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After an otherworldly explosion mysteriously jolts the skies near a small California city, its denizens are gripped by increasingly bizarre behavior, leaving some to ponder whether their strange and aggressive actions result from alien influences or are inherent to human nature.It starts with a rush to judgment. Civic-minded citizens demand more control over what they see as society's inefficient behavior-particularly, motorists who feel entitled to drive their vehicle anywhere at any hour for any reason. To combat such chaotic impulses to choose one's own routes, City Hall establishes an elaborate new bureaucracy-the Driving Efficiency Department (DED). When mandatory driving directions are disregarded, higher penalties and jail sentences are handed down, with armed guards arresting or shooting violators. One mild-mannered city official can no longer ignore the obvious: something is not right. He takes a different route. He and a collection of oddball friends organize a daring escape. They face barbed wired fences, machine guns, minefields, and army sharp shooters. When they finally reach the fenced-off border, they have to decide whether to risk death or languish in a world of endless uncertainty and terror.