I gazed at the ashen faces and tired expressions of my companions. For three days we had been hiding atop this rocky outcrop. Shivering in the dark of the cold nights and crouched among the rocks by day, reluctant to light a fire for food and warmth in case of discovery. We had seen no aircraft overhead for the last forty-eight hours which we all agreed may have been a good sign or perhaps a sign of something worse to come.
Far below, the dark, oily, clouds of smoke drifted lazily across the plain where only a few days before there had been green, lush fields and trees. Now all was a scorched , brown, devastated wasteland.
There was no way of knowing if it would be safe to descend and although we could obtain fresh water from the numerous springs our food supplies were running low and would soon be extinguished.
There was still no phone signal and the batteries would soon be running out leaving only the radio from which we had heard nothing since we saw the bright glow in the Eastern sky with the ominous mushroom shaped cloud that could only have meant one thing.. We could only hope that there were others down below but it had all happened so fast that we could not be sure we were not the only survivors.
Had we few not been members of this expedition we also would have been victims of the catastrophe. unleashed in such a brief time.
We decided to take a vote on finding volunteers to make a descent into the valley. This would be the only way to check if there was a glimmer of hope for our and the rest of mankind’s survival.