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Even though there were very few stalled vehicles on the thruway, the going was still slow, and it was close to noon when they by-passed Buffalo, and began to skirt Lake Erie, heading for the Pennsylvania border.
As they drove, the destruction that had been wrought upon the Earth became more and more evident. The lake was much closer, and much higher than it should have been, lending credence to Gary’s postulation that the continent may have been split by the blast. The thruway was also becoming less passable, and late in the afternoon they were finally forced to stop.
It wasn’t the condition of the thruway that forced them to stop, but the absence of it. They were barely into Ohio when it had simply ended, dropping down a newly formed gravel strewn beach into the turbulent waters of the new river. Frank stopped long before the road crumbled away to nothing, and the others stopped behind him. They all walked as a group toward the raging waters, awed at the spectacle before them.
“It Looks as though you were right, Gary,” Frank said in a quiet voice.
“Well, we knew that from Jeremiah, but still… look at it, it’s unbelievable,” Gary responded equally awed.
No one spoke for a few minutes as they all gazed out over the water. Whole trees were swept easily along by the current, as though they were twigs. An occasional car bobbed by, and once as they watched, what seemed to be an entire house floated quickly by, hurried along by the swift current. Animal carcasses by the hundreds, bloated, and broken, floated by. There seemed to be no end to the water, it stretched as far as they could see, muddy brown; alive and powerful.
“Saw pictures of a flood once, looked like this,” Gary said staring out at the swift moving water, “only not as big. Not near as big as this is.”
“We’ll never get across this in a boat,” Jimmy said, “no way.”
“That’s for sure,” Frank agreed. “Looks like we’re walking from here, at least until we can find a place to cross.”
“If we can find a place to cross,” Jimmy said.
“Don’t start thinkin’ negative,” Jeremiah admonished, “we got this far and we can make it the rest of the way.”
The huge crowd that had been following the buses were now surrounding them. Many expressed similar doubts about crossing the river, either here or further along.
Listen,” Frank said, loud enough to be heard by most of them, “if we don’t cross it, we’ll die. It’s that simple. So we’ve got to go farther down and find a spot to cross it, and before we can actually cross, once we do find a place, we’ll have to find a boat somewhere.” he looked around at the crowd, “…A big boat at that.”