The legend goes that you can see an earthquake coming a mile away. Right before it comes there will be the biggest flock of birds that you have ever seen. This will give you plenty of time to escape. When you see a flock of frightened birds gathering together in one spot this is a good indication that the earthquake is coming. It also means a storm is coming. A good rule of thumb is, the more freaked out chattery birds in one spot, the worse the storm will be. As for the big earthquake, the so called big one that has supposedly occurred every three hundred years like clockwork, the birds start rolling in over the horizon. They roll in and cover the island like the world is about to end. It’s loud and noisy for three straight days. Then all of a sudden they all fly off together. Then the gulf becomes really still and quiet. It’s too quiet and it makes you think something is up. Then orange clouds roll in and the whole island is covered in a fog so thick you can’t see. It’s like this for three days, then it goes away. Then, three days later, when it seems like nothing is going to happen the earthquake hits. Sometimes it makes the island sink, sometimes it makes the island come up out of the ground. But everyone knows that if there’s an earthquake on an island the entire ocean floor around the island also gets rumbled. And rumbling ocean floors always cause tsunamis. A tsunami is a huge ocean wave that are so big and strong they can wash out huge cities. Nobody can survive a Tsunami. Even if you can swim, you’ll be knocked out and drowned for sure if you get hit by billions of megatons of ocean water.
No, you can’t survive the disaster. The only way to survive is to get out and get away before it all happens. So sure, everyone had the equipment to watch out for the storm that was about to come, but there was just no way to escape the island. And since they weren’t allowed to leave, people just didn’t care about bird watching and storm chasing. Everyone on the island had telescopes so they could look out for danger. They had such powerful telescopes that they could see frightened birds coming a mile away. Unfortunately they all had their periscopes pointed in the wrong direction until it was too late to do something sensible.
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Everyone on Chesky Island has a telescope. Some lucky people even have a periscope. A long time ago they were used to watch the sunrise and the tides. The world is so predictable. The earth and everything on it has a cycle. The people on Chesky Island seemed to know all about cycles. Every 365 days there was a huge party with firecrackers in the sky. This marked the beginning of the new year. There were parties every Friday night which happened exactly every seven days. They knew all about cycles. They also all knew that there was an earthquake and tsunami every few hundred years that always seemed to kill off every single person that lived on the island.
Of course, nobody really believed that it would happen ever again. It had been so long since the last natural disaster that everyone just decided that the Island had just grown tired and wasn’t going to have one anymore. A few people really believed the time was near. They knew the signs. They knew it was about to happen and they knew that they would be spared because they didn’t say any bad words. Others had bought caves that were guaranteed to survive both earthquakes and tsunamis.
Yes, natural disasters were indeed the best topic of conversation guaranteed to spark up interest in every Friday night party and Wednesday night gatherings. They called this watching out and being attentive. But they weren’t watching. They were watching something but they didn’t have their telescopes pointing at what they were supposed to be looking at. They were supposed to be watching the sunrise every morning. But alas they were not. It was too boring for them. And what difference did it make anyway? If the everyone on the island was bound to die, the only real way to escape was to sneak into the stone castle on the North Side of the island.
On the North Side of the Island was a huge castle carved out of a single rock. It had been standing there since the beginning of time and people were living in it. These people wore the most beautiful clothes they had ever seen. Everything in their house was beautiful and they didn’t seem to have piles of garbage everywhere. It was for this reason, that they decided a king must live there. It was exciting to watch these people. They gave them all names and watched them night and day through their telescopes. They called this the castle Nonesuch, because in all the world, there was none such a castle as marvelous as this one. It was surrounded with date palm trees. Chickens and cows wandered around it, and the bay was filled with shrimps and Lobsters. The gulf was so much bluer by the castle and nobody could figure out why on earth it wasn’t brown and filled with mounds of floating muck.
So, you see. Everyone wasn’t just drinking hot and steamy Zorba and playing with their cats. They had their eye on the castle Nonsesuch.
They all dreamed that they would one day get to live there. They all decided that if they watched the people in the castle long enough that one day they would magically wind up living in the castle themselves. They all had this dream, but nobody talked about it. According to popular rumors, the people in the castle worshipped Snatcher and said bad words. They would all burn up in Hades one day. For all riches and anything of real beauty comes from Snatcher. Some people believed that the castle was just one of Snatcher’s tricks.