Earlier this week, Wednesday to be exact...I get up at my usual 5:00 am. Clumsily dress into my running gear, take my normal 3 seconds to stretch, and head out the door.
There's a mailbox I walk to, just to get things loosened up a little. It's exactly one-tenth of a mile to that mailbox.
It's a Nebraska Cornhusker mailbox. The FIRST of many I pass on my morning runs.
It's foggy, and the streetlights cast an eerie light on the ground. I have barely reached the half mile point in my run, when I notice a white mini van coming down the street towards me. I rarely, if ever, come across traffic that early in the morning, so it caught my attention.
There are a few vehicles I see every once or twice a week....a large silver truck pulling a fishing boat, a 2 door blue car with a loud exhaust....but this mini van was new.
What ultimately catches my eye, is the fact that it's comes to a stop in the middle of the road...headlights in my eyes....motor still running.
I slow my run to a fast walk. I want to stop, I want to turn around and run the other direction, but for some reason I don't want them to think I'm paying attention. I want them to assume I'm just another crazy person, running themselves into exhaustion, paying more attention to putting one foot in front of the other than to what they are doing.
I'm less than half a block away now. Do I cross the road and run on the other side, do I turn at the next block and head west? Why does this one unassuming vehicle have all the hair on my arms standing at attention?
I finally make up my mind. I'm going to keep my head down, I'm going to cross the street and continue on my way, as nonchalantly as I can.
Before I can take my first step across the road, I see something fly out of the passenger side window....and the mini van leaps to life, tires squealing.
If I had tried to cross just then, they would have hit me.
I jumped into the grass along the street, trampling some poor lady's flower bed....and the van flies by.
I scan the side of the road for whatever they threw out the window. It's dark. I don't see a newspaper in a plastic bag....no trace of a smoking cigarette butt, or discarded McDonalds breakfast bag.
I see nothing.
Just then, the house I'm standing in front of explodes.
Smoke billows out a hole in the side of the house, flames lick the siding, glass showers down around me. My face feels as though I've been in the sun for hours without sunblock. I stumble backwards into the road.
Should I go to the house to see if someone needs help? I don't have a phone, I can't call for help. Surely the neighbors are awake? Lights come on at the houses next door and across the street. Dogs, after having been stunned by the sudden noise, start barking.
A white mini van comes around the corner. Oh my gawd, I'm still here. Are they going to come after me? Do they think I can identify them, or their vehicle? Why did I stick around? What do I do?
I run to a house with it's lights on. I'm pounding on the door....urgently, frantically. If they can't hear me knocking, surely they can hear my heart thudding in my chest?
No one is answering. I know they're awake!! I know they're in there!! Why won't they answer?
A car door closes behind me, I know they're coming for me.
I take off my ID bracelet, but can't throw it down yet. They'll see me do it. I have to wait until they grab me....that's when I'll throw it by the door of this house.
Why don't I hear sirens...where are the police or fire department? Only seconds have passed, but it feels like minutes. Hours.
I hear footsteps running up the sidewalk. I have nothing in my hands to use as a weapon. There are no flowerpots to throw, or rocks to wield.
I try to scream, but nothing comes out.
Who needs to run with an iPod when I have my imagination??
Everything up to the explosion actually happened. The white mini van, something being thrown out the window, the van squealing away suddenly nearly hitting me.
When I ran by the house yesterday, it was still standing, untouched. Did the passenger throw their newspaper into a bush? Was it a jealous boyfriend stalking an ex's house? Who knows??? But if I see another white mini van driving around the neighborhood at 5 in the morning, I'm going to run the other direction. :-)