Ash

CHAPTER FOUR

Summary: When a huge earthquake hits out west, the world learns that Yellowstone National Park’s supervolcano is set to erupt within days. Soon the world is put in a state of chaos as the ash sweeps the globe. Without sunlight and with the air too polluted to breathe, can anyone survive? Can also be found here on ff.net.
“Daddy, are we going to die?” Muffy asked at dinner. Since coming home from school, she’d worn masks for every second, but now it sat clumped in her hand as she ate dinner with her father.

Ed scowled at his daughter, “Of course not, Muffin. Your mother and I would never let anything happen to you or your brother. Chip is coming home, you know.”

Chip had been traveling for the last few years, and Muffy knew he’d fled the northwest as soon as the first earthquake hit, ending up in eastern Canada to meet up with friends. Now that he was heading home, Muffy felt relieved, even though her and her brother rarely got along anymore. She was jealous of him for traveling, and he never clicked with her whenever they were home because they rarely talked. Having him home would be a release for her mind, though it still ran negative outlooks.

Sue Ellen was having a similar problem. Having her father home was the most rewarding feeling she’d ever had, but she still worried about the future. Would there be famine? Would people die from asthma attacks as the ash grew thicker?

The town had already grown darker throughout the day, and by noon, the streetlights were on across the city. People knew because of news reports that artificial light was the only light they would have for the next few months, if not the next few years, so they had to get used to it.

But it wasn’t easy. The situation was still new, so some people were still enjoying it. Kids drew in the ash that clung to everything, making pictures where they never could before. Teens took full advantage too, making obscene pictures on windows as they walked around town. Adults were furious, but there was no clearing the mess. It was here to stay, and they got to enjoy earlier bedtimes as the darkness confused internal clocks. Dinner was at four in many homes and bedtime at six as night fell completely, an hour before usual. It started as an accident, but they all knew this would be the norm within days.

Fashion changed immediately, and stores found their shelves rid of scarves for the coming fall season, as well as masks of all types. Temperatures were already cooler than usual, so jackets were the next target. Grocery stories saw a spike in wintertime drink sales—hot chocolate, cider mixes, and an increase in requests for eggnog. Christmas music started in some stores as they embraced the cooler temperatures, the ashy wonderland created by the greyness outside.

People were trying their best to enjoy it, but people like Muffy and Brain had to think rationally—they knew something was bound to go wrong eventually. Sue Ellen and Francine decided to embrace the situation and move forward as best as they could, namely because their family was safe…for the time being. Bitzi was already beginning to worry as Buster began needed breathing treatments twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. Health issues were the current concern, and a rightful one, because the first deaths were coming as people had asthma attacks on the streets and died wherever they collapsed.

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