Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Freezing Inferno







The spray from the waterfall seemed to caress me, giving me relief from the noon high sun. Sitting in the shallow cool water beneath the cascade, I looked around my secluded haven. The small lagoon was an oasis, an asylum from the tropical heat. Unencumbered by a single thread of clothing, I thought that this must have been the paradise Adam relished in Eden. He and Eve must have frolicked in such an idyllic spot.

The crawlway was like an oven, the heat radiating all about me. Even though it was shielded from the direct sun and had me shrouded in darkness, there was no comfort. The passage in which I found myself was narrow, barely affording enough room for my shoulders as I crawled onward. Perspiration, copious in its flow ran in rivulets from my brow into my eyes. What would I find at my trek's end through the cauldron of metal ductwork? Dante's Inferno?

The cold wind was unexpected, but welcome. I shuddered at the bite from from the chill that had stowed away upon the gusty express. I swear, I could see the puffs of vapor as my warm breath collided with the algid breeze. The first of the snow flakes had begun to fall even as the temperature plummeted. I wouldn't last long unless I could find some kind of warmth and shelter.

The blazing fire was out of control, consuming everything in its path. The conflagration had created super-heated blasts that threatened to boil my very blood. What was left standing around me had been reduced to charred obelisks of branchless wood. The choking smoke made breathing all the more difficult. Every breath felt like it might be my last.

The cases of bottles and cans were stacked, monuments to be worshipped, beneath the chilled air from the fans lining the walls of the refrigerated chest. It was strange, but surrounded by a myriad of brands of beers and wines, I was craving a piping hot cup of coffee. But I was trapped, inexplicably locked in the chest overnight. Clad in but shorts and a tee-shirt, I would surely be nearly frozen to death by the time the liquor store would open some eight hours hence.

The small caldera had seemed at the time a good vantage point to look out over the ocean. That a fissure would open up, spewing molten rock in my direction, had not crossed my mind. The advancing barrier of lava had in effect cut off any avenue of escape I might have had. I was cornered at the edge of a precipice, the ocean pounding on the rocks a hundred feet below. So close was the lava, it felt as if I were standing in front of an open kiln. The heat was becoming unbearable. My lungs were on fire!

I had been in the frigid water for only a few minutes, but already hypothermia had begun to set upon me. I was not among those fortunate enough to have to get into a lifeboat. In fact, I had found myself struggling in the icy water with not even a life jacket. Clinging to a piece of flotsam, I watched in horror as the huge ship began to slip beneath the waves to a watery grave. As close as I was to the ship, if the freezing water didn't kill me, then surely I would be pulled under by the suction of sinking vessel.

I had had enough! I leapt from my chair and crossed the room to where the industrial floor fan stood. I turned it down to its lowest speed and unceremoniously disengaged the oscillation control switch.

It was a pleasant seventy degrees. The warm sun's radiance was tempered by a gentle sea breeze. A good book, a nice frosty beer, and a comfortable hammock stretched between the two elms; it doesn't get any better than this!

No.250

5 comments:

schnoodlepooh said...

Ooohhhh Titanic - now that's scary. Did I ever tell you the story about how my grandmother came over to this country as a child and had tickets to the Titanic (steerage class)? She was 12 years old at the time. She and her mother missed the sailing because they didn't receive their tickets in time. Interesting story, don't you think?

Karyn Lyndon said...

Nice writing...was this one of those posts inspired by a title?

Mike said...

Actually the story was born on a hot humid night - one of those nights that you just cannot see to fall asleep no matter how tired you are. I don't like to sleep in the same room with an a/c running - it's ok when I am awake- but not while in bed asleep.
This night, I do have a large industrial oscillating fan, it turns very slow and has an arch of 270 degrees. It takes a full minute to travel all the way from left to right. On that night, I was getting 20 seconds of cool air and 40 seconds of warm heavy humid air with each pass. I finally did get up, lowered the blade speed and set it to non-oscillating.
Into my head popped the idea of some form of torture - hot - cold - hot - to no end. The title was one I had set aside in case a story for it should ever come along. It did.

Karyn Lyndon said...

You don't like to sleep with an air conditioner??? You obviously don't live in Texas. We have central air, an oscilating fan AND a ceiling fan while we sleep.

MIke said...

I don't like to sleep in the direct path of the a/c. I prefer it to be in another room and have a fan btween to dusburse the air into the bedroom. I have had walking pneumonia three times. I don't take chances as the two times was attributed to sleeping within 6 feet of a/c unit.