Rise – Andrew C. Ferguson

The volcanic eruption covered the UK in a five-metre layer of ash one January morning. At dawn, the last few motes mixed with snowflakes as they drifted down. By then, the screaming had stopped.

Fortunately for the residents of the last maisonette block on the Auchendrossan Estate, the Council’s regeneration plans had stalled, leaving them high and dry above the town. Within hours, Big Derek and his mate Gordon had cleared the deck accesses of the poisonous fallout. A meeting was quickly convened in 17A, Wee Senga’s flat on the top floor.

It was just as quickly adjourned when a noise outside alerted them to Bampot Stevie Welsh, one floor below them, attacking the drainpipe with a hacksaw. Then a shouted conversation revealed Bampot’s strategic thinking. With the help of Gordon, a time-served plumber, he was able to rig up a makeshift air duct to serve the Council snowplough he insisted on parking bang up against the side wall in winter.

Now it was a lifesaver. After some trial and error, Bampot was able, driving mostly in circles, to form a passageway in the ash to the corner shop in the next street. Under Big Derek’s protection, Anjit, from 25, brought back supplies.

Although everyone was devastated at the loss of loved ones in low-rise housing, a feeling of solidarity stole over the residents. Communications with the outside world were down. New relationships began.

On the third afternoon, Wee Senga charmed Anjit into releasing some of the Liebfraumilch and lager stockpiles for a party. Just as everyone got into the swing the telly, which Senga had left hissing static in the corner, started showing a picture of an ash-filled Thames. It seemed that the creative and media types in Canary Wharf had managed to rig something up from their Docklands apartments.

Big Derek’s kindly meant cry of “Aieee, ya English nancy boys,” was taken up by the rest of the residents as they toasted their fellow survivors with proprietary German pilsner. Their calls drifted down the grey-carpeted glen, too far away for the next nearest high rises to hear.