It was like watching a movie in slow motion. I thought for sure I must be seeing things, that I'd had too much to drink. But Henry saw it too, so it must be real.
The ground below the Hollywood Hills was a mess of debris and fires dotted here and there. Everything looked so small from our vantage point and the rain obscured much of what was going on down there. The plane must have crashed into houses, people asleep in their beds utterly defenseless. And the people in the plane. Flying had always made me nervous. I vowed right there I was never getting on a plane ever again.
A voice beside me made me jump. "One of them actually crashed." It was Luke looking down at the wreckage in shock. "That shouldn't be happening."
The faint sound of a ring tone started and Luke scrambled in his pockets for his phone. He ran back inside to answer it.
I started to follow him, but then the ground starting shaking. Not vibrating like before, but moving.
"Earthquake!" Henry yelled, grabbing my arm and pulling me away from the house.
I'd lived in California my whole life, experienced plenty of earthquakes, but nothing like this. The ground moved so violently I almost couldn't stay on my feet. Car alarms sounded in the distance and I thought immediately of Alex, sitting alone in her car. Then I watched as cracks sprang up in the concrete, around the pool, and spread to the house. Glass shattered as one giant crack began splitting the house in two. The pool gushed water as the ground beneath it jutted upward.
I screamed as the ground beneath my feet started sloping down. Henry pulled me toward the left side of the house where the ground was still flat. My stupid heals slipped under me. I kicked them off and kept scrambling up what was quickly becoming a very steep slope. But Henry kept pulling me and we jumped to flat ground. I turned in time to see the pool sliding down the hill.
"Clara, come on!" Henry yelled.
The ground was splitting around us again and I had a feeling this section of concrete was going to end up with the rest of the backyard.
"We have to get to the front of the house!" Henry said.
I nodded numbly and let him continue pulling me along as a part of the right side of the house broke away and started sliding down the hill. Oh, my God! Was that the kitchen?!
All I could think was what a horrible night Lida had picked to have a dinner party.
Lida! Lida and Robert where in the basement! Oh God.
We passed the jacuzzi and opened the gate that led down the side of the house. Chunks of concrete shattered on the ground around us like the house was crumbling to pieces. We passed through the second gate and ran into the street.
The world continued to shake and shatter. The hill on the opposite side of the street was breaking apart, sending small avalanches of mud and rocks down to the road.
That's when I saw Alex's car. It wasn't on the other side of the road where we'd left it. The crack that had split Lida's house in two had spread all the way up to the street where we stood, and just like Lida's kitchen, part of the street was sliding down the hill, taking Alex's car with it.
Without a second thought I sprinted to the car. "Alex!"
The car was on its side, but I could see through the back window. I nearly screamed in relief when I saw Alex. She was standing on one of the seats, trying in vain to push the back door open. Henry climbed up to the door, but whatever force had moved the car must have smashed the door in. Henry pulled with all his might as the car continued to slide, inching its way to the edge of the road.
P.S. Read all previous parts to the story here.
Finally, after much pulling and swearing, Henry wrenched the door open and pulled Alex from her car. They were both climbing to safety when the shaking stopped. And, as if the two were connected, the rain slowed to a drizzle. All was suddenly still and quiet, as though the world just had its contents shaken about like some giant snow globe.
"Thanks for coming to my rescue," Alex said to Henry. Both of them looked dazed. I probably did too.
A faint smile appeared on Henry's lips. "And after all that talk of calling me an ass."
Alex smiled. "You're still an ass." She turned away from her car like the sight of it was too much. "Oh, God! Look at the house!"
"Yeah, you should see the backyard," I said, but she didn't seem to have heard me.
"And that house is completely gone!" she said, moving to get a better look at the neighbor's property. "I know it was there. I could see a light on in the window before the earthquake started."
"I'm surprised Lida's house is still standing," I said, staring blankly at the house. I wasn't sure my mind was fully accepting what it was seeing: the crack through the house had spread it apart so the center gaped open like the maw of some horrible monster.
"Oh, my God. Robert," Alex said. "They weren't still in the studio were they?"
"I think they were," I said.
"And Juliet," Henry said, the alarm plain in his voice.
They were halfway to a gaping hole where the front door used to be when a blood-curdling scream pierced the air.
...to be continued.