Old Clayborn was always a little weird. Even his wife made jokes about him once in awhile. He even did himself occasionally. So when he started in about the end of the world, we just wrote it off to more of his eccentric behavior.
He claimed an old friend of his had tipped him off to a secret that our continent was breaking up and going to sink into the sea in a fiery blast of smoke and flame.
Now where we live has always been interesting. An Earthquake now and again, and at times the baths at the hot springs would be closed because of what they called gas geysers when huge plumes of white hot gasses would billow from the ground in towering plumes reaching into the clouds. But it had always been like this, and our old timers said it would always be like this. So when Clayborn started building his bastion on a rock far out in the middle of nowhere, miles from the sea, miles from town, miles from anything. We all wrote him off as a kook. Even though as a retired writer for the broadcast service, I tried to keep an open mind about the whole thing.
My son had married one of his daughters and he helped Clayborn on weekends with his bastion, forming plates of metal, installing equipment, painting the outside with a reflective coating. He claimed he was almost convinced Clayborn was onto something as he listened to his bantering week after week. I told him to go ahead and go stay with him when he moved into the thing, for his wife's sake if for no other reason. And when they came out, I'd have a big party for them welcoming them back to the society of the sane.
They worked and worked. I even went out there a couple of times to see it. Old Clayborn tried to convince me that he knew terrible things were going to happen.
"We haven't had a bad Earthquake for months. The baths are even complaining the temperature is down. Which is fine for me, I've always said they were too hot."
Clayborn claimed those were warning signs that things were not good far beneath the mountains that formed the center of our continent. I listened, and toured his bastion, and bid my son and daughter in law to have a good weekend, and left.
Two weeks later they moved into it.
"We have plenty of room." My daughter in law said. "Please, come just for awhile."
I shook my head. "I will stay here near your mother." I pointed to the top of the hill where my wife was buried.
"Then please send Turno with us."
I looked at her youngest brother. He smiled hopefully, fascinated by the bastion and all the doings associated with it.
I nodded. It'd be good for him to get away, "Just until the week before his classes start again." I said.
Soon they were packed and gone.
For a couple of days I took care of the house in the quiet, then thought about a visit into the mountains. I called my daughter and she thought it was a good idea.
The next morning I went to the baths. Since they were cooler I had an entire pool to myself.
I ordered a lunch and relaxed, listening to music.
Suddenly the alarm went off and workers ran here and there ordering us out of the baths. Before I could get my things a tower of glowing gas erupted from one of the buildings, shooting straight up and out of sight in seconds.
In just my robe I pushed into a transport down the mountain and ran to my home.
The broadcast showed the entire complex consumed in the largest gas geyser ever recorded.
A chill ran down my back. I knew it, I just knew it.
I sat down at my writer and wrote a short letter, then I started this. I wanted people to know that yes, Old Clayborn was a kook, but he had been right.
Even now, as I finish it, the broadcast is telling about a massive quake that had shaken my house until my wife's picture flew from its shelf. My lighting flickered. I must finish this shortly. I know it is coming. I can feel it in my soul.
Out the window I see flames. I can't tell where they are coming from, they seem to be coming from many directions at once.
The broadcast has a picture from an airship. You can see a silver ball on a hill far from town. Oblivious to the chaos in the city. His bastion on the rock.
But as the picture shakes, the ground around the rock breaks up, lava bubbles through it, fire consumes the trees. The picture goes dark. The ground station is no more.
I open up the line to the bastion, one of Clayborn's sons answered and shouted for my daughter in law when he saw me. I sent her the letter and then I smiled to her and got ready to hit the send button one last time.
"Finish this for me."
Those were the last words I heard my father say. He looked away from the screen for a moment. Then there was a rushing sound, and my screen went dark.
He recorded his last impressions and feelings for those that survive in the bastion. His letter was simply one of love with no regrets. But I will keep it private to share with my husband and brother in law when this is over.
As for us in the bastion, we watch from the portals now that all the broadcasts have stopped. But for the last hour or so we can't see anything besides smoke.
I will add more when I can write without crying.
For my wife, I will finish my father's last writing.
The continent is gone. I believe a few of the mountains still stand, but the lowlands are gone.
The bastion is now surrounded by water, and may in fact soon be floating as the rock sinks or the water rises, whichever is happening.
There are twelve of us in here. My father had hoped for many more, so we have supplies to last a very long time. He assures us we will be rescued. A couple doubt, but he did save us from the fate of the continent, so I do not.
The smoke has cleared. As far as we can see. The world is gone.
The bastion floats.
We await salvation.
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