A very distinct ringing screeched into Natalie’s ear. She pulled her phone out from under her head and hit the snooze. Suddenly, all of the angst and nerves from the night before surfaced and she jumped out of bed.
“Lights,” she commanded.
Her satin nightgown slid against her skin as she padded her way to the window, the coolness in the air made the fabric inflict gooseflesh over her body. She drew up the blinds to find the valley socked in fog, the clouds in the skies moving fast past the glass, still dark and formidable. There was no sunshine, no warmth, just clouds and mist. She ran her hands over her arms in an attempt to warm herself. It looked like winter out there, not the last day of July.
Heading into the bathroom, she turned on the television. The morning news would come on in 20 minutes. She showered as quickly as she could manage and stepped out wrapping her head in a towel. Glancing at the screen, she noticed a ticker had come on at the bottom, an emergency warning was being displayed for the East Coast. Natalie was not sure that meant her area of Vermont, but a feeling of doom and dread filled her.
While applying her make up, the weatherman came on talking about the advances of “Hurricane Natalie”. She let out a snort at how they had named this storm. It was being reported that this cell was moving rapidly and not falling apart as it hit land. She put down her shadow brush and watched, hypnotized by the images of Florida that were being aired. Much of it was under water. They encouraged people anywhere near the coast to prepare for the worst. Natalie expelled the breath she had been holding.
The news broke for a commercial break and Natalie grabbed for her phone, dialing her work. She left a message claiming she woke with a fever and would not be in. She knew there was a court hearing that she had been busting her butt on, yet somehow, it didn’t matter to her at the moment. Hanging up, she sat back in her chair and stared at her reflection in the mirror.
*Breaking News* caught her attention. The news left the air and in its place was footage of wide streams of hot orange magma flowing through streets and neighborhoods. The voice coming from the television explained that an earthquake that measured off the charts hit the San Andreas fault line. The coast of California was a disaster, untold numbers of deaths littered the west coast. Natalie stared in shock at what the shaking cameras were showing her. Buildings had toppled. Bridges were rubble. Bodies scattered. Utility poles were lying on the ground as though they were dominos that had been flicked by God’s finger and a domino effect occurred across the west. Deep gashes in the earth’s skin had swallowed cars, homes and trees. Others were bleeding magma. Clouds of steam rose as the molten rock spilled into the ocean. Clouds of smoke billowed out of buildings only standing at half mast.
Holding her breath, Natalie sunk to the couch cushions and stared at the devastation. Each new image was a whole new nightmare to process. Phone in hand, she absently dialed the number of her closest and dearest friend in the whole world. She needed his comfort and to make sure he was okay.
“Hello?” greeted a man’s voice on the other end of the line hundreds of miles away.
Out came the breath Natalie had been holding in. “Derek?” she answered quietly.
“Nat? Is that you? How are you doing? I haven’t heard from you in ages! Are you all right? Are you watching the tube right now?” Now he sounded panicked.
“Derek, you shouldn’t call it the ‘tube’. There are-“
“No tubes in televisions, I know. You always say that,” he chuckled.
“Are you okay, Derek? I mean, I know you are still over there by mom and dad, but I don’t know what is going on. I see California is a mess! We are due for a hurricane any moment…Are you safe?”
“Calm down, Natalie. We are fine over here. You need to come home and not weather that hurricane. Please. Just get in your car and drive home right now,” Derek said with urgency.
“It hasn’t been any big deal so far, a little wind, some hail and rain, nothing to be concerned about. I’m in the mountains, man. They break up storms. I doubt we will see the same problems as like New York,” she said, silently glad that he still cared about her like a brother.
“I want you to keep an eye on my parents for me. Make sure that if anything bad happens there, that you will all stay together and take care of them. Promise me!” she pressed.
“I can’t promise you. They left just a little bit ago. I saw their motorhome pull away. I think they went to Yellowstone?” he ended as though he were asking a question.
Natalie closed her eyes and sighed as though she were an old woman. “I didn’t think they were leaving for a while,” she said trying to swallow the sick stomach in her throat.
“I guess their plans changed. When did you talk to them last?”
“Last night. She said they were leaving in a few days, not this morning!” She was afraid Derek would be able to tell that she was freaking out. Her heart was thundering and she could feel a pulse in her ears, her hearing felt muted.
“Calm down, they just went for vacation. If anything goes wrong, they will come right back. Do me a favor, go to your bank and pull out your money. Get your emergency supplies together and hit the road west. I will be watching for you,” Derek said sweetly.
She hadn’t even thought to withdraw her funds. “I will. I need to call Mom. They need to come back.”
“They will be fine, Nat. Just worry about yourself.”
“You don’t see what is going on? The earthquakes? Eruptions? Derek, Yellowstone is pretty much one huge volcanic outlet. It could blow big time. Maybe with little warning!” Natalie pointed out. “I’ve got to call Mom.”
“Listen to me. I will call your mom. You get your stuff and get the hell out of there!” He was getting impatient and a little angry.
“See you soon, love you,” she said, feeling like she was about to cry. She never cries.
“Love you, hurry up!”
The line was closed. Natalie just sat there and stared at the same shaky footage on the screen as before. She could hear the wind whistling around the walls of the house on the mountain.
“Move, Natalie. You need to go. Get back home where it is safe. Get your money and just walk away,” she reasoned with herself.
Making a conscious effort, she flicked the button on the remote and was suddenly sitting in the midst of a loud storm crashing outside when the noise of the news had been silenced. She picked herself up off the couch and numbly moved through her house and up the stairs. She shrugged into her clothes and discarded the wet towels. The housekeeper would be there later to do the laundry.
Smoothing her hair quickly, she threw all of her toiletries in an overnight bag. Hurriedly, she brushed and stuffed clean towels in her bag. It felt like her body was moving in fast motion, she half walked and half ran down the stairs, the severity of her situation becoming more real by the second. It wasn’t just a hurricane coming, it was disasters from all corners. The earthquakes would cause tsunamis and that would devastate other areas of the world, who knew when the storm heading her way would let up. It became stronger everyday, barely grazing Cuba and the Caribbean but washing out the entire east coast as it hit land. She was right in the middle of the end of the world!