Calvin awoke to the violent motion of the room. The alarm began screeching. He quickly dressed and ran up barking orders to cut the power to the drill, then realizing that the drill was not deployed.
As he reached the control room he saw Marcus holding onto the side of the counter as the sea lurched violently around them. The computer screens flashed urgently indicating that the anchor had become dislodged and the platform was now loose.
“Dropping stabilizers! Marcus rouses the crew! We may have to evacuate!”
Calvin grabbed a hold of the command display board and planted his feet trying to hold fast against the shifting tides.
Marcus scrambled down the to the crew hold pressing himself against the walls to hold fast against the moving ground. Up above a tidal wave crashed into and over the platform almost submerging it and ferociously buffeting the rig. He heard and then felt the stabilizers being fired below. These were temporary anchors meant to be used in cases of extreme weather such as hurricanes and tropical storms.
Calvin pulled in the anchor and readied it for another drop. He hoped it would work. There was no chance that they would survive in a boat out in this weather. Evacuation in these elements would mean they would be frozen solid in about three hours that is if they could even keep a ship afloat in this maelstrom.
He redeployed the anchor and prayed it caught on something before the stabilizers gave way. The windows of the control room were now completely frozen over from the sprays of water at least three inches thick. He could not make out anything beyond the reflection of light from the control room itself. The men began to stumble up the stairs to see what they could do. Just as they entered another wave buffered the platform and rocked them back into the stairway.
The computer indicated that the anchor had landed and found purchase below, but the violence of the storm was still shaking the platform back and forth with the motion of the tide. The monitor indicated slack in the anchor which Calvin immediately pulled in. This would give them more stability in the storm. The movements of the platform became less violent although the storm raged with the same intensity outside.
“I want everyone to get into outdoor gear and make a manual check of all the access points on the platform. I want this thing to be sealed airtight, any sign of stress or damage, I want you to call it in immediately. We can’t have any compromise to the elements outside. I want a tight seal. Seal any hull doors if damage is too extensive. I would rather lose a room then one of you. Be careful guys.” They moved down towards the locker room to begin dressing.
“Any sign, no matter how small, I want reported.” Calvin called after them.
The screen again indicated that there was slack in the anchor. This was impossible. Calvin once again pulled in the slack. The only explanation was that they were sinking or the bottom of the ocean was rising. The water level was indicating the same but the depth soundings were reading massive fluctuations. This could be some sort of underwater earthquake; that would account for the violent upheavals. It seemed unusual that it would also coincide with a violent storm. It was like nature was playing pile on.
Calvin began regular soundings to record seismic activity below as well as monitoring the anchor in case he needed to tighten it or let out some slack. Seismic upheavals could go either way. During all of this he was kept in constant contact with the crew who were armed with foam insulation to spray in any area that might have opened up during the course of the storm. The platforms were designed to withstand a category 5 hurricane, but they were not equipped to deal with underwater seismic activity as well.
This area was definitely not a good place to establish an oil rig. The data contained in these readings would shut down this endeavor if they can just make it out of here. The warning came on again regarding slack in the anchor. He pulled it tight once more, if this continued they would soon be beached and the cost of removing the platform would run in the hundreds of millions. On the plus side, he could be witness to the birth of a new island. This was a geologists dream come true.
The warning light flashed again and once more he pulled in the slack. It was coming up now; there was no other way around it. The surface of the ocean floor was now too high to descend back down. Calvin pressed down on the communicator and heard the squawk of connection.
“Gentleman, all hands to the control room to prepare for impact in approximately two minutes. Repeat all hands to control room to prepare for impact. Do you copy?”
He could hear the loud clicks and static of the response to his order. It was hard to make out if anyone heard him, but he would soon find out.
Marcus was the first to arrive, followed closely by Hoss and John. Only Jose was unaccounted for, but Hoss said he was close behind. They fumbled around trying to secure themselves into position. Nothing had ever prepared them for a head on collision on an oil rig before. It wasn’t covered in the training safety manual.
The first impact threw the platform upwards, shattering the pylon supports, forcing one of them up and through the hull of the platform exposing the elements from the outside to the lower decks. Calvin called out for Jose, but there was no response from the lower decks. They could feel the cold wave of air flowing into the control room. The only hope was to seal the room, but that would leave Jose open and exposed. Calvin hoped his suit would be sufficient. Four to one he had to make the call. The hull door of the control room slammed shut and sealed behind the bolt.
No one spoke. They all knew what prolonged exposure down below would mean. They knew it was a matter of life or death. They could feel the platform rising up out of the ocean and hear the water pouring off of the deck. The wind was buffeting the structure and vibrated the control room. Even through the iced over windows they could make out the violent flashes of lightning and hear the crack of electrical charge as it struck on the outside. A sharp explosion rocked the platform again as the main motor kicked out. The computers went down and only emergency power remained.
Hoss made to move underneath the table of the computer council and motioned for the others to do the same.
“This is what we used to do in case the Red’s ever dropped the A-bomb! Duck and cover! This place might just come down around us!”
Hoss screamed to be heard over the roar of the storm which seemed to amplify in sound since the background noise of the computers and electronic equipment died.
It seemed to Calvin like the whole world was coming to an end and it didn’t bother any of them to cower away underneath the tables like children or frightened puppies. In the face of doom, self preservation overpowered the pride of arrogance. Too terrified to talk they all followed suit.
As the storm raged for hours even the constant rush of adrenaline gave way to exhaustion. The primordial calling of fear lulled them all into a deep slumber. One by one, huddled under the tables in the dark corners of the room, they each slipped off into the blissful state of oblivious slumber.
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