By Jon-Patrick Barclay (son) and Raymond Barclay (dad)
Decision Time Cliff Stone focused back on Dr. Kerr’s invitation and asked “who else would be coming?” Dr. Kerr said sarcastically “your best friend Rob Johnson.” Kerr went on to say “before you get your back up, you know as well as I do that I need Rob and his wife Maria for this trip. Rob is the best field meteorologist in the world and his wife is equally one of the best at predicting weather movement Johnnyon-the-spot. I know Rob is an arrogant and competitive jerk at times and would take credit for the formation of the earth if he could, but let’s also not forget it was Rob that helped us think through our theory. I need Rob to help us measure the equivalent of three different weather systems simultaneously during our test: the weather activity outside the volcano, inside the original troposphere and the newly formed isomorphic chamber. Maria will be assisting us and will let us know if the system becomes unstable.” Cliff said “I get it Issac, I just need some time to think about it.” Dr. Kerr said, “I would not take too much time Cliff. We believe that next week the conditions will be as perfect for this expedition to move forward as they can be.” Cliff asks “what is happening next week to make this so perfect?” Isaac explains “the team needs to move quickly to ensure the experiment happens simultaneously with a key celestial event. We must get to Iceland soon.” Cliff asked, “So, where are we going Isaac?” Isaac paused then said, “Hell itself.” Yes, Hekla, one of the most active volcanoes in the world - one of the largest lava producers in Iceland and the very volcano that gave Iceland birth and if we do not act soon, may be its death.” Cliff understood why Hekla is the chosen one. It could have been Grímsvötn which recently erupted in 2011 or Katla which is just as unpredictable as Hekla, but does not have an underground fissure as large as the Heklugjá fissure. The Hekla fissure and its rock formations can form a natural boundary that will allow Isaac and Cliff to seal the lower atmosphere and access its magma core (approximately 4 kilometers below the earth’s surface). There is one other reason why he believes Isaac chose this volcano and it’s not of the scientific type but the dramatic. Scientists like to make a splash with their findings and what better way to produce results than in a volcano of Viking legend, one that rarely produces a seismic warning before sending its wrath to the surface, a volcano known in the Icelandic tales of old as the “Gate of Hell.”



Cliff asked Isaac “what other surprises he had” in terms of the team’s makeup. Isaac responded that he had invited Steve Bonier, the noted geologist and playboy whose family funds are helping to support the trip and Eliot Walbreaker the eccentric, but capable astronomer. He goes on to tell Cliff, “We all contend that the best day to activate the new troposphere will be the day that the volcano has the likelihood for the most energy displacement without bringing about a full eruption. We also believe this day will be June 6 when Venus interposes itself directly between Earth and the sun for the last time in more than a century. Dr. Walbreaker will tell us when this precise moment happens.” Cliff said “I will call you this weekend with my decision.” Isaac noted, “I have a ticket already purchased for you and it has been sent to your house. If you decide to come, I will see you at the airport Monday.”

Next we find Cliff with his on-again off-again girlfriend Sasha Robinson sitting at the top of a wall in the Moab desert on their annual trek from Colorado.


Sasha is the better climber and this is no surprise. She is a professional with sponsorship and one of the most accomplished female climbers in the world with several first ascents to her name. It does not matter to Cliff that he is routinely out-climbed - he has enjoyed climbing with her since the two of them were undergraduates at the University of Colorado. Climbing with Sasha relaxed him and made him feel part of the natural world, but base jumping made him feel truly alive. They were quiet for a while enjoying the fruits of their labor and taking in the view when Sasha says to him “you have been in a rut and I believe that Isaac’s invitation is an opportunity to show the world how smart Cliff Stone really is and how committed he is to changing the world for the better.” Cliff appreciated Sasha because she always saw the person he really is and understood his desire to make the world a safer, better place through science. Cliff looked at her beautiful blond hair and hazel eyes and thought “I could live up here, in this moment, this now!” She went on to say with trepidation, “My only concern is whether or not this experiment is safe. Do you really know how stable this other environment will be and whether or not you can maintain this other atmosphere simultaneously with encompassing this massive amount of energy these eruptions cause?” Cliff likened it to a glass house. He said, “The house has structure, can hold up a roof, keep you protected from the elements. However, it is also true that the neighbor kid can throw a baseball through one of its walls. What we have to do is be sure there is no kid winding up right outside in the yard!” He laughed. He said, “I think you know safety is my middle name. Everything has risk, but as YOU know, I am always prepared.” He smiled, turned……….and jumped. Sasha watched him disappear over the edge.