Chapter 3 The earthquake.
Matthew 27:51-54 (ESV)
51: And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.
Beth looked up at me, and I down to her. The sound increased to a deafening thunder below our feet.
“Earthquake!” Beth grabbed me by the arm.
I could see over the hedges into the next lot, where she couldn’t. I saw the first ripple move the land. Then we felt it hit. The earth convulsed in a way I didn’t think was possible. I would guess about a seven or eight magnitude earthquake hit our small town; I had no way of telling for sure it’s actual size.
Dust was emanating from the field adjacent to our property. The trees along the property line were shaking and losing their leaves. It was like fall came and went all at once. The walls of our house flexed as the earth under it moved side to side. With each convulsion I expected the hundred year old two storied home to collapse.
I had lived there twenty five years. We had an earthquake of about four point five on the Richter scale, eighteen or nineteen years ago. It rattled the windows and spilled my coffee. The water in the fish tank splashed around, that was the extent of it. This one knocked Beth and me right off our feet. The earth was moving so violently, that we were sliding along the ground enough to get grass stains on our clothes. We crawled up to the road to see down towards town. Power poles were snapping off. Sparks from the downed wires were dancing as the wires whipped. You could smell the electricity in the air. We could hear every window in town breaking; every car alarm was going off. Our attention was drawn to a loud cracking sound resonating from the back of our house. It was the sound of the back half breaking away from the main portion. Because the structure was built on a hill, when the smaller half broke away, it rolled down to the very spot Beth had been only moments ago. Thankfully she moved. The last time I saw the clothes line, it was being surrounded by a cloud of dust and what remained of the roof.
The tremors seemed endless. Besides the rumbling, car alarms, glass breaking, and dogs barking, the fire siren could be heard blowing a half mile away. This rural town was the last to have one. They kept it for tradition only.
Breathing became difficult due to all the dust that had drifted from the collapse of our back addition. Insulation and dust drifted with the wind like the smoke of a campfire: always in the direction where you are standing.
After what seemed like a set of about three or four smaller earthquakes, all larger than the one I had experienced before when I was younger; everything just rumbled. I can’t be sure how long we sat along the road looking and waiting for it to subside.
Beth was crying and shaking, and I was just kneeling, wondering what to do. I couldn’t think from all the noise. I was experiencing sensory overload. What could I do? My house was broken in half, the last remaining power wires in the country were lying on the car and truck. As I looked down the street I could see everyone else’s home took as much damage as ours did, some maybe more.
We were waiting for the tremors to subside completely before we attempted to get to our feet, they decreased in magnitude, but the rumbling remained.
I felt Beth release my arm as feeling came back to my fingers. “Nick, there’s not supposed to be earthquakes around here. Not this big. What to hell was that? Nick… the kids.” She reached for her phone and struggled to push the same buttons she had pushed a hundred thousand times before without thinking. “I can’t get a signal. I’ll have to use the one in the house.” Again we were the last people in New York to have a land line. “Sally should be home from school by now, shouldn’t she?” She looked at her watch. She turned to run into the house.
“Wait a minute,” I shouted. “Don’t go in there until we check the place out. I don’t think the rescue could get to us even if they wanted to.