Story 18. When the Volcano Blows
“Carlos, stop kicking me in the head!” Juan yelled to his climbing mate. “I can’t see! Hold that flashlight closer to the cliff so I won’t stumble!” The two were slowly scaling down the caldera of the active volcano known as Pinatubo. They lived on the Island of Luzon in the Philippines and were not far from home on a murderous and malevolent mission. The mission was not their idea; forces beyond their control were dominating them.
Using a pulley support rope, Carlos said nothing as he slowly descended into the cavern in a zombie-like stupor while Carbo’s minion Toasty floated nearby. Since Carbo could be only one place at a time, he had reluctantly begun to entrust Toasty with more authority. In turn, Toasty had brought along two new accomplices, Flame and Smother. Like Toasty, they both could read the minds of humans as well as place thoughts into their brains. But it was taxing work.
“You’re losing control! You need to try harder!” Toasty coaxed his companions.
‘I’m doing my best!” countered Smother.
I’m already sweating!” retorted Flame.
It took every ounce of energy for these carbon dioxide molecules to force the hapless humans into doing their bidding. Now and then, Carlos and Juan would have moments of lucidity when they would suddenly realize that what they were doing would surely bring death and destruction to their villages and family near Mount Pinatubo.
“What are we doing, Juan?” asked Carlos in despair.
“I can’t help myself!” was Juan’s desperate cry.
Perspiring profusely, Flame and Smother concentrated all the more, guiding their captives back to their lethal assignment. Inside both men’s heavy backpacks were parcels of powerful explosives, and the carbon molecules were determined they be put to good use.
Carbo had conjured up a plan earlier in 1991 to snooker the humans into believing that Planet Earth was cooling yet again; and in turn, slow down the efforts of climate scientists to persuade others to turn away from using fossil fuels for energy. Being a most intelligent carbon molecule, he surmised that volcanic eruptions, if powerful enough, would temporarily cool the planet. Carbo’s plan was now in motion, and he and Roasty, another of his minions, watched it unfold from a safe distance.
“Heatia will hate me for this,” Carbo said.
“You told that brown beast what we were doing, boss?” asked the more-than-helpful but less-than-intelligent lackey.
“That I was going to cause a volcano to erupt? No, Roasty. The last thing that heat monster wants is for the Earth to cool.”
It had taken months to find just the right volcano. He had considered trying to reactivate the dormant volcano under Yellowstone Park in in the United States, but decided that such a blast would be too powerful. Carbo wanted an eruption that would be strong enough to temporarily cool the planet, but not so strong that Earth would be sent into a mini ice age. If that were to happen, the resulting human annihilation would defeat his purpose, which was to convince as many humans as possible to burn coal and oil, releasing his carbon molecule friends from their underground prisons.
Carbo’s minion Roasty still wasn’t exactly sure what his leader was up to. “So why did we have to find a couple of humans to help us?” he asked.
Carbo frowned. He hated admitting that anything was beyond his ability, but there was no other explanation. “We don’t have hands to hold tools. We can’t put timers on the explosives. But we can bend the will of humans to do it for us.” He sneered, “They are our slaves.”
Right now the slaves were being very reluctant. Juan was a strong young man, full of promise and energy. He was proving to be a formidable match for Smother, the carbon molecule in charge of manipulating him.
“Come on, Juan,” Smother beckoned. “It’s all for the best.” Juan struggled against the will of Smother, but time and again, the molecule’s mind-bending powers proved stronger.
Flame was having an equally challenging time wielding power over Carlos. “Show everyone how strong you are,” tempted Flame. “Only a hunk like you could do something like this.” Eventually, Carlos succumbed to the molecule’s seduction.
After Juan and Carlos descended to the floor of the cave, they took the explosives out of their backpacks. Still struggling against their captors, they placed the devices into two crevices. They set the timers, and then began their climb back up the cliff toward the entrance. Flame and Smother planned to release the humans back into their village.
For a split second, Smother’s curiosity got the better of him, and he gazed at the bubbling mud and magma at the base of the cave. In that instant, Juan wrestled his will away from his mind master, unleashed his tether, and fell bodily toward Smother. As he collided with the carbon dioxide molecule he cried, “I don’t know what type of devil you are, but I’m going to take you down with me!” Surprised, stunned and exhausted from his mind-probing efforts, Smother fell toward the bubbling magma along with Juan.
Toasty and Flame watched helplessly as their companion and his charge dropped to their demise. Immediately livid, and knowing that the timers were already set, Toasty and Flame combined their energies to force Carlos to let go of his rope, and the other brave Filipino soul was gone as well.
The two remaining molecules rose out of the cave to safety, and minutes later, their dirty work was done. The explosives set off a series of earthquakes that would eventually lead to an eruption like the world had not seen in almost a century.
As Carbo watched from a distance, he smiled. “That’s how it’s done, Roasty,” he said. “Humans are good for something after all. Now we’ll see if this temporary reprieve from global warming will fool them.”
Roasty just stared at the cloud of ash beginning to billow out from the top of the volcano.
Mount Pinatubo is an active volcano located on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Its eruption on June 15, 1991 killed 847 people and destroyed more than 8,000 homes. In all, 364 communities were impacted by the eruption. Of course, simple explosives can’t set off an earthquake; massive internal pressure on the Earth’s crust produces the fissures that lead to volcanoes. The effects of the eruption were felt worldwide as temperatures fell by about one degree Fahrenheit over the next year. Some meteorologists this author knew at the time discounted man-made climate change because of the worldwide cooling from the eruption. Yes, the chilling effects from a large eruption masked the carbon pollution problem. Climatologist’s models in the early and middle 1990s confirmed what an eruption of the magnitude of Pinatubo could do; thus, reaffirming some aspects of climate science.
The Climate Guy
The text and artwork are copyright by Guy Walton. I would like to get this book published. Please drop me a note if you are willing to help.
My friend Alyssa Josue drew the art.
To see the rest of the World of Thermo stories click: http://www.guyonclimate.com/category/worldofthermo/