Rangi Krishnan

Tidal Wave

Written in September 2019
Tidal Wave
Image by Dina Dee - Pixabay

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The two young men were busy packing their utility truck with cameras, ropes and other equipment. They slid an extendable ladder across the top of the truck and secured it with straps. The pair busied themselves with purpose but they were not rushing; they did not want to leave anything important behind. This was going to be their big break and they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss anything. When they were finally packed, the two jumped into their truck and did a final stock take checking they had everything that was necessary for this excursion. The young men then sat quietly going over their maps and calculations making sure it was right and when they were happy with this, the driver turned the key, the truck fired up with a roar and they were off on their adventure.

The two men were both in their late twenties and had been friends forever. Henry, the driver, was a tall, gangly man with dark scraggly hair that, no matter how much you tried, it would not be tamed. Norrie, his partner in crime sitting next to him was also dark haired but cut short to a number one. He was also a head shorter than his mate. They were both budding filmmakers and the excitement in their eyes as they headed south was only matched by their desire to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity.

The story broke on the television news that there had been a massive earthquake measuring 8.6 on the Richter scale elsewhere in the world and a tsunami warning had been issued for the coastal areas in the southern parts of the island. According to scientists, the wave was projected to reach about five meters and the coastal community of Bellhaven was being evacuated.

Upon hearing this news, the two men had wracked their brains to work out how they could get some great footage of this event. The news was already covering the evacuation but Henry and Norrie wanted something more; something spectacular; something that no one else had captured. They came up with a plan that would allow them to film the wave from a safe distance.

It was a two hour drive south towards Bellhaven. Although they had plenty of time, Norrie was keen to get there so that they could set up their gear.

“It’s gonna be great” said Henry.

“Yeah, I know. We’ve done our homework and we should get some great shots” replied Norrie.

“You know the science isn’t exact when it comes to working out how high this wave is gonna be” continued Henry.

“I know but I think we’ve allowed for plenty of room in our calculations. We should be far enough away and high enough so we should be okay” said Norrie.

“Just making sure we’re still on the same page bro” said Henry.

Their conversation continued about how they were going to set up the cameras and other gear once they got there.

As they began nearing their destination, they saw a long line of vehicles on the other side slowly moving north. Norrie grabbed his camera from the back seat and started taking snaps and recording video. It was about 5am and there were many weary faces. Some vehicles were laden with more than just people and Henry swore he saw a kitchen sink stacked on a small flat deck truck. While the north bound lane was full, the south bound was noticeably bare. They continued their journey at a good pace.

Further along, they spied a couple of vans parked off of the road on their side the highway. The vans belonged to a couple of news crews covering the evacuation. They decided to pull over and have a chat. Henry parked the truck in front of the first van and the two disembarked and walked over to the open side door where a woman was seated. The woman looked up from whatever she was reading with a quizzical look on her face. She was slim with straight blonde hair and she wore a fashionable pair of glasses.

“You boys seem to be headed in the wrong direction. So what’s your story?” she enquired.

“We’re filmmakers” replied Henry.

“We’re headin’ in to see if we can get some footage” continued Norrie.

Upon hearing voices, a man who had been tucked away inside the van, poked his head out to see what was going on. After the woman introduced herself as Felicity and her partner as Gabe, Henry and Norrie explained what they were about. The two news crew members were somewhat dumbfounded.

“It sounds like the most crazy-ass, hair brained stunt I’ve ever heard” said Felicity and Gabe nodded in agreement.

“We’ll be fine” responded Henry.

“Besides, we’ve done the math and factored in some wiggle room. We’ll be safe and we’ll get some great footage” said Norrie.

“How’s the evac going?” enquired Henry in order to change the subject.

“It’s almost done. I figure about another hour and we should be seeing the last of the traffic” replied Gabe.

After this, the news crew took some video statements from the two men for their news story and then Henry and Norrie climbed back into their truck.

“They’re young, dumb and let’s hope they can swim” said Felicity looking after them as they drove off.

Ten minutes later, the traffic on the other side began to thin out. Gabe had been right. Twenty minutes later, they were driving into Bellhaven. They had expected to be stopped at the town border by police but it was clear.

“I guess the cops figured that since the evac’s done, there’s no reason to stick around” said Henry and Norrie concurred. They continued through town, which was now a ghost town, and headed towards the beach. They had decided to get some footage there first before heading to higher ground.

The town of Bellhaven lay at the foot of a hill. There were streets carved into the side of the hill that worked their way up. Henry and Norrie followed one of these with Norrie constantly checking his map for no particular reason as it was a straight uphill climb. Finally, they reached the end of the street which appeared to hang like a ledge overlooking the town. This was going to be their perfect spot. They could clearly see the town below and they would be able to capture everything with their powerful cameras. They didn’t waste any time and got stuck in setting up their equipment and camp. Once all the work was done, they settled themselves on a couple of fold-out chairs to wait for the main event each wrapping their fingers around a thermos cup savouring the hot coffee.

“Do you hear that?” asked Norrie.

“I don’t hear anything” replied Henry.

“Exactly” said Norrie.

It was about 1.15pm in the afternoon and every creature had fallen silent. Moments earlier, the place had been abuzz with the sounds of flying and crawling things. Now, there was just silence.

“There’s something happening out there” said Henry with a little excitement building in his voice. They gathered themselves and got to work.

They could see the tide going out; it wasn’t just going out, it was rushing out. The beach at Bellhaven dipped away quite rapidly and the outgoing tide had left it bare. The cameras sited on their tripods were rolling, capturing everything happening below. As they looked outward, they could see the water swell. There was a definite bulge moving towards land. As the bulge came closer, it began to rise up.

“They were right. Looks like about five meters” said Henry.

However, as the lads looked on, the wave continued to grow and it was moving as fast a jet plane. They looked behind them at the cliff face against the road and the road itself was heading down. By this time, the wave had reached almost thirty meters. They looked at each other with wide eyes realising they had made the biggest mistake of their lives. There was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. They placed their hands on each other’s shoulders for comfort. They felt the wind against their cheeks. Mother Nature ignores all counsel but her own and does as she pleases.

They were storytellers; only this wasn’t their story to tell.

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