Cataclysm: New Excerpt

Cataclysm by Tim Washburn
Cataclysm by Tim Washburn
Cataclysm is the latest thriller from Tim Washburn (Available October 25, 2016).

FIRST THE GROUND SHAKES…
At Yellowstone National Park, earthquake tremors are common. But today, park scientist Tucker Mayfield detects something different: a disturbing new increase in activity—and intensity…

THEN THE LAVA RISES…
Lurking beneath the park’s natural wonders, earth’s largest supervolcano begins to awaken after 640,000 years. If—or when—it blows, two-thirds of the North American  continent will be destroyed…

NOW THE WHOLE WORLD TREMBLES …IN FEAR
Racing against time, Tucker Mayfield mobilizes a team to evacuate all visitors from the park—including his family at the Old Faithful Inn. But when the earthquakes intensify, and the death toll rises, a shockwave of panic spreads across the nation. Troops are deployed, emergency plans activated. But nothing can stop a natural disaster of this magnitude. When the volcano erupts, doomsday begins—and no one gets out alive…

Old Faithful Inn

Yellowstone National Park

“Hello…Hello?” Jessica hangs up the phone, bewildered.

Matt steps in from the balcony. “Who was on the phone?”

“No one.  But I heard noises––”

There’s a series of popping sounds as the building shakes violently. A water bottle wobbles toward the edge of the dresser and drops to the floor. The floor undulates like a slimming machine at a health fair. Jess reaches for the wall and Matt braces himself him in the doorway.  In seconds, the shaking stops and Jess turns to her husband. “That’s not a small earthquake. That was the largest of the morning. We should really consider leaving the park.”

“Let’s wait until we talk to Tucker.  He’ll have a better idea of what’s going on.”

“I know what’s going on.  The earthquakes are getting stronger and––” she pauses and turns to check on the children before lowering her voice and moving closer to her husband, “––with longer durations.  We need to find Tucker right now.  We can’t wait and hope he receives a text.”

“How?”

“Let’s go out to the lobby.  Maybe we can ask a ranger to radio him.” She looks back into the living room where both children are still clicking and swiping away on their iPads. “I’d like to get the kids away from their tablets. Knowing your son, he’s probably surfing the web about supervolcanoes.  The last thing we need is for him to start telling Maddie all about it.”

Matt pushes off the wall.  “Good point.”

Jess pauses, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “Maybe we should go ahead and pack our bags.”

“Let’s talk to Tuck, first.  No sense getting the kids all worked up if it turns out to be nothing.”

“This is well beyond nothing, Matt.” Jessica brushes past and enters the sitting area of the king suite Matt booked.  “Kids, let’s head to the lobby to find Uncle Tucker.”

Maddie tosses her iPad onto the sofa and jumps to her feet.  “Maybe Uncle Tucker can take us to see the bears.”

“What makes you think the bears will be out this time of day?” Mason asks, as he closes the smart cover of his iPad.

Maddie scrunches her forehead. “There’re bears out all the time.  I saw the pictures inNational Geographic.”

Mason scoffs as he stands up. “Just because you saw the pictures in a magazine doesn’t mean the bears will be out now.”

Maddie turns to face her brother, her hands fisted on her hips. “Uncle Tucker will know.”

Jess sighs and pulls the heavy door open. “Quit arguing and let’s go.”

Maddie sticks her tongue out before stomping out into the hall.  The Mayfield family winds through the dimly lit, log-lined corridor toward the lobby. The heavy timbers create a rustic atmosphere that feels heavy, confining. There are no windows and the only illumination is provided by an array of single bulbs staggered along the wall.  Underfoot, the carpet is worn with a noticeable furrow down the center from years of foot traffic.  After several turns, they arrive at the lobby where park rangers are herding people away from the center of the room.

“Look, Dad,” Mason says, pointing toward the chimney. “I bet the earthquakes caused that.”

Matt tiptoes up to see over the crowd and spots a familiar face. He turns to his wife. “I see Tucker, but it looks like they’re trying to evacuate the lobby area.   I’ll grab him and bring him back this way.”  Matt nudges his way through the crowd, but as he breaks into the clear a park ranger grabs him by the arm.

“I’m sorry, sir, but we’re evacuating the lobby.”

Matt yanks his arm from the ranger’s grasp. “I’m trying to find someone.”

The man steps into Matt’s personal space.  “You’ll have to go around. As you can see, we have a medical emergency.” 

Tucker glances over at the commotion and Matt waves. Tucker heads over, a grim expression on his face.  The two brothers hug.

“How badly injured is that man?” Matt asks.

“Bad.  Chopper’s on its way.” Tucker leans around to peer behind his brother. “Where’re Jess and the kids?”

“On the other side of the lobby.”

Tucker takes Matt by the elbow and leads him away from the crowd. “Listen, Matt, you and Jess should probably pack up the kids and get out of the park. Or, at the very least, head up toward my office in Mammoth.”

“Jess has been bugging me to leave but I told her we’d talk to you first.  What do you think is going on?”

Tucker lowers his voice. “The earthquakes are getting stronger and I have some very real concerns about what might happen.”

•••

Camp 39 • Ozark, Alabama

Interview: Carl from Clovis, NM – Small Business Owner

“We had just cleared the lobby when the chimney came tumbling down.  Sounded like a bomb went off.  I knew then it was time to get the hell out of Dodge.  We were only on day three of our vacation, but the earthquakes were getting stronger.  You could tell panic was setting in.  A nervous energy swept through our crowded corner of the inn.  Plenty of people were thinking about leaving.  And that poor man who was injured.  I don’t know what happened to him, but it didn’t look good. We packed up and left only a few minutes later, but even then, traffic was getting heavier.  We made it out the west entrance and as far as Salt Lake City.”

***

Copyright © 2016 Tim Washburn.

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Tim Washburn graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BA in Journalism and currently lives in Edmond, Oklahoma.

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