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Andre Morrissen

I had been walking for about 3 hours unaware of the cold November air that had greeted me when I first set out. I made my way slowly east towards the Military School, the deserted gravel path of the gardens crunching underfoot. Nine forty-five I guessed. A turn to the right and my eyes were drawn to a bright yellow sign in the distance: BOULANGERIE. Once last glance back to where I had come from revealed the Eiffel Tower fighting off the thick orange fog and casting its spectral glow on the damp grass in front of it.

The smell of fresh croissants beckoned and I entered at the corner. La vendeuse hurried the customers along, eager to close up for the evening. As I handed her a 10F note a screech of brakes sounded outside. A horn honked long and loud, and the wrenching of tearing metal filled the air. My fellow customers and I turned our eyes hastily to the street. Merde, I heard behind me and a man stormed out of the door. There was a crash of glass and a rumbling scraping sound. I stepped out onto the pavement and through the gathering crowd of shuffling heads I beheld the source of this stomach turning sound.

A car came careening across the intersection sliding on its half crushed roof, throwing sparks at the bystanders. With a sudden deafening thud it smacked into the concrete pillar in the centre of the road. More glass crashed and whizzed through the air. A loud scream pierced the heavy silence amongst the onlookers and a Metro train clunked lazily out of Grenelle station.

People began to yell and congregate at the street corners. More screams rang out punctuated by the staccato car horns. I moved closer myself, but still behind the main crowd that advanced cautiously in military-like file. The stench of petrol was sickening and ominous.

Through the heads of the crowd I could see the upturned front of the car. Amazingly, the headlight still shone and it reflected from the grey concrete a harrowing sight. The roof of the car had almost completely collapsed and lodged between it and the bonnet was a body. An arm moved in a feeble attempt to repel its jailer. Sapped of energy the hand fell and her head flopped onto its side revealing a thick stream of blood from the bridge of her nose into her hair.

An hysterical wail echoed, and on the far side of the vehicle another figure appeared. In the distance a faint siren drifted in. The man maneuvered himself against the pillar and grasped the mangled framework and strained to lift. The crowd maintained a stoic cordon, and with the release of another sharp scream began to mill around agitatedly. A small fire has just sprung up at the back of the vehicle. The man strained again, this time shouting something muffled and foreign. The symphony of horns and distant sirens continued.

I dug my back up closer to the pillar this time and contorted my knees into my chest hoping to achieve some additional leverage. The heat from the fire began to tickle the exposed hairs on my arms. I closed my eyes and braced all my muscles to move the tangled carcass. Sweat poured from everywhere on my body and I released another burst of energy from inside, holding the tension until I could do so no more. I could not move it.

The fire had entered the inside of the car and I heard the pop of breaking glass. I craned my neck over the rapidly heating metal. Angelisa's eyes blinked lethargically and she gasped for air in time with her blinking. I screamed at the crowd, "Help me - help me!" but they just looked on, horrified and confused as if they didn't hear me. I tried again to move the wreckage, keeping my eyes locked on Angelisa's. They were fading, pleading. A trickle of blood found its way onto her eyelid and she feebly fought it off with a slow movement of her head. 

I pushed once more, roaring the air from my lungs as I did and the thing began to move. I bellowed again and tried to get my legs into the position to double the force. I heard the sirens all around. Angelisa blinked the blood from her eye and I drew from inside one more burst of energy. Neon blue flashed in my eyes and the sirens rang incessantly. The sweat on my hands loosened my command and with another pop of breaking glass the twisted cadaver came down on top of me.

The waiter stood in the open doorway surveying the early morning tranquility. A lone bus whizzed along the Boulevard St. Michel echoing in the otherwise empty streets. He went inside, making his way slowly to the espresso machine where upon arrival there followed a clunk of cups and a blast of steam. Cool air trickled into the cafe and the muffled bark of a dog sounded. He set my tartine on the table and retreated, leaving me pen in hand, staring out at the Jardins de Luxembourg. A young girl, bag slung over her shoulder passed in front of the window breaking my trance-like gaze. I turned with heavy eyes to the postcard on the table and wrote: "Chere Angelisa,"

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