This story also includes the Your Daily Word Prompt word – ‘Intense’
This is what I came up with …
Tobias VS the Volcano
The mountain loomed in the sapphire sky, bathed in the intense rays of the midday sun. Tobias Lomax was sweating buckets beneath the brim of his Panama hat. He was glad he was stood in the shallows of the river. Taking off his hat he dipped it in the flow of cool clear water and replaced it on his blonde hair. The cold cascade over his head was delicious.
Tobias eyed the shape of the river as it meandered through the shallow rocky canyon toward him from the nearby mount. There was a good spot, right where the river changed shape and flowed under the boulder.
Hiking his rucksack higher on his broad shoulder, he set off along the bank. Mantling his way over boulders and a tangle of rattan vines from the choking rain forest. Reaching the bend, he slid back down the rocks into the knee-high river.
“Okay, river this is where you’ll dump the good stuff from up there. Let me have some treasures.” Tobias was a gem hunter and this section of the Amazon River flowed closed to the Reventador Volcano. Tobias knew he could find gold, agates, possibly peridots and even onyx and kornerupine if he was lucky.
Pulling a portable rock sifter from his pack, he dug into the sediment beneath the boulder and began to sift his way through the substrate. A few minutes work netted him a couple of small agates and a few flecks of gold. He’d just gone back into the water for another scoop of sediment when a trilling reached his ears.
“Typical timing!” Tobias grinned and answered his satellite phone. “Hola, Antonia, my hot chilli pepper, how are you?”
“Tobias darling, you need to come home. Our little bundle of joy is coming now,” replied his wife sounding distant but excited.
Tobias beamed. “This is great news. I am on my way at once. See you so—” an intense tremor ran through the ground.
“Are you okay?” Antonia asked.
“I’m fine, the Earth moved at your wondrous news. I will see you soon, beautiful mama.” Tobias blew her a kiss, hung up and put his phone away with his eyes on Reventador. Smoke was rising from the peak now. “That was a magmatic quake. You aren’t planning to smite a new daddy for taking your precious stones, are you?”
As if talking, the volcano sent another shudder through the ground. The smoke increasing from the cinder cone.
“I guess I better leave then, huh?” Tobias felt water splashing at his waist. The river had risen over a foot and was no longer clear.
Tobias kicked off the boulder and scrabbled to climb out of the little canyon. Another magmatic quake sent him tumbling back into the water. The intense flow caught and hurled him like clothes in a washing machine down the canyon. It ripped his hat off and tore at his clothes. He felt branches and other debris assaulting his body as he struggled to control his momentum.
“I’m not dying today!” he told himself as he began corkscrew-swimming through the raging water. The method allowed him to make headway as he rounded a bend. He grabbed a vine and swung him onto a sandy bank.
An escaping caiman snapped at him as it disappeared into the undergrowth.
“Hey, amigo! It’s not my fault you toothy twit!” Tobias grumbled as he stood up drunkenly and tumbled over a fallen tree trunk and fell still to catch his breath.
It was then the volcano erupted in a throat-clearing blast.
“Whoa! Who ordered the bloody rollercoaster ride!” Tobias staggered to his feet. He right forearm was bleeding from being hit by debris in the river. He felt several bruises too. He looked up at Reventador and swore. A column of boiling ash was rising high into the darkening sky. Lightning arced out of the smoke like a scene from a natural disaster film.
Tobias’s eyes grew wide. There was a second problem coming his way down the side of the volcano. “Pyroclastic flow!” He set off running alongside the river, he needed shelter at once.
Jumping logs, vines and small bushes, he ducked beneath branches and plunged onward. He was already below the path he took to get to the river and had no idea where he was going. There was little choice, the pyroclastic flow would turn him to an ash statue if it caught him.
Bursting through bushes, he caught his foot in a root. It launched him off his feet and sent him sprawling on to his knees. He rolled to a stop at the edge of a precipice. The river tumbled into a lake some sixty feet below.
“Too close!” Tobias sucked in lungfuls of already smoky, ash-laden air. He looked back at the volcano. The flow was gaining on him, the sapphire sky was more like obsidian smothered by the ash now. Ash was falling like snow and death was coming his way like a fire breathing locomotive.
“No choice!” Tobias looked at the base of the waterfall, chose the darkest colour water and leapt. Flipping through the air he angled hands first into the foaming water.
He hit like a dart and plunged deep. Rolling through submerged debris, he powered to the surface. Breaking into the air, he rolled away from a large branch splashing down where he emerged. Wasting no time, he kicked toward the falls through a hail of debris. Above him, the pyroclastic flow exploded out over the waterfall canyon.
It felt like half the forest was tumbling down amid greywater and ash. Tobias screamed for mercy in the intense, blistering air. He plunged beneath the water and swam for all he was worth. It took all his strength but he swam beneath the falling water and pulled himself out onto a ledge there.
Tobias was as safe as he could be behind the water. The ledge had a roof protecting him from falling debris. The water itself stopped burning ash reaching him. Exhausted, he lay down and fell asleep.
It was many hours later when he woke up to a rhythmic, pounding sound.
“Helicopter!” Tobias jumped through the waterfall and there it was spinning in the clearer skies above him. Tobias reached into his bag and found his waterproof torch. He began flashing it at the rescue craft. To his delight, it sent down a harness.
As Tobias climbed into the harness, he said a prayer for his life and that of his unborn baby. Twenty-four hours later he was sat in a chair beside his wife’s hospital bed. Holding his baby son, Raoul.
Have a great day!