A Social Congestion

Posted: January 26, 2013 in #fridayflash, Short stories

Traffic slowed, bunching up.

Doug clicked off the radio and listened to the bleating horns, each desperate to be heard, like lost lambs.  He took a deep breath, as car’s whined impatiently through his ears and the humming lingered in the air like an unwanted smell.

It was pointless.

Why were they getting so irate?

Was the noise of the car horns really going to get the traffic moving?

The piercing penetration of compressed air vibrated through everyone’s ear drums; bouncing off the tarmac for miles each decibel, a blunt knife stabbing the thick atmosphere and fraying tempers.

Doug pulled his notebook from the pile of books on the passenger seat and began to write frantically.

He could see people getting out of their cars, some standing on the rim of their drivers doors to look over the traffic and repeatedly glancing up the road for any sign of movement.  The ‘Parkers’.  They liked to be the first ones to know what was going on.

‘Musicians’ were the folks happy to stay in their own shielded environment, but frustrated enough to want to be heard so insisted on using their horns as a way of communication.  Some would use their horns spontaneously and sporadic, whilst others more in tune and with a certain rhythm.

The individuals less self aware and probably the most vulnerable of all were the ‘Robots’, who without direction or planned routine, were short circuiting and spinning out of control in front of Doug’s very eyes.  They couldn’t cope with being in a confined space, unable to gage what was happening next or indeed how long the situation would take.  You could see them over heating quicker than the vehicles.

And last but by no means least were the individuals Doug liked to call the ‘herd’.  They neither looked panicked or stressed, or even felt the need to assess the situation around them.  They were lost, undecided on which group to join.  They would make a performance of getting out of their cars, either stretch or clear their throats whilst taking wide and steady strides between their car and the central reservation barriers.  Most of them would have their hands on their hips or be gently shaking their head, watching for other people’s reactions.  Occasionally they might sigh, laugh, or the braver ones make a sarcastic comment to try and get someone elses attention.

The overall scene, was like a clip from a disaster film, where everyone was desperately trying to escape the world ending, or a volcano erupting.  The motorway was bursting with rows of cars touching almost nose-to-nose.

Doug remained in his car watching individuals in his eye shot.  He was amazed as people became more animated, the longer they were kept waiting.  Was it the fact they had lost control?  Or maybe it was because they were all confined and behaviour really did breed behaviour.

The transparent heat, from overheating engines and exasperated bodies, lifted up into the skies.  The image of motionless cars began to look warped, as if a melting pane of glass was shielding them from going any further.

In the distance the faint drone of sirens and a glint of blue luminosity travelling at light speed broke through the ambience.    Doug threw his book across to the other seat and adjusted his rear view mirror.  He watched as the crowds were now more intent on the arrival of the emergency services behind them, than they were about what was going on in front of them.

As the sirens became louder, Doug turned back on his engine.  He put his foot to the accelerator and as he let go of the handbrake, he hoped he’d gathered enough information for his psychology dissertation, “Social behaviours in the same circumstances”.

Now to try and out run the police so he could get home to write it…

  1. Icy Sedgwick says:

    Ah, very clever – I did wonder why he wasn’t reacting like the rest!

  2. Icy Sedgwick says:

    Ah, very clever. I did wonder why he wasn’t behaving like them!

  3. love the way you compose this as initially seeming like an orchestra with the different behaviours, but then tie it all together with his academic study of it all.

    Think you have the apostrophe in the wrong place in car’s – that makes it only 1 car?

  4. Helen says:

    Ah I wonder did he make it past the police? I liked how you led us into this and twisted the end.

  5. John Wiswell says:

    I didn’t know you were back in the game, Haze! Good to see you posting again. And it does seem like that fellow was infected by an idea…

  6. adampb says:

    Traffic is a great philosophical and sociological study. Clever concept and well done.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  7. Liana Mir says:

    An enjoyable read with a neat and surprising payoff. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Bev says:

    Glad to see you back!

  9. richardbon says:

    That’s funny he ran from the cops to get home and write. Or are we meant to think he was more than just a spectator for whatever caused the traffic jam? I liked the depiction of the different types of drivers.

  10. […] A Social Conjestion by Brainhaze ~ @Brainhazewp ~ Between 500 and 1000 words ~ Slice of Life […]

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