By Matt Handle
The first time I saw it happen was last Monday. I was sitting in a traffic jam on Peachtree. One minute, a man was rolling down his window screaming obscenities at another driver and the next, an anvil the size of a Sherman tank fell from the sky and flattened both the screamer and his car like an aluminum can after an especially effective stomping.
I know I should have been horrified. A man had just died. But the sorry truth was I hadn’t slept for over 48 hours. I was overworked, groggy, and half out of it. If anything, I guess I was just surprised. It was the biggest anvil I’d ever seen and it seemingly came out of nowhere.
That was the first time, but it was far from the last. Two more anvils squashed commuters along my morning route to the office that day. The second one took out a driver that was weaving in and out of lanes just a few cars ahead of me. The third mashed a shiny new Camaro right after it ran a red light in the opposite direction from where I sat waiting for my turn.
I work on the 10th floor of an office building. I spend most of my days stuck on conference calls pretending to pay attention as I stare out the window daydreaming about a more interesting life. There was no need for make-believe last Monday. Instead I sat and watched as more anvils fell from the cloudless blue sky, squashing cars left and right. I thought it odd that no one mentioned it on the calls. In fact, no one seemed to notice on the roads either. There were no sirens, no emergency vehicles or gawking eyewitnesses. Every time an anvil demolished some rude or careless driver and his or her automobile, the other cars simply put on their blinkers and went around the new road hazard as if it was nothing more than a stall or a particularly nasty pothole.
My return from work that evening took twice as long as it normally did. By that point, the anvils were littering the road so thoroughly that traffic had slowed to a crawl. The driver of the fancy SUV ahead of me got so aggravated at the delays that she laid on her horn for a good 30 seconds as we waited for a chance to change lanes. The horn didn’t stop until an anvil pounded her and her silver Porsche Cayenne into what probably looked like a German pancake. If you could see anything beneath the 30-ton hunk of forged steel that had landed on her.
I worked from home for the next couple of days. No one on the conference calls knew the difference and it seemed a prudent decision given how clogged with anvils the roads had become. I had no business behind the wheel anyway. I still hadn’t slept. Every time I tried, I just wound up staring at the ceiling as the noises all around me filled my head. My apartment is twice as high up as my office and from the 20th floor, I watched as the city sprouted new anvils at an ever-increasing pace. It wasn’t long before I saw more of them than actual cars or trucks.
It’s been a solid week now and last night was finally different. I slept. In fact, I slept better than I have in ages. As I drifted off, my room was quiet. The city outside was quiet. The sounds in my head were quiet. There were no horns. There was no hollering. There were no voices asking for this and demanding that. There was only blessed silence as I lay peacefully in the darkness.
I didn’t wake until eight hours later. I can’t remember the last time I slept that long. I woke to the sound of my phone chirping. I had new email. I got out of bed and plucked the device from its place on my nightstand before carrying it to the window. I grasped the edge of a curtain with one hand while I tapped the email icon on my phone with the other. As I revealed the view of the city streets below, I saw nothing but anvils. They stretched as far as I could see.
I glanced down at my phone and noted somewhat curiously that the message was from my own account. The email itself was a picture of a giant hammer; its flat, steel head pristine, unmarred. And the title of the message was one simple phrase: Forge Something New.