I’ve been watching live camera feeds of the volcanic eruption on La Palma island in the Canaries for a couple of weeks. It’s been fascinating to watch Cumbre Vieja’s newest fissure develop. This story is a little nod to the volcano.”
I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
FOWC with Fandango — Fissure
Pensitivity’s Three Things Challenge — Secret– See – Segment
Your Daily Word — Bungle
Ragtag Daily Prompt — Conversation
Word of the Day — Matching
There is only one time in a volcanologist’s life where he wishes the earth could remain still and respectful. It’s no secret, the darn things always erupt at the worst possible time.
I’d been on the island for a couple of weeks. It wasn’t a bad life, spending my days in the sun, recording earthquake swarms, taking the volcano’s temperature. The boss even gave me a brand-new lidar machine to monitor the geology for bulges that would determine if an eruption was due.
After a busy day, the island paradise brought me delicious cocktails, and conversation with beautiful ladies. Oh, and a glut of bananas. It seemed all they did here was grow bananas and serve them with everything. Ever had a flame-grilled rib-eye steak with deep-fried banana slices? No? I would recommend ordering it either.
Anyway, this particular night, the paradise island with living up to its name. I was busy copulating with one of the fine ladies I’d been courting the days.
Just as the temperature of the room reached magmatic proportions, and the sheets threatened to catch fire — I felt it. The damn earth grumbled. The scratching of the seismograph only confirmed it.
“Ooh, Charlie! Have you been practising? You’re making the earth move tonight,” Enya breathed between her evocative minds.
“Gah, I finally get to bungle in paradise and now you decide to detonate!” I sighed, cursed my luck, and rolled off the bed. “Sorry, darling. That wasn’t me.”
“Charlie, come back to bed. I’m not done yet,” Enya beckoned with a coy finger.
Another tremor rattled my holiday cabin just enough to vibrate my teeth.
“I have a bad feeling you’ll be overdone if we stay here much longer.” Scooping up her dress, I tossed it to her. “Get dressed and be ready to leave, fast!”
“Aww, Charlie. It was just a little tremor. They’ve been happening for weeks.”
I pulled on my jeans and T-shirt while watching the needle bouncing on my seismograph. The last segment confirmed my fears. “No, this is different. Up until now, everything has been matching tectonic patterns. These last tremors are way too shallow. They have to be magmatic.”
In answer, a large earthquake rattled the windows.
“Meaning?” Enya gave me a blank look as she began to dress.
“Your volcano is about —” A deafening bang shook the island. Several of the cabin windows shattered. The ground shook like an old unbalanced tumble dryer. My tilt metre, several cups and a picture crashed to the ground. “—erupt!”
Enya screamed, “Oh, save me, Charlie!”
I hauled on my hiking boots, grab my khaki bush hat, and dashed outside.
Already the stars were obscured by black ash and smoke. The air putrefied by sulphur among other volcanic gases.
I turned to look at the volcano. A gentle white plume of smoke hung over the calm peak. My eyes were drawn along the range of hills dominating the centre of the island and — “Oh, shit!” What I saw set my heart racing faster than I knew possible.
Enya ran out behind me holding her shoes, “What’s hap—”
“Get in the car!” I yelled as I unlocked and threw open the doors of my hired Land Rover of my . “It’s not the volcano. A new fissure has opened up and is venting lava straight towards this cabin.”
Even as I keyed the ignition, my cabin burst into flames.
“Oh, darling, all your stuff is burning!” Enya said.
“Yeah, a crying shame. My favourite pair of boxer shorts were in there.” I retorted as I gunned the accelerator.
The Land Rover lurched along the gravel track, as I sent it hurtling out of the gate.
Behind the vehicle, the sky took on an eerie orange glow. Beneath it, the whole hillside was ablaze with yellow-hot magma. At 1200°C that hellish lava flow would obliterate everything in its path until it reached the sea some 5 km away.
Driving like a one-handed madman, I grabbed my phone and set it dialling the number for my boss.
“Yello!” She answered cheerfully.
“Hi, Charlie. You sound stressed.”
“Leeanne, Mount Vega has sprung a leak. Lava has erupted from a new fissure and is pouring down the hillside where my cabin was. It’s gonna go straight through the town of Golden Palms until it reaches the sea. Get everybody evacuated, now!”
“Oh, shit, Charlie!” Leeanne said becoming flustered.
“That’s what I said — Didn’t help. Make the call, now!” I hung up, wrenched on the handbrake, and forced the steering wheel to the right. The car careened around the tight bend and I accelerated hard. I was now driving parallel to the hillside and running out of time.
“Waaa! Don’t make us crash!” Enya screamed.
“I’m not —” to my right an avenue of palm trees burst into flames. The ground beneath sizzling as the molten rock incinerated everything in its path. Before I could react, the lava spilt onto and devoured the road on its path of destruction toward the town.
“Charlie! We can’t drive over that! We’ll burn our feet!” Enya said.
I slammed on the brakes and took a deep breath trying to dampen my fear. It failed. A look uphill revealed a geyser of glowing cinders reaching three hundred feet into the boiling air. A magnificent sight unless you were too damned close.
“Is the volcano going to explode?” Enya said as the heat rose in the car’s cabin. A shower of flaming rock peppered the car leaving the paintwork steaming.
“No, the lava is thin and the gases are venting pyroclastic material quite nicely. However —” I accelerated and pulled the steering wheel to the left.
The car thundered off the road.
My head struck the ceiling, as I steered the jolting vehicle down the hillside.
“Are you mad!” Enya yelled at me.
“No, I just don’t want to be cooked by a volcano, thank you very much!” I retorted as I angled between scrubby bushes.
The left wing mirror exploded off the car as it struck a palm tree. A fence became shrapnel, and then we were airborne and flying over a swimming pool.
I saw the owners stood on their patio wearing pyjamas and watching the volcanic show.
They screamed and dived aside as a Land Rover smacked down in their rose garden.
Braking, I threw open the back door. “Madam get in, now! The lava is coming this way!” I ordered.
“I — I have to pack!” argued the lady.
“No time!” Her husband ushered her into the car.
“Let’s get out of here!” I said driving on before the door shut behind me.
The garden vanished beneath a flaming pyre. The lava poured into the swimming pool instantly vaporising the water in a geyser of steam.
Regaining the road, I took a left and then went immediately right onto the main street. By then the emergency services sirens were blaring all over the city.
A fire engine raced past us towards the burning houses. Any attempts the heroic firefighters would make to extinguish fires would be fruitless. Nothing we can do as humans can stop a volcano.
I drove on as fast as I could across the town. Only slowing as I reached the foothills across the valley. Reaching the towns overlook, I brought the Land Rover to a stop.
“What now?” Enya asked.
“We safe up here.” I indicated the glowing tongues of lava pouring into the town. It was already cooling, thickening, and building into moving black walls of hideous, smoking rock. “See, the town is built in the valley between these hills. The lava is going to follow the valley and dump into the sea to the right of the harbour.”
“So, now we just wait for the eruption to end?” asked the gentleman in the back.
“I could be weeks, even months. If you have family elsewhere, you should go there. I’ve got to stay here, as the islands volcanologist. I need to order in new equipment and set up a viewing station to record and monitor the eruption.”
“While you wait for your equipment, can we finish what we were doing in your cabin?” Enya asked.
I glanced at the couple in the back before returning my gaze to the flaming pyre that was the island’s newest volcanic fissure. “No, I don’t think our audience would appreciate that, darling!”
Thanks for reading my friends.
Have a great day!