The police continued to investigate the terrible explosion that had killed and wounded so many workers at the Oklahoma refinery. The day was slowly marching toward evening as the police cordoned off the area. Vehicles pulled were to the side and crowded the ditches lining the only road that led to the hundred acre industrial site. Worried family members, employees who escaped the blast unharmed, local, state and federal police littered the surrounding area followed by a convoy of news vans.
The media spread out over the fields at the edge of the refinery property, reporters stood with their backs to the carnage as cameramen shot continuous video of the firefighters battling the still burning inferno and the fleet of paramedics wheeling gurneys with bodies, some covered with sheets.
FBI special agent Charles M. Ryan walked the perimeter of the blast site stopping now and then to bend close to the ground and study pieces of debris strewn about the compound. The blazing fire was keeping him from wandering too close to the remains of the acres of pipelines and damaged buildings. As he came across local or state troopers he would start conversations, quiz them on what they had witnessed while writing down the descriptions in a small pad he kept in his breast pocket.
SA Ryan ended his sojourn, positioning himself between the burning remnants of the destroyed facility and the main road leading into the parking lot. He wiped the back of his hand across his forehead removing beads of sweat that had accumulated on his brow. Whether from the scorching sun on this hot August afternoon or from the massive fire Ryan couldn’t decide. All he knew was that it was sweltering on the asphalt where he stood.
He left his hand on his forehead to shade his eyes as he gazed first at the blacktop road that merged with the lot and then the array of reporters. Squinting his eyes, he noticed the cameras on display focused on the battles waged between the burning refinery and the firefighters attempting to quell the blaze. To say he was expectant was an understatement. This tragedy was the third to touch the American Midwest in as many months, and unless he was sorely mistaken, the party had yet to arrive.
The reason for this rash of industrial accidents was now his problem to uncover. Shortly after the Missouri pipeline explosion last month that had poured millions of barrels of oil into the mighty Mississippi river he had received a call from the D.C. headquarters ordering his office to carry the investigation. The sabotage had crossed state lines at that time making it an FBI matter. Add to that the outcries from the highly organized green movement and the situation was spiraling out of control.
In the short time, SA Ryan had begun his investigation he had noticed that if the trend continued, he could be expecting a very vocal opponent of the fossil fuel industry, a man who now made it a career to slam the energy sector whenever one of these so-called accidents erupted.
As if on cue the din from the waiting onlookers quieted. The cameras trained on the facility and the firefighting efforts rotated on their tripods. Down the center of the asphalt road strode a robed figure, a hood covering the man’s head blocking his face from view. The robe flowed and fluttered in the slight breeze as the figure walked toward the police barricade that blocked the entrance to the parking lot.
Charles M. Ryan swore under his breath. An undetermined number of wounded and dead caused by the explosion and now the circus makes an appearance. As the robed figure drew closer, Ryan noticed a mid aged female and a rather rotund man keeping pace with the robed figure. Not a surprise, Charles thought but still an unwanted pain in the ass. From his vantage point, Ryan watched the reporters and their cameramen leave their stations and rush to converge on the robed figure.
Shuffling a cigarette out of his pocket and with a spin of the lighter’s wheel Ryan touched the flame to the end of his smoke. Mopping his brow a second time he slowly moved away from the fire and the horrific scene behind him and slowly strode toward the gathering media show. Curious to get a closer look at the man under the robe in person, SA Ryan stepped in behind a cluster of cameras to see the self-proclaimed savior of the environment for himself.
The man is not camera shy Ryan determined as the acid in his gut flared up. So far SA Ryan has been unable to pin any of the recent activity on the robed figure, but the screaming in his gut signaled that the man had something to do with these accidents. He conceded that this was all too much of a coincidence to be ignored.
The robed figure that slowly walked down the road toward the cameras had made a habit of appearing at the rash of similar type incidents that had begun to plague the world. The robe and his entourage parading in front of the cameras extolling the dangers of the continued use of fossil fuels to the world media and the increasing risk it presented to human lives and the environment, namely the climate.
Ryan focused his eyes on the front of the man’s hooded face willing his eyes to see the features shaded beneath the brown cloth. He tried to recall the man’s appearance from years old file pictures. From his research, Charles’ knew the man once went by the name Lucas but over time the media began referring to this clown, and this is where Ryan struggled, who in the hell wanted to be called a Climate Prophet.
Lucas walked down the center of the worn asphalt road, his hands clasped together hanging in front of his body. Moving with a slow and determined pace, he gazes straight ahead at the burning catastrophe that until recently was a very productive oil refinery. The lights from the fleet of emergency vehicles flash red and blue over the twisted and burning remains while responders tackle the blaze. The view facing him is surreal. Firefighters and paramedics methodically comb the scene searching and pulling bodies out of the area, a metal melting inferno their nemesis.
Pulling up short of the police barricade, Lucas stands motionlessly, his eyes taking in the eerie scene that unfolds on the far side of the massive parking lot. Lucas studies the scene from behind the police blockade then turns, his face a mask, hidden in the shadows of the robes hood. The din of the crowd of onlookers and the scurrying of feet and equipment from the reporters growing louder as the group's attention shifts from the scene of the explosion to his robed figure.
Remaining stolid, Lucas watches through shaded eyes while the crush of the crowd tightens around him. A young reporter timidly draws closer to him, her microphone held in an outstretched hand.
“Do you have any remarks Mr. Lucas?” she asks. Lucas studies her then lets his eyes roam over the quickly gathering crowd making a point of glancing back at the out of control inferno burning in the background.
“Tragic,” he espouses, “The lives of so many hard working people put at risk. And for what.” He speaks slowly, the concern dripping from his voice. “Unfortunate that the greed of a few has to have such disastrous consequences for their fellow human beings.” Mumbling his next statement the reporters are forced to crowd closer. “A ticking time bomb,” he quietly announces. “The continued abuse of the earth and her resources has to stop before life on this planet ends for all of us.”
With the complete attention of the local media and the microphones now inches from his face Lucas launches into a diatribe aimed at denouncing the world’s use of fossil fuels. With practiced ease, Lucas carefully shows compassion for the injured and dead. At the same time, he stoutly places the blames of the grieving public on the backs of the energy giants responsible for exploiting the resources found deep in the ground. From there he smoothly transitions to the climate-denying politicians whom continually allowed such atrocities.
Lucas’ voice grows in tenor as he speaks. The anger he now carries about the pending destruction of the climate seething out. With a captivating passion, he warns once again of the world’s persistence to destroy the very earth and by association the people inhabiting it with the constant use of dirty oil. The worst evil that confronts humanity, he repeats, before making another show of pointing to the emergency workers busy retrieving the injured and dead with the inferno burning around them.
“This is what awaits us in hell!” his voice now a loud and commanding. “Are we in such a rush to get there that we have to recreate it here on earth with no regard for our fellow man.” Lucas halts and surveys the people hanging on his words before focusing back on the cameras. “I grow tired of this fight. The individuals in power continue to ignore my warnings and then make feeble attempts to excuse their actions at times like these. How many more people will die because of their ignorance and greed?"
Lucas swipes the robe’s hood off his head, his eyes a dark black as he peers straight into the camera lens. “Do we continue to let the politicians and businessmen tempt fate with their dangerous game and our lives? I SAY NO MORE!" Lucas stops and breathes deeply than in a quieter voice, "I will not give up the fight to save our planet. Every time a needless loss of innocent lives occur, every time another assault on mother earth takes place, I will be there.” Lucas hesitated, before pleading to the camera audience, ” JOIN ME NOW! I cannot win this battle alone.”
The small crowd of concerned onlookers muted murmurings grow louder signaling their approval. Several of the reporters join the chanting crowd, forgetting for a moment the professional duties expected of them. Lucas waits silently letting the crowd quiet down before dramatically raising the robe’s hood back over his head. With the cameras following his moves he takes one last look at the industrial carnage then rotating on his heels he retraces his steps away from the crowd and the police barricade leaving the smell of the burning fire behind.
A new Canadian Author with too many ideas in his head. Surprising even himself with where his stories go.