My Pet Jerboa

…a book for strange little kids

The Doclopedia #144

The Alphabet: C

 

C is for CRATER CITY

First off, Crater City, Western Australia, does sit inside a one mile wide meteor crater located about 450 miles north by northeast of Perth. But if you are expecting to find a real city, you’ll be sadly disappointed. Crater City barely qualifies as a town, let alone a city and it’s not even much of a tourist destination. Most tour buses stop at one of the many scenic overlooks around the crater rim rather than drive down the lone steep road that goes down to Crater City. The few tours that will go into the crater are just quick excursions that seldom last more than a couple of hours. The reason for this is simple: the residents of Crater City…all 2,304 of them…are weird.

Oh, they look fairly normal for a bunch of Australian desert rats, but they act strangely and strange things happen in the town that tend to give outsiders the willies. A few examples are listed below.

1: Many of the townsfolk will stop what they are doing and hum a strange tune for exactly 1 minute 26 seconds. Several times a week. Simultaneously, regardless of where each of them might be.

2: Once or twice a month, everybody stops wearing clothes. This lasts for anywhere from four hours to two days.

3: Earthquakes happen a couple of times a year. They never register on any seismometer, even the 24 that are right inside the crater.

4: At any given time, about a quarter of the townsfolk seem to have some form of OCD. Oddly, it only lasts for a few months, then goes away. When it does come back, some months later, the rituals are different than before.

6: Very few birds will enter the crater or fly over it. None will enter the town.

7: About once per decade, the town appears to be deserted. Nobody knows where the people go or even how they get out of the crater without being seen. After a week or two, they will all be back, but they insist they never went anywhere.

8: There are no citizens under the age of 25. There are also none over the age of 75.

All scientific efforts to study the town have yielded nothing out of the ordinary, except that the scientists all seem a bit freaked out.

As best as anyone can figure, the town was first settled in 1877 by a preacher named Mr. Duncan and his flock of 35 followers. Written records are sketchy and the first real mention of the town does not appear until 1901, in a newspaper article that expresses amazement that there was an actual town out there. Since then, there have been exactly 12 newspaper or magazine pieces about Crater City. Television reporters have visited the town twice in the last 60 years. Most tour books give it only a sentence or two.

In 1999, a film crew went to the town to film a science fiction movie. Filming took place over a three week period, but the film never got released due to the director and several of the actors and crew going insane about a month after returning to Sydney. Police called this mass suicide “drug related”.

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