Book excerpt: "Eruption" by Michael Crichton and James Patterson


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“Eruption” (to be revealed June 3 by Little, Brown & Co.), Michael Crichton’s thriller a couple of large volcanic eruption in Hawaii, was unfinished when the “Jurassic Park” creator died in 2008; greater than 15 years later, James Patterson, the bestselling creator behind the Alex Cross sequence, has accomplished Crichton’s work.  

Read an excerpt beneath, and do not miss Tracy Smith’s interview with James Patterson and Sherri Alexander Crichton (Michael’s widow) on “CBS Sunday Morning” June 2!

“Eruption” by Michael Crichton and James Patterson

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A helicopter appeared within the window of the information room on the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, frighteningly shut and low; it rushed previous them and swooped down into the caldera.

“Sweet Jesus!” lead programmer Kenny Wong yelled, operating to the window to get a greater look.

“Get the tail quantity,” John MacGregor, scientist in command of HVO, snapped, “and name Hilo ASAP. Whoever that fool is, he’ll give one of many vacationers a haircut!” He went to the window and watched because the helicopter dropped low and thumped its means throughout the smoking plain of the caldera. The pilot could not be greater than twenty ft above the bottom.

Beside MacGregor, Kenny watched by means of binoculars. “It’s Paradise Helicopters,” he mentioned, sounding puzzled. Paradise Helicopters was a good operation primarily based in Hilo. Their pilots ferried vacationers over the volcanic fields and up the coast to Kohala to take a look at the waterfalls.

Mac shook his head. “They know there is a fifteen-hundred-foot restrict all over the place within the park. What the hell are they doing?”

The helicopter swung again and slowly circled the far fringe of the caldera, almost brushing the smoking vertical partitions.

The lady in command of the volcano alert ranges, Pia Wilson, cupped her hand over the telephone. “I bought Paradise Helicopters. They say they don’t seem to be flying. They leased that one to Jake.”

“Is there any information in the meanwhile I would like?” Mac mentioned.

“With Jake on the controls, there isn’t a excellent news,” Kenny mentioned.

“Apparently Jake’s bought a cameraman from CBS with him, some stringer from Hilo,” Pia mentioned. “The man’s pushing for unique footage of the brand new eruption.”

“Hey, Mac? You’re not going to consider this.” She flicked on all of the distant screens on the foremost video panel to indicate the japanese flank of Kīlauea. “The pilot simply flew into the japanese lake on the summit of Kīlauea.”

MacGregor sat down in entrance of the screens. Four miles away, the black cinder cone of Pu’u’ō’ō — the Hawaiian title meant “Hill of the Digging Stick” — rose 300 ft excessive on the east flank. That cone had been a middle of volcanic exercise because it erupted in 1983, spitting a fountain of lava two thousand ft into the air. The eruption continued all 12 months, producing huge portions of lava that flowed for eight miles all the way down to the ocean. Along the best way, it had buried the whole city of Kalapana, destroyed 200 homes, and stuffed in a big bay at Kaimūī, the place the lava poured steaming into the ocean. The exercise from Pu’u’ō’ō went on for thirty-five years — one of many longest steady volcanic eruptions in recorded historical past — ending solely when the crater collapsed in 2018.

Tourist helicopters scoured the world on the lookout for a brand new place to take footage, and pilots found a lake that had opened to the east of the collapsed crater. Hot lava bubbled and slapped in incandescent waves towards the edges of a smaller cone. Occasionally the lava would fountain fifty ft into the air above the glowing floor. But the crater containing the japanese lake was solely a couple of hundred yards in diameter—a lot too slender to descend into.

Helicopters by no means went inside it.

Until now.

MacGregor mentioned, “Do we all know fuel ranges down in there?” Near the lava lake, there can be excessive concentrations of sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. MacGregor squinted at his monitor.

“Can you see if the pilot’s bought oxygen? ‘Cause the cameraman certain would not. Both these idiots may go out in the event that they keep there.”

“Or the engine may stop,” Kenny mentioned. He shook his head. “Helicopter engines want air. And there’s not quite a lot of air down there.”

Jenny Kimura, head lab scientist in command of the lab, mentioned, “They’re leaving now, Mac.”

As they watched, the helicopter started to rise. They noticed the cameraman flip and lift an indignant fist at Jake Rogers. Clearly he did not wish to go away.

That meant Rogers’s passenger was much more reckless than he was.

“Go,” MacGregor mentioned to the display as if Jake Rogers may hear him. “You’ve been fortunate, Jake. Just go.”

The helicopter rose sooner. The cameraman slammed the door angrily. The helicopter started to show because it reached the crater rim.

“Now we’ll see in the event that they make it by means of the thermals,” MacGregor mentioned.

Suddenly there was a vibrant flash of sunshine, and the helicopter swung and appeared to flip onto its aspect. It spun laterally throughout the inside and slammed into the far wall of the crater, elevating an amazing cloud of ash that obscured their view.

In silence, they watched because the mud slowly cleared. They noticed the helicopter on its aspect, about 200 ft beneath the rim, resting precariously on the fringe of a deep shelf beneath the crater wall, a rocky incline that sloped all the way down to the lava lake.

“Somebody get on the radio,” Mac mentioned, “and see if the dumb bastards are alive.”

Everyone within the room continued to stare on the screens. Nothing occurred instantly; it was as if time had by some means stopped shifting when the helicopter did. Then, as they watched, a couple of small boulders beneath the helicopter started to trickle down. The boulders splashed into the lava lake and disappeared beneath the molten floor.

More rocks clattered down the sloping crater wall, then extra —bigger rocks now —after which it turned a landslide. The helicopter shifted and started to glide down with the rocks towards the recent lava. They all watched in horror because the helicopter continued its downward slide. Dust and steam obscured their view for a second, and when it blew away, they may see the helicopter mendacity on its aspect, rotor blades bent towards the rock, skids going through outward, about fifty ft above the lava.

Kenny mentioned, “That’s scree. I do not understand how lengthy it’s going to maintain.”

MacGregor nodded. Most of the crater was composed of ejecta from the volcano, pumice-like rocks and pebbles that had been crumbly and treacherous underfoot, able to collapse at any second.

From throughout the room, Jenny mentioned, “Mac? Hilo nonetheless has contact. They’re each alive. The cameraman’s damage, however they’re alive.”

“How a lot daylight do we have now left?” MacGregor requested her.

“An hour and a half at most.”

“Call Bill Kamoku, inform him to start out his engine,” Mac mentioned. “Call Hilo, inform them to shut the world to all different plane. Call Kona, inform ’em the identical factor. Meantime I want a pack and a rig and any individual to face security. You determine who. I’m out of right here in 5. We wait, they die.”  


The crimson HVO helicopter lifted off the observatory helipad and headed south. Directly in entrance of them, 4 miles away, they noticed the black cone of Pu’u’ō’ō, its thick fume cloud rising into the air.

Mac rechecked his gear in his entrance seat, ensuring he had all the things. Jenny Kimura and Tim Kapaana had been within the rear. Tim was the largest of their area techs, a former semipro linebacker.

He stared out of the bubble. They had been over the rift zone now, following a line of smoking cracks and small cinder cones within the lava fields. The collapsed crater of Pu’u’ō’ō was a mile forward and simply past it was the japanese lake.

Bill mentioned, “Where do you wish to put down?”

“South aspect is greatest.”

The helicopter set down about twenty yards from the crater rim. Immediately, the helicopter’s bubble clouded over with steam from close by vents. MacGregor opened his door and felt air each moist and burning on his face.

“Can’t keep right here, Mac,” Bill mentioned. “I’ve bought to maneuver downslope.”

“Go forward,” Mac mentioned, then pulled off his headset and stepped down onto the gray-black lava with out hesitation, ducking his head beneath the spinning rotor blades.

The downed helicopter was on the reverse aspect of them, on a shelf above the lake. But its place was much more precarious now. The lava may spin at any second, which means the craft was maybe seconds away from sliding down into the lava. Mac had already zipped up his inexperienced jumpsuit. He cinched the harness tighter round his waist and legs. He may loosen it when he bought down there and put it round one other particular person.

MacGregor handed the ends of the rope to Tim. He adjusted the radio headset over his ears, pulled the microphone alongside his cheek. Jenny had placed on her personal headset and clipped the transmitter to her belt, and he or she heard MacGregor say, “Here we go.” Jenny watched as Mac descended slowly and punctiliously into the crater.

The lava lake was almost round, its black crust damaged by streaks of brighter and extra incandescent crimson. Steam issued from no less than a dozen vents within the rocks. The partitions had been sheer, the footing unsure; Mac stumbled and slid as he went down.

Suddenly his prolonged leg hit a stable floor, like he was a base runner sliding into second.

Although he was only some ft beneath the rim, he may really feel the searing warmth from the lake. The air shimmered unsteadily within the convection of rising currents. Between that and the sulfurous odors swirling from the crater, he started to really feel barely nauseated.

As Mac descended alongside the sheer wall, inside his heat-resistant jumpsuit, he was sweating. Thin Mylar-foam insulation sewn between layers of Gore-Tex stored sweat off the pores and skin, as a result of if the temperature went up out of the blue, the sweat would flip to steam and scald his physique, which means nearly sure dying.

The helicopter hung solely fifty yards above the lava lake. Below the crust, the glowing lava was round 1800 levels Fahrenheit, and that was on the low finish.


“There’s a man coming down for us.”

Pilot Jake Rogers, on his aspect and in an amazing quantity of ache, appeared straight down on the lava lake and heard the hissing of the fuel escaping from the glowing cracks. He noticed spatters of lava, like glowing pancake batter, thrown up on the edges of the crater.

Jake did not suppose his leg was damaged. The cameraman—Glenn one thing —was in worse form, moaning within the again seat that his shoulder was dislocated. He rocked in ache, which rocked the helicopter. The sudden shift of weight despatched the copter sliding downward once more, throwing Jake’s head towards the Plexiglas bubble.

The cameraman started to scream.

Only twenty yards away now, MacGregor watched helplessly because the helicopter started a rumbling descent. He heard yelling from inside, and it should have been the cameraman, as a result of Jake Rogers swore on the man and instructed him to close the hell up. The helicopter slid one other twenty ft towards the lava, then miraculously stopped once more. The struts had been nonetheless going through outward; the twisted rotors had been buried within the scree. The passenger door was nonetheless going through upward.


Jenny turned to Tim, coated her microphone, and mentioned, “How lengthy has he been down there?”

“Eighteen minutes.”

“He’s not sporting his masks. That could assist him talk clearly, however it may get to him quickly. We each know that.”

She meant the sulfur dioxide fuel, which was concentrated close to the lake. Sulfur dioxide mixed with the layer of water on the floor of the lungs to kind sulfuric acid. It was a hazard for anybody working round volcanoes.

“Mac?” she mentioned. “Did you set your masks on?”

He did not reply.

She appeared by means of the binoculars, noticed that Mac was shifting once more. He was above the helicopter now, about to lean down on the bubble. She could not see his face however noticed straps throughout the again of his head, so no less than he was sporting the masks.

She noticed him drop to his knees and crawl gingerly onto the bubble. Mac picked up a brief crowbar and began making an attempt to pry open the door. He noticed Jake pushing up on the Plexiglas from inside. He heard the cameraman whimpering. MacGregor strained towards the crowbar, utilizing all of the leverage he had, till, with a metallic whang, the door sprang open extensive and clanged onerous towards the aspect panel. MacGregor held his breath, praying that the helicopter would not start to slip once more.

It did not.

Jake Rogers caught his head up by means of the open door. “I owe you, brah.”

“Yeah, brah, you do.” MacGregor reached out a hand, and the pilot grabbed it and clambered onto the bubble. Once he was out, MacGregor noticed that his left pants leg was soaked in blood; it was smeared all around the Plexiglas dome.

MacGregor requested, “Can you stroll?”

“Up there?” Jake pointed to the rim above. “Bet your ass.”

In the again, the photographer was huddled in a ball on the far aspect of the helicopter. Still whimpering. A haole man, late twenties, skinny, his face the colour of paste.

“He bought a reputation?” Mac requested Jake.

“Glenn.” Jake was already beginning up the slope.

“Glenn,” MacGregor mentioned. “Look at me.”

The cameraman appeared up at him with vacant eyes.

“I would like you to face up,” MacGregor mentioned, “and take my hand.”

The cameraman began to face, however as he did, the lava lake beneath started to burble, and a small fountain spit upward with a hiss. The cameraman collapsed again down and began to cry.


Over the headset, Mac heard Jenny say, “Mac? You’ve now been down twenty-six minutes. Glenn and Jake have already got pulmonary restriction. You’ve bought to get out of there earlier than you do.”

“I bought this,” MacGregor mentioned, wanting on the lake by means of the bubble. Everything he’d realized from all over the place he’d been on this planet of volcanoes instructed him he wasn’t superb in any respect.

“We’re gonna die right here!” Glenn yelled, tears streaming down his cheeks.

“Just hold on,” Mac barked.

Then he climbed down into the helicopter.

The helicopter slowly rotated on its axis. Mac gripped the seat, making an attempt to maintain his steadiness, watching helplessly because the world outdoors spun, the Plexiglas bubble nearer than ever to the glowing floor. Then it stopped, and the Plexiglas began to blister and soften, and smoke stuffed the inside of the helicopter.

“Just attempt to hold your steadiness so you do not jar this factor,” Mac mentioned.

The cameraman stepped between the seats, coughing due to the smoke, shifting as if in a daze.

They had been just some ft above the lava lake. Small sparks had been spattering up. MacGregor stepped out, drew Glenn after him.

He tried to disregard the odor of gasoline.

Nearly out of time.

Glenn adopted him outdoors.

“You bought this,” Mac mentioned, steadying him as his ft slid.

“I’m petrified of heights,” Glenn mentioned, protecting his eyes mounted on the rim of the crater, away from the lava.

MacGregor thought: You ought to have considered that earlier than, you jackhammer.

Mac appeared up, noticed Jake about ten yards above them, reaching for Tim. Down right here, the sharp odor of aviation gasoline was stronger than ever.

They stored shifting. The man appeared round and mentioned, “Hey, what’s that odor?”

Too late to misinform him, too near the highest. “Fuel,” John MacGregor mentioned.

His radio crackled, and he heard Jenny say, “Mac, the lab says the focus from the gasoline vapor goes up.”

Mac appeared again and noticed the Plexiglas bubble of the helicopter had begun to burn; flames licked upward alongside the fuselage.

His headset crackled once more. “Mac, you are out of time—”

But within the very subsequent second Tim was grabbing Glenn in his massive arms and pulling him over the aspect. He shortly did the identical for Mac, who glanced again and noticed the helicopter enveloped in flames. Glenn tried to maneuver again to the crater, however Tim shoved him onerous towards their copter.

“We’re secure now,” the cameraman mentioned. “What’s the freaking rush?”

The helicopter exploded.

There was a roar, and the power of the explosion almost knocked all of them to the bottom. A yellow-orange fireball burst up past the crater rim. A second later, scorching, sharp metallic fragments clattered onto the slope throughout them as they hurried to the crimson HVO helicopter.

From “Eruption.” Copyright © 2024 by Michael Crichton and James Patterson. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group. All rights reserved.

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