Standing there watching the brown water gush violently under the bridge, from which he was standing 30 meters away Jacob felt like crying. All that blood, and literal sweat, just to get stuck here? Oh for fuck’s sake.
“Hey, Jacob, what’s that noise, and why are you standing here like – holy shit is that the river? It sounds like that plane we saw taking off!” Sam swallowed audibly. The water was running like a horde of demons from hell. Ferociously flowing out of a corner in the bedrock as if there was something behind it, making such a noise people had to talk over one another to be heard. In the darkness, it looked like a wormhole in vigorous motion, swallowing up the distance, coming at the bridge like a thing possessed. It hit the structure with a loud clang, jostling the guard rails then flowing right over the tarmac on top, and kept on going.
They watched in terrified silence as the bridge was completely covered, nearly seven feet up past the rails. You couldn’t even tell bottom now.
“Good God,” Sam whispered.
As Jacob watched, the excess water began pushing heavily onto the road, covering the banks. It would sweep away the cars and everyone in it in a matter of minutes if people didn’t move.
“We need to get to higher ground. Fast. There’s too much water coming from the hills and we don’t know when it’ll stop. If we stay any longer we might be swept into the river.”
This seemed to occur to the rest of the drivers too because there started a scramble to turn around and back up the road where the water couldn’t climb. Engines came to life and cars started to turn around in the squeezed mini parking lot where they’d been stopped. A rush started up as the water levels rose higher and higher past most car wheels. The situation was getting critical.
As Jacob’s car was near the back, he managed to back out just in time. A firefighting truck rode past them in a hurry just as they parked higher up on the side of the road. Its alarms tore into the night. It seemed someone hadn’t been very lucky. He turned off the engine and they listened to the radio, waiting for the raging river to calm down.
As they sat, more and more cars joined them, some just arriving and some from the front near the bridge. This was going to be a long night.
A little after one o’clock, Jacob turned the ignition. Sam started awake and mumbled sleepily, “It wasn’t me, it’s just my ringtone – wait, what are you doing?”
“I’ve just been up front, the water’s gone down. It’s about a foot over the bridge, but no one’s crossed yet. We’re going to.”
He turned the car onto the road and they were off.
When they reached the place they’d been standing earlier, they noticed the gathering of civilians on both sides of the road. Typical. They were watching to see which cars would roll up to their deaths. The water was still high and the current strong. A white truck was ahead of Jacob, behind them, nothing. As they approached ten feet before the bridge, the water started lapping midway their tyres, making the car swing back and forth. They drove on slowly.
The truck in front of them edged ahead, and they followed its slow progress. It wasn’t being jostled as bad as them. Hardly at all. The closer to the bridge they got, however, the more they were rocked; until Sam could hear the water gurgling around the base of the chassis. She was terrified. Jacob meanwhile had his jaw set, and held a determined grip on the steering wheel.
They continued on until they were smack dab in the middle of the bridge. Then the truck stopped. As they waited, Sam could hear nothing but the demented flow of the river, and the feel of the car shifting and groaning uneasily beneath her. They could be swept off this bridge any second.
“Jacob…..I don’t like this….” she whispered.
“Will you calm down? I refuse to stay here all night. I’m getting home before two if it’s the last thing I do.” Jacob replied.
“This was a bad idea. This is dangerous, we should have waited a little longer.” she intoned, clutching the car door.
Jacob didn’t reply. He kept looking ahead, almost willing the truck to move.
After what felt like an eternity, the truck trudged forward, slowly, as if just now realising it could get carried away. And Jacob carefully released the clutch. As they cleared the bridge, on their right, they saw two people squatting and standing over something white, jutting out the water at the level side of the river. It was moved a little and for a minute, Sam was able to make out the telltale body of another white truck. Next to it, the rooftop of a blue saloon was barely visible.
Safely past though, she was not surprised to find a mob of spectators crowding the other side. Their trousers were rolled up, and they were knee deep in the water. A long line of coach buses, trucks and trailers, stood at the city side of the road. These, they learned, had detoured to this side because this same river had demolished the A104 highway.
As Sam’s heart rate levelled, a few of the spectators on the road moved aside for them to pass, marvelling at how they’d managed to come through. They were, in all probability, the first ones from the other side in a small car. People came rapping their knuckles on the car windows, shaking their heads at Jacob, all the while with a disbelieving smile. Sam didn’t blame them, considering her own reaction during the experience. All in all, she was sleeping till ten tomorrow morning.