The Hamptons Police report that last Wednesday, starting at around 11:25 a.m., their headquarters began receiving an unusual number of calls from residents notifying police that things were alarmingly quiet.
Most of the callers said that they had noticed a hush in the air, and many worried that it portended some sort of catastrophic weather event. Some even fretted that their neighbors might have been raptured.
“The calls came in from a wide geographical area,” says Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch. “But they all said pretty much the same thing. The consensus among the callers was that things had gotten strangely quiet, and it was making them nervous.”
According to Hirsch, the police responded by sending out investigators to specific locations that the callers were calling from, both to determine whether the locations were in fact experiencing a state of unusual quiet and, if they were, to look for an explanation.
“Our officers visited the areas from which we had received credible reports of a strange, unsettling quiet, and discovered that, indeed, an unearthly calm prevailed in these locations. So little human-produced sound was audible that our investigators found themselves able to hear the chirping of birds and the buzzing of some insect life,” Hirsch says. “Many registered alarm that the animal life around them was making such a lot of noise—they weren’t expecting that.”
Hirsch reports additionally that many of the officers became convinced that they were experiencing asthma attacks, and radioed headquarters for emergency medical attention.
“It turns out that they were panicking because, in the stillness, they were suddenly able to hear the sound of their own breathing,” Hirsch says, noting that some of the officers became so unnerved by the quiet they began to entertain the delusion that they were going deaf, and some got as far as beginning to fill out disability paperwork.
“Our HR department received a higher than usual number of inquiries into the protocols for claiming a disability for hearing impairment, and several officers submitted an initial request for consideration,” he says.
The silence continued unabated until 12:15 p.m., when without warning a person or persons unknown in one of the eerily quiet neighborhoods fired up a leaf blower. Soon, more leaf blowers could be heard.
By 12:30 p.m., most of the officers looking into the situation reported that the sound of leaf blowers predominated in the areas they were investigating. In other words, life had returned to normal.
“We may never know what caused the weird gap in leaf blower use,” Hirsch says. “But it sure freaked us out for a while there. It was quiet—too quiet.”