Friday, July 16th, 2010

Writing Prompt – Earthquake!

My alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. Static, rather than rock-n-roll greeted my morning. Moments later, the bed began vibrating. The entire house shook, making a noise like heavy rain on the roof – only amplified a dozen times.

According to the US Geological Survey, an earthquake measuring 3.6 had struck the Potomac-Shenandoah Region.

The vibrations ceased about eight seconds later, and the morning silenced. I found it an exhilarating way to start the day!

Nifty, eh? Here’s a handy map:

Earthquake Map - USGS - 16 July 2010

I probably wouldn’t think so highly of this morning’s occurrence if it had rocked the house so much that all the glassware broke. It’s only the second earthquake I’ve experienced. Scoff all you want, westerners… earthquakes are rare on the East Coast.

According to USGS:

Earthquakes in Maryland and Northern Virginia are uncommon but not unprecedented. The earthquake on July 16th, 2010 occurred in a part of the Eastern Seaboard that is less seismically active than central Virginia, New England, and the area surrounding New York City… Earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains, although less frequent than in the West, are typically felt over a much broader region. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast.

We were lucky. The quake was mild. Nothing broke. Just a bit of fun to liven the morning. But what if it hadn’t been?

Here’s your prompt:

Write about a single person or a few tight friends caught up in a natural disaster. It could be a landslide, a flood, an earthquake…anything. But stretch: pick a disaster uncommon to the area you live in. How did it start? Was your character the instigator? (That is, did someone throw a pebble that caused a landslide? Or toss a lit cigarette that caused a wildfire?) How do they feel about causing the situation? Do they even know they caused it? Are lives at stake? Or homes, schools and businesses? How does your character escape? What has he lost during the situation? What has he gained?

Make the stakes high in order to ramp up the tension, but don’t kill off your character. (That’s too easy.)

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