Max Taylor was a family man. He lived on the first floor of the two-story house with his wife Candy and their three small sons, Jason, Cory and Adam. Collin Slater brought his bride of three months with him from Denver and happily moved into the second floor apartment. Just before dawn on the first day of May and just at the beginning of Monday morning rush hour traffic, the station went on the air.
Collin's first few months at KMPR in Seattle passed quickly. His stool in the studio was beginning to soften, his coffee cup was honorably dirty and the Denver fan’s favorite three-inch Dallas Cowboy replica hung from the ceiling -- with a noose around its neck. His thick black microphone was connected to a wide, silver stand and just beneath the console, a drawer held Tums, cigarettes, candy bars, matches, picks for his hair, and every flavor of hard candy known to man. At the far end of the narrow room, a well-stocked refrigerator stood next to the only outside window.
Wearing his usual jeans, T-shirt and sneakers, Collin casually adjusted his large, black earphones, "You're listening to KMPR, Seattle's newest talk Radio. "I'm your host Collin…as in call-in…Slater. You can find us at 760 AM on your radio dial and the number to call is 789-1001. Expect the unexpected. With me is Max Taylor, the guy who owns this little station and works the controls in the sound proof booth. Today's news, in case you missed it, is just as boring as yesterday's." Collin paused while Max tapped a sound effects switch. Soon, his headphone filled with the funeral march.
"Wait, here's something. Jan Farnsworth, the same Jan Farnsworth who claims to be in constant touch with the long deceased Winston Churchill, says…”
At 2:10 p.m., on July 7th, the tiny crack in the northern wall of the fault suddenly splintered. Instantly, a small portion of the vertical shelf disintegrated. In the University of Washington's Seismology Lab, a needle abruptly began to etch sharp horizontal lines on paper. Outside, dogs barked, birds took flight, cats dashed under beds, and the water in Elliott Bay began to jiggle.
Still talking into his microphone, Collin suddenly stopped. The walls made a popping noise and he looked to his right just in time to see the windowpane wave. Confused, he glanced down. The coffee in his cup was rippling. His eyes darted up, and then he looked left and right again. But it was over, nothing else was moving. Finally, he turned to Max. His boss looked puzzled, but not upset. His headset was still in place and both hands were working the controls.
Collin shrugged, adjusted his microphone and began again, "Jan Farnsworth, who claims to be in touch…”
At fifty-four, Seely Ross enjoyed the safety of a security building. She lived in a spacious, sixth-floor apartment just a few blocks down Queen Anne Hill from KMPR. Three picture windows faced southwest offering a spectacular view of Elliott Bay, the islands, the Peninsula, and the Olympic Mountains. With long black hair and warm blue eyes, she doted on her grown daughter Michelle, lovable son-in-law Theo and her two glorious granddaughters, Ausha and Brianna. She loved painting landscapes and her job, on the forty-third floor of the Winningham Blue Building paid well and kept her busy.
Up from her doctor prescribed nap, Seely turned her radio to KMPR, sat down at her computer and logged on to the Web. By 2:10 p.m., she was engrossed in an Email from Jackie, a woman she met in an art chat room. Suddenly, her huge picture windows all creaked at the same time. The opposite wall popped and Collin Slater stopped in mid-sentence. Seely held her breath and waited.
In the earth, the same immeasurable pressure that caused the snag to crack shoved the newly disintegrated rock onward. The vertical shelves freely moved less than a centimeter before they caught again. But now there was a new snag, a weaker one and one closer to the surface of the earth. It held for a little more than fifteen seconds before it too yielded to the mighty strength of a moving earth. The motion generated a 4.3 magnitude earthquake.
At 2:10:46, Sam Taylor's brow wrinkled. Sitting on his West Seattle pier, he mentally estimated the distance between the mysterious chopper and the surface of the water. But the chopper was too high to make the bay ripple. Besides it wasn't rippling -- it was jiggling. In an apartment building behind him, a door flew open and a man ran out into the street.
With the second jolt, Seely abruptly scooted her chair away from the computer. She ran to the door of her apartment, yanked it open and quickly braced herself. The hallway was empty. Plaster, wood and concrete groaned as the eight floor, twenty-five-year old building shook. The easel holding her latest acrylic painting bounced. Both elevators banged against their shafts, dishes rattled, pictures swung and the floor rolled. And lying flat on her chest, a chip on the back of her necklace recorded the sudden increase in her heart rate.
On a monitor in the body of the sky crane, Jackie watched the mock woman abruptly race across the simulated living room. She noted the woman's palpitating heart and quickly turned to study the picture fed from the camera in the Building's hallway. But no strangers stood knocking and the fire alarm was not flashing its red light. Even so, the front door flew open and Seely Ross grabbed hold of her door jamb. Bewildered, Jackie wrinkled her brow, "What's happening?"