Prelude to the apocalypse – Leroy

Buffalo Wyoming, USA

Yellowstone National Park had something beneath it that had troubled scientists and doomsday preppers for decades.

It was the home to a massive super volcano. And whilst it would have blown of its own accord eventually, the impact of a huge piece of space rock just brought matters to a head.

Buffalo wasn’t a big town, just over four and a half thousand inhabitants. It had good schools and churches, as well as a mighty fine local restaurant that Leroy wished he could afford to eat in more often. He rarely ventured out of his home, though, because the facial burns had left his face distorted, pulling the left side of his mouth into an unnerving sneer.

He’d lived in Buffalo much of his life, save for a stint in the army that had left him a ruin from the injuries he’d received in Afghanistan. Now each day was spent in varying levels of pain and isolation, only partly helped by the prescription pain meds he was hooked on. When his pills didn’t work, the weed often did. If he was honest, even without the disfigurement, the agony alone would have driven most people close to him away. Unlike some people, he’d never learned how to handle the debilitating psychological aspects of it.

He’d let anger and self-pity overwhelm him.

All in all, it was a pretty miserable existence, and he woke up not knowing what time it was. There was no point having an alarm clock in his trailer because sleep was the only true relief he got. Saying that, it was usually the pain that roused him, but not today.

When he woke up with a start, he found that he wasn’t in his bed and that the mattress was actually on top of him for a change. With sleep still in his eyes, it took him several seconds to realise his trailer was on its side, the wall now the floor, most of the bedroom furniture strewn around him. There was also a noise pouring in through the shattered window, like a gale force wind had suddenly decided to descend from the heavens.

He was fortunate he didn’t have an actual bed frame, choosing instead to just use a now soiled mattress, which had cushioned him from most of the debris that had been hurled around the room.

The trailer was rocking violently, as if a giant hand was trying to turn it over again, and he crawled out from under the mattress and into the shattered living room. There was a strong smell of gas, the hiss from the broken pipe barely registering over the background noise. On his hands and knees, Leroy propelled himself to the exit. The door was now on the floor, so that escape route was forever closed to him. Instead, he worked his way over the broken things that had been his meagre possessions and made it to the back window, which hadn’t survived whatever cataclysm had occurred.

What the hell had happened here? A tornado, perhaps? Whatever it was, he knew it would ruin him. This trailer was his life, and it wasn’t as if he could afford the insurance. Leroy needn’t have worried, for there was no amount of insurance that could protect him from what was coming.

Out the window, he realised his situation hadn’t improved. The air smelt bad, thick in his throat, as if a million rotten eggs had been strewn about. The trailer came with a small plot of land, and what could exaggeratingly be called his front yard had been ripped in two by a large fissure that extended off in both directions. It was wide enough for him to fall in and never see his body recovered, so Leroy stayed away from it.

Finally, standing as tall as his ruined frame would let him, he realised for the first time that he suddenly had no pain. Whatever adrenaline was flowing through him was enough to temporarily block out the signals that had plagued the latter half of his life. It was perhaps ironic that only the other day he had once again considered committing suicide. He’d been thinking about it off and on for months now, storing the occasional pharmaceutical from his daily dose on the good days. He’d even sat on the floor of the living room with the small jar of pills he’d collected. Enough there now, even with his tolerance, to end his relentless suffering.

A painless death, not the end that was now hurtling toward him.

The wind was dying down now, its roar replaced by an ungodly rumbling that was coming from the west. When he turned that way, he saw the sky was black with the huge mushroom cloud that was billowing high into the sky. At first, he thought the Ruskies had finally nuked them, but his memory also had another theory on that.

The giant super volcano that rested beneath Yellowstone National Park.

There were the faint cries of alarm, screams from injured neighbours, but fortunately they were masked by the growing cacophony. He didn’t want to hear other people’s distress; he got enough of that in the night terrors that still occasionally hit him. The rocket-propelled grenade that had taken out two of his squad had also killed and maimed half a dozen children that had eagerly been fighting to get the candy Leroy and his buddies had been handing out in the town square.

Hearts and minds and all that shit.

Stumbling away from the wreck of his home, he could see the western horizon now. Well, actually he couldn’t, because it was obscured by the huge, thick black cloud that was charging toward him at an alarming rate. That cloud rose thirty, maybe even forty storeys into the air, and was filled with fire and lightning.

Even if he’d had the proper use of his legs, he wouldn’t have run. What would be the point? Instead, he fell to his knees, finally released from the suicidal turmoil that had been plaguing him for so long. All he could do was kneel there and await his fate. Despite the terror, there was relief that finally he would be free of it all.

The cloud came closer, a line of flame erupting in front of it as the pyroclastic flow consumed everything in its path. Whatever could burn would. And any structure made by man was simply ripped asunder.

Leroy felt the heat start to build, the foliage around him beginning to smoulder. He briefly considered hurling himself into the earthquake induced chasm, but the fire caught him, his dressing gown and hair igniting, along with the world around him. Leroy didn’t even have the chance to drop and roll, not that it would have done any good. By the time the cloud was close to being on top of him, he wasn’t able to scream, as the inner layer of his lungs and windpipe were burned raw by the scorching air.

He died then, what was left of his now blistered and burning body instantly vaporised and converted to super-heated ash as the cloud enveloped him.

Leroy didn’t get to see what happened to his beloved country. If he had, he might have been plagued with the thought that maybe America deserved it.

After a super volcano blows, there tends not to be that much left of the land to worry about.

 

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