The Earth’s Survivors book Apocalypse
This Is Copyright protected material used with permission
10:15 PM GMT March 1st
“What is that?” Mieka Petre asked. He planted one hand on the back of the chair and then leaned forward, staring at the monitor harder.
“The Yellowstone Caldera… That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. It wasn’t there when I left for my break… Uh,” he looked up at the clock. “Fifteen minutes ago,” David Jones said.
“That can’t be. Has there been any activity from…” He stopped talking as David called up the log from ten minutes prior. He watched as a small counter measured the sudden change in ground level. He watched the elapsed time. “Christ, Jesus. Eleven inches in twenty-one seconds. That’s impossible.”
“Started about five seconds before that… At least on my readout…” David sighed. “The point is it wasn’t there, and it is now.”
Other people wandered over from where they had been, zoning in on the hurried conversation, and the edge of excitement it carried.
“I can goddamn well see that, David.” Mieka motioned for David to move, and took his seat, rolling closer to the monitor and watching the counter. “It has to be an error.” He caught a flash from the corner of his eye and turned away from the monitor and faced David. “Who knows?” His eyes rose and took in the half dozen men and women standing around listening to their conversation and watching the monitor. Three of them had their phones in their hands.
“Did any of you make a phone call, snap a picture? I’m telling you right now, I will personally fire anyone who causes a panic over this. This is a bad sensor… We’re working on land line reads, we don’t even have satellite. A bad read, it has to be. Ground level rise like that takes years, we all know that. It’s fact. There has been nothing in the last few days to indicate anything like that coming up…” He fixed a hard look on his face and met as many eyes with it that would meet his own. “No one is leaving until I check their phone. Nobody!“ His eyes swept the room. The cell phones vanished. “Who has a different set of readings?”
“I got fifteen,” Joan Allen said in the silence that held the room. Her phone was folded discreetly in one hand, and she slipped it into her front pocket as though she were drying her hands against the fabric of her pocket. Mieka swore under his breath.
“Jesus, Mieka, I just got a read from Long Valley.” This from Jason Lewis.
“What? …When?” Mieka asked as he turned to face him.
“I was watching it. There was some funny seismic stuff earlier and…”
“And? Get to it,” Mieka shouted.
“And it seemed like it was nothing … There was nothing when I got up to see what you guys were doing… Two feet… Two feet in the last minute!”
Panic gripped the room and voices immediately leapt into hurried conversation.
“People! People! Shut up!” Mieka Petre yelled above the din. The silence was instantaneous. He turned to face Jason. “Up two feet?” Sweat ran freely from his brow.
“Down… Down. It’s like it suddenly sunk… Suddenly…”
Mieka waved him off, and turned to face the room. He swiped at the sweat as it rolled into the corner of one eye, stinging.
“What else… Anything else?”
“Seismic… 4.3 … 5.8 … Jesus… Clusters around Yellowstone.” Jane Howe.
One by one everyone had gone back to their monitors. Alarms began ringing in the silence that had descended. First soft chimes then urgent warbles. All the satellite network was down. They had been reduced to basic land line connections. Slow, they should have had this information sooner, Mieka thought. Much sooner.
“Japan,” Someone called out. “Off the coast… Chiba… Seismic… It’s a big one… A big one… 8.9 … More… More coming…”
An alarm that was mounted partway up the wall above the huge banks of monitors began to bray. Long, strident calls. Mieka turned to the alarm, frozen for a second. It had never been triggered in the ten years he had worked at the Alaska station, never, he had begun to believe it would never be triggered. He thought of it as the Oh Shit, alarm. It was triggered from the central office on the mainland. It was only set off if there was a catastrophic failure of some sort. With the delay because of the land lines he had no way of knowing how late the alarm was. What had already, in all probability, occurred.
He turned to go back to his own chair; there were decisions to make, people to notify. Suddenly the floor dropped from under him, and he found himself falling. Before he could reach the floor it suddenly leapt up to meet him, and he slammed headfirst into the polished concrete, nearly losing consciousness.
He regained his knees and tried to brace himself as the floor shook harder still. Blood ran from his hairline, and joined a small trickle of blood from one eyebrow. A second later it ran across his cheek to his chin; dripping to the floor.
He watched the drops hit the concrete; splatter, and he thanked God that he could still see. There was a stabbing pain behind his eyes. He had hit hard, and the shaking building wasn’t helping at all.
Screams and yells mixed with the crash of file cabinets and the splintering of plastic as monitors shook apart or crashed to the floor. The air suddenly became clouded with dust as the concrete the room was made from began to shake apart.
Mieka watched as Jane Howe bounced across the floor, her eyes wild, and slammed headfirst into the corner of a desk, sliding underneath; her body suddenly loose, shaking like a rag doll as the jolts hit the building: Her legs jumped up and down. Mieka tore his eyes away. He tried to maintain his position on his knees, the palms of his hands flat, grasping at the concrete, but the constant pounding of the floor against his kneecaps was becoming excruciatingly painful. Reluctantly he dropped back down to the floor, trying to control the drop as much as he could, but he went rolling away to slam into a wall: He felt his ribs break as he hit.
The noise from the earthquake was a constant roar. Screaming, yelling, crying, pleading, the constant rain of concrete chunks, sounding like hail stones as they fell from the ceiling above. The thickening dust. A roar of something else, wind? … Something beginning to overtake everything else, closing out all other sounds as he sagged against the wall and tried to hang on. His ribs were definitely broken, it hurt to lift his arms. He could feel the bones grinding together. He knew he was crying out each time they were moved, but he could not hear those cries.
The ribs ground harder, and this time the light dimmed further; he had a harder time opening his eyes. A second later they slipped shut again as the floor suddenly dropped from beneath him once more, causing the splintered ends of his ribs to grind together even harder. He found himself falling as consciousness slipped away from him. The noise increased as he fell and then suddenly it was gone. He fell silently through the darkness.
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