The Presidential Lodge, Maryland, four minutes later, 6:45 a.m., eastern time
The helicopter hovered two feet above Theo's nose. The tiny rotors were buzzing,
but Theo didn't stir, didn't open his eyes. He just kept sleeping. Luke sat cross-legged on his own bed with the remote control.
Moving the lever a fraction, he dropped the helicopter down just enough so that the feather dangling from it brushed his friend's
forehead. Still no reaction.
Except from Comet, Luke's
dog, who jumped up on the bed, whining and bumping his arm. The helicopter took a dive, nearly crashing into Theo's thick,
curly hair. Luke pulled the lever back just in time. If the helicopter had gone into that hair, it would have been a goner,
like one of those prehistoric creatures sucked down into a tar pit and turned into a fossil.
"Comet, stop, please, I need to concentrate. I'll get up in just a minute."
Still whining, the Jack Russell terrier circled around Luke. The bed began to shake. It made no sense. How could a small dog
like Comet shake a big piece of furniture?
tried to get up, but the floor shifted under him and he lost control, crashing the helicopter. On the other side of the room,
the electric train table shook, and the railcars slid sideways into the wall. The trestle bridge shivered as a tiny plastic
cow grazing in a pasture fell onto the track. Luke couldn't take his eyes off the cow wobbling back and forth in front of
A siren blared outside and his mouth went
dry, panic taking over. Adam Martens, one of Luke's Secret Service agents, opened the door as Comet dove under the bed.
"Luke, stand still," Adam ordered.
Luke managed one gulp of air. "What's happening? What do we need to do?"
"Relax. Look at me. Take a deep breath. It's an earthquake."
"An earthquake! Where's my dad?' Luke was already moving to the
window to see if his father was in the pool for his morning swim.
"Stay away from the window until the shaking stops," Adam ordered, but Luke was already there, holding
the sill to steady himself. He could see his dad in the deep end, swimming toward the edge of the pool as waves sloshed out,
drenching two Secret Service agents who knelt on the ground trying to reach his father.
The shaking stopped and the siren cut off abruptly. Luke watched the agents help his
dad out of the pool, surrounding him as they moved toward the lodge.
"Look, he's fine," Adam said as he came over to Luke. "A minor earthquake isn't going to faze
the president of the United States."
was pretty weird." Luke relaxed. "I've never been in an earthquake before. I can't believe Theo slept through it
The outside door to the lodge opened,
and Luke heard his father's voice in the hall. "Is it confirmed? I have to get to the situation room; there should be
reports already coming in. If we felt it all the way here, the damage must be horrendous." His father's tone was calm
as always, but Luke knew that didn't mean anything. His father never sounded upset, so it was impossible for Luke to ever
judge when something was really wrong.
I think we should stay outside until we know the full extent of the quake." Luke couldn't tell which agent spoke. "There
may be aftershocks."
"No, absolutely not.
I'm not going to overreact to a small amount of shaking. Camp David is eight hundred miles from the epicenter. We're perfectly