Story Sent in by Candace:
Rory was a guy who worked in the same office building that I did, although at a different software company. We'd pass each other often in the halls, or make eye contact across the employee cafeteria. Eventually, we started with the small talk and it culminated in him asking me out for a Friday.
He took me out to my favorite Irish bar, and he even grabbed us the best table in the place, right next to the front window. After we sat, we continued some awkward small talk and ordered dinner. Then, he gave me a hard look and said, "So, the big one's going to hit, soon."
"I beg your pardon?"
"The big one. Earthquake."
What a strange turn to take the conversation, especially as we happened to be in San Francisco. I asked, "How do you know?"
"I can't reveal my sources, but it's going to happen sometime this next week. We have to do exactly what I say. It'll be like the apocalypse."
"And you're the only one who knows about this, eh?"
"I can't reveal my sources."
"Uh-huh. So what are you doing to plan?"
He was dead serious. "Well, if you're in with me, then there are a couple of things we should do. I mean, it'll be like the end of the world. I need your help."
I had a feeling that he'd start in with the "we're all going to die, so we might as well have sex" sales pitch, but he didn't actually go there.
He said, "We have to go around to all the churches and stuff cotton and towels into their bells. Otherwise they'll make too much noise when they're shaking. I'm starting tonight. I have friends in two churches who are going to let me in to do it."
"How will that help people during an earthquake?"
"It'll be less noisy for the survivors. We also need to get a fast car. One that can outrun cracks in the streets as they form. Once we're done with the churches, we'll pre-smash glass everywhere we see it, so it won't shatter during the quake."
"Okay," I said, changing the subject, "what projects are you working on, at work?"
"Planning for the forthcoming quake has occupied most of my time for the past eight months. Since I found out that its coming. Oh! We don't need a fast car. We can just use a motorcycle. Faster and able to weave around collapsing buildings. So you'll help me stuff towels into the church bells? It's very important that we do that, starting tonight. The quake could hit as soon as tomorrow."
"Then why don't you leave town while you can?"
"Were you not listening? We have to make sure the bells don't go off. They'll drive the survivors crazy! We have to stop the bells! They could be deadlier than the quake, itself!"
I replied, "But if you warn everyone and everyone leaves town, then no one will hear the bells at all."
He laughed. "Yeah, right. Do you know how crazy it sounds to talk about the quake? That it's been predicted to happen this week? Who'd believe me? Besides you?"
"I... don't know."
That's how it went for the entirety of dinner. He talked about the logistics of having to print up his own currency, after the collapse of the dollar in the face of the earthquake. He talked, mostly to himself, about how to ensure that his currency would be the most valuable, as he'd surely have post-quake economic competitors.
When the time came for dessert, he told the waitress that we didn't want any, but I cut in and said that I did. Not really because I wanted to spend more time with Rory, but more because the place had great desserts. Rory admonished me, telling me that by ordering dessert, I was cutting into time that we could've used to silence the bells of San Fran.
He was nice enough to pay for dinner, then offered me a ride to Grace Cathedral to start his work. I told him I'd meet him there. Instead, I went home.
The next week, at work, he came up to me and said that it was just as well that I hadn't met up with him. Turns out that the earthquake didn't happen! He asked me out again, but unfortunately, the rest of my life just kinda sorta booked up, all at once.
Story Sent in by Candace: