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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Seven: Case File No. 49-361

public domain map of NJ

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Where We Left Off:

We introduced the political campaign of Gary Trashmouth, the first raccoon to run for mayor of Bunny Hollow. 


Should we talk about that earthquake on April 5, 2024?

I’m sure everyone has said all they needed to say about it. I was at the center of it, unfortunately away from Gus and Oliver and home. I was at the aerial yoga studio. There are a couple of lucky breaks that happened for us there: my class had only one student; it was a restorative silks class which means the hammock is only a few inches off the ground. If it had been a standard aerials class, we could have fallen on our heads.

collage: left amber sitting in an aerial restorative posture on the floor with the silk support her back. right: Amber hanging upside-down by her hips as she holds one leg out extended and is completely off the ground.
Where we were compared to where we could have been during the earthquake.


When it struck, we ran out and saw everyone else in the strip mall was out there too. The feeling and the sound had me and my student believing the building had an explosion or maybe there was one behind it. This plaza has apparently had a septic problem since it was constructed. It smells every single day. If it smells, I have to figure it’s releasing human waste gases into a tank or pipes. Since I don’t know the engineering, I honestly thought this ill-constructed sewage system blew up and we were about to sink into a hole of stanky waste—a genuine shithole.

screen shot of Fox News 29 coverage showing the red dot epicenter at Lebanon, New Jersey in Hunterdon County with a magnitude 4.8

My student was able to text her husband down the shore and he felt it too. I got a text from a friend and from The Butler. Maybe because I’ve seen to many hero movies, but whenever something that feels like a potential tragedy is happening, I disengage from my needs and aim to make sure other people are safe first. (Maybe that goes back to not being attached to life like a non-depressed person). It’s not a heroic thing. Not really. It’s: I’d rather something happen to me than this person.

We were at the end of class and there were no students signed up for my second class. All the staff members were rapidly group texting. I wrote in that I was leaving until the building was given the all-clear. *I sincerely doubt anyone sent an engineer or code official out to check our building despite how close the epicenter was.

Tom Papa: You're doing great.

In the car, my central nervous system was trying to come back online. That damn amygdala. My drive home was like an out-of-body experience and I’m lucky I didn’t crash into someone. My head has felt extremely spacey since these medication changes first of all; second of all, restorative yoga, even leading the class, activates the parasympathetic nervous system which allows blood pressure to decrease, muscles to relax, tension to release, and emotions to release.

I got home with feeling of joy to see Gus, Ollie, and the elder humans. The Cook described how Gus and Oliver reacted.

Oliver on his back waking up from a nap.

“Ollie nearly slept through it. He was asleep. He picked up his head, but wasn’t disturbed,” The Cook said. “Gus, however, was upstairs and woke up. He was fine until he came downstairs. He was skulking, creeping in a way, and scared of everything.”

I decided Gus and I need some stress relief by going bird watching. The Cook was worried he would be afraid to go out, but that was definitely not a problem. He couldn’t wait. It was chilly and windy. There were a lot of birds, a couple squirrels, and a chipmunk who were so happy to be spoiled with seeds and peanuts. I could feel the shift in my pre-frontal cortex coming back online from watching Gus rolling around in the grass. It’s what he does when he’s happy. He’ll roll on the driveway, dirt, the grass, cinder blocks—pretty much anything when he’s happy.

Later on, we were in bed snuggling when the aftershock hit. Gus was tucked into my right arm. He jolted awake and seemed like he was about to run for cover, but I held him and tried to see if making cheek massages would calm him. That tremor felt like it lasted a long time. Then my body kept feeling it after it stopped. I think. Maybe it was still going and maybe Gus felt it too. At least he stayed curled into me.

From the desk of Oliver Winchester:

To address the Californians who feel we on the East Coast over-reacted to the 4.8 earthquake:

Kindly bear in mind that we don’t have earthquake construction codes so our buildings are not made to withstand them. Do you think our bridges and tunnels could? Our humans don’t get taught what to do in school. My own favorite human had no idea what to do! They are taught fire drills, nuclear drills, and these days schools and employers have active shooter training. No one on the Atlantic side has earthquake training.

Oliver Winchester in loaf posture looking alert with his green eyes wide open, ready to answer questions.

Additional Considerations:

It’s a time of tremendous events. A few days after this quake, planet Earth experienced a total solar eclipse. Here is some more news properly worded by experts, Martin Ratcliffe and Alister Ling for Astronomy.

In addition to this spectacle, there’s an array of planets visible all month, as Jupiter and Uranus lie close together in a conjunction, with Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks located a few degrees from the pair. Venus is sliding behind the Sun, but Saturn and Mars grow in visibility in the pre-dawn sky. They are joined by Mercury, which switches from east to west of the Sun during the month.

And then the meteors! The Lyrid meteor shower peaks on April 20, 2024 but is active from the 14th-30th.

Gus reclaimed his focus and joined the discussion. I shouldn’t have been surprised by his theory.

Godzilla fighting Ghidorah

Gus said, “It’s a kaiju. Like Godzilla.”

“Gus, we just watched those movies and Pacific Rim and The Meg 2,” I said. “That’s probably why you’re thinking of them. It’s not a megalodon, right?”

“Come on,” Gus replied. “Are you telling me you wouldn’t love it if that shaking was a Sarcosuchus coming out of a water hazard on a golf course?”

“Of course I would,” I said and made a mental note to look up Sarcosuchus. Anything to ruin golf sounds good to me.

Oliver said, “Okay, Gus, if our readers say the tremor was caused by a kaiju or dinosaur, we’ll amend our case file.”


Case Findings:

For now, we utilizing Occam’s Razor and believing that the unexpected earth-rattling experience on April 8, 2024 was an earthquake centered in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. If anything in the future proves otherwise, we will reopen the case.

Case Status: Closed

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