Here's a variation on the theme, again from my Lisa and Paul story. He's in mortal danger, but it's her fears I'm showing.
It was almost lunchtime when her phone rang. She glanced at the caller ID and saw it was Ralph. Feeling guilty that she hadn’t talked to him since Saturday, she picked it up. “Hi Ralph – sorry, I should have called - ”
“Lisa, get yourself to a TV,” Ralph interrupted. “Mount Kaluda has erupted.”
“Get to a TV,” Ralph repeated. “Paul’s out there”
“Yes, I know but -”
“Lisa, they’ve lost contact with the team out on the south west rift – and that’s where the lava is coming down. I’m trying to find out where Paul is.”
Lisa’s heart started hammering and her mouth went dry. “Oh God,” she breathed, then stood up. “Okay. There’s a TV in the cafeteria. Thanks, Ralph. I’ll call you later.”
Despite the fact that she'd started to tremble, she raced across to the Charlton Building. In the cafeteria a crowd of people had gathered in front of the large TV screen. Millie was already there and Lisa went to stand next to her. A confused mix of panic and dread fought with the desperate hope that Paul wasn’t anywhere near Mount Kaluda. Her heart thumped painfully as she watched the live coverage of the eruption and she couldn't stop shaking. It really did look dramatic – an angry red and yellow mass of fire and lava shooting hundreds of feet up in the sky. She struggled to concentrate on the commentary.
“Kaluda’s eruption started just over an hour ago - at six ten, Hawaiian Standard Time. It was thought that the renewed activity in the previous few hours would simply lead to the venting of gas and possibly the throwing out of rock fragments – both of which have been happening during this last week. But then at six fifteen, a larger earth tremor opened up a new fissure which has led to this major eruption.”
‘Get on with it,’ Lisa thought frantically as she twisted one hand around the other. ‘Where’s Paul?’
She had to wait for a few more minutes before the commentator introduced someone called Russell Baines, one of the scientists at the Volcano Center, and all her nerves tightened. If Paul had been available, surely they would have interviewed him?
“We’ve had a team out on the south west rift for the last five days,” Russell said. “They’ve been monitoring the seismic activity and also collecting samples of rocks and gases. But we lost radio contact with them when the quake started at six ten and have not yet been able to re-establish contact.”
“And are they in a danger area?”
Russell nodded. “Unfortunately, yes. Our last position for them was where the main lava flows are now coming down.”
“Can they get out of the way of the lava flows?”
“Yes, of course – lava doesn’t travel fast on the lower slopes. But the main danger is from falling rock and the debris avalanche which of course moves a lot faster than the lava. With all the smoke, it’s impossible at the moment to see whether there has been any substantial fall of rock from around the new fracture. There are also the noxious gases and burning ash, and of course there’s always a danger of being trapped between two lava flows.”
“How many people are we talking about?”
“There are six scientists from the Center here - ”
“Including the Director, Steve Barrington?”
“Dr Barrington went out to join the team yesterday with Dr Paul Hamilton who came out here on Sunday. They were only intending to stay one night at the camp. Dr Hamilton was keen to do some filming of Kaluda overnight.”
“Oh dear God, no,” Lisa breathed. Nausea rose inside her and she swayed unsteadily.
Millie looked round at her. “Lisa – you okay?” She put her arm quickly around Lisa’s shoulders. “No, you’re not – come on, sit down. You look as if you’re about to keel over.”
Lisa let herself be led to one of the chairs and started to tremble violently. Everything was swimming in front of her, there was a whooshing sound in her ears and she thought she was going to faint.
“Mike, get a glass of water,” she heard Millie call out, and then Millie pushed her head down so that it was resting on her knees. “Take some deep breaths, Lisa.”
Lisa did so and gradually the dizziness receded. “I told him go to hell,” she whispered as she lifted her head again.
“What? Here, have some water.” Millie offered the glass to her, but all Lisa could do was raise anguished eyes to her friend.
“The last time I saw him – the last thing I said to him – I told him to go to hell.”
“Yes. And now – oh God - ” Her hands went to her cheeks, and then she looked round at the television again. “Have they said any more – about the team, about Paul?”
“No, they still haven’t made radio contact.”
Numbly Lisa nodded and took the glass from Millie. As she sipped the water, she felt totally unreal, as if everything was happening to someone else. But at the same time, she couldn’t keep her eyes off the TV screen which was now showing the deep rivers of lava rolling relentlessly down the slopes of Kaluda. And somewhere on those slopes was Paul. She clenched her hands and bit her lip hard, not wanting to put the unthinkable into words, even in her mind.