Over Mount Fuji – Chapter 40 –

An Epic NovelDecember 25 —

Onboard the USS Ronald Reagan, Eileen scanned the crowd. Men, women and children, wet and dry, huddled in blankets, their eyes glued to a mounted screen installed in front of a dining hall. But on the deck and in the air, helicopters continued their frantic operations. News blasted out from international agencies.

Static crackled over the screen when a CNN newscaster preambled the main news before going into details. “With millions of deaths, we’re having a horrific Christmas this year,” she said, with tired eyes.

Sitting on the floor with a blanket, Eileen stiffened before the large-scale monitors, which showed intermittent live footage. The scene wasn’t quite like the leaning Tower of Pisa taking its final plunge. It was as if a mighty beast, lying beneath the sea, and in a monstrous epileptic fit of madness, managed to shrug a baby off her shoulders.

All shell-shocked, survivors sobbed and cried. Among them, a Christian nun prayed on her knees, fingering her rosary and muttering besides a young man with an untended broken arm. Nearby, a mother tried to calm her screaming toddler. Cameras from planes and space satellites were all set to record an epic moment.

From what began as nothing more than tremors, then a blitz of light, planet Earth had collapsed upon itself. Viewed from a satellite, the waves cascaded like circles of fog floating across the ocean. The rhythms and rumbles came from the distance as a roaring hum resonated like the endless moaning of wounded beasts.

Eileen stood, transfixed, her body numb. A pandemonium raged inside her. A deep roar of remarkable power came from where the archipelago had been. As she listened, the hairs on her neck prickled at the majesty of such terrifying rumble. Why is humanity so fragile in the path of nature?

“Look! And there was a great earthquake and signs in the skies.” An elderly Okinawan woman cried, holding a Bible. “This is the Sixth Seal.”

Eileen stepped toward her. “What has this got to do with the Sixth Seal?”

“When I was two months old, my mom and dad died by being deceived into hurdling themselves off the Banzai Cliff in Saipan.” She continued to cry on her knees, her face feeble, drawn and ashen, her emotion deep and profound.

“And this is a divine retribution for centuries of killing Christians, for atrocities committed in Okinawa and elsewhere,” she said as tears rolled down her cheeks, “and for the continuous glorifying of those criminals at Yasukuni Shrine.”

Feeling only sorrow for her, Eileen knelt beside the old woman. She might have spoken with a vengeance, and she might have a spiteful experience to tell. As the woman persisted in pointing out the text, Eileen moved closer, her eyes straining to see the fine print of a chapter in Revelation—‘every island fled away.’

Eileen’s pulse quickened. Islands fled away?

She rose, mumbling to herself, trying to remember the chapter and verse: sixteen twenty. Desperate situation had called for desperate interpretation. With her eyes closed, she shook her head. It was not just the concept that the archipelago could collapse but that John the Revelator had forecasted such a scene two millenniums ago.

Too bad!  She had already faxed her article to the Raging Planet magazine about the doomed archipelago a couple of days ago, and it might have already been published.

Static. Snow and crackling noises sporadically interrupted the TV transmissions. The static subsided and the telecast resumed. Another roar split the silence on the screen. Lights flashed and a sound beeped, signifying volcanic activities along the Japanese chain of islets. A huge cloud of ash shot into the smog-laden sky, molten rock and streams of black smoke spouting like a fountain.

She could see an outline, though partly obscured by smoke and dusk, of the archipelago. Surrounded by moaning survivors, she stood, her mind in turmoil. Surely, it’s not a dream.

The winds howled in the mountains, the incoming waves broke the shores, and the foundation of the chain of islets looked like collapsing. Pounded relentlessly, the shorelines struggled to remain afloat. Soon they lost their grip, and valleys and plains followed. Slipping and sliding, bit by bit, soil eroded and rocks dislodged from where the archipelago stood. Gradually, the waves overwhelmed them into an upheaval. Bit by bit, chunk by chunk.

Heavy emotions muddled her thoughts as Eileen, leaning back against a wall, reflected upon the fate of her colleagues. Wulfstein, Byron . . . If she had known the truth, the horror, she would have wished for their sake they were dead. She was awed by man’s insignificance compared to what nature could do, taking its victims without remorse or mercy.

Back at the screen, ferocious winds and high waves howled off the Sea of Japan and crashed over the southern tip, the lower extremities of Kyushu, trailing all the way to Okinawa. The image of the archipelago appeared in unbelievable clarity. From the east and south, mighty waves formed and gathered momentum.

Sporadic streaks of lights, drawn across the sky, spurted out of the earth in rhythm like the wrath of God. Dormant for thousands of years, the volcanic chain had awakened, one of its arms leading to Kamchatka Peninsula and another linking to Alaska through the Aleutian Islands.

A flashing blitz of light discharged across the horizon. It shot out and accelerated, gobbling up the sky.

The newscaster pointed to a red dot in the northeast. Eileen squinted at the flames. The Kuril-Island chain, joined by Kamchatka Peninsula and Aleutian Islands, down to the Okinawan chain, all spewed flames. In the extreme, she thought, remembering Wulfstein’s expression.

Explosions cracked like distant thunder, gathering volume until they sounded like the roar of the seas, lighting up, then raining down. Coughing and belching, the range of mountains took turns ejaculating smokes and ashes. Mushroom clouds of steam rose into the sky and dispersed. Ashes fell, hissing upon the heaving waves. Detonations
shattered the atmosphere and echoed into the immense emptiness.

Eileen stared in awe, stunned every time a volcano erupted. The telecast continued. “Sensors had detected five tsunami each over a mile high racing across the Pacific Ocean to the North American coastline.”

As if celebrating its birth, pyrotechnics from the volcanic belt continued, lighting the sky in fiery splendor, before they gushed and sizzled madly into the ocean.

Survivors gasped and shielded their heads. Some wept; others prayed on their knees. A heavy feeling descended. The waves’ aftermath descended, knocking the breath out of Eileen’s lungs, sending onlookers stumbling back and forth.

“Help,” a couple of survivors screamed in succession.

Suddenly, Eileen felt weightless, her body bobbed like a cork. Screams; more screams. An endless fall. Silence. No one moved. The faces of some were pale, others with their expressions twisted in horror.

Eileen scrambled to her feet, gulping for breath. She could imagine a gigantic wave had passed under USS Ronald Reagan, too large to comprehend. Had the Pacific plate slipped? She sensed her own death, and for a moment, felt relief. It allowed the drifting numbness to possess her and anesthetized her fear. “Thank God,” she whispered.

The carrier rose, then fell, as if sinking into an abyss. A deafening rumble tore through her eardrums, pushing her toward collapsing. The ocean roiled all around, buoying upward and downward, heaving and teetering, looking for
its new center of gravity.

Eileen knew all people, all faiths, all hearts beat as one—silenced in anticipation, united in a countdown. Pulsing on its own, the storm continued. Time seemed to hover in limbo, souls suspended in unison.

Among survivors, Eileen listened to the news. Grief translated to tears—tears for her lost colleagues—tears for her own shores. The screen showed the outline of the Pacific Ocean. Amidst flares bursting from the archipelago, rolling waves cascaded and loomed across the ocean. Again and again, the relentless force persisted. Again, the cycle repeated.

Mother Earth shuddered and wobbled. Colossal tsunamis raged like a moving mountain range in and out of the archipelago.

Reaching Shanghai, then Hong Kong, tsunamis destroyed everything. They obliterated Guam and uprooted villages along the Asian coastline. The impact started an energy pulse through the earth’s body. Around the Pacific ring, the faultline gaped and landslides caused havoc when the ground shook.

Still muted, the images from the telecast continued: From Vancouver, down to San Francisco and Los Angeles, as rolls of tsunami a mile high pounded the West Coast, traffic jammed all roads toward the mountains.

But unexpectedly, the San Andreas Fault gave way. “The tsunamis had finally hit the West Coast,” a newscaster on CNN said. “So powerful were those forces that the entire western corridor of California slips into the sea. This sudden plunge regenerates reverse waves of the same height back across Pacific.”

Along these coasts, Californians, Mexicans, Hawaiians, Fijians and Samoans screamed for help. Refugees from the Philippines and Indonesia all fled from the approaching assault to the mountains. The sound of the telecast stopped, interrupted by static, but images continued in Eileen’s mind, as if the Pacific Ring was a supersized Jacuzzi bath, its water sloughing back and forth.

Refugees, unable to flee, perished under torrents of burning and choking ash that became ever denser. For the majority, the agony ended with the giant waves that pounded and smashed ships like matchsticks, capsizing them.

Manila, Bangkok, and Jakarta now lay in a rising sea of sewage. Built on cheap concrete, the eyesore Twin Towers of Kuala Lumpur finally collapsed onto its own weight. The Singaporean army struggled against its citizens holding out on Bukit Panjang in the center of the island. The Gold Coast in Australia became haunted; Sydney residents fled to the Blue Mountains.

Gathering clouds now turned ragged, clustering against an orange-white sky. Across the horizon, a cover of darkness moved from the northwest, as if a curtain was closing. Soon, the color in the sky changed to a yellow, then to an eerie pink that spread quickly before fading to pale crimson.

Time passed . . . slowly Japan floundered in its own death . . . emitting bubbles, each isle suffered the same fate as storms swept their way across, unhindered.

Eileen struggled to find her emotional stability. Nothing seemed real. Twice, her men had left her abruptly, and what a terrible way to say farewell. Her emotions came in waves, her breath short. Every muscle in her body spasmed. Her legs ached, her body felt like it had been stampeded by a herd of elephants.

Her body shut down. Eileen couldn’t eat, couldn’t throw up. Nothing seemed real. None of it. She wished for death, but she didn’t know how to die.

The images from the telecast rumbled on. But the same image, the same scene of the horizon snowlines blurred into black smoke. Black smoke all over.

The television then hissed with static.

Her heart felt ripped apart as a sensation of déjà vu consumed her. Hell! Civilization’s finale!

“Not for a thousand years!” Eileen screamed. “Oh no! No! Oh God!” As her vision faded, the walls squeezed closer and old fears swept over her.

©) Joel Huan, author of Over Mount Fuji (available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble)

~ by Joel Huan on December 3, 2009.

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