Empty houses and roads devoid of traffic whisked past in a blur beneath the HH-65 Dolphin helicopter. The unearthly whine of the Coast Guard chopper’s rotors screamed as Lieutenant Lowden raced over the Oregon coastline at maximum speed.
“You’re pushing her too hard, Cap’n!” shouted Crew Chief Hadding in the crew compartment. “She’ll blow a gasket.”
“Hold her together for me, Chief,” said Lowden.
A memory played in Lowden’s mind like it had every day since 2011. She was young, just 18 at most, and already beautiful. She tried to stay afloat in the torrents of the tsunami. She reached out her hand to the helicopter, eyes pleading for mercy. In his mind’s eye he recalled her in super-reality. Hair smeared against her face, droplets beaded on her nose. Her beautiful eyes held the promise of a future family, playing with kids in the park. Just a few seconds more and they would pull her from waves.
A tree trunk, driven by the powerful waters, ended it all. Her body crumpled, ripped asunder when the trunk smashed into her. The memory of his failure plagued him, slowly poisoning away his soul. He almost quit that very day. Six months vacation and psychiatric care brought him back from the brink of madness. But nothing cured the vivid, hyper-realistic nightmares that forced him awake, drenched in sweat, every night. No cure existed for the memory slowly destroying him, Lowden realized. Hell lived inside his mind.
Lowden shook his head. Practically the entire Pacific coast had evacuated. Death was coming.
A chunk of rock, the size of a city, broke from the volcano, Mauna Loa, in the Hawaiian islands. The megaton block hit the sea and created a mind-boggling destroyer. Far worse than a tsunami, this was a megatsunami. When the wave first formed it stood over 3,000 feet high. Honolulu never had a chance. Within 30 minutes one million people disappeared into the sea.
It took the wave far longer to reach across the Pacific. The American Pacific coast received urgent warnings ordering them to race inland, now. Of course, some people couldn’t believe it. They stayed. People like Brandon Bailey.
They landed in Bailey’s back yard 30 miles from Coos Bay while the 48-year old calmly chopped wood. Lowden sent Hadding out to get him. A few minutes later, Hadding came back alone. “He refused, Cap’n! He won’t come.”
As Lowden stalked towards the weather beaten features of a truculent Bailey, Quincy called over Lowden’s helmet radio. “Four minutes, sir. Then we die.”
Hadding trailed behind him. “He’s got a right, Cap’n. We can’t make him leave.”
Lowden ignored the comments. He stopped before a scowling Brandon Bailey. “Time to go, Mr. Bailey,” he ordered.
“Yeah, ’cause of high water, right?” spat Bailey. “All ’cause of melting icebergs and dying polar bears right? You damned greenies make me sick!”
Lowden shook his head. What? “Sir, it’s a tsunami, not global warming.”
“Oh sure it’s not. I been keeping tabs on you greenie freaks. You think it makes sense a few cow farts will raise the level of the ocean and wash away the coasts. Well I don’t buy your bullshit! You damned liberals can’t have my money, and you sure as hell can’t take me from my land!”
“Three minutes, sir!” called Quincy.
Lowden saw the desperate expression of the Japanese girl overlaid across Bailey’s face. That morose Johnny Cash song played in his head.
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
“Never again,” grated Lowden.
Bailey never expected Lowden’s right cross. The punch, driven by years of despair, dropped the older man like a sack of potatoes.
“I don’t think that was legal,” said Hadding.
“Just help me get him to the chopper. Move!”
Quincy had the engines racing by the time they unceremoniously hurled Bailey into the helicopter. The co-pilot screamed, “Are you freaking INSANE?” He pointed. The tsunami wave lost energy crossing the Pacific Ocean. Now, it towered a rather pedestrian 317 feet above them. A real-life Kraken, come to destroy.
Lowden climbed in and goosed the chopper’s engines. The wave roared like a living thing, raging towards them as the chopper clawed for altitude.
“We’re not gonna make it!” screamed Quincy.
Water-sprayed into the crew compartment as they cleared the crest by thirty feet.
“My God,” croaked Bailey. “You weren’t foolin’!”
Lowden just smiled. Already, the hyper-real vision of the dead girl began to blur in his mind. It became fuzzy, less powerful.
He’d found a cure.
Tons to share with you today. First, Megatsunamis are not science fiction. They are real and are formed differently from the already bad enough tsunamis. From Wiki:
“…Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes in Hawaii may have triggered past megatsunamis, most recently at 120,000 BP. A future tsunami event is also possible, with the tsunami potentially reaching up to about 1 kilometre (3,300 ft) in height. According to a documentary called National Geographic’s Ultimate Disaster: Tsunami, if a big landslide occurred at Mauna Loa or the Hilina Slump, a 30 metres (98 ft) tsunami would take only thirty minutes to reach Honolulu, Hawaii.”
A Megatsunami struck Lituya Bay, Alaska in 1958. From Wiki:
” On 9 July 1958, a giant landslide at the head of Lituya Bay in Alaska, caused by an earthquake, generated a wave with an initial amplitude of up to 1,720 feet (520 m). This is the highest wave ever recorded.”
More about Megatsunamis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megatsunami
A Tsunami struck Japan in 2011: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_T%C5%8Dhoku_earthquake_and_tsunami
And now, the videos.
From a documentary about the 1958 megatsunami:
Dramatized Tsunami in Japan:
The distinct sound of the Coast Guard’s HH-65 Dolphin:
This was written for Grammar Ghoul Press’ Mutant 750 writing challenge. Media prompt was a song by Johnny Cash. Word prompt was, “Wave.” Look here for more info and more stories: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/mutant-and-chimera-winners-mutant-750-22-kickoff/