May 18, 1980

The branch swayed, his two brown eyes peered through the gap, the deer was close, grazing, and oblivious to his presence. Turning away he let the branch slide quietly back, his reddish- brown shaggy hair glistening in the morning light. The hunt had ensued at dawn in a clearing on the south side of the mountain. The chase led over rocky crevices, through a green valley, into a chasm and over the banks of a stream. A roaring waterfall echoed in the distance. He knew where he was, just a few miles up the ravine from his wife and daughter. He peered through the brush again, the giant buck was still eating, with its left flank facing him. He readied the killing shot; he breathed in and steadied his aim.

Abruptly a booming, shrieking explosion ripped through the mountain above, the ground began to pitch and roll violently. Lightning ripped from the mountain top or from the heavens, he wasn’t sure. Everything was happening fast, all at once. The crackle of the lightning was eclipsed by a menacing crack. Looking up he witnessed rock, trees, and land being violently ejected from the face of the mountain. What was left of the peak, was now an avalanche plummeting down the north side of the mountain in a deafening rumble. The buck popped its head up in the direction of the sound, instinctively it bolted in the opposite direction of the noise and the mammoth hunter. The hunter frowned, why run, the avalanche wouldn’t affect us here. He was visibly disappointed; he had tracked the buck all morning through fog and dense underbrush. Hopefully his son was having better luck fishing at the bottom of the mountain. Boom—Boom, a soul splitting crack louder than the first blasted from the mountain, he hesitated momentarily, scared. Far behind him he heard trees rocking back and forth, as they do in thunderstorms, he was scared, he jumped over a dead tree landing in a run. As he did something knocked him forward slamming into the ground. Squinting his eyes, he looked around expecting an attacker, of course the dog would spring on him now. But he was alone, there was no one. Small trees had been uprooted by the force and scattered across the forest. The air crackled, the ground tumbled and still he ran. His shaggy hair glistening in the morning light. Without warning animals were crashing all around him, hundreds maybe thousands. They came in all sizes, all careening down the mountain. The deer, raccoons, and bears. The moose were the loudest, crashing through the underbrush. Even the wolves were running frightened. He looked back and forth across his perspective, a stampede, literally every creature in the forest is running down the mountain. He grew fearful for his mate and daughter, picking up speed, he slashed through the forest and the exodus of animals.

The sky had steadily grown darker since the initial thunderous clap and subsequent violent lightning strikes. Rapidly moving black, grey clouds blotted out the sun, raining mud, water, and ash. Everywhere, the ground continued to pitch and roll, and he ran. The air grew small, like a stale pond, where the water hadn’t moved in weeks. He kept running, past downed trees, over a creek, through a small clearing.

After a mile of running, a rumble screamed, like raging river but deeper, more guttural. Crossing out of the tree line, the origin of the noise was horrifyingly. A river of mud and earth flowed rapidly down the mountain, down the channel naturally provided by the ravine. Their campsite was submerged underneath a deadly flow of mud, trees, and earth. He wept; nothing could have survived in the ravine. His wife and daughter caught unaware of the impending danger, by the time they heard the torrential mudslide it was too late to climb out of the ravine. His head dropped; an audible whimper escaped his lips. Tears rolled down the hunter’s face as he scurried away. All that mattered was finding his son and fleeing hell on earth.

Smoke and ash had enveloped the forest like an early morning mist. Clumps of floating ash blotted out the little light that broke through the smoke. The clumps were igniting brush and trees upon impact. A few smaller pieces landed on the hunter as he ran, searing his hair. The pain was intense, and his breathing had become cumbersome when the aroma of his burning hair reached his nose. He coughed violently.

Around him the forest had rapidly transformed into an inferno. Between the smoke from the mountain and the smoke billowing from the forest visibility had shrunk to nil. His lungs heaved, pleading for air. He ignored their pleas and continued his escape; he ran for a life age in his mind. Twenty minutes later he burst through the smoke and fire into a large clearing. Gasping for air he collapsed onto the semi- charred ground. He was horribly burnt, hair singed completely off most of his body. His breathing was erratic and strained, his eyes fluttered uncontrollably. A small single daffodil stood defiant against the carnage raging through the world, he smiled. Slowly he reached his hand out and clasped the flower in his hand and enclosed it in his palm.

 

Five days later Washington state game wardens came upon a charred body of a Sasquatch in the aftermath of the eruption at Mount St Helens. In its hand was a single yellow flower.

 

 

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