A scant yard behind Minelli, the rock split. The terrace and all that was beneath leaned away, the gap widening with majestic slowness. Minelli scrambled frantically, his grin transformed into a rictus of terror.
To the east, like the great wise head of a dozing giant, Half Dome nodded a few degrees and tilted into a chasm opened in the floor of the valley. In arc–shaped wedges, it began to come apart. Liberty Cap and Mount Broderick, on the south side of the valley, leaned to the north, but stayed whole, rolling and sliding like giant pebbles into the mass of Half Dome's settling fragments, diverting, and then dinally shattering and sending fragments through miles of the valley. Somewhere in the obscurity of dust were the remnants of the Mist Trail, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, and the Emerald Lake.
The silt of the valley floor liquiefied under the vibration, swallowing meadows and roads and absorbing the Merced along its entire length. The fresh slopes of talus dropped their leading edges into snakelike fractures and began to spread again; behind them, more leaves of granite plummented.
The air was stifling. The hymm singers, on their knees, weeping and singing at once, could not be heard, only seen. The death–sound of Yosemite was beyond comprehension, having crossed the border into pain, a wide–spectrum roaring howl.
Edward and Betsy could not keep balance even on their hands and knees; they rolled to the ground and held each other. Betsy had closed her eyes, lips working against his neck; she was praying. Edward, curously, did not feel like praying; he was exultant now. He looked to the east, away from the valley, beyond the tumbling trees, and saw something hard and massive on the horizon. Not clouds, not a front of storm, but—
He was past any expression of awe or wonder. What he was seeing could only be one thing: east of the Sierra Nevada, along the fault line drawn between the mountains formed by ages of wrinkling pressure and the desert beyond, the continent was splitting, raising its jagged edge dozens of miles into the atmosphere.
Edward did not need to do calculations to know this meant the end. Such energy—even if all other activity ceased—would be enough to smash all living things along the western edge of the continent, enough to change the entire face of North America.
Acceleration in the pit of his stomach. Going up. His skin seemed to be boiling. Going up. Winds blew that threatened to lift them away. With the last of his strength, he held on to Betsy. He could not see Minelli for a moment, and then he opened his tingling eyes and saw against a muddy blue sky filled with stars—the atmosphere racing away above them—saw Minelli standing, smiling beatifically, arms raised, near the new rim of the point. He receded through walls of dust on a fresh–hewn leaf of granite, mouth open, shouting unheard into the overwhelming din.
Yosemite is gone. The Earth might be gone. I'm still thinking. The only sensation Edward could feel, other than the endless acceleration, was Betsy's body against his own. He could hardly breathe.
They no longer lay on the ground, but fell. Edward say walls of rock, great fresh white revealed volumes on all sides—thousands of feet wide—and spinning trees and disintegrating clumps of dirt and even a small flying woman, yards away, face angelic, eyes closed, arms spread.
It seemed an enternity before the light vanished.
The granite volumes enclosed them all.
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