I found the following writing prompt:
You’re at lunch when your smartphone buzzes with an e-mail from your boss: “Don’t forget, we have a meeting in 10 minutes.” Of course you did forget, so you rush out of the restaurant and attempt to make it before it starts. But a crazy chain of events stops you from getting back in time for the meeting.
Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.
While I used 1300 words, they are all right off the top of my head and without editing. This is a work of fiction and any similarities to people, places or things are purely coincidental.
I was having a long overdue lunch with a few friends at a nearby Chinese buffet when a synchronized series of chirps indicated that several of us had incoming texts. Mine was one of the phones that chirped so I took a quick peek and then uttered louder than a whisper “Oh shit!” when I read the following from my boss, “Don’t forget, we have a meeting in 10 minutes.”
My anxiety disorder kicked into overdrive in an instant as I fumbled through my pockets to find some cash and I tossed down a twenty dollar bill while apologizing to everyone for having to leave. I jet out into the parking lot in search of my car and then utter an even louder “Oh shit!” when I remember that I walked here (so much for the benefits of exercise) expecting to get a ride back from Jane. I wiped the beads of sweat off my forehead with my forearm and then headed back into the restaurant where Jane was just exiting dangling her keys in my face and said, “Let’s go silly, you’ll owe me, again, for this one.”
We pull out onto the service road then turn right onto the infamous Route 9, where less than two miles can feel like a lifetime, especially when time is not on your side. Imagine my reaction then when Jane presses the FM button on the radio which happens to be tuned to the classic rock station and guess what Rolling Stones song was playing as we pulled up behind a gridlocked nightmare?
I turned to Jane and said, “Listen, I’m sorry you had to leave early too, and I appreciate this, but I really need to get to this meeting. I can walk back faster than this so I am going to do just that. If I just sit here in traffic, it will be torture, at least if I walk, I’ll keep moving and be able to keep the stress level in check.” She said “later” and I slammed the door shut and began to jog-ish back to campus praying I can get there within fifteen or twenty minutes late.
As I make my way past the noticeably blue building that houses medical offices, I heard a very loud noise, what seemed to be an explosion then everything seemed to start going in slow motion. I came to a full stop and watched what for a minute felt like a movie in whatever technology comes after “real-3D”.
While the passage of time no longer seemed consistent with reality, I also recognized it no longer mattered the moment that the windows from the bottom few floors imploded and herds of people began exiting the building and the sound of distant sirens drew near.
There didn’t seem to be as much blood or physical injury but it was very clear that people were totally freaked out and I couldn’t help but draw on the psychological first aid training I went through a few years ago. I could walk away and get to my meeting, which no longer seems so important and in fact, all of the anxiety I had over making it in time was completely gone. There was a reason I had this training and while the simulations that earned me the certification were interesting, this was happening now and I knew I had to at least try to help.
The people were congregating at the far end of the parking lot under a large dome that protected that area from any further physical harm and I ran over to the crowd beginning to assess what I can handle. I immediately connected with a geriatric male who seemed very confused. I introduced myself and asked him if it would be okay if we could go sit on the benches at the far end so that we could talk. He agreed, I put my right arm on his back to lead and comfort him and he spoke with a scratchy baritone, “My name is Simon, what happened?” I told him that I wasn’t quite sure, that I happened to be passing by when I heard a loud noise and saw the windows cave in. I asked him a few basic questions to try to figure out if he needed more immediate care; he seemed fine when he asked if I could help him call his wife on his cell phone. As I took his phone to begin dialing he explained that he was “never quite able to figure out this outdoor phone thing.” Once Simon began talking to his wife, his color came back and he seemed genuinely okay and I told him that I was going to see if there was anyone else that needed help but that I would check back in on him soon. He smiled and waved me off.
The sirens were now visible as a convoy of police, fire trucks and paramedics were fighting their way through the traffic jam and almost on site. A young boy grabbed my attention and asked if I could help. “Come with me mister, it’s my mom!” I immediately followed and before I had the chance to ask him anything, there she was, a twenty something girl who seemed about three years pregnant and breathing very heavily. She screeched, “Finally, a doctor, they aren’t going to wait any longer – hope you’re up for a special delivery.” This is something I wasn’t prepared for. “Ma’am, I’m not a…” She cut me off and got into something of a birthing position then without any reservations, lifted her dress. I yelled for a doctor, this was a medical building after all but there was so much confusion, I may as well have been mute. I was freaking out inside but here is this twenty something girl holding her dress up for me and her way calmer than me son, who was no more than five or six, perfectly calm at his mother’s side.
I ripped off my dress shirt to lie on the ground beneath her and heard her begin to scream. I looked down and realized I was living that PBS childbirth documentary that I saw all those years ago. Only thing, this was way more insane – there was a fucking head coming out of this woman’s vagina. In the instance of a second or less, I prayed, kept myself from vomiting, screamed really loud and then just said, “FUCK!” then I immediately apologized to the kid and tried to calm down as the woman grabbed my hand and said, “relax, this is totally crazy but it’s real, I need you.” Those last three words were the ones that changed everything as some bizarre fight or flight thing kicked in long enough for me to deliver twins just as a paramedic arrived on the scene to finish things up.
I remember one baby coming out, then another. I remember lots of disgusting fluids coming from this woman’s vagina and I remember her screaming, a lot. The next thing I remembered was waking up in an ambulance just outside of the lot. The medic told me that after I delivered the twins, I passed out. He mentioned that the twins are fine as is the mom and their brother. I was sweaty and disgusting and asked if there was anyone who would be able to get me a ride back to campus.
I got in a police cruiser with officer Rohmer who thanked me for my service and dropped me off. I went upstairs to the conference room where the meeting had let out about an hour before but my boss was working on his MacBook air. He looked up and before he had the chance to ask, I said to him, “you are not going to believe what happened to me.”