Liberty and Opportunity is a family saga that centres around four forthright, liberal women, spans five generations, three continents and two world wars throughout the twentieth century.
The story begins in New Zealand when Nicole receives an ancient diary from her Canadian grandmother, Cindy that she begins to read. It begins in 1898 with Amanda’s elopement with her beloved Jack and her struggle to survive and prosper away from her domineering father in Washington State. The two begin a new life in Vancouver, Canada where, over the years, she develops a publishing empire.
Jack heard a roar like thunder and saw thousands of tons of accumulated snow in the misty mountainside topple and slide downwards. Within seconds it became a mammoth avalanche heading directly towards them. Even though the signal was still down he made the instantaneous decision to start the train moving.
‘Hang on!’ he screamed to Andy who stared, opened mouthed out the inside window.
Jack opened the throttle, increased steam pressure and released the brakes. The wheels spun on the icy rails, gripped and the mighty express edged forward.
‘Come on! Come on!’ Jack cursed as the screaming thunder of the avalanche could be heard above the roar of their engine
Smoke bellowed out the chimney and hissing pistons did their job. The locomotive was past the signal box as were the first two carriages.
‘Keep her going!’ screamed Andy who watched behind while Jack concentrated on the line ahead.
The heavily laden train, though, had no chance. Jack watched the wall of snow sweep the wooden station building aside. The walls and roof just snapped and crumbled, buried in the deluge. Jack knew it was too late and pulled on the emergency brakes. Wheels screamed and steam hissed but it was to no avail.
The avalanche struck the express two carriages back from the cab.
In a scream of timber, voices, ice and snow, the second carriage was flung off the tracks by the avalanche, tossed upside down and buried in a mountain of snow. Jack stared in numb horror. Everything behind Carriage 1 was gone. In seconds the raw power of nature had buried the carriages under in a thousand tons of snow. Clouds of airborne ice and snow hit the locomotive cab, glass shattered and the last thing Jack remembered was being flung to the steel floor and searing pain as his head hit a lever.
Carriage 3 crumbled under the pressure and movement of the avalanche. Voices of terror screamed out unheard as the roof and walls collapsed. Those not killed beneath the timber superstructure were engulfed in snow. It was complete and utter annihilation! Over thirty humans, including the O’Donnell family, had their lives snuffed out in those few terrible seconds. What thoughts entered their minds, indeed if they even had time to form them, nobody would ever know.
When the avalanche hit, the end of Carriage 3 was flung up, ripped away from the following carriages and propelled down the mountainside, along with the splintered wood from the station and snapping fir trees. However, one massive tree caught the carriage, three quarters of the way back and sliced through it like a lumber saw. The motion sent the remaining section off on a tangent into another tree, down a gully and finally into a gigantic snow bank where it stopped.
Amanda screamed hysterically throughout the ordeal as she was flung around the tiny toilet cubicle. Her head hit the ceiling; she was upside down; a steel pipe slammed into her stomach and her body whiplashed back.
Purple clouds floated through her mind. Her eyes did not want to open but she forced them to. Her head pounded and she felt another pain. Her lower body was in agony and she felt wet from the inside, not out.
‘My God!’ she screamed. ‘My baby!’
The distraught young woman realised three things in that instant; she was alive, the cubicle had stopped moving and her water had burst. Wanted or not at that time, her baby was coming into the world. Another spasm shot through her body, so sever Amanda bit on her lip and blood filled her mouth.
‘Help me!’ she cried but she was alone in that tiny toilet thirty feet below the locomotive and what was left of the railway track.