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by Cindy Read about a year ago in Short Story
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Yellowstone Super Volcano!

Photo by Nicolasintravel on Unsplash

Sonya Reiki regained consciousness, in a cave far beneath the earth’s surface. She was hot, sweaty, sore and scared. She instinctively reached for her heart shaped locket, that she wore around her neck ever since she received it from Joel, on the day she gave birth to their son, Justin. She remembered that her thermoregulatory suit covered the locket and she wasn’t able to feel it’s warmth. For a brief moment she laid motionless and thought of her son and husband, remembering good times that had passed. She cherished the simple memories and a tear escaped, leaving a trail in her ash covered face.

By freestocks on Unsplash

As a seismologist, Sonya has worked for the United States Geological Survey (USGS) science bureau for the last ten years. Her drive for this type of learning began when she was a young girl living in California, when she experienced the horror of a 7.1 earthquake that struck Petrolia in 1992. She was five years old at that time and she remembers the overwhelming fear that she experienced. She spent the rest of her life learning about the earth’s inner core, hoping to chase away the fear of destruction that was left in her heart on that dreadful day in 1992, when she lost her father.

By Carl Campbell on Unsplash

Her thoughts brought her to the irony of the situation as she realized that even if she and her crew were able to escape from the unground cavern, she didn’t know if she would make it back to her son and husband; or if they were even alive. She knew the world would not be as she left it prior to going on the expedition to Northern California to investigate the abnormal signals her lab was receiving from the seismic activity equipment placed under ground.

Sonya looked around and saw two other bodies lying near her, she recognized John and Ian, but couldn’t see Karla. She moved cautiously, feeling the discomfort and soreness of her body. Looking up, she remembers the terrifying movement of the earth that caused her and her team to plunge from the pathway down to the bottom of the cavern. She called out and Ian verbally responded, and she moved over to John and pinched his hand, and is rewarded with a moan. They both roused, but Sonya is concerned that she hears nothing from Karla.

By Robert Thiemann on Unsplash

There is darkness in the cave and breathing is difficult. Sonya grabs for her backpack and finds her gas mask and puts it on, asking John and Ian if they have their gear, and their masks. John replies “ We have our gas masks engaged; we need to find Karla.” Ian finds a light and they can see that it is raining black ash, and the glow of lava is evident in a pit approximately 100 yards away. Sonya says “There must have been a volcanic eruption” John replies “Agreed, but what was the magnitude and what will we find above ground?”

Using their lights, they search for Karla and see her lying on a large boulder, moisture covering the rock. They have to ascend 25 feet upwards toward the elevator that is located just across from where Karla lied unresponsive. The heat is overwhelming, and the group is grateful for the thermoregulatory technology of their suit, which provides some protection against the incredible heat.

The lava accumulated in the pit was flowing in an east to west direction which indicated to the scientists that there was some type of volcanic eruption. The team’s biggest fear was a super volcanic eruption originating in Yellowstone National Park. All of them knew that this catastrophe would have global implications, and they were lost in their own concerns for their families. Sonya was the first to speak “Okay, we can’t think about our families right now, we need to get to the entrance to see if we can get out of the cave. We know the potential implications, but our job now is to get out of here, because if that pit explodes, were dead and no good to anyone.” Ian says “If there is anyone left.” John shouts “Let’s get to the elevator!’

By Raychan on Unsplash

As the group devises a plan to get up the 25 feet to the elevator, an aftershock quake starts. The group huddles together, as rocks and boulders start falling from the pathway. The heat, the lava, and the ash, accompanied by the falling rock creates a hell like experience, and the fear escalates. After a few long minutes, a rock smashes into Ian’s arm before landing at Sonya’s foot. The quake eases. Ian confirms to the group, that he is able to use his arm and the group begins the climb.

Using their ropes, carabiners, climbing cams and harnesses they make it to the elevator. Sonya has to take a moment, to say a prayer for Karla, as they look out at her death bed, her brains smashed over the rock. Her heart aches as the seismological waves of the earth’s inner core takes another loved one from her, and Sonya fears the worse, that her husband and child may be gone.

Luckily the elevator is working and as they rise to the level of the entrance, each of them are lost in their thoughts about what they will see, and what will be left. The doors have difficulty opening and move only a half inch. Volcanic ash is falling into the elevator. The group works together to pull the doors apart. They take the small compact shovel out of their back packs and begin to shovel themselves out of the elevator into the world, out into the darkness.

By Tanya Grypachevskaya on Unsplash

Ian turns with his pedantic gas mask towards the group and says “These surroundings suggest that more than a Yellowstone super eruption occurred” Sonya looks around and sees nothing but black ash. There is fear deep inside her as she hears the cacophony of silence, and she sinks to her knees saying “My God, this was my greatest fear, that if Yellowstone erupted, it would cause a dramatic shift in the tectonic plates, enough to initiate a second eruption elsewhere. I need to get home.” John turns his head downward towards Sonya and says “What home? There doesn’t look like anything survived, we may be the only people alive” Sonya reaches again to her heart shape necklace, but just like the last time she is unable to touch it through the thermoregulatory suit. She imagines the locket, with the picture of both her son Justin and husband Joel inside. “John, I carry hope, and this locket around my neck is a physical reminder of the people I love the most in this world, and I will get back to them. Let’s find the jeep.”

By Linas Drulia on Unsplash

They dug the jeep out from the fallen ash. They calculated that they had been underground for one week. They had consumed all of their supplies and they were dealing with dehydration, starvation, emotional trauma, and physically they were spent. Their surroundings were on fire, and as they drove closer to what used to be civilization, they found no life form. It was difficult to drive the jeep on the encrusted hardened lava, and navigate the hot lava flows.

Their first concern was to find water. The team drove for four hundred miles and over to their right, there was a splash of color on a higher elevation, which they thought was a mirage. Since all three of them experienced the same illusion, they turned in that direction. After another 60 minutes of driving amongst the blackness was green grass, trees and buildings.

The silence was eerie, as they drove into the town. They found the town intact but the people lay dead. The scientists hypothesized that the community was exposed to the release of exponential levels of carbon monoxide expelled by the earth as an underground propane deposit burned, asphyxiating all living creatures within a 50-mile radius. The store they found had all the necessary supplies, including food, water, batteries for their lights and gasoline for their jeep. It was surreal to walk amongst the dead. They filled six plastic gasoline jugs and secured them to the jeep using bungie cords, because they didn’t know if they would find these kinds of resources again. Sonya wanted to try to drive the 2, 866 miles to New York to find her family.

Ian and John both had families in New York, but they didn’t feel the same hope as Sonya. They knew that this type of massive volcanic eruption, would create mass destruction. The tectonic shifting of the continental plates changed the whole landscape of the world. The initial eruption that took place while the scientific team were underground, created a tsunami across the coastal areas, witnessed as almost complete removal of civilization that left flooded areas, and massive mudslides. They moved inland, driving over the volcanic plains left and found small pockets of life, dispersed in unique areas. The few people they encountered had strange tails of survival, most who had taken cover in tornado shelters, that missed the flow of lava for unknown reasons.

By Remi Cribb on Unsplash

This gave hope to Sonya, as her experience as a young child in Petrolia left its undeniable mark on her soul influencing her choice of career and her living arrangements. She was relentless when her husband Joel fought against her desire to construct an underground shelter, deep in the New York Adirondack mountains. She knew this shelter may not have guaranteed her family’s well-being especially if there was another tsunami on the eastern coast, stemming from the Atlantic Ocean. They kept driving and found it difficult to traverse the destruction. Their thermoregulatory suits were a convenience that few living survivors had, and their gas masks made the breathing easier. The team was devastated, quiet, morose and the drive was difficult. They all wondered if they were blessed or cursed to survive such devastation. Sonya kept pushing them further, hoping that she would find her family at least alive at the end of the journey.

At last, the team drove to Sonya’s land, which was covered by ash, and the same sparse life was evident. The same silence enveloped her when she jumped out of the back of the jeep, running to the ground shelter, that was located beside the mud infested dilapidated structure, that was once their home. The Adirondack area was close to the ocean and had experienced flooding from the coastal tsunami. She was unable to locate the storm latch and ran back to the jeep to grab her shovel. The two men joined her as they shoveled to find the storm latch. They heard no response when Sonja called out to her husband and child.

The men felt that this was a losing battle, that it was unlikely that anyone survived, but Sonja would not give up. She shoveled and kept going, and when at last the door to the shelter was relieved of enough of the mud and ash, they found the latch, and lifted the door. Sonya felt like she was falling into the shelter. Darkness took over, and she kept falling with a kaleidoscope of colors that ran before her eyes. She was having difficulty breathing, and she grabbed her chest, chocking for air, and reached the locket with her hands. She screamed out for Joel, and in that moment, she felt his arms, as they held her crushing her hand against the shape of the locket. She released her fear and opened her eyes to find Joel holding her, saying “Sonya it’s just a dream!” Sonya, looked around and saw their bedroom, and was pulled back to her shadowed memories of the first earthquake that took her father and she knew that she would never be free of that terror.


Short Story

About the author

Cindy Read

I am Cindy, noting more and nothing less. Dichotomy describes me best. I love to create; and I love the sciences. I have a wild spirit that has calmed. I was born in Canada, but live in the USA and flit between. I am the Yin & the Yang.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (2)

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  • Cindy Read (Author)2 months ago

    Thank you, I appreciate the feedback. I like the idea of breaking it apart....never thought I could do that in this medium. It certainly would have been easier to expand on the story.

  • Just Daniel2 months ago

    Interesting storytelling! Happened to stumble upon your story today and while it was long, it was enjoyable and I was able to get through it faster than I anticipated. You have many good ideas in your "short" story, but I feel like it would work better if you split this story into a few to several parts so you can expand and work with some settings you had established here. A super-volcanic eruption is definitely a very scary thing and definitely you would not expect much life (if any) to exist for the immediate effects and the aftereffects of such an event. I loved that you included the thermoregulatory suits in here! Very clever and so fun to say! All in all, great work and when I have time, I will pop over and read some more of your creations! ^^

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