… ” kirk stammered, not sure where to begin.
“NYC. Manhattan is a total… loss.” she was clearly choking back emotion in her voie with the enormity of what she was describing. Kirk stared throgh the windshield at the landscape and simultaneously at nothing at all.
“Was it like you predicted? Impact driver?” Liz yuh-huh’ed her assent “How did we not pick this up on instruments? It had to…” Kirk trailed off, trying ot wrap his head around it and also begin thinking of what they could do next.
“I think we did… I think it’s in the processing backlog, and it was just faster than we — I even predicted.” Her voice was becoming shaky. “We’ll know more in the next hour; we’ve invoked the Asimov protocol, so langly and the NSA have both brought full their grids to bear on analyzing the data stream… and anything else we need.”
“Not exactly how I would have chosen to be taken seriosuly by those guys, but better late than never I guess… and Liz —” he paused, finally catching on to her stammered correction “This isn’t your fault — without your threat model, we’d be totally in the dark. That we can even understand what happened this soon after… that’s because of you.”
“I know. I have…” her voice broke “ …had a cousin in Brooklyn. He had a family…”
“I’m so sorry Liz.” after a moment. “Has Kasic already sent to collect me?”
“The Director dispatched the helicopter 20 minutes ago.”
“I’m on US [look up] at mile marker…163.” He said, glancing around until he found the nearest sign indicating his location.
“I’m sure they’ve got GPS fix, but that’ll help.”
Just then, [Do we want the helicopter to show up in the vignette? If so we can have kirk toss an agent the keys to get his car back. The agent can say something about remembering all of humanity’s stuff, so he’s excited to keep an eye on the car”]