Acrid smoke from a fire wafted through the windows of Bobby Coldiron’s Jeep as he nosed it past other cars and around emergency vehicles. The distant, ghostly wail of sirens pervaded the air as he spoke with two policewomen, asking if he could skirt their barricade. They warned him of a possible gas leak in the area and instructed him to turn around.
Consistent detours took him out of his way and eventually, unable to drive any farther, he parked his rig and dropped the tailgate. Pulling on his backpack, he hoisted a case of bottled water onto his right shoulder and set out on foot.
The epicenter of the magnitude 6.5 earthquake was located several miles north and west of Stockton, shaking the city at 7:22 AM. Storefront window glass and bricks littered sidewalks. More than a few doors were crooked now and many structures succumbed when the ground trembled.
The phenomenon left one neighborhood in shambles, the next unscathed. He mused if he were a spiritual person, the chaos might be more easily interpreted through prophecy than by logic.
Sunlight glinted off the Still Woods Retirement Center parking lot, where water was a foot deep and ripples lapped against the doors. A few older folks stood staring out from inside.