We felt it first, that sickening

上一篇 / 下一篇  2017-08-09 10:51:07

We'd have to track down the location of the "hidden" access point bymeasuring the strength of the "visible" one, finding the spot where it wasmost mysteriously weakest. There we'd find another clue — last time ithad been in the special of the day at Anzu, the swanky sushi restaurantin the Nikko hotel in the Tenderloin. The Nikko was owned by JapanAirlines, one of Harajuku Fun Madness's sponsors, and the staff had allmade a big fuss over us when we finally tracked down the clue. They'dgiven us bowls of miso soup and made us try uni, which is sushi madefrom sea urchin, with the texture of very runny cheese and a smell likevery runny dog-droppings. But it tasted really good. Or so Darryl toldme. I wasn't going to eat that stuff.

I picked up the WiFi signal with my phone's wifinder about threeblocks up O'Farrell, just before Hyde Street, in front of a dodgy "AsianMassage Parlor" with a red blinking CLOSED sign in the window. Thenetwork's name was HarajukuFM, so we knew we had the right spot.
"If it's in there, I'm not going," Darryl said.
"You all got your wifinders?" I said.

Darryl and Van had phones with built-in wifinders, while Jolu, beingtoo cool to carry a phone bigger than his pinky finger, had a separatelittle directional fob.
"OK, fan out and see what we see. You're looking for a sharp drop offin the signal that gets worse the more you move along it."I took a step backward and ended up standing on someone's toes. Afemale voice said "oof" and I spun around, worried that some crack-howas going to stab me for breaking her heels.
Instead, I found myself face to face with another kid my age. She had ashock of bright pink hair and a sharp, rodent-like face, with bigsunglasses that were practically air-force goggles. She was dressed in34striped tights beneath a black granny dress, with lots of little Japanesedecorer toys safety pinned to it — anime characters, old world leaders,emblems from foreign soda-pop.
She held up a camera and snapped a picture of me and my crew.

Cheese," she said. "You're on candid snitch-cam.""No way," I said. "You wouldn't —""I will," she said. "I will send this photo to truant watch in thirtyseconds unless you four back off from this clue and let me and myfriends here run it down. You can come back in one hour and it'll be allyours. I think that's more than fair."I looked behind her and noticed three other girls in similar garb — onewith blue hair, one with green, and one with purple. "Who are you sup-posed to be, the Popsicle Squad?""We're the team that's going to kick your team's ass at Harajuku FunMadness," she said. "And I'm the one who's right this second about to up-load your photo and get you in so much trouble —"Behind me I felt Van start forward. Her all-girls school was notoriousfor its brawls, and I was pretty sure she was ready to knock this chick'sblock off.
Then the world changed forever.

We felt it first, that sickening lurch of the cement under your feet thatevery Californian knows instinctively — earthquake. My first inclination,as always, was to get away: "when in trouble or in doubt, run in circles,scream and shout." But the fact was, we were already in the safest placewe could be, not in a building that could fall in on us, not out toward themiddle of the road where bits of falling mortice could brain us.

Earthquakes are eerily quiet — at first, anyway — but this wasn'tquiet. This was loud, an incredible roaring sound that was louder thananything I'd ever heard before. The sound was so punishing it drove meto my knees, and I wasn't the only one. Darryl shook my arm and poin-ted over the buildings and we saw it then: a huge black cloud rising fromthe northeast, from the direction of the Bay.


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