Claustrophobia wound around me, tighter and tighter, as if it were grave cloth and I were being mummified.
For all that great cities had to offer, they were nonetheless mazes of streets. Mazes could thwart and trap. Broad, open freeways offered freedom only until clogged with traffic or barricaded. Any neighborhood, rich or poor, was potentially a ghetto, every ghetto easily converted to a prison, every prison a potential death camp.
To both sides of the highway, the residences and offices and retail outlets seemed at one moment to be burnt-out and boarded-up, but an instant later they appeared to be bunkers and battlements arrayed not against a common enemy but each against the other in a war of all versus all.
Now I felt the shadows that flailed the land, as though they were accompanied by shock waves, and the flickers of sunlight were almost bright enough to blind. In addition to the broad freeway along which vehicles raced at high speed, I was also aware of these same concrete arteries in a state of sclerosis, perhaps hours or weeks or years from now, commuters halted bumper-to-bumper.
As insubstantial as figments of a dream yet terrifying, an angry mob invaded my vague premonition, a faceless horde bringing grim detail to the vision, metastasizing along the lanes of stalled cars and trucks, smashing windows, tearing open doors, dragging motorists and passengers onto the pavement, blades glinting, guns firing, boots stomping terrified faces.