The morning heat hadn’t yet found its way to the bottom of sand canyon. My little brother and I sat in the shade under one of the canyon walls, using rock chips to build rival castles. Well, he was still building his castle. I was already lining up weapons for my army.
“Are you ready?” I asked him.
“Not yet,” he added a flat rock to the top of his castle wall.
The sky above the rim of the canyon shone bright blue. I couldn’t see a cloud anywhere. In a few minutes, Mom was probably going to appear up there on the ridge and call us back to the cabin for lunch. “Hurry up,” I said. “Or I’m just going to attack.”
A sudden rumble made me think a plane might be passing by, or maybe a truck on some nearby highway, until I noticed the rocks of my castle were rattling.
Earthquake? I stood up fast. We didn’t want to be at the bottom of a canyon in an earthquake. The sound grew louder. Around the bend down the canyon I saw a wall of red-brown water surging toward us.
No time to run. I grabbed my brother and boosted him up on a shelf above us in the canyon wall. I tried to climb after him, but the water hit and dragged at my legs and feet. It was only about waist high, but it pulled me hard, away from the rock wall, and hurtled me down the canyon. I tumbled over in a murky flood, not knowing which way was up. I tried to push off against the bottom, but couldn’t find where it was.
The water slammed me into something hard and pinned me there. I found sand under my hand, and got my feet under me, then pushed up to get my head out of the water. When I came up, I could hear my brother screaming my name. The water plowed past me on either side, threatening to whip me around the boulder it was shoving me against and continue to drag me down the canyon. I struggled to climb to the top of the island of rock in the middle of the flood. The water sucked at my body, weighing me down, refusing to let me go. I clawed with my fingernails and scrambled with my feet until finally I got enough hold to start dragging myself higher on top of the boulder.
Finally I reached the top. The water was higher now, and still rising. I wasn’t sure if it wouldn’t swallow up the boulder, so I looked around for a safer place. The canyon walls were too far for me to jump, and even if I could reach them, there was nothing to hang on to.