The Cataclysm Scroll - Chapter 11 -11- The television got their attention and both turned to watch again. The reporter was excited. “We can now see a swell of water several miles out. Our cameras are at their maximum level of magnification, and we apologize for any shaking of the image from the helicopter vibration. If you look closely, you can see where the water actually seems to be bulging upward.” “Look at that!” was all Ty could say. Laura pointed to the canister she’d put down on the end of the bar. She looked back at Ty and asked, “What would you say if I told you that metal object right there had something to do with all of this stuff going on? The volcano eruption and the earthquake. And now, maybe a tsunami. Would you think I was crazy?” He didn’t really know what to say. He looked at the metal tube, back at Laura, and then to the canister again. He stifled a chuckle because he realized she was serious. He said, “I’ve seen some very strange things, but I don’t think a metal tube, laying in my basement, has anything to do with what we’re seeing on the TV right now.” It was a more positive response than Laura had expected. At least he hadn’t told her she was completely nuts. She frowned and looked in Ty’s eyes. “I’m not kidding, and if you give me a chance to explain, maybe you’ll believe me.” Ty finished his beer with a big swig. “I’m all ears. But maybe we should wait until something happens or not on TV, then go sit outside and talk. Don’t laugh, but I’ve got a favorite stump out there that I can think better on.” He laughed when he said it, knowing how that sounded. “Now it’s your turn to think I’m the one that’s crazy.” Laura did laugh, but more at how he said it than the idea of him sitting on a stump in the woods. Somehow, that appealed to a part of her that loved nature. Her thoughts drifted quickly to days long gone. Her youth camping trips, nature walks with her Mom and two brothers, hiking at the Arch’s National Park when she was in high school. In the few seconds that was required for her to flash back all those years, she knew she’d love to sit in some peaceful woods and talk with this man. A commercial break finished on the TV and the picture returned to the helicopter. The reporter was shouting over the sound of its rotors. “The swell is getting larger! We’re told it will get higher as it hits shallow water. It’s running in a straight line north to south as far as the eye can see, and headed directly at the large island!” There was a moment pause while the camera tried to pan back and forth on the wave. Then the reporter continued, “We’ve turned and are now trying to keep pace with it, but it is outrunning our helicopter! Anyone watching us now in Hilo and the other cities on the islands should immediately take cover on high ground if you already haven’t! The swell in the water is getting much taller but there is no way to know how big it’s going to be by the time it hits.” The camera was zoomed in, trying to keep pace with the wave but by the time the reporter had finished describing what was going on, the wave was nearly out of site. “Damn that was fast!” Ty exclaimed. “It ran right by the chopper.” “I feel horrible. All those people in Hawaii…” Laura’s voice was so quiet, Ty could hardly hear what she said. “It’s like watching 911 all over again,” Ty said flatly. The chopper’s camera was now showing the wave again, as if the water was slowing down or the camera was moving faster toward it. “Oh my God!” exclaimed the reporter. “There it is, forming up and out of the water as it gets closer to land. It must be at least eighty feet tall! It looks as if Hilo Bay and Richardson Beach are directly in the tsunami’s path!” Now the wave was clearly visible on the screen. Ty realized he was hardly breathing. He glanced at Laura, whose eyes were riveted on the television screen. The news broadcast shifted to another helicopter that was near Hilo Bay, as it was scanning all of the beautiful houses that lined the beachfront. It showed the wave coming right at it. Then the shot changed again to the chopper in pursuit of the wave from the ocean’s perspective. Ty and Laura both held their breath as the wave smashed in to the island at over two hundred miles an hour. The expensive homes and resorts on the Kahola coast were immediately swallowed up by the initial impact of the wave. Ty thought the water itself should be blue, but it was a foamy brown, covering the beach in a second and moving inland almost faster than the mind could register everything happening in the scene. Hilo Bay was gone, resorts and lodges drowned in the largest tsunami to hit the Big Island in recorded history. Then the camera shot changed to one further inland, halfway up the mountain that is home of the Mauna Kea observatory. Over 13,000 feet high on a dormant volcano, a camera crew had set up to get a higher view of the tsunami. From this perspective, it was as if a movie was being filmed using model buildings and a huge water supply to wipe it out. The camera panned down as the wave moved across the island, taking trees, the botanical garden, the Hilo market and everything in its path. For over thirty seconds, Ty and Laura watched the water roll across the beauty and majesty that God had created seemingly for man’s sheer enjoyment. In sixty seconds, it was all a memory. The tsunami slowed as it reached a mile inland and lost much of its power. The secondary wave came ashore less than a quarter-mile behind the big one, but there was little left for it to damage. All it did was add water volume to an already incredible catastrophe of Biblical proportions. “I hope those people were able to get far away from the shoreline,” Ty said quietly. He felt speaking was awkward, as if it was disrespectful to those who had just died in Hawaii. “They had over two hours’ notice,” Laura said, turning to look at him. “And they’ve dealt with tsunamis in the past, so maybe it will just be a matter of rebuilding the structures. But what a shame it had to happen.” She finished her wine and held out her glass in a request for a refill. Ty poured her another glass. As he was topping it off, Laura looked him in the eyes and said, “Now, let’s talk. I can’t stand to watch any more of this on the TV.” “Alright,” Ty said, grabbing another can of beer. “Let’s go outside. You have my interest peaked, that’s for sure.” He turned off the television and they both walked outside. It was a hot muggy August afternoon, but in the shade of the tall hickory and oak trees with a slight breeze moving through the timber, it was quite comfortable. Ty picked up a folding lawn chair as they walked past the deck. He pointed over to a stand of trees, on another point about a hundred feet from the cabin. “Dad’s favorite sitting stump is over there. You have a seat on it, and I’ll sit in this chair.” Laura followed him through the trees, marveling at their size and beauty. Ty motioned to a stump as they neared a natural point that was still on flat ground, but declined quickly into the ravine below that held the creek. “Dad sits here a lot when he has big decisions to make. Says it helps him think. And I can’t disagree, I’ve felt good sitting on it at times myself. Please have a seat.” Laura nodded and sat down on the stump. She thought it must have been at least two feet across. It had been sanded and varnished with great effort, and an old, thin leather-covered tractor seat was tacked in the center of the stump. She folded her legs Indian style and gazed across the ravine while Ty set up the folding chair next to her aimed the same direction she was looking. “Beautiful, ain’t it?” Ty asked quietly. “Like a picture on a postcard,” Laura replied. “Like I said earlier, I can’t believe nature this beautiful exists in the middle of Midwest farmlands. I had no idea.” Ty laughed. Then he got a more serious look on his face and asked, “Alright. Tell me about this metal thing you’re carrying around and how it relates to that tsunami we just saw.” Laura paused, wanting to get her words just right. She decided to start at the beginning, explaining that she and two of her students had been collecting samples at the lake’s edge and underwater in the mushroom caves. She told him about finding the canister in the cave and discovering how she’d opened it quite by accident. Ty was listening without interrupting as she explained in great detail about the scroll that rolls out perfectly flat, the icons of disasters etched or painted in the metal. She described the first one she’d focused on that had turned out to be Mount Vesuvius, and how she considered it too much of a coincidence the volcano had erupted the same morning she’d seen it. Then she described her first dream, being in Pompeii during the eruption, and talking with an old Indian man in her dream. “Wait a minute,” Ty interrupted her. “An old Indian?” Ty thought back trying to recollect his dream while he was fishing the day before. He looked at Laura and smiled. “You’re not going to believe this, but I think I had a dream about an old man, could’ve been an Indian, the night before last. I’ve tried to remember what the dream was about but can’t.” Laura smiled. She pointed her index finger at him and said, “There’s not anything I’d consider weird at this point in time, Ty.” She gave Ty an exact description of what the old Indian was wearing and what he looked like. Then she went on talking about the volcano dream and her dream last night when the old Indian had told her that she must seek out Ty for protection while she attempts to get the canister returned to the cave. She talked for ten minutes and Ty was listening intently. She told the entire story while she looking across the ravine, glancing at Ty now and then to make sure he wasn’t giving her strange looks. When she’d finished, she spun around on the stump and looked directly into Ty’s eyes, waiting for his reaction. He just sat there in the lawn chair without much of an expression on his face. Laura was worried that he had already written her off as a nut case. But she was pleased with how she’d explained it. Her thoughts were very lucid and the phrasing had come more easily than usual. In the back of her mind, she was wondering if the stump didn’t hold some special energy. She looked down at the ground and said, “I know it’s an incredible story and sounds unbelievable. But I swear to you that all these things happened and I don’t know what else to do other than follow the old Indian’s directions. And that’s why I’m here.” She looked back up at Ty with a slight expression of pleading in her eyes. Not begging, but asking him to believe her. Ty looked at her squarely in the eyes. Laura felt honesty and trust coming from him. She sincerely wanted him to believe her, whether he chose to help or not. He nodded slowly, “I believe you.” His expression was earnest. Laura was so pleased she wanted to jump up off the stump and hug him. She was feeling an energy inside that she thought was a culmination of being believed, sitting in nature here, and in the presence of this very nice man. She thought again perhaps there was something special about the tree stump. Laura stood up and said, “If you can help me get back to Lake Mississippi, I’ll see if we can put a stop to this disaster madness.” “Sure, I’ll help. I’ve got a car. We can head out tomorrow morning. I don’t know what the Indian meant by providing protection, but I’ll do whatever I can.” Being a modest man, Ty hadn’t mentioned anything to Laura about his past, special forces sniper, decorated twice, war hero. To him, it was just his patriotic duty to America, and he never liked to talk about it, especially with strangers. His Dad had always taught him that humble modesty is the way to tread on the Earth, and never to take your life’s blessings for granted. “May I use your cell phone Ty?” Laura asked, pointing at it. “I’d like to check on Josh and Katie to see if they’re doing okay.” “I’ll do you one better than that,” Ty said. “You’re going to need things from your wrecked car and I’ll take you in to town this evening to get it. Dive gear and stuff. We can stop at the hospital and you can check on them in person. Sound good?” Laura was go glad she’d found Ty. “That’s great!” she exclaimed. “Want to go now?” Ty nodded, “Sure, after I finish a couple things in the barn. Let’s go refresh our drinks and I’ll be finished real quick.” As they walked back into the cabin, Laura asked him about what had happened immediately following the earthquake in July. He explained a little about Jack Brannan, the CNN reporter, and his report of the Iranian terrorist plot that was spoiled during the chaos that had resulted following the quake. He told her about the militias and National Guard saving many lives by guarding the hospitals against pillagers, drug dealers and biker gangs. He talked briefly about his spotter buddy Bob, who’d gone to Peoria instead of heading to Greenville. Laura had wanted to know what a spotter was, so Ty explained in a little more detail about he and Bob’s role in Desert Storm, and that he’d helped do some troop training in the early phases of the second Iraq invasion. After hearing Ty’s vague and modest description of his roles, she said, “It’s apparent to me why the old Indian sent me to you. He said you could protect the scroll and me. And I believe he was right.” Ty laughed at her assumption. “Well, if you can tell me how a guy in dreams that I’ve never met can be right in telling you to seek me out, I’d like to hear it.” Laura didn’t want to argue with him, but to her it was very clear. “He knew your name, Ty. He knew what town you were in. He said you’re a protector. And look at your military background! It’s pretty simple, in my way of thinking.” Then she smiled a little grin and said, “He also said you weren’t any good at remembering dreams. He told me to expect this.” Ty laughed as he opened the cabin door for her to walk in to the basement. “Yeah, sure! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that most people can’t remember dreams. I’m just one more of’em.” Laura smiled at his levity. She knew he was kidding, because he’d believed her when she’d explained her dreams of the old Indian. “Okay, be that way,” Laura gently socked him on the arm as she walked by him through the door. She got her wine glass refilled and Ty grabbed another Stag. “Just a little while in the barn and we’ll go to town,” Ty said. They walked back down the lane toward the barn through the timber, past the clover field and garden. Once in the barn, Laura piddled with the foosball table hitting the ball back and forth by herself while Ty worked on the Super-C tractor. After a few minutes, Ty stood up from being under the tractor and said, “So, professor, its your turn to tell me more about yourself,” as he wiped grease off a wrench casually. She nodded agreement. “Okay, that’s fair.” Laura told him about her background at the U of I, how she loved archaeology and the study of history. Ty stood up from sitting next to the tractor and walked over to the workbench, hanging tools back in their place. “You’ve left out the best stuff,” Ty teased with a grin. “Husbands? Boyfriends? Kids?” Laura looked down at the foosball table. She said, “Okay, I’ll go first. Then you, all right?” Ty agreed with a nod. Laura explained, “Married for three years after I got my bachelor’s degree, no kids. It didn’t work out. He was pretty demanding and didn’t appreciate the time necessary to get a master’s while student teaching and working part-time at the local Wal-Mart. He was a computer geek, did networks and stuff. He got laid off in a downsize and started drinking too much. He beat me up pretty badly one night when I’d been working on campus grading papers late. That sealed it. I’ve been single for about seven years. I don’t have much time for dating or playing that game. All my energy goes in to geology, archaeology and teaching.” Laura had run through her life’s summary so quickly, she was surprised at how it had rolled off her tongue. She laughed. Looking at Ty she exclaimed, “How’s that for a one-minute life’s summary?! Pretty miserable, huh?” Ty shook his head, disagreeing with her last question. “Not at all. Sounds like you have your act together, really. At least you know what you don’t want. That’s better than most people.” Laura smiled and said, “Smart answer.” Then they both laughed. Ty felt a bit awkward because he knew it was his turn. She looked at him and batted her eyelids. “Your turn.” Ty paused, not knowing how to start. She urged him by rolling her hands in a circular motion. “Oh, okay,” he said slowly. “Never married, although I had a close call but she decided I was too simple. I worked on the docks driving cranes and heavy equipment in St. Louis until the earthquake turned the Mississippi into a friggin’ lake. I’m not active military any more, although I contract with them sometimes to do training for troops preparing to head to the Middle East. Nothing special.” He paused, wondering if he’d explained enough to satisfy her. “Okay,” Laura smiled. “I can tell you don’t like talking about yourself. I’ll let you off the hook for now.” They both laughed again as Ty was wiping off a smudge of grease on the back of his left hand. “Thanks,” he smiled. “I didn’t know where else to go after that because there isn’t much more.” “Oh, I bet there’s lots more,” Laura said with a coy smile. “But I respect a man that doesn’t brag about everything they know or about what they’ve done.” Ty looked down as they walked out of the barn, “Let’s go to town and get your stuff. Then we can stop at the hospital.” “Great,” Laura said. “I hope they’re doing better. I couldn’t get in to see them early this morning when Nate took me by on my way out here. I feel horrible about wrecking the car and them getting hurt. Like, it’s all my fault.” “Don’t know how you could have avoided a tornado flipping your car, other than not be there in the first place,” Ty said. “Folks at the hospital are real good. I’m sure your two friends are fine.” She looked at him with a small frown on her face. “Knowing what that damn scroll’s been doing, how do I know I didn’t somehow cause the tornado?” Ty shook his head. “I think you’re jumping to conclusions. There’s no way to know for sure if it has anything to do with what’s going on.” They walked in silence the rest of the way until they reached the Cherokee parked on the side of the cabin. Ty opened the passenger door for Laura, surprising her. “I thought you wanted me to drive!” she laughed. “It’s been a long time since anyone did that for me. Thanks.” Ty smiled and nodded. To him, it was the polite thing to do.