Today, Vice's Motherboard released "After The Big One," which they call "an immersive, reported science fiction saga about surviving the coming mega-quake" due to decimate Portland.
Does the phrase "reported science fiction saga" give you a thrill? Us too. In fact, back in 2010, we wrote a similar piece called "Quake-Up Call," which, let's be honest, is a great title.
But imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so we aren't mad. It's got sweet graphics and a bunch of different sections, including one called "Five Minutes," which talks about what will happen in the five minutes after a major quake hits the Cascadia Subduction Zone.
Spoiler alert: You're probably going to die.
At 11:46AM, two minutes into the earthquake, the soil on the steep eastern slope of the West Hills, wet and heavy after a recent week of spring rain, comes loose and flows downhill. What was once solid ground becomes liquid, creating a wave of mud and debris, folding buildings over like dominos between West Burnside and SW Jefferson. Nearly everything west of W. 18th Avenue is destroyed as the city right off the mountainside. This single massive landslide is responsible for the vast majority of immediate deaths.
Many people will never be found, as thousands of tons of earth displaces itself as if the the city blocks were flipped by a plow. Smaller landslides are burying roads and rail lines elsewhere, all across Oregon. The single tunnel that allows the majority of road traffic to cut over the West Hills to the the suburbs of Beaverton, Tigard, and Hillsboro is buried at its eastern entrance, due to landslides above it dropping soil onto the roadway of Highway 26.
The whole thing is told in a War of the World-style past-tense, as if it already happened. And it's super scary and poetic at the same time. You read "the earthquake shook Portland's river soils like coffee grounds floating in a French press" and you really consider moving to Michigan.
According to "Five Minutes," the only bridges that will survive the Big One will be Burnside, Fremont, Marquam and the Pedestrian Bridge of the Glorious Man-Killing Whale. But, besides that last one, all the on-ramps, which have not been retrofitted, will crumble.
Also: "Cresting the hill above the Park, we look out over the Willamette River to see a jaw-dropping sight—the north end of the river is on fire."
The rest of the series goes further and further into the imagined future ofpost-quake Portland. You might want to put on your headphones and clear your calendar because the rest of your day is booked with terror.