Miguel didn’t know what happened in Ravenna, now only three miles ahead by river. He had enough to do keeping his barges on the right course. One last trip for awhile. This is going to be good.
Suddenly, directly behind his tug, two geysers pushed through the muck. Similar to the first geyser in Stinkytown, they erupted in twin columns of river spray, mud, and twin concussions. The river at that point ceased to exist for a time. Shoreline, trees, fish, and water all pushed up and ahead with a mighty heave.
In an instant Miguel was in the race of his life. Lifting his tug first and then the barges, the whole convoy set off downstream. The barges broke apart during the violent surge before the first bend. Each either hit the bank and flipped over or raced downstream on their own.
One of the outside barges careened off an obstacle and turned sideways. Immediately it was hit broadside by the front middle barge. Both split open in the crunch and their precious loads of grain, barges and all, sank into the swirling current.
Miguel and his tug surged right behind. We’ve only a mile to go before the high bridge. How’s this mess gonna get through?
One old cottonwood tree sped by on his right and threatened to tangle itself with his tug, but then broke free and swirled away. This new collision sent the tug careening off to the left. Miguel saw his only chance. Gunning the engines full ahead he pushed over to the opening he saw. Like an arrow shot from a bow, his burst of speed and the impetus from the raging water propelled him to an opening on the bank. He screamed above the roaring water for his crew to get ready to jump.
His tug plowed through what must’ve been a shed or small barn. Then, with a loud thud and long scrape it stopped far up on a grassy slope. All three jumped for it and ran uphill as fast as they could. An angry swirl of water pushed the shed, his tug, and a pile of debris up the slope after them.
The wave barely reached them, then curled back over itself and started to recede, leaving smashed trees and debris behind. The three lay exhausted on the grassy slope, unaware of the disaster downstream.
Miguel kicked at a rock in anger. All that I had is gone, just like that. What a waste.
The waves that dumped Miguel and his terrified crew continued toward the high bridge and Ravenna.
Raven turned to look as people shouted and pointed up river. Those waves are headin’ right for us…, an’ what’s that?
Directly in front, riding on the first crest, were the two remaining barges. Raven bent forward, trying to pull her friend along. Will that debris pass under or…?