Hundreds of miles northwest of the lookout over the city of Ravenna, Jolene Bachstrom checked her printouts to make sure that the sharp tremors under her feet in Yellowstone Park were the real thing. She abstractly straightened her uniform and tucked a wary lock in place. “Yes. There it is again.” She turned to her waiting staff with forced calm on her features. “Something big just moved under us. Get ready to start evacuation procedures.”
She didn’t know that another click in time arrived in answer to the prayers of the faithful saints at the little white church on the bluff, sending a portion of the great cauldron under the United States spiraling up, pushing a cracked portion of a rising dome under the west thumb of Yellowstone Lake with it.
She hurries back to the radio as another report came in. Staff can handle the evac’. I’ve got to get a handle on how big this is.
She stopped in her tracks as windows blew out and the lodge rocked savagely back and forth, throwing her and the team against walls or onto piles of moving furniture. Her radio crackled to life with reports of damage and something else. Animals all over the park were pushing through broken trails, heading out and away from the park in mass response to some inner calling. Now what’s that about? What do they know or sense that I don’t?
Miguel focused on the nose of the lead barge heading down the Mississippi River with a trained and wary eye. Any deviation from my course will quickly turn into an economic and ecological disaster. These nine barges represent my last trip…, for a while.
He looked past the lead barge, watching for the little swirl that might mean trouble under the weight of water pressing a snag down just out of his sight. A hint of a smile crossed his face as the thought of a stop in Ravenna, the city under the bluff, crossed his mind. The crew deserves a break…, and so do I. Will Raven be ready for me? A vision of the beautiful Raven filled his mind with pleasure.
Two miles west of Ravenna, the level plain ended in a series of potholes surrounded by swamp. These potholes belonged to old geography roughly following the current bed of the Mississippi River. The entire swamp smelled of decay and the lingering stench of a recent gas bubble. Decades earlier some idiot put up a few buildings at the only crossroads in the area, now known as Stinkytown.
Stinkytown is actually an accurate name for geological reasons. Centuries before erosion and sedimentation brought the land to its’ current presentation, the region experienced an active series of steaming mud pots, part of the greater New Madrid fault system. The rocks under the fault held steady for hundreds of years, waiting for their turn in God’ plan to answer the prayers of the little white church on the bluff.
They didn’t have to wait two years or even one day. Their time to move was now!