August 10, 2008

Iapetus Saves Albuquerque

Chapter Four

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Dr. Plate stretched out on the back of his pick-up truck. He looked at the moonless sky, and looked for more from the Quadrantid meteor shower. Eventually, he drifted off to sleep.

It was a few hours before sunrise when Dr. Plate was shaken awake. The earth rumbled and the ground shook. Just as quickly as it came it was gone. The startled Dr. Plate just stayed still in the back of his truck. Eventually, he relaxed, but he was not going back to sleep.

"Dr. Plate," the Sheriff from Vaughn said gently.

"I'm awake," replied Dr. Plate. "What time is it?"

"It is 6:30am. You looked quite comfortable there, so we let you sleep through the night."

"I appreciate that sheriff, so what do you have to report?"

"One of my deputies -- well she spends too much time on the internet -- but that is beside the point."

"Go on sheriff."

"Any ways, this deputy got on the eBay. She found that someone from Santa Fe posted an item for sale. An item you might be of interest in."

"What is it?"

"The listing reads, 'Quadrantid Meteorite from New Mexico. Obtained during camping trip. Saw it land. Genuine meteorite from space.'

"What?"

"This here deputy fired off one of them e-mails to the folks at eBay, and that there meteorite will be waiting for you at this address."

"Sheriff I could kiss you!"

"I'd appreciate it kindly if you refrained."

"Okay sheriff I will."

"Although that deputy might not mind -- she might like it."

"That's alright sheriff."

"Then again, you never know with the kids these days."

"Anyway, I had better get going. Thanks again!"

Dr. Plate jumped out of the back of his pick-up and into the cab. Before he sped off, he rolled down the window and whistled at the sheriff.

"Sheriff!" he yelled. "Did you feel an earthquake last night?"

"An earthquake -- in these parts? Nah! It was probably just a deer running into your truck or something."

"Perhaps you're right."

"I'll ask the deputy about the kissing!"

"Um -- okay. Thanks sheriff! I'm off for sure this time."

Dr. Plate sped northward. He tried to not let his excitement overcome him too much. After all, there were still enforced speed laws. The 100 mile or so trip would take as long as it took.

Fortunately, speed was not going to be an issue. As he drove along, some stretches of the road were in terrible condition. He had never seen it so torn up. In some places the surface collapsed into a rut, and others it was uplifted into a bump. He had driven this stretch a few weeks before, and it was in much better shape then.

The closer he got to Santa Fe, the worse the highway became. He thought the interstate would be an improvement, but it was not. It was a mess too. Fortunately, the address was on the south end of town. He would not have to drive along these roads for very long.

His thoughts kept returning to the earthquake. It sure looked like an earthquake tore up the roads. While the sheriff could be right and the shaking of his truck was mostly part of a dream, the evidence was pointing elsewhere. He would have to check on New Mexican earthquakes when he had the chance. Perhaps the sheriff did not know about the earthquakes of the region.

After a few hours of driving, the roads became unusable. He got off the interstate and began using side roads. They were not any better. The closer he got to his destination the worse the roads were.

Could it be possible that the earthquake's epicenter was in Santa Fe? Could the tremor be felt 100 miles away? The shock wave Dr. Plate felt was awfully strong. From looking at the roads, the damage would certainly have been greater to the city. As he reached the outskirts, he dreaded to think what the center of town would look like.

About a mile from his destination, the roads were impassible. His rugged pickup truck could not even drive along the roads. He would have to walk the rest of the way. This was not going to an easy stroll in the park as the damage was quite significant.

After toughing it out for the short distance, it was clear that his destination was no longer in existence. It was simply a giant hole in the ground now. The address appeared to be the center of the earthquake as any building that once existed here was completely destroyed.

It was the least of Dr. Plate's problems now. Not too far away there appeared to be a giant sand storm. It easily dwarfed the tallest building in Santa Fe. Further, the sand was moving with great force towards the center of Santa Fe. It was not like any sand storm Dr. Plate had ever seen. It was not the usual strait winds blowing sand, nor was it the swirling dust-devil kind of storm.

The storm appeared to have some sort of legs for locomotion. It had four arm-like structures that swung at objects in its way. Further, it appeared to travel independent of the wind. It would veer one way and smash a building, and quickly change direction to destroy the building across the street. From Dr. Plate's point of view, it appeared to be a giant sand monster rampaging towards the center of town.

Posted by deg at August 10, 2008 7:00 PM

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