Vanessa Ferguson
Fictional Character
POD: Set in the future
Appearance(s): Eruption;
All Fall Down;
Things Fall Apart
Type of Appearance: Direct POV
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: Late 20th century
Occupation: Technical writer
Parents: Colin Ferguson, Louise Ferguson
Relatives: Rob Ferguson (brother)
Marshall Ferguson (brother)
Kelly Ferguson (stepmother)
James Henry Ferguson (half brother)
Deborah Michelle Ferguson (half sister)
Colin Marshall Ferguson (nephew)

Vanessa Ferguson was the middle child of Colin and Louise Ferguson. She figured she knew it all and so dropped out of university during her junior year and worked a series of jobs ever since.[1] Part of the reason was that she had strong feelings and readily expressed them and so quickly found each position unacceptable and moved on. She had lived with Bryce Miller for a while but dropped him three weeks after her mother left her father.[2] She then began a relationship with Hagop Nersessyan, a man her father's age.[3]

One day, Hagop told Vanessa he was moving to Denver because the business climate was better. Vanessa was shocked and upset but decided to follow him there. Hagop was surprised but went along with it. Her father was strongly opposed because of the risk posed by the Yellowstone Supervolcano but Vanessa dismissed them since Denver was four hundred miles from Yellowstone. Her mother harbored the thought that Hagop was moving to get away from Vanessa but had second thoughts when Vanessa described his reaction.[4] Colin and Marshall helped her load her things in a large U-Haul truck and then with Pickles, her cat, in a cat carrier beside her, Vanessa drove herself to Denver.[5]

Vanessa found herself an apartment which was bigger, newer and cheaper than the one back in L.A. which was just as well since her new job at Amalgamated Humanoids paid less. Hagop had his own place and saw Vanessa infrequently, mostly whenever he was feeling sexual arousal. Vanessa found this frustrating and confronted him, demanding more from their relationship than sex. Hagop coolly informed her that she wanted more than he was willing to offer and, in the face of her hot rage, he calmly walked out of her apartment and her life.[6]


Vanessa was at work listening to a Bach concerto on the radio when it was interrupted by the announcer to report a major eruption in Yellowstone National Park that may adversely affect Denver. She dismissed it as exaggeration when she Binged the distance to there as 430 miles but some forty minutes later the building was hit by a strong, rolling motion earthquake. She instinctively ducked under her desk for protection but aside from a number of filing cabinets crashing down and acoustic cottage cheese drifting from the ceiling, no major damage occurred. After she got out from under the desk, power went off and speakers in the ceiling ordered the building evacuated.[7]

Vanessa took her purse and went down the gloomy stairs to the parking lot. The employees gathered there and stared a little west of north where they saw towering over the Rocky Mountains an enormous column of smoke that continued to grow as they watched. Shortly Malcolm Talbott sent everyone home for the day as it was obvious no more work could be done. Vanessa got into her car and turned on the radio as she drove home. The announcer warned of ashfall and that no one knew how deep it would be or how serious the effects would be. Likewise it would be a potential health hazard for those with respiratory ailments and would also adversely affect livestock and stockraising. The only good thing Vanessa could see was that she got the day off.[8]

The next morning she woke up with the power restored. Looking out the window she saw grayish brown ash everywhere looking like a filthy parody of a snow storm. She turned on the TV and found that a state of emergency existed and that people were advised to stay home unless it was essential. In addition to the low visibility, the ash in the air was a respiratory health hazard. Some geologists were predicting up to three feet of ash in the Denver area with the risk of roof collapses from the weight of accumulated ash. The Governor had called out the National Guard to assist civil authority. Snowplows were being used to try to keep the Interstates open south and east of Denver in case evacuation became necessary.[9]

The last made Vanessa think about leaving the city while she could. She remembered her cop father commenting on how civilians would sit tight in an emergency until it was too late and then start running around mindlessly. This decided her. She filled an overnight bag, put Pickles in his carrier and covered it with a soaked towel. She soaked a second one and put it over her head. She couldn't see so she guided herself with her free hand when she left her apartment. She managed to work her way into the parking garage. From there, she cleared the towel from her eyes to get to her car and then started on her way. She drove slowly and carefully due to the poor visibility down Mississippi Ave. by the Buckingham Square Shopping Center and onto the 225 to either the I-25 or the I-70, she wasn't sure which.[10]

Vanessa headed south to Pueblo where she gassed up and had her air filter changed. She also picked up a packet of surgical masks and some swimming goggles at a Walgreen's and a snub-nosed .38 revolver for protection at a gun shop.[11] From there she was forced to take US 50 east due to a major collision closing the Interstate. As she drove, it began raining, turning the fallen ash to mud. Some particles were at least as hard as her windshield causing the wipers to scratch it as they worked to clean her view. She crossed into Kansas, drove through Coolidge as her service engine light came on, past Syracuse and on toward Garden City. Her car died just outside town and Vanessa elected to walk there rather than wait for a good Samaritan.[12]


Vanessa slung her overnight bag, picked up Pickles' carrier and an umbrella and arrived in town a muddy mess. A garage mechanic refused to head out to tow her car but did direct her to a Red Cross shelter at the local high school. The volunteer checking people in refused to allow her to bring Pickles in and so Vanessa set him free outside rather than the likelihood of being euthanized in the animal shelter. In an emptied classroom, the refugees made do with the bare floor as there were no cots or mats and were feed MREs and bottled water.[13]

Vanessa spent about a month in the shelter. One morning she heard the sound of diesel engines and discovered a fleet of buses arriving, both civilian district school buses and olive drab military ones. Red Cross workers told the refugees to get whatever possessions they had and to line up. Vanessa did so and found her K-1 Classroom group boarding a military bus. The driver told them they were being taken to a newly established refugee camp called Camp Constitution, between Muskogee and Fayetteville. En route, a disgruntled resident fired a couple of shots at the bus, breaking a window and puncturing a side panel but not hitting anyone. The driver fired back with his M16, more to keep the gunman's head down than with any hope of hitting him and then drove on.[14]

Camp Constitution proved to be a small improvement over the Garden City center. Vanessa lived in a large, crowded tent with no electricity or running water. The refugees continued to be feed MREs and sanitary facilities consisted of row upon row of outhouses.[15] Loretta Baker and her three daughters were tent mates and the girls were noisy and disruptive from boredom. Vanessa tried to have either them or herself moved. Micah Husak, a FEMA representative, hinted sexual favors would help get things done. At first Vanessa refused but eventually came to an agreement that she would meet with Husak for sex every second week.[16] He did continue to provide favors and make her situation easier[17] for the year and a half Vanessa was in the camp.[18]

During the second spring after the eruption, the Arkansas River flooded due to ash and dust clogging its flow. This threatened Camp Constitution forcing FEMA to evacuate the refugees to a new provisional facility. Vanessa managed to get herself added to a reclamation party salvaging goods in Kansas under the Abandoned Property Act.[19] Her supervisor was Merv Saunders and his team concentrated on the eastern part of the state where the ash was thinnest. Some spots were cleared due to rain and wind but others were still covered. On each trip in, they checked house by house for clothing, animal feed, machinery and electronics.[20] The teams were also supposed to check and make contact with survivors but on one occasion they were met with machine gun fire and told to stay off the survivalist's property.[21]

Vanessa quickly became disenchanted with the work and managed to sneak off, AWOL, to Oklahoma City. There she bought a used Toyota and drove home to Los Angeles.[22] She went south via I-35 into Texas then southwest on I-20 and finally west on I-10.[23] She stopped for gas and lunch just west of Las Cruces, New Mexico where she met Bronislav Nedic. The two hit it off and exchanged telephone numbers before they went their separate ways to L.A.[24]

Back to Southern California[]

Vanessa returned to the family home in San Atanasio which her father had kept through the divorce proceedings with her mother. She did not get along with Colin's new wife taking an immediate dislike to her and had trouble getting along with Marshall, her younger brother, too.[25] She did begin to date Nedic who stayed in San Pedro when he was in the L.A. area. This was both in the hope of picking up another hauling load from the port and because of a substantial Serbian expatriate community living there.[26]

Vanessa managed to get her old tech writing job back with Nick Gorczany[27] and after one especially big blow-up with Kelly where Colin took Kelly's side,[28] moved out into her own apartment. Nedic, on viewing her run-down one bedroom apartment, was outraged at her being "wrongly dispossessed of what was rightly hers". His rage frightened Vanessa who begged him to not to do anything and Nedic sullenly agreed since it was Vanessa's father.[29]


  1. Eruption, pg. 17.
  2. Ibid, pg. 7.
  3. Ibid, pg. 28.
  4. Ibid, pgs. 49-51.
  5. Ibid, pgs. 66-73.
  6. Ibid, pgs. 86-90.
  7. Ibid, pgs. 166-167.
  8. Ibid, pgs. 168-171.
  9. Ibid, pgs. 196-200.
  10. Ibid, pgs. 200-204.
  11. Ibid, pgs. 230-232.
  12. Ibid, pgs. 232-240.
  13. Ibid, pgs. 259-267.
  14. Ibid, pgs. 287-293.
  15. Ibid, pgs. 305-311.
  16. All Fall Down, pgs. 25-31, HC.
  17. Ibid, pgs. 64-66.
  18. Ibid, pgs. 106-107.
  19. Ibid, pgs. 106-112.
  20. Ibid, pgs. 123-129.
  21. Ibid, pgs. 148-152.
  22. Ibid, pgs. 255-260.
  23. Ibid, pgs. 268-274.
  24. Ibid, pgs. 278-287.
  25. Ibid, pgs. 292-295.
  26. Ibid, pg. 328.
  27. Ibid, pg. 342.
  28. Ibid, pgs. 357-360.
  29. Ibid, pgs. 377-380.