“Grandpa,” Jimmy said. “Kids are always daring each other to go out to Old Town Island to bring back the ‘Feynola Siren.’ What do they mean?”

The old man leaned back in his rocker. “They say the old Feynola City Hall had a warning siren put on it during the war to warn citizens of a U-boat attack.”


“In late August of 1951, the siren blew for four and a half minutes at 10:23 am, causing many of the 3000 residents to take shelter, despite clear skies and nothing ill in the forecast,” Grandpa continued. “It was written off as a fluke until the following week, when the siren rang out again at 10:23 and lasted four and a half minutes. Maintenance crews could find nothing wrong with the siren assembly, but it continued to sound once every week, always at 10:23, always lasting four and a half minutes. During the last week of September, the siren was finally disconnected due to complaints.”

“What happened then?”

“The following week, the siren somehow rang as usual. Many have speculated how it managed to do so while ostensibly disabled, but one thing was clear: the siren was heralding a massive Category Five hurricane that was bearing down on Feynola, having suddenly deviated from its predicted course. The storm surge was so fierce that is created a new tidal lagoon inland from the city, trapping most of the residents. Nearly 2500 died or disappeared that day, and the survivors declined to rebuild thereafter. And do you know what?”

Jimmy leaned in. “What, Grandpa?”

“The hurricane had struck at exactly 10:23 am, with the fiercest part of the flooding and destruction lasting only four and a half minutes.”