She was stopped at a red light on 5th and Broadway, fiddling with her broken AC, when she saw it from her car window. Something gargantuan was lumbering up Broadway, inhaling the diesel exhaust of buses. Waves of heat rose in the distance as the mastodon trudged past the Biltmore Hotel. Seeing itself reflected in a mirrored high-rise, and thinking it had found a mate, the beast stopped to stare and sniff the air. Breaking news on the radio announced temperatures had reached 119 in downtown LA. The street was empty except for three girls in quinceanera dresses stepping into an SUV. They stopped and gawked at what they thought was a runaway elephant from a movie set. Giggling in their pastel gowns, the three tiaraed princesses snapped photos of the ten-ton animal with their cell phones. Their glittering nails danced over keyboards, posting simultaneously on four social media platforms. Bored and wilting, they disappeared into the chilled air of their hulking vehicle, zooming past the incognitum. She trailed behind it in her clunker until the car sputtered and sparked, dying just as she made a left on Grand.

On foot, she followed the monstrosity as it made its way through the city. With each step, its feet sank deeper into the melting asphalt. Climbing into the Citibank pond, it rolled on its back, frolicking in the shower of the fountain. A crowd of office workers had gathered. They had seen it from their arctic-aired cubicles. It had awakened something within the Siberian landscape of their office. Filing into elevators like ants, they had poured out onto the plaza, the hot air like a blast from purgatory. They all laughed when it uncoiled its trunk, spraying them with water from its flared nostrils. One worker saw the beast as a vision that came to deliver her from her strangled dreams, her puny aspirations. She knelt at the pond, taking in the Gargantua’s breadth, height, and weight. Another understood the behemoth as a message from the maker himself, a remembrance of a prehistoric hunt; how to spark fire, how to skin a buck, how to worship the gods. And yet another cried, recalling the romantic yearnings of his youth, the excavation of his soul, the discovery of uncharted bodies, and how, over a millennia, asteroids and droughts had diminished his conviction that he wasn’t just another fossil from a bygone era. He wasn’t just another extinct animal buried in the tundra, waiting for future scientists to discover the DNA of bitterness and regret.

A few of the workers were so overcome with heat that they stripped down to their underwear, jumping into the water with the hulk, screaming and splashing at each other like children. An overzealous junior underwriter grabbed his Swiss army knife, attempting to cut off a piece of its tail as a souvenir. The giant rose to its feet, cracking the cement barriers. Water gushed onto the street. She sucked in her breath when its 16-foot ivory tusks flung the half-naked man into the air. She followed the mastodon as it walked onto the onramp of the 101 North.

Freeway traffic was at a standstill. People climbed out of their cars to stare at what was approaching on the horizon. A great expanse of ice like a mirror, like a movie screen, was moving toward them. The sun’s reflection off the glacier had sparked a fire, engulfing buildings and nearby hillsides. Helios had become a laser. The melted ice had caused the San Fernando Valley to flood. A van carrying fireworks exploded, setting other vehicles on fire. Rockets soared in the air as the mastodon caught fire. It threw its head back, roaring in the flames, stomping on the cars. She watched a tuft of its singed fur blow away in the wind. Gaping at the vastness of the glacier, she took off her shades, and let the light burn out her retinas.