At 4:27 in the Afternoon

It was an ordinary Saturday.

Michael and I were walking down a Redwood trail in NorCal.  I’m not sure why I felt so uneasy.  Maybe it was because of the crash of  a big branch somewhere in the woods.  Maybe it was because everything was slick and soggy and muffled.  A recent storm had left a lot of raindrops clinging to the branches above us.

“How often do redwoods lose their branches?”  I asked my husband.

Michael shrugged.  “Not very often,” he said.  “Don’t worry, Chicken-Little.  The sky’s not going to fall.”

I was silent.  My husband was no help at all.  I glanced at my watch.  4:03.  Soon it would be growing dark in the Land-of-the-Giants.

We walked on down the trail, around the loop and then back again.  My footsteps quickened.  I was hurrying now.

4:26 pm.

Shadows deepened.  Dusk was settling into the Redwoods.  The sky above the tree-tops was still clear blue….but down here it was twilight….

My thoughts stalled and my feet slowed.   It had started to rain.  Abruptly.  Out of a clear blue sky came the thick splattering of raindrops.   Dead twigs and redwood needles started raining down on us.   So strange.  There was no wind, yet everything was whirling and trembling and raining—

“Michael!  What’s happening?”

We both came to a stop.   Michael didn’t speak.  His silence was as frightening as the abrupt rainfall.  Why did he just stand there staring?  It’s like he knew—

Suddenly, our world began to tilt.  We felt  the ground heave up under our feet, as if we were riding the crest of a wave.

“Quake!” Mike said, grabbing for my hand.  “Earthquake!”

The towering trees shuddered, trembling in the twilight.  They rained more water droplets and needles down on us.  We could hear the creak of wood and the snap of twigs and branches.

“We’ve got to get out of here!” I pulled my hand away from my husband and began to run.  “Run! Michael…Run!”

My feet pounded the trail, but I couldn’t escape the urgency of Mike’s words.

“Stop running!”  he shouted after me.  “It’s the most dangerous thing you could do!”

“What?…Why?” I panted.  My feet slowed.  At least he’s not calling me Chicken Little any more.

“You’ve got to watch for falling branches!” Michael said.  “You can’t see them if you’re running!”

I stopped and waited for him to catch up with me.  The ground was still shuddering.  I’d never felt such a thing before… A rolling quake!  The ground swelling up and up beneath our feet….the Giants trembling and wobbling about uncertainly.

What kind of a quake did that to the Giants?!

I forced myself to think calmly…to walk slowly beside Michael, peering up at the trees—watching for broken branches.  Three eternities later, we came to the edge of the woods and I rushed the final steps into the clearing.

“Dear Lord!” I said.  “I never want to go through that again!”

Michael started the car and we drove quickly home.  The phone was ringing as we walked inside.

“A 6.5 on the Richter Scale,” said our friend on the phone.  “We’ve made it on CNN and all the networks.”

“A 6.5!” I said.  “That’s the biggest quake I’ve ever been through!”

We turned on the news.  Power outages in the city.  Broken windows and water pipes.  The towns of  Ferndale and Eureka were chaotic.  A lot of shaken people.   A lot of messes and broken china.   Dark houses.   Scared kids.

But nobody had died or was seriously injured.  We could be thankful for that!  We all took a deep breath.   Thank God it hadn’t been worse….

Just a couple days later, Haiti suffered a devastating 7 point quake.  The news circled the globe in minutes.  Crushed buildings.  Schools.   Hospitals.  Hundreds of thousands were feared dead.  The quake in Haiti suddenly seemed real and personal to us in NorCal.  It could’ve been us.

In fact, one of these days, it will be us.  That’s what Scientists say.

A 9 point earthquake is coming to the US.  It’s long overdue.   America will experience what Haiti is experiencing now.  Death.  Chaos.  Looting.  Panic.  The US economy could be brought to the point of no return.

It will be worse than Hurricane Katrina.  Worse than 9-11.  Worse than the 9 point quake/tsunami that hit Indonesia in 2004.  America will suffer a major catastrophe.

I’ve talked to my NorCal friends about it.  “Do you believe what scientists are saying?…that  a 9 point quake is coming here to America?”

“Oh yes!” they said.

“So what are you doing about it?” I said.  “How are you preparing?”

They looked perplexed.  “Well.”    Shrugs.  Nervous laughter.   “We’ll just—we’ll just survive…”

“You have water and food stockpiled?  Emergency supplies?”

“No.  We’ll worry about that later.”

Later, indeed.

Ah well.   The sun is shining in NorCal.  The broken windows are being fixed.  The cracks in the sidewalks are just an eyesore, now.  No harm done, really.

It’s Saturday again.  An ordinary Saturday.  And the memory of our 6.5 is fading fast.

We’re all doing fine, folks.  So, don’t worry about a thing.  Not a thing.  And now,  I’ll be saying goodbye.

God’s in His Heaven, and all’s right with the world.  And this—

Well.

This is Chicken Little signing off…

At 4:25 in the afternoon.

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