HURRICANE: VOLCANIC ERUPTION
Each disaster novella written by six different authors in their own unique style.
Island Encounter: Justice, revenge and fear are ripping Josh and Neve apart, but when a volcanic eruption destroys everything in its path, love is all they have to keep them alive.
Neve slammed her door shut and flung herself down on the bed. Her tears wouldn’t stop, yet Josh’s aftershave still lingered in her senses, a reminder of what she'd had, and lost. He’d used her for his own ends, but even while she buried her head in the soft duvet and sobbed, a whisper niggled at the back of her mind and grew into a shout she couldn’t ignore.
If he’d planned settling with Edward by this weekend, then why propose? Her fear of commitment gave him the perfect excuse to never take their relationship further, yet he never let an opportunity pass without encouraging her to name the day and marry him.
They slept together whenever she came to the Island. He’d even surprised her with a visit when she'd stayed at The Florida Falls. She’d sneaked him into her room and grinned when Edward remarked how tired she’d looked. Tired? They’d made love and talked all night long. Wrapped in his strong arms with her face pressed against his chest, his heart beat faster when he'd asked her to become his wife, but even then he’d been considerate.
He understood her fear, accepted her reluctance to commit and waited for her to set a date. That they would one day marry she never doubted, or didn't, until she let her emotions rule instead of common sense.
They talked at length about their future together, but the only time Edward came into the conversation they’d argued. Josh mumbled about a secret he knew about Edward, and she’d pushed to know what, but at least she understood why he couldn't let it go.
Edward fascinated people, but he kept himself to himself, causing problems for those who wanted to be better acquainted. Before Josh she’d even had journalists dating her, feigning an interest whilst trying to gather information on Edward. Even employees in Edward’s organisation sought her company too in the hope it improved their career chances. Edward carried power and influence, and sometimes she paid the price too.
Josh spoke the truth about their first date. She'd picked her words with care when he'd brought up the subject of Edward, but they’d found each other much more interesting, and Edward soon vanished from their conversation.
In an effort to minimise her red eyes she splashed cold water on her face. She’d got it all wrong and accused Josh unfairly. Whatever else he'd planned, at least his affection for her seemed genuine. The decision to ruin Edward's life lay in his hands, and a mile long stubborn streak meant no amount of brow beating would shift him from his target. A change of heart could only come from within, but had he really taken on-board what she'd said?
Edward in action she'd seen many times. He was a strong leader, but no actor. Could he really have murdered Ellen and put it behind him for twenty five years? She should have stayed and push her point more with Josh, rather than let her emotions take the lead. Even if Josh already sent his venomous message, if she could persuade him to listen there might still be a way to delete it before things escalated too far.
It hurt Josh deliberately held back on the real story of his mother's death. He'd been open about his father, but claimed his mother died in a car accident. Given the circumstances she understood, but Josh had a dark side. It helped keep him safe in Afghanistan, but time he accepted his war had ended, and learnt to trust her.
On occasion he woke scared and vulnerable from a recurring nightmare of fire and burning. He may not remember his mother's death, but it left an impact deep in his psyche. Trust grew from being open and honest. If he still wanted to marry her, he’d have to start learning to share.
It wasn't easy for an honourable man to let go of his pride or his promise, but if the small kernel of doubt she'd sown could just take root, he was big enough to let the truth into his heart. Years of belief in Edward's guilt would take some shifting though.
She only asked to share his pain and make it better, and together explore every possibility. The other option, that Edward really did such a terrible thing all those years ago, she couldn’t believe.
She needed to return to Josh for a calm, honest talk, and she raced from her room with a prayer on her lips she’d not be too late. Down the corridor, past the Needles seascape hanging on neutral coloured walls, along the dark carpeted floor until she'd almost reached the stairs. A shudder ran through the building and she leant against the wall for support.
An earthquake in the Isle of Wight? No. Earthquakes brought down buildings. The fierce red glow coming from the window at the end of the corridor meant fire. Had a gas main exploded and she faced her own nightmare fire? On shaky legs she rushed to see what happened.
The corridor window faced a small grassy area not used for walking but for admiring, a clever ploy for hiding the sewage system. No pretty flowers, only evergreens and small bushes planted close together to hide the many manholes scattered throughout. Now, where the greenery once grew, a steady outpouring of lava spewed. In the distance thick black smoke swirled into the air, broken only by streaks of red as fires raged out of control.
‘What on earth?’
A ginger cat leapt from a bush, missed safety and landed in the incandescent mixture. Paws flailing, its miserable screech ended as it sank face down into the slow moving substance and simply disappeared. A fireball landed amid the flow, sending splashes of burning death blasting against the window, drowning out her cry.
She scurried backwards, treading on toes from the small crowd gathering behind. The pungent smell of gases seeped through the double glazed windows, leaving a vile taste in her mouth. Doors opened, and more confused, bewildered people emerged.
‘Get out now,’ she screamed, panic making her heart race.
‘This isn’t real. There can't be a volcano on the Isle of Wight,’ someone said beside her.
‘It’s real,’ she said, pushing the woman towards the stairs. ‘Run. Get out. Get out now.’
Fear made her legs move faster and she ran too, but not towards safety. She raced down the stairs into the depths of The Falls. Down to Josh’s office, buried deep in the lowest level.
She had to get to him before the lava blocked his path.