Morning for Sokroshera Chapter Eighteen
By Timothy Smith, 2020
Morning for Sokroshera Chapter 18
Tim’s novel of Russian America (Kodiak Island area)
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Friday, April 3, 1964 – Inside the cliffside fort during the largest aftershock (Plot spoilers removed where possible)
The shaking of the ground was almost immediate—the epicenter of this aftershock (preliminary
magnitude of 7.0) was less than thirty miles away out in Chiniak Bay. The whole mountain
felt to Judson like a school bus that has just dipped into a large series of potholes.
Just then, the lights came back on, and moments later, in rushed Billy Jr. and Marla, waving their arms to clear the dust. Herman picked up the light stand that had fallen over, and sure enough, one of the floodlights had broken. The other crash had been their fan, now lying in a tangle on the floor. Herman also retrieved a flashlight that had lain, unneeded, on one of the tables, and had managed not to bounce off in the quake. Herman had been incapable of locating it while the lights were off, and everyone was having breathing trouble that could only partly be blamed on the dust in the air. Billy Jr. spoke first, his voice insistent though shaky. “You... guys... better come with us!”
Billy Jr. had his own big flashlight with him, and shone it down the inner hallway toward the foyer and the open door to the cistern. They could barely see a huge mound of rocks and pieces of concrete through the dust, and it was a good guess that the pump room and everything beyond it had collapsed when hit by the weight of the granite slab above. The cistern was now filled with rubble and huge sections of the former ceiling of granite. “Uh... Looks like nobody will get into that cave again,” said Marty. “That must have been the second rumble we heard,” remarked Brother Toma as calmly as he could, “When the... uh, roof to the cave collapsed.”
“I ...think it’s bigger than that,” Billy Jr. said, his voice none too stable, and motioned for them to follow into the outer hallway. Dust was pouring from the opposite end, from the entrance to the tunnel that led to the ladder room. “Looks like this half of the mountain collapsed in on itself,” said Herman, a bit shakily, and I’ll bet the crack in the guardhouse up there finished what it started.” “Oh, there’s more!” said Marla, her voice now nearly as high pitched as Anya’s could be. “Come look at the road.”
They stepped outside, shielding their eyes from the brilliant noontime sky. Billy Jr. cut in, a little less shaky now. “While we get used to the light, lemme explain why my generator cut out. During the quake, the damn thing hopped about ten feet down the road. It kept upright somehow. I waited until I was sure the shaking stopped, and then Marla and I dragged it back over to the extension cord, and plugged it back in. Damndest thing you ever saw! It was still running the whole time, and it even acted like it was running... away!” That’ll be funny someday, thought Judson, his heart rate still pretty much through the roof since the quake hit.
Marla disagreed about what was the damndest thing. “I dunno, Dad, I think this over
here might be...” Marla’s voice faded away. She pointed, and finally continued. “Uh,
look at where the spring used to be!” Marla was standing rather tentatively a few
feet from the edge of the road. Below her, a two-
Author’s note: this sharp and violent aftershock was a real event, on that date, and ended up being a 6.9, only 30 miles from my fictional island.
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