Gordon Korman Explains It All

Not meaning to trivialize an earthquake, but this passage from The War With Mr. Wizzle popped into my head and I sort of had to go looking for it:

Elmer walked to the front of the class and set up several charts and sketches along the blackboard ledge. “My project deals with the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Lowlands Fault Line.”

Mr. Thomas frowned. “What fault line?”

“The earthquake fault line, sir,” replied Elmer blandly.

At the back of the room Wizzle’s head snapped up to attention.

“The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Lowlands Fault Line is not as well known as the San Andreas Fault Line in California, but nevertheless it exists, representing a clear and present danger to the area. The fault itself has been dormant since the Lower Cretaceous Period. However, a hairline offshoot of the fault, which I have named the Elmer Drimsdale Fault because I pinpointed it, is quite active. The end of this line actually extends to the Macdonald Hall grounds, passing directly underneath the south lawn.”

Now Elmer had Mr. Wizzle’s full attention. That strange incident last night! An earthquake!

“Seismic activity has been rather light of late,” Elmer went on, “but if you refer to this chart, you can see that a quake of major proportions is overdue.”

“Remarkable,” said Mr. Thomas. “Is Macdonald Hall then in danger?”

“Oh, no,” said Elmer. “You see, activity on my fault line is very local. Even in the event of a major seismic disturbance, the nearby buildings would remain intact.” He paused and beamed.

Of course it turns out this was all a story made up by Elmer Drimsdale to fool the title character into thinking his house was on a fault line, when it was actually the victim of an earthquake machine. Still, having grown up reading Korman, my first instinct today was to blame the whole thing on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Lowlands Fault Line. There are some habits that are hard to break for an Ontarian of my generation.

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