by Torn MacAlester

This morning on the Night Watch Live AM, we are speaking with Nick in Montana, who’s been living inside of the blast zone of Yellowstone since the explosion last year. Nick, we have a caller on line two, are you ready for questions from the audience?

“Go ahead Sam,” I said, pouring myself another cup of coffee. “I’m ready.”

I’ve got Cooter from Texas on the line. Cooter, you’re live with Sam Dean on Night Watch AM and Nick from Montana.

“Hey yeah Nick, this is Cooter. Ya doin’ all right?”

“I can’t complain Cooter, what is your question?”

“I heard that there was a UFO near the park just before it blew. Did you see anything?”

I cleared my throat, “There had been a lot of sightings around the park region over the years. Personally – have never seen anything.”

“They were preparing for the volcano–”

– it looks like we lost Cooter, we’ll see if we can get him back while we take this commercial break.

I set the phone to speaker and moved over to the fireplace. Finding the hollow-sounding stone, I worked it out of the wall. My hand fished around until finding my keys.

Back to the air with Nick. What is the situation up there?

“The ground is still burning in places here. I think it’s the roots of the trees. The ash from the explosion and the subsequent fires makes it look like winter here all the time. Yesterday we had a beautiful sunshine. It almost looked like a great day to go skiing, but it’s ash – not snow."

I can't imagine a more beautiful scene, but shouldn't you leave, Nick?

“Yes, thanks. Sam, I’ve been up here for many years. I’m not going to abandon my home.”

But, Nick. The government scientists have repeatedly said that anyone within three hundred miles of the park needs to leave. It is not safe.

“Sam, it’s always been dangerous in this country. People often forget that wolves were reintroduced years ago. Besides, I need to fix my truck before I can leave. I can’t easily walk out on foot.”

Nick, I’ve been wondering. You claim to be the closest to the eruption who survived. Where exactly are you?

“To give you an idea, there is a stretch of road between West Yellowstone and Big Sky Montana. There’s a ski resort up there. I am about thirty miles north and west of that resort. I’ve got everything I need though. I have a place to stay that has an enclosed porch. I use it to keep the dust out of the house. I’ve had good luck.”

I understand that is the most important. I’ve heard claims that that dust is slowly hurting everyone.

“It’s killing everyone Sam. You breath this stuff in, it combines with the moisture in your lungs and it forms concrete. We’re all slowly suffocating as our lungs fill up with cement.”

I’ve heard a Brazilian medicine that can treat it.

“It’s too late for me,” I said. “I’ve been feeling my breathing becoming harder and harder.”

You can likely be treated.

“Sam,” I said, pulling on my coat. “I’m heading out to the nearest post office, it’s going to take me most of today to make that drive. I’ll be sending you a key. A friend of mine will be asking for it from you someday. You’ll know who it is.”

I am surprised, Nick. What is all this about?

“You will understand when you get it.”

Reprinted from Fiction Fountain