Sunday, October 30, 2011

2014: The Way the World Ends (Chapter 33: American Art and Portraiture Rough Draft)

Written and owned by Greg L. Miller 2011

Chapter 33: American Art and Portraiture

Black and white stripes boldly splash the wall in front of Andrew. He yawns as absently drifts in space. He doesn’t understand why contemporary art has to be so odd. 

Seth nods to his left. The French man looks at the art. If Andrew didn’t know better he would think the man has an inner knowledge about the artist. Andrew feels impatient; it has been a few hours since the initial tsunami hit Washington DC. Andrew wonders why Seth doesn’t look like a homeless person.

Wasn’t he in rags when I first met him? This is odd.

Light cascades from the ceiling illuminating the gallery’s content; the skylights still function as they should. The Great Hall bored Andrew. He had to escape into the contemporary art wing but now is equally as bored. 

“Seth, I hate this man. We are supposed to be taking control of the city and here we are in a stupid art gallery which reminds me of a museum. When do you think we can go outside? You think the waves will ever stop?”

Seth smiles as he brushes his chin. The man has an old school goatee; Andrew has the impulsion to touch it but his survival sense stops him. Seth ditched the girl’s sweater from earlier but still wears the Burger King’s employee’s shoes. His hair is kept well. 

Seth giggles like a school girl, “Patience. I love how the black and white stripes compliment the orange in the middle.”

Andrew doesn’t dig the moment, “This sucks man. I don’t understand why people call this art. Anyone can draw lines straight lines and circles. What’s up with those cans and bottles glued to the floor in the previous room?”

Seth draws in his breath as he patiently tries to explain, “It’s about visual and performing arts and its message through American History. Each person in the gallery represents a specific time in American history. If you look closely you can see a little of everyone from George Washington to Marylyn Monroe.” Seth’s voice takes on a poison which confuses Andrew.

Maybe he’s showing French snootiness? Where did his brothers go? 

“Whatever man, I can’t wait until we can get out of here. I wish there was something to do.” Andrew laughs as knocks over the exhibit. Seth doesn’t join in the destruction but looks aghast. 

Andrew takes a left and walks into a wing showing art since 1945. He has to climb over rubble but it appears someone made a path already. He doesn’t care, he has a gun. The bathroom is to the left. Most of his sheep are holding up in the Great Hall which is on the other side of the building. His sheep are high on drugs and many are passed out. They are waiting for the Tsunami to go away but a few wander around the third floor. The Ocean took the first floor and wrecked most of the stairs on the second. He doesn’t know how they are going to get out but it doesn’t really matter. Everyone is happy they survived and few doubt the durability of the building. 

Andrew laughs as he tells nobody, “It’s going to take a lot more than a earthquake and tsunami to destroy DC.”

He pauses before entering the Men’s bathroom. The pharmaceutical medication coursing through his system has hit its peak. 

His vision is blurry but he is aware of his environment for he has been taking drugs his whole life. A noise comes from the bathroom sounding like a pitiful whine.

Andrew silently opens the door an inch and peers in. The bathroom first appears to be dark. Heavy duty maintenance lights illuminate the opposite side of the stalls. Andrew’s heart freezes as his vision takes clarity. Two of the men are Seth’s brothers. There is a pile of corpses near them. It’s hard to determine how many people are in it.

One laughs as he hits the bound prisoner without mercy. The third man is one of his sheep he recruited; it’s one of the guys wearing a Metallica shirt. The third man is still alive. He screams into a muffled rag tightly tucked into his mouth. 

Andrew lets the door swing shut. He shakes uncontrollably and walks into the female bathroom. 

What the hell was that?

His heart races fast as true fear grips his conscious. Andrew attempts to use the faucet but nothing comes out. He can’t see too well. The Xanax fights his awareness. Perhaps he took too many. Sweat pours freely as he tries to think straight. He enters a stall and puts down his hand gun.

I need to get out of this wing. Did they see me? Why are they torturing people?

He can’t piss or shit. He’s too terrified. Andrew darts out of the woman’s bathroom. The Xanax loosens its grip for a moment. Panic grips his awareness. The unscrupulous man forgets his hand gun. 

He didn’t notice it earlier. The air is full of a tangent pungent odor which flips his stomach. It smells sweet and pungent. He smells blood.

Andrew runs back into the contemporary art gallery. Seth is still near the black and white tapestry. Andrew stops a few feet away. He reaches for his gun only to discover it’s not in his belt. Seth doesn’t pick up on his distress.

I can’t let him know I know.

Seth continues his paradigm from earlier, “You know, this building shows a great attempt at Greek Revival Architecture. I do however think many of the portcullises and vaulted galleries will forever be no more.” The French man gingerly walks to the next gallery heading back to the Main Hall.

They have to pause for a moment as part of the ceiling caves in. Rubble is everywhere. The sun glairs through the cracks, humidity builds in the building. Many portraits show heavy signs of damage. A few remain untouched. The Main Gallery has been stripped of all its portraits. His sheep have placed many of the treasured icons in newly made fire pit. No one is cold, they just like destroying things. 

Andrew looks around for support. He needs allies if he’s to do something with people who like to torture and murder. He doesn’t want to be the next victim. 

I need a gun. What the hell?

His sheep don’t look like what he remembered. He thought there were 40 if not more. A quick count shows him only a fifteen to twenty. 

Seth adds, “There is something I need you to do with me if you want me to be your general.”

Andrew is dumbfounded when he sees the remaining of his sheep are old and the weak. No longer are there robust males. The females are gone.

Feebly Andrew asks, “Where is everyone? I thought we had more than this?”

Seth laughs as he easily dodges the question, “I think your sheep are sleeping in the surrounding galleries. Don’t worry. They will show back up when the Tsunami ends.” Andrew doesn’t believe him. He thinks they are dead in the bathroom.

Seth doesn’t pick up on Andrews hesitation. Andrew lies, “Yeah man. The Xanax are giving me a pounding headache. I could really use a nap or something.”

Seth sounds heartbroken as he blurts, “I need your help. There is a portrait I must have. It’s in a temporary gallery in the second floor due to yearly maintenance.  Have you heard of Gilbert Stuart's "Lansdowne"? 

Andrew does his best to hide his fear as he blurts, “Ok Seth, whatever you want.”

Seth continues, “It’s a painting of George Washington. I must not let these heathen destroy all the treasures.” Andrew picks up on the hatred Seth feels for the destruction of the gallery.

I’m a dumbass for not seeing this earlier. What was I thinking of letting him chill with me? I need a gun.

Andrew looks around but he sees no guns. Outside of pipes and random debris from the ruined building, there appears to be no good weapon. He remembers the brothers having assault weapons from the National Guard they slaughtered earlier in the day. Andrew decides it’s best to play along until he can escape. He doesn’t want to try to fight these dudes, he just wants to survive. As far as he’s concerned they can kill as many people as they want as long it’s not him. The American Victorian Renaissance style architecture has lost its splendor. 

All of the cultural, scientific and political figure heads of the 20th century lay in ruin. Nature continues to pound the walls as Mother Earth declares war on mankind. No longer will anyone be able to see the rise of social justice or the glory of civil rights. Busts of statutes remain only to trip survivors. Forever lost is their message. Photographs and caricatures remain fairly intact but soon become trampled under foot.

Andrew follows Seth like an obedient whipped dog. He no longer feels like the ferocious leader from a few hours previous. He coils as Seth’s voice permeates the stillness. A new wave hits the building.

I can always throw myself out a window if things go bad. I would rather take my own life then let these freaks do something to me.

Seth’s voice sounds like death itself, “The painting I want is part of the “America’s Presidents Collection. In 2000 America almost lost the painting because the owner wanted to sell it. Some foundation bought it and gave it back to the museum as a gift to the nation. I think it was the Donald Reynolds Foundation.”

Andrew quakes. He feels his broken arm and wishes he has more drugs.

Before following Seth he asks, “Where’s the drugs?”

Seth points to a sack near the fire, “Over there, most of its gone. You were passed out for 6 hours and many people took off with what they could hold. Did you know this Hall was the original Patent Office back in the day? Inventors had to make small miniature models before getting patented. It was also the home for the Declaration of Independence for 40 years but don’t let me bore you.”

Andrew rummages through the bag. He finds a bottle of Oxy Cotton. He munches on the three without water.

“I thought you said people were sleeping around in the surrounding galleries?” He spies a tranquilizer and pockets it hoping it might come in handy later.

Seth doesn’t think twice as he flippantly replies, “Where else would they go?”

Andrew tries spotting a gun before getting up. The people left are in a daze and don’t want to be bothered. Andrew shakes in fear as he follows Seth. The white corridor of the Main Hall fades as the light dims down. A medium size statue looks back at Andrew as he passes. It says P.T. Barnum.

Seth follows Andrew’s gaze, “He’s the man who brought modern entertainment to the 19th century. You really don’t know shit about your own culture do you?”

Andrew drying replies, “No. You know me. I’m all about partying and having a good time. Who has time for this type of thing?”

Seth rolls his eyes, “You’re a sad man Andrew. You really should appreciate the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. 
Within these walls America is defined. There isn’t one country which has not been touched by American pop culture. Your country redefined the world with its sick twist on neocolonialism through the media. I suppose this doesn’t matter anymore under the present circumstances.” 

Andrew notes Seth is carrying two side arms like a gunslinger. He doesn’t know if the French man has a concealed weapon. He lacks the nerve to reach out for one of the guns when Seth isn’t looking. He now sees Seth differently. The man is revolting. Even though he’s not patriotic to America he feels rage in the attitude of the person he thought was his friend.

This piece of shit shouldn’t talk about my country like this. From everything I heard France isn’t the shit compared to America.

The painkillers kick in. Andrew’s body feels numb. He mutters, “Freedom fries.” Seth stops dead in his tracks. 

“What did you say?” His voice is void of emotion.

Andrew mutters, “What are you talking about? I didn’t say anything. You’re not American?”

Seth laughs, “No. I’m visiting and have a visa. I always wanted to live in America and start a family.” Andrew’s skin crawls. He decides it’s a bad day after all. They reach a stair way which is semi intact outside of a few fissures. 

The diabolical man continues, “I always loved and hated how Americans felt they can be whoever. Did you know I always wanted to be an artist?”

Andrew plays along, “Nope. What kind of art?”

Seth navigates the corridor as if he’s been down here already. The painkillers take hold. Andrew’s vision takes on a drunken haze. He always thought these types of painkillers were like morphine. They make him feel drunk without the hangover. The only drawback is they often make his heart miss a beat during the first ten minutes of usage. Andrew doesn’t know where they are going.

“I think it will have to be something new, something with a twist.” Seth enters a side gallery, “Behold, my masterpiece.”

Andrew freezes. His innate sense of fight and flight has been shattered. What he sees in front of him is something he never dreamed of. His whole life he knew he was a bad guy, but today he found a man who is truly evil.

Seth happily explains, “You see, in a year or two people will come back to the gallery. When they do they will find my masterpiece. Only in America could I become an artist.”

Displayed in front of Andrew is a wall covered in blood. Seth took an empty white wall and painted the destruction of Washington DC. Heaped to the left are a dozen dead females and males. A bucket with blood lies spilled near the paintings base. 

Seth sounds depressed, “My painting is almost over. I decided to show the final chapter of America. Do you like it?” Andrew turns and pukes. His spunk is depleted.

Seth tells his story, “You see, it’s not my fault. My great granddad raised us this way in France. I need you to help me finish my painting.” Andrew looks up in defeat. There is only one thing left to say as he lunges for anything to fight with.

“You’re a sick monster. Fuck you.” Andrews’s eyes go big as Seth raises one of his guns. Seth eyes are empty. Andrew looks into the abyss and recalls all the misdeeds in his life. He knows there is a special place in hell waiting for him.

“Wrong answer, I no longer want to be your general.” 


Andrew buckles and falls. He feels a distant impression in his gut. It feels warm, as if he urinated himself. He’s on his back. Looking up he sees a missing gap where he knows his blood will fill.

Seth laughs as a child as he gingerly takes out a butcher’s knife. He’s whistling something European. Andrew screams as he feels Seth cut into his chest.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

2014: The Way the World Ends (Prelude)

Owned and created by Greg L. Miller 2011

Full Version:
Chapter Version:

Its by passion, my book. I changed the introduction to fix stuff. I will continue to do stuff like this until its done. The chapters are in the process of fitting better and have been rearranged. Events and actions have been updated. Enjoy.

Prelude:  “The Beautiful Island”

Dr. Joseph Herbert watches as a large migration of birds take flight; he wishes he hadn’t forgotten his binoculars which would have allowed him to see the small critters with solid clarity. Joseph bursts with excitement as he hikes the stone path which is riddled with petro glyphs. Jessica, an undergraduate student in archaeology, has been making him a little uncomfortable of late.  She asked him to meet him for lunch at a clearing up ahead. The terrain encompasses three colors which are blue, green and black. The blue represents the ocean, the green the plants and foliage, and the black comes from the volcano rock.

Herbert is a conservative and is happily married. Earlier in the day he decided it’s time to put the student in her place. It is university policy that faculty under any circumstances are not allowed to have intimate relations with their students. This still doesn’t stop many of his colleagues from having affairs but he isn’t one of those men.

So why am I out here? I could have e-mailed her.

The path leading up Cumbre Vieja on the island of La Palma is a very beautiful. Dr. Herbert has been making it a point to study the volcano for the last ten years. Eight months out of the year he teaches at Michigan State. The other four months he’s at the Canary Islands directing study abroad programs and volunteering his time at the observatory. This is his 9th trip. The island is the fifth largest island out of seven.  It’s roughly 700 km and is made by a chain of volcanos.

The environment consists of a temperate cloud forest with many Jupiter trees; the smell of pine lingers in the air. Paths are not rigid as one would expect but have been smoothed over from much use over the last thousand years. Herbert loses himself in his thoughts. The island has a large highway system made from asphalt but he’s not on that. He prefers dirt and rock under his feet. He ponders his luck on being able to teach on the island which pays for his trips.

Why not bring a dozen students along and allow the University to pay for my happiness through a directed study program? It’s a win-win situation. I hold the kids hands and teach them about volcanoes and the University pays me!

This year has been different. For the first time in his career an undergraduate student by the name of Jessica has been making him feeling athwart. Whenever she’s around his heart races and he loses focus.

It’s almost as if I’m in puppy love. There are more important things to worry about then a hussy.

Michigan State awarded him a grant to help put into place a new seismograph in the volcano. Seismographs detect signs of movement which is a precursor to the volcano erupting. Up to date there are only three devices monitoring the volcano but in his opinion there should be five or six. In 1949 the western flank of the volcano split and a future eruption could possibly generate a tsunami that might destroy the East Coast of America within eight hours. Not to mention many other countries and coasts.

But in all honesty it might take over 1000 years for this to happen. It’s uncommon for earthquakes to hit the Eastern Seaboard and what’s the probability it will happen during my life? Very little I reckon.

Herbert smiles as he pauses on the path.  He sees the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in the distance. The observatory is one of the world’s leading astronomical observatories. In conjunction with Michigan University the observatory received a donation from a private donor to install the new monitoring device this summer. They had to cut through much red tape to get this far. The government in Spain has a very slow administrative system which means it takes years to get something like this done. The people in the Canary Islands are not on their list of importance when it comes down to end of world scenarios.

It’s like trying to get blood out of stone.

A rustle in the bushes gives Herbert a new pause. Ten feet to his left is a paved road leading to the summit, he’s on the dirt path. Up ahead the road branches to the right which leads to the observatory. The locals call the rock formation around the observatory ‘the lad’. The summit of the volcano is four miles above sea level. He’s supposed to meet Jessica another ten minutes ahead.

I hope she isn’t going to throw herself at me. She’s going to be disappointed when I say no. Why is she doing this? She is a straight A student and knows I’m married. I haven’t flirted or given her any mixed signals. Why can’t she focus on one of the other students?

A lizard deftly flips flops onto his path with its tiny legs. It pauses as it looks at him with calm eyes. Herbert happily intakes his breath, he fears any movement might startle the magnificent lizard. Until recently the lizard was presumed to be extinct.

Dr. Herbert whispers, “You’re a Gallotia auaritae. You’re a beautiful La Palma Giant Lizard.”

The lizard looks at him lazily, after a moment it begins to wobble away. Herbert takes out a dessert made from honey and almonds. He tries making a clicking sound to gain the attention of the lizard. He got the dessert while drinking coffee earlier in the day. The locals refer to the dessert as Pricipe Alberto. Originally the dessert is made with sponge, chocolate and almonds but his has honey in it. Over the years the café owner learned his preferred taste. Now he gets desserts just the way he likes. He really loves the Canary Islands. The giant lizard pauses and sniffs the air. The professor is excited as it attentively becomes interested in his dessert. Herbert urges the lizard to take the dessert by praising the endangered species.

“Come here boy, no one is going to hurt you.” Both Herbert and the lizard smell the honey. Herbert continues, “Your species was rediscovered in 2007. What came first, the lizard or the egg?” The lizard flicks its tongue and tastes the honey. After a few licks it darts into the brush. The foot long lizard is gone as fast as it came.

Dr. Herbert continues his hike. He’s surprised the lizard would be this high up on the volcano. Usually they only come up 700-900 meters past sea level. Lizards on the island have become rare do to rats and being a favorite cuisine of the locals.

It’s not that the locals eat them now, but they did. I wonder where Jessica is. I have a lot of work to do and would rather get this over with as quick as I can. Why didn’t I just e-mail her again?

Dr. Herbert’s thoughts are cut short.

“Hey Professor, I’m over here, fancy meeting you out here!” It’s not Jessica but a male student who has been giving him grief of late.

Herbert attempts to put on a fake smile but his disdain still comes out. His moment with the lizard is deflated as his attention zeros on the lad in front of him.

Dr. Herbert resigns himself to having to say hi, “Hello Steve. What brings you out here this fine morning?” Dr. Herbert attempts to walk around the skinny male student dressed in khaki’s. A few buttons on his shirt are loose. The lad doesn’t know how to dress properly. The young adult looks like he should be in Hawaii, not the Canary Islands.

My God, why is he wearing flip flops on this trail? I think I will be giving him a C, his papers and topics are always based on the Volcano erupting and the world ending. I prefer more objective students who appreciate the moment, not those who live in a fantasy world where everything is about conspiracies.

Steve comes from a rich family. His air is snotty as he responds, “I’m trying to gain evidence for my blog on the bloody conquest of the Spaniards over the locals in 1495. Check this out, I found this arrow head in a pile of bones. I think it might have come from a Spanish soldier.”

Dr. Herbert rolls his eyes, “You mean you’re not trying to show me how the volcano is going to create a tsunami which will destroy man kind?”

Steve refuses to take the bait, “The threat is real. Can you look at this for a moment professor?”

Dr. Herbert sighs in resignation. Jessica is going to have to wait a few extra minutes.

“Sure Steve. What did you find today? I hope this isn’t going to be like last week when you found a local fisherman’s wheel and thought it was prehistoric. Do you remember that?” A week previous Steve thought he found something ancient which ended up being a lost fishing pole which wasn’t even twenty years old. Steve excitedly gestures to the right; it’s obvious he doesn’t feel any embarrassment from past mistakes.

In a hush tone Steve continues his narration, “So I was walking and pondering stuff when I stumbled on this, what do you think?” They reach a clearing. At first Herbert doesn’t see anything outside of dense folia. Steve directs him to a hollowed out tree.

On the ground is a pile of rags mixed with black volcano rock. Dr. Herbert brushes some of the debris off of the rags and startles with the discovery. In the midst of the rags is a scabbard. Without pausing Herbert brushes off the dirt and whistles in surprise.

“Steve, did this come from in the tree?”

Steve nods, “Is it old professor? What is it?”

Dr. Herbert smiles in disbelief. Without hesitation he brandishes the scabbard and draws out a small short sword with the Spaniard emblem stamped near its hilt.

“Steve, I think you just redeemed yourself from last week’s blunder. If I’m not mistaken this sword is an officers sword from Alonso Fernandez de Lugo.”

Steve replies, “There is more stuff in the tree. Who is that?”

Dr. Herbert can’t keep the disdain from his voice, “Haven’t you been paying attention to anything I teach? Lugo is the Spaniard who defeated the local chief Tanausu in 1493. The Spaniards set the local chief up and ambushed him during a made up truce. What else did you find?” Steve withdraws a few arrows and a Spanish helmet from the tree.

Steve becomes more excited, “Is it worth something on e-bay?”

Dr. Herbert doesn’t bother to give the lad a response. He’s engrossed in holding the odd shaped helmet. He doesn’t understand why the stuff would have been placed into the tree but shrugs it off. He instantly thinks of fame as he starts putting two and two together. He’s sure the new discovery will lead to a wonderful journal or article which would allow him to receive new grants in the future.

The discovery is short lived, the earth shifts as a new tremor mildly rocks the island. He doesn’t pay it much attention for the Island has minor earthquakes and tremors weekly. Steve however isn’t used to it. He’s from New Hampshire.

Steve forgets about his discovery as his eyes go big. The earth under their feet gives off a small rattle. It abruptly stops as fast at it began. They do not lose their footing.

Steve shouts, “Is this the big one professor?”

Dr. Herbert sighs, “No Steve. This is normal for the island.”

Birds fly over head. There must be thousands. They are small birds referred to as ChiffChaff. They have round wings. Dr. Herbert enjoys hearing their sing song chirps. Within moments the flocks of birds are gone.

Dr. Herbert tells his student, “We need to get this stuff to the capital city of Santa Cruz de La Palma. I have a few friends who can help us determine the age and origin of the sword and helmet.” Steve doesn’t let go of his fear as he starts to hyperventilate. Dr. Herbert doesn’t respect the show of weakness in the lad but tries to hide his feelings. He gathers the sword and helmet.

Steve interjects his fears as he forgets about his discovery, “Professor, what happens if the volcano erupts and we all die?”

“Steve, there is no recorded history of a tsunami destroying the eastern sea board like your wrote about last week. Philadelphia and Delaware experienced a tsunami in 1817 and 1884 but it did very little damage. I tried explaining this to you in your last paper which you got a C on.” Dr. Herbert wonders why the sword and helmet weren’t in a cave.

Why would Steve be looking in a tree in the first place?

Steve doesn’t calm down. The lad continues his charade, “Professor, I had a bad dream earlier. An earthquake destroyed everything and a tsunami took out our capital!”

Dr. Herbert snorts, “Steve, that scenario isn’t possible. If a tsunami hits Washington DC the Potomac River will surge and create only a little damage to DC. Do you remember hurricane Isabel in 2003? The Chesapeake Bay will flood its estuaries and bays which would in turn create minor damage to the city and the surrounding area. Your fears of the capital being destroyed are not real.”

Steve interrupts, “But professor, if Cumbre Vieja erupts it will send a massive landslide into the ocean which in turn would send a three hundred foot tsunami to America which would destroy everything inland for about twenty miles!”

Not too kindly Dr. Herbert replies, “Steve, why do you go on and on about this? Did the volcano erupt? Are we dead? What’s with your morbid fixation?”

Steve stutters, “But Professor, do you deny the 1949 eruption didn’t create a separation in the island? There is a massive amount of earth which is ready to fall into the sea at any time! Anyone can see the rubble in the bay.”

Dr. Herbert tries explaining, “The threat can happen anywhere between 10 years to 50,000 years from now. The likely hood of us being alive is almost zero, and that’s if it happens. Current scientists have rebuffed your fear, why don’t you take comfort in what the professionals have to say?”

Steve kicks at the dirt. He shrilly responds, “Professor, I read your marks against my paper. I understand that a massive flank failure on the left flank is unlikely and is a rare phenomenon. Please hear me out. The volcano has already erupted twice in the last hundred years in 1949 and in the 1970’s. We already have a large section of earth on verge of falling into the ocean which would create the tsunami! Anyone who visits the island can see it.”

Dr. Herbert doesn’t want to deal with this outside of the classroom. He would prefer Jessica’s company over Steve’s any day. He attempts to walk past Steve but the lad doesn’t catch a clue.

“Steve, why don’t you head back to the observatory and see of the new monitoring device came?” Herbert thinks it’s amazing that Fed Ex is global, twenty years ago it would have taken 4-6 months to ship something to the islands, or so he assumes. Steve doesn’t want to stop talking.

Steve won't shut up, “Professor, I think the situation is direr then you give credit.” Dr. Herbert doesn’t hide his annoyance from his voice as he quickens his pace. He forgets about Jessica as he tries explaining to Steve how wrong the lad is.

Dr. Herbert goes into lecturer mode, “Even though there is evidence within the world’s history stratovolcanoes fail in their underwater flanks, there is no written account of what you postulate. It’s an idea based not on fact. Current data shows the western flank of Cumbre Vieja to be made of pillow lava which is supported by pyroclastics. In other words, your worry is simply an unjust fear. You can learn from Freud when he says sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Steve doesn’t want to listen which is typical.

“Professor, what happens if the sea floor buckles with a earthquake? Would this not create a gravitational pull which in turn would send a landslide into the ocean which could create the tsunami?” Steve is out of breath, Dr. Herbert hopes the lad will run out of steam if he keeps his fast pace.

“Steve, I know you fear the 2.5 kilometer rift which was created in 1949, but the depth is only 2 meters deep. There is no scientific data that shows the volcano is unstable.” Steve is losing ground; the lad is now five to six feet behind.

With any luck I will lose him in the minute or two.

Steve counters while puffing with exertion, “What happens if magma is rising and if the volcano blows? This would create enough inertia to create the landslide and tsunami.”

Dr. Herbert wipes the sweat from his brow, “The BBC document END DAY blows your hypothesis away. By the way, you really should do thorough research. Your idea was originally voiced by BBC Horizon in 2002 and was shown to be a fallacy. If you would have written this in your paper without citing the proper sources you would be plagiarizing. Recent documentation shows that the 1949 eruption did not drop the earth towards the sea and there is no evidence the rift you mention is a threat. For that matter, there has never been a written record of a mega tsunami in the Atlantic Ocean. Why don’t you do proper research before bothering me with your fears? We have gone over this many times in the classroom.”

Dr. Herbert enters a clearing; and almost trips over a large black lava rock. He’s stunned when he sees Jessica. He forgot about her.

Jessica is dressed in a red slip. She is 5’6 with blonde hair going down to her waist. Her crystal clear blue eyes go big as he bustles into the clearing. She smiles and stands up in one fluid motion.

Jessica’s voice is full of sultry intent, “Professor, you came!”

Dr. Herbert’s freezes. This isn’t what he wants or is expecting. Within seconds Steve plows into Dr. Herbert and they both fall to the ground in the small hamlet.

Steve looks up in confusion, “Holy shit Jessica! Why are you here? Why are you dressed like that?”

Jessica shrieks in embarrassment, “Professor, why did you bring him with you?” She wraps herself into a summer blanket which is sprawled on the rock overlooking the bay. Fruit and flowers go flying. Among the tossed items are the islands ingenious Bird of Paradise flowers, avocados and grapes. A bottle of wine with an assortment of cheese can be seen to her left.

Holy shit, she was expecting an affair?

Steve gets to his feet. He can’t help but look at Jessica with amazement. His voice takes on new understanding as he assumes he understands the situation, “Oh my. Professor, how could you? You’re married and have children.” Steve’s voice takes on a new sorrow as he loses respect for his instructor.

Dr. Herbert counters without much conviction, “This isn’t what you think Steve.”

Steve retreats a few steps, “Sure professor. Now I understand why you were trying to lose me on the trail. You leave me no choice but to report you to the department head. What you’re doing is ethically wrong.”

Dr. Herbert instantly sees his career and marriage disintegrate if Steve reports him. Thinking fast he counters, “I’m sorry, but this isn’t what you think. How about I give you an A and you forget about this?”

Jessica quips, “Please Steve, don’t do this. We never did anything.”

Steve replies, “Even if you didn’t do anything you were going to do something. The only reason you didn’t is because I am here. How could you do this Jessica?”

Both Jessica and Dr. Herbert look at the ground. They don’t know what to say, it’s really hard to deny her intentions. At this moment the unexpected happens.

The earth under their feet starts shaking with a deep rattle. At first Dr. Herbert isn’t concerned but within seconds the rattle becomes a deafening roar. Dr. Herbert and his two students fall to the ground as the earth pitches forward.

Thousands if not millions of birds take flight. A cloud which encompasses the Bay dissipates.  Dr. Herbert is speechless as he watches the upper half of the volcano shoot lava high into the sky. His mind goes numb as he watches the impossible happen; the pitching earth prevents him from getting to his feet. Never in his life has he seen the volcanoes shoot lava. Up to date the most that ever happened in the 1940’s and the 1970’s was a small trickle of lava which never scared the locals. The rattle now feels like a train passing nearby.

Steve shouts, “I told you professor! I dreamed about this today! I told you!” Jessica shrieks in her blanket as she rolls on the ground. It’s apparent she is stuck in the thick cloth. Dr. Herbert doesn’t know what to say.

The earthquake triggered the volcano to erupt! The earthquake started in the Bay!

Ocean water surges towards the capital city, Saint Cruz. Fishing boats ride the wave as the city and its 90,000 inhabitants instantly disappear. All around them steam shoots from the ground. The steam blocks their vision of the volcano. The earth underneath their feet rolls towards the ocean as 500 kilometers of earth rush downwards. The Western flank of Cumbre Vieja speedily meets the ocean. It feels like they are on a very large slide within an amusement park.

Dr. Herbert cries out in disbelief, “NO! This wasn’t supposed to happen!”

Steve has to have the last voice which makes Dr. Herbert insanely mad, “I told you professor! The end of the world is at hand just like I dreamed! You and all your scientific data are wrong!”

Dr. Herbert ponders the implication; he knows there isn’t anything he can do. Today is the day he dies. The world isn’t ending with a whimper but with a bang.

The first wave is going to be over 1900 hundred feet high. It will travel over 600 mph through the Atlantic. In six to eight hours our nation’s capital will be destroyed! This won’t be the only wave. Many more will follow but they will be around 100 feet high. We should have implanted the warning devices in the volcano much sooner!

Dr. Herbert looks up one last time, it’s a clear day and the sun seems much brighter than normal. The last thing Dr. Herbert sees is the earth meeting the ocean.

It would have been a good day to have a picnic with my wife and children, I’m sorry I wasn’t home to say bye.