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This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The Bewitching Chasm......title courtesy of Chuck Wendig

Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

 Another story written to a given title.


Rory had to get there. It seemed easy enough, the eruption was happening in a remote area, but it was on tv in the bar. The news said there were roadblocks to prevent anyone straying too close but the place was deserted apart from daily patrols of geologists.
The bartender said  'It's unsafe in the wild parts, especially for a foreigner.' Rory felt insulted, he wasn't foreign, he was English.
'Fuckin' cheek'. Rory like many of his kind, only felt patriotic when his nationality was attacked.

He'd sulked all the way along the national road, his hangover worsened by the bouncy springs on the bus. When the driver stopped and told him this was as close as he could get Rory was standing in the road looking at the tail-lights before he realised,
'This is the middle of fuckin' nowhere. Bastard!' he shouted at the disappearing vehicle.

'If this isn't the End of the World it's near enough.' Rory's heart sank as the alcoholic boost in courage leaked from his body. The road he stood on was single track. On one side there was nothing but bare hills, on the other there was a rocky convoluted coastline, no houses, no cafes, not even a petrol station.
He stood stock still, thumb out for a lift and waited; after twenty minutes without a single car or lorry passing he sighed and trudged off across the hills.
'I'll see a farm soon and they can tell me which way to go, maybe even gimme a lift on a tractor; they'll certainly have some food.' He'd passed on breakfast, knowing that he'd throw up if anything hit his quaking stomach.
Rory had to admit he was very much alone and it creeped him out.
'I can't even see any planes up there.' he yelled at the sky. Then he saw the plume, Rory didn't know that's what it was called, but in a clear blue sky a long tapering cloud that seemed to go down behind these endless hills had to be coming from a volcano. Rory had seen his fair share of disaster movies and things were beginning to add up.
'Course there's nobody here. Fuckin' idiot. ' he told himself 'they've all been evacuated. It's probably a sea of lava over there. I'd better get there quick before it all stops.'

The bet, so far as he remembered the details had gone thus: they'd been discussing which was more dangerous, a volcano erupting or a tsunami, when it all got personal.
'You are shit scared an' thass the truth.' Jamie had said to Rory.
'I ain't scared of any stupid mountain you Dick-head.'
'Well go out there ' Jamie pointed at the tv showing lava somewhere, 'and bring some of that stuff back then, because I think you're a bleedin' coward. You don't have no balls Carter, you never have had.'
At that point Rory had punched Jamie in the throat. The other lads had looked at him with a new respect, this was turning out to be a great stag do, nobody punched Jamie and lived to tell the tale, but there he was retching on the floor of the bar and little Rory Carter had put him down there.
'Well good mate.'
'That was a hell of a punch'.
' You was real tough there.'
The accolades petered out and Jamie sat up. Before he could scream 'No don't say it you Numpty' to himself Rory said.
'An I meant it about that volcano. I'll go there tomorrow and I'll bring back the evidence.'
'You're braver than me.'
Rory had been bought more beers, even Jamie had bought him a pint when he'd regained the power of speech and it was all bleedin' marvellous..........

Now he was trudging up this hill looking for a real exploding volcano and he was getting scared because he could hear it.
When he could eventually see over the crest of the hill, there was nothing but emptiness, that was the only word, the land was empty apart from the plume of dust and smoke that was coming straight out of the ground and roaring defiance at him. It was hard to tell how far it was away because there was a great plain spread out before him. The ground was dark grey and chocolate brown with streaks of yellow. It wasn't flat either, Rory could see large cracks, they all looked old because they were dirty, sort of dusty and dead. There was nothing growing anywhere around, no weeds, no grass, nothing.
 The area where the plume started was hidden by some grey mist rolling about and was also where the noise was coming from. It wasn't continuous noise, mostly there was a dull rumbling but there were occasional cracking and clapping sounds that hurt his ears. He stood and sucked it all in.

'This ain't a great place for a tourist trip, is it?' Rory asked of the scenery, ' but it's bloody amazing. I never knew there could be so much space.' Rory wished he had his dad with him so Rory could show him these wonders; his dad had been a sailor and often told Rory there was nothing so beautiful as the sea.
'I think I found somewhere that stands up to your seas Dad. Jamie an' the rest would hate it, no women, no football. I could go back and tell them what I saw but they wouldn't care, not really. I've got here tho' and this is all right innit?'
He took his mobile phone out of his pocket, snapped a photo and sent it to Jamie. Rory turned to go back over the hill, but he couldn't make himself walk away from the sights. He turned to look again.
'I come this fuckin' far an' I want to see this all for myself.' He started walking across the plain, black dust puffing up around his feet.
'Come on then! Call yourself a fuckin' volcano? You ain't as good as the big fellas are ye'z?'

It was an awesome sight even though it wasn't a proper volcano. There was a long line of little hillocks going away from him, most looked as if they'd been split open with an axe; from them enormous spurts of red lava rushed up into the air then splattered down and turned black. The black gobbets were spreading across the plain and they'd gone a long way from their source.
'I ain't gonna be able to get right up to it, coz my boots'll catch fire.' Rory reminded himself of the details of a favourite movie. 'In 'Dante's Peak' the hero drove across the lava, but that's not much help to me.'
He was feeling very hot. He'd opened his shirt as well as his jacket, but now he wound his scarf across his face because the air stank.
'Where would be a good place to pick up a pretty bit of lava, Rory lad ?' He was glad nobody could hear that he was talking to himself. He stopped and took stock of the situation. He was scared sure enough, but he was more mesmerised by these lava fountains and part of his mind was trying to work out the pressure it must take to push lava up so high. The vents must go down a long way too. He badly wanted to look down into those open chasms.
'I weren't bad at physics in school. I could work it out if I could measure the height properly, lava don't weigh much. It weighs less than water because it floats.' This nugget he'd also gleaned from movies.
Rory decided that if he went to his right where the lava wasn't so fresh he could find a cold bit. Walking cautiously, but as close as he dared Rory passed alongside the flow until he found an older section. Here the lava had cooled and broken into pieces at it's leading edge; bits were falling off and the upper surface was heavily crazed.
Here too was another person. A man was laying face down, he looked dead. Rory knelt down and turned him on his side. The man groaned.
'Shit. He's alive. Come on mate, wake up. It's not safe here.' The edge of the lava was steadily moving towards them. Rory grabbed the man's arm and pulled him across his own back. Then he got to his feet.
'You're no feather, are yez?' Rory struggled to make his feet move, they seemed too heavy to lift.
'Come on. We ain't going to die here, if I can help it.' His own words helped him to move and he lurched away from the lava flow.
It was the hardest thing he'd ever done, bets included. Rory's brain went on auto-pilot. He couldn't say afterwards how long he walked carrying the stranger or how far he got before he heard happy shouts.
'There he is'
'We've found him.'
'Stefan. Stefan.'
Other men appeared and Rory was relieved of his burden. He sank down on his heels, put his hands on the ground to steady himself and cried.

Back in Reykjavik hospital Rory was re-hydrated and his scratches tended by a pretty nurse. The Icelandic rescue men who'd taken him and the stranger to safety were there and Rory was making new friends.
'You were amazing to carry Stephan all that way.'
'It was so lucky you were there.'
'You saved his life.'
'Thank you guys, but I was stupid to have gone out there. I'm glad Stephan is getting better. Why was he there?'
'He's a geologist like some of us. The rest of us just love being out in the country.'
Rory nodded. 'Me too.'
Someone produced a bottle of vodka and toasts were drunk to Stephan and to Rory.
'Is there anything we can do for you to say thanks for Stephan's life?' said the owner of the vodka.

' Nah, I'm just so glad you came along when you did.
' But you could tell me how to find a place to live here. Oh and is it easy to get a job with you guys?'

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