Book One - Reality Bites
Chapter 5 - Nothing Works
“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Jane was an avid bow hunter. So was Joe. It was an activity that they both looked forward to and shared as a couple. Plus they both loved deer meat. They always called venison deer meat. It was a joke between them. They would freak out some of her friends when they came to visit by presenting them with a meal made out of deer meat. Even if it wasn’t, they’d say it anyway, just to hear the comments and complaints. And they looked forward to the “Oh, how could you kill those cute little Bambis?” It gave them the opportunity to educate the guests all about hunting, and about deer in particular. They had guests that felt so strongly against hunting that they had walked out without listening to what they had to say or eating, either. Joe and Jane would look at each other and one of them would say, “More for us to eat.”
One thing both Joe and Jane disliked intensely were people who were ignorant of something and wouldn’t take the time to educate themselves before forming an opinion on a subject. Most people who are against hunting and wildlife control do not know the facts. They just spout off slogans and other people’s opinions like they were a parrot instead of an intelligent, thinking human being. The internet is a wonderful information highway, full of free reference libraries and statistics. There are no valid excuses in this day and age for people not to be fully informed on whatever subject they feel passionate about. But, without fully researching both sides of a subject, how can anyone form a truthful opinion of one’s own?
Every year since Preston had bought his place by them, he had been there for hunting season. He also looked forward to educating the guests about hunting at dinnertime with anticipation. He called it putting in his “one cent worth.”
He had called the day before and said he wouldn’t be up this year. Joe and Jane were shocked. Preston had never missed a hunting opportunity that they knew of. He hunted on several occasions even if he was sick. He would do so against Jane’s advice. The only thing Jane and Joe could think of that would keep him away was the new ditzy woman in his life. Preston had brought her by a few months ago so they could meet her. They felt justified in giving her that nickname. They joked that the term ‘air head’ would have been an educated version of her. It was shocking that he was letting a woman interfere with his hunting. He had never let his ex influence him about it, in fact, it was a sore spot with her and caused a lot of friction in their marriage. No matter what she did or said, he went hunting every year as usual. He was a very serious hunter. She also gave him a lot of crap about spending so much time with them doing it, too.
They knew that the divorce he went through had really messed with his mind. His ex had not been a very nice person and she really showed her true colors during the divorce. Joe and Jane didn’t care for her and the feeling was mutual. They had nothing in common at all. All she ever talked about was fashion, or the sales at the upscale department stores, or the trendy restaurants where she ate out with her friends and gossip about everyone she knew. She also went to fashionable clubs with her friends when Preston was gone. In fact, they couldn’t remember her ever saying a nice thing about anyone and mean it. She would say something nasty about someone and then say, “But she’s really a sweet and thoughtful person, really. I just love her to death.”
During the divorce, Preston had found out that she put him thirty thousand dollars in credit card debt. He had to get a job to pay them off. Now that he was paying her alimony, too, he didn’t have enough money from his retirement to pay for it all and live. They did not ever think any kind thoughts about her. They resented the fact that Preston wasn’t there enjoying his retirement with them because of her. There really weren’t any jobs where they lived in his field of expertise. He was a highly experienced helicopter mechanic. There isn’t much about a helicopter that he didn’t know. That is why Preston wasn’t there and had to live in the city. They would miss him a lot this year. They always joked about being “The Three Musketeer Hunters.”
Every year during bow hunting season, Jane would take one week of her vacation time. Bow hunting in the fall was her peaceful and quiet time. It was her time to absorb the feelings and the smells of the woods. It was a time for her to be able to really relax
and enjoy just being and not doing. By this time every year, she really needed to get away from the intensity of her job and the pressures of everyday life. She and Joe had tree stands on a friend’s farm, Jim and Marge Johnstone. Their farm was about five miles from their own place. The month before she would have her quiet time in the woods, she would count the days down with excited anticipation. This time was no different than all the other times she had used one week of her vacation time for bow hunting.
They had no idea the world as they knew it was about to come to an end. There were no signs, no predictions, no warnings, nothing. This day started out the same as any other day. The alarm woke them up so they would have plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast and not be hurried as they went out for the morning hunt. After a peaceful morning and watching a beautiful sunrise, at mid-morning it was time to climb down and meet each other at the truck. Joe was always playing practical jokes on her. He would sneak out of the woods to get to the truck first. He would hide in the woods and start snorting like a deer or acting like bear was there, so that when she walked past it would scare the heck out of her.
This year, she thought, I’m going to sneak back first and surprise him. She looked at the sun to judge the time and decided it was a bit earlier then she usually left to go to the truck. Now was the time to leave her stand and beat Joe. She climbed down and started to walk quietly through the woods. As she walked toward the truck, she thought about how much she loved the woods and how beautiful they were. The trees changing color and the leaves falling and making a colorful path to walk on totally delighted her. But, the color change had not really started yet this year. She thought, Maybe next year I’ll take off the third week of October instead. The color changes will be in full display by then. She was really enjoying herself.
She came around a bend on the path and heard a slight noise. She stopped to look around and listen. As she looked forward, right there on the trail, was a nice eight point buck. He was looking towards where the truck was parked. She slowly grabbed an arrow in the quiver and drew it out as quietly as possible. She told herself, Take your time. Slow down all movement. She notched the arrow and looked up at where to buck had been. She was elated. The buck was still standing there. She smiled to herself and thought, Ah, Joe must have got down earlier than I thought for his practical joke and pushed the deer right into me. Her smiled got bigger. The joke is on you this time, Joe. She drew her arm back. She picked the thirty-five yard pin. She relaxed, steadied the arrow and released it. The arrow shot down the path, heading exactly where she had aimed. It was a perfect double lung shot. When it hit the buck, it made a funny sound. Thunk. What the heck? Did the arrow go underneath the buck and hit a tree? It had looked like a perfect shot. She popped another arrow from the quiver, aimed and shot at the buck again. This time she saw the arrow hit, but it had made another thunk when it had hit the buck. Then she heard Joe laughing like a little boy that had pulled off the best practical joke in the world. He was hopping around doing a victory dance and singing gleefully, “Got ya. I got ya again!”
She jerked around to where Joe was and said, “Very funny. You’re a jerk.” She pointed her finger at him and continued, “You are buying me new arrows and broad heads for that stunt, Mister.”
Joe had set up a buck decoy and covered it with a real deer hide that he had tanned. It looked pretty real unless you were standing right next to it. She was mad. Joe kept smiling just like a little kid and chuckling. He pulled the stakes out that were holding the buck in place, then walked with it in his arms up to the truck. She came stomping up and said, “You are a jerk. That’s so not funny.” Joe just kept laughing. They loaded up the bows and their other equipment. They got into the truck and Joe turned the key. No sound, nothing. She couldn’t resist herself and said, “Left the headlights turned on, didn’t you, jerk?” She smiled and started laughing so hard. “Ha, ha, the joke’s on you,” she said.
Joe turned and faced her. He said, “No, I didn’t leave the lights on. See, they’re turned off.” She looked over at the light switch, and sure enough, it was turned off.
“Well, any idea what is wrong with the truck?”
“I’ll take a look. It’s probably just a bad connection on the battery or something like that.” He got out of the truck and popped the hood open. He yelled for Jane to get in the driver’s seat and try to start it. He tinkered with everything he could think of that could cause the truck not to start. He kept telling Jane, “Try it now.” Finally after several minutes he said, “This is just not working. I give up. I don’t know what’s wrong with it. Everything looks fine. I can’t find any reason for it not to start.” He shut the hood.
He walked over to the driver’s side of the truck and motioned for Jane to roll down the window. He said, “Well, let’s just head over to the Johnstone’s. Get what you need for right now out of the truck. We’ll get the rest of the gear after we tow the truck back home.” Jane gathered up what she thought she might need for a short while and got out of the truck. She was looking forward to seeing Marge. She didn’t have the chance to visit her neighbors very often. They talked on the phone a lot, but just never seemed to have the time to just go over to each other’s house to visit. It would be great to just sit and drink coffee and talk for awhile.
Joe was hoping to borrow Jim’s beater farm truck to tow his truck home. He also hoped that Jim was around and had not gone into town for a part or something so he could help Joe figure out why the truck wasn’t starting. Maybe Jim could come up with something he hadn’t thought of. It sure was weird that the truck wouldn’t start. That truck always started no matter what. He had always referred to the truck as ‘Old Reliable.’
It was only a half mile walk to Jim and Marge’s farm house from where they were. They set out down the path. It was a great day for a walk. The air was crystal clear and crisp smelling; the sky was such a beautiful shade of blue with only a few wispy clouds here and there. The day was warming up and it just felt so good, so right to be outside enjoying it like this. All was right with the world, Jane felt. Well, except for the truck. But if the truck hadn’t broken down, they would not have had an opportunity to have this enjoyable walk. Everything works out one way or another. It is a wonderful day just to be alive, she thought.
The path ended as they came out of the woods. They saw the farm house a few hundred yards away. They walked up the driveway towards the house. Their dog was barking, so it had alerted them that someone or something was outside. It could have been a wild critter. You just never know when you lived out in the country. So, it was no surprise that Marge was at the door to greet them. As they approached the house, Joe noticed Jim coming out of the barn, wiping his hands on a rag. They greeted Marge and waved to Jim. They waited for Jim to catch up to them before telling them why they had walked out of the woods instead of driving up. Jim came up the steps onto the porch. Jim and Joe shook hands.
Jim asked with a chuckle, “Lost your truck?” They all laughed. Every year they had hunters and hikers and nature lovers knock on their door asking for assistance in finding their lost vehicles. They all had some wild stories about crazy city slickers to share with each other whenever they did get together to talk. Marge said, “Come on in and I’ll get you both a cup of coffee.”
“Marge, is it okay for Jane to go in and have coffee? I need to talk to Jim if he’s not real busy with something right now,” Joe said.
Jim answered with, “I was just tinkering with the tractor. It wouldn’t start. Let’s go to the barn and we’ll talk.”
Jane went into the house with Marge. Jim and Joe walked down the porch stairs together. As they were walking over to the barn Joe asked Jim, “What’s wrong with your tractor? You just got that one, didn’t you?”
“Yes, it’s brand new and it won’t start.” Joe turned and looked at Jim. Jim noticed the look Joe gave him. “That’s one of the reasons why I asked you to come out to the barn with me so we could talk away from the women.” That definitely got Joe’s attention. “Let’s wait until were in the barn and I’ll tell you about it.”
Jane walked into the kitchen with Marge. Marge said, “Have a seat and I’ll warm the coffee up on the wood stove.” She sighed. “The power is out again and Jim couldn’t get the generator to work this morning.
Joe and Jim reached the barn and walked over to the tractor. Joe looked around and noticed the two cars had their hoods open, as did both of Jim’s trucks, his newer one and the old beater. The riding lawn mower had its compartment open, too. Joe turned and looked at Jim and said, “What the heck is going on?”
Jim said, “The power went out, so I thought I would go get the new big tractor and haul some hay bales to the other barn for winter. It wouldn’t start. I looked it over, but I couldn’t figure out why. I thought, ‘well, I’ll just go get the smaller tractor and use it. It will take more time, but it needs doing. I’ll mess with the big tractor and fix it later.’ I walked over to the other barn and my other tractor wouldn’t start, either. I looked at the engine and I can’t find a reason why it won’t. So I walked back over here. I tried my newer truck and it wouldn’t start. I thought this was mighty strange. So I decided to try my old beater truck. It started right up. I was going to just go ahead and use it to move the hay bales, but curiosity got the better of me about the cars. I started wondering if they would start or not. It was about this time I realized that my watch wasn’t working. There was no display lighted up, no numbers or anything on the face of it. Then I shut off the truck and went over to the cars and tried them. They won’t start. I tried the lawn mower and it won’t start, either.”
Joe sat down heavily on the side of the tractor and thought, “Oh God, it’s happened. They went and done it. They really did it. Don’t panic. Stay calm.” He looked up at Jim and said, “We were out hunting this morning. When we got back to the truck, it wouldn’t start. We walked over here to ask you for a tow. I couldn’t figure out why the truck wouldn’t start and was going to ask you to help me figure out why.” Jim was thoughtful for a minute. Joe decided to wait and see what conclusion Jim came to.
Jim looked over at Joe and said, “This is bad, isn’t it? It’s real bad, huh?” Joe just nodded his head yes. “Do you know what happened?”
Joe stared at Jim for a few seconds, thinking about how to explain it and how much he should say. “I only know of one thing that could do this. A high altitude nuclear blast, an EMP. It fries all electrical circuits.”
Joe waited to say anything more to give Jim time to digest this information. Jim looked hard at Joe and said, “That’s what I figured, too. I was hoping I was wrong. I thought at first that I had watched too many movies on the SyFy channel and was jumping to way out there wrong conclusions.” Joe was quick to reassure Jim that this was a way out there conclusion. But it was real. Things would never be the same again.
Jim and Joe remained quiet for a few minutes, lost in their own thoughts. Jim finally asked, “What do you think we should do?” Joe had decided that it would be best to go get his truck and then to get Jane and him home. Preston would be showing up and they had better be there when he did. Now that the time had really come, he wanted to take everything with other people real slow. Let them get a bit over their shock of the situation first before he came up with any suggestions for them. He wasn’t at all sure if he wanted to come up with any suggestions. He wasn’t sure at the moment how involved people would want him, Jane, or Preston to be in their affairs. Time will tell. It would give them all time to come up with a plan of action. In all the scenarios they had talked about and all the plans they had sort of made, being a leader in this community hadn’t really been one of them.
Joe looked at Jim and waited until he was sure he had his complete attention before answering him. “I’m not real sure just yet. But I do know two things right now. The first is we had better go in and tell the women what has happened. The second is I still need you to tow my truck to my house. I would sure appreciate it if you could do that. Afterwards, we can take things real slow and decide on what needs to be done one thing at a time, okay?”
Jim looked relieved. “That sounds like a plan to me. Of course I’ll tow your truck to your place. We’re friends and neighbors, aren’t we?”
Jim and Joe walked into the kitchen. Marge got up to get them coffee. The two men sat down on the opposite side of the breakfast bar. They had a serious, worried look on their faces. Jane thought, I wonder what happened? The way their luck was going this morning, maybe they couldn’t get Jim’s old truck to start, either. But, that wouldn’t be so unusual. Jim was always tinkering with it for one thing or another. No, it has to be something else, something more serious for them to look like that. Marge set the men’s coffee cups down in front of them. Both men gave their thanks to Marge.
Marge looked closely at Joe. “Are you all right? You don’t look so good.” She completely ignored Jim. Obviously, she was still mad at him about the generator.
Joe waited a few seconds to see if Jim would say anything. Joe turned and looked at Jim. He just sat there looking at the breakfast counter and didn’t say or do anything. He didn’t even look like he was breathing. Okay, then, it’s up to me. He looked up at Marge and said, “I’ve had better mornings, that’s for sure. I’ll be fine. Thanks for asking.” He turned to Jane. “We think something terrible has happened. Something we all were hoping would never be a reality. The only vehicle that will start is Jim’s old farm truck.” He felt in some part of his mind like this was a dream, a real nasty dream. The worst nightmare he could imagine. “I think what happened was someone set off a high altitude nuclear bomb, an EMP. It has fried everything electrical. Nothing that requires electricity will work. Not the lights, not generators, not cars or trucks, nothing will work unless it is old, like the farm truck. The farm truck has different parts than the newer ones do.”
Joe looked at Jane. He got up from his stool and walked around the breakfast bar and sat down next to her and pulled her into his arms. Jane was glad he had come over next to her. After a few minutes, she drew back. Joe just looked at her. She finally said, “I need to get to the hospital. They’ll need me there to help with everything. Oh dear God, Joe, there is no electricity. The back up generators won’t work now, either. What about the patients on life support? Who could have done this crazy thing? Why would someone do this? Is this a terrorist attack? I have to go. I have to get there now, Joe. They’ll need me now more than at any other time.” She stood up and faced him. “How will I get there? Do you think Jim would take me to the hospital after he drops you off at home?”
Joe stood up, too and looked hard at her. “Calm down. Take a deep breath. Think about this situation for a minute. It may not be safe for you to go there. We shouldn’t separate ourselves from each other right now. That would not be a smart thing to do at all. We don’t know what it will be like in the city or at the hospital. Everyone who lives close to the hospital will have already gone there to help. What can you do that isn’t already being done? If you go into the city, how will you get back home? Think about this. The roads will be clogged with vehicles. How will Jim even be able to get through to get you to the hospital? Let’s just get home first. Then we can talk about it.”
“You folks ready to get your truck and go home?” Jim asked. They both answered in the affirmative. They gathered their things up, put their coats on and walked to the front door. Joe reached for the door handle first and led them all outside.
They walked into the barn and got into Jim’s old truck. It was a 1972 half ton Ford pickup. Jim started it up and it was a happy sound. It was a sound they were not going to hear much in the future. Jim drove out of the barn and down the driveway towards the old road on his property where Joe had parked his truck that morning. After a few minutes, they spotted Joe’s truck on the old road. Jim pulled ahead of it, stopped and didn’t even think about turning the motor off. He just didn’t want to chance the truck not starting again. He felt a bit superstitious about it, since it was the only vehicle that would work. Joe jumped out the passenger side door and Jim got out on the driver’s side. Jane got out last. Joe had already grabbed the tow chain out of the back by the time Jim and Jane got to the back of the truck. Jane walked on and got into Joe’s truck. They hooked the chain up and Joe climbed into the cab of his truck to steer it as Jim towed them. They drove back down the old road to Jim’s place, then up the driveway to the road that would take them home. It was not easy for Joe to steer his truck. No power steering. Wow, you don’t realize how great power steering is until you don’t have it anymore, Joe thought to himself with a chuckle.
“Good thing you’re in good shape or your arms would be stiff and sore tomorrow,” Jane said. They shared a look and a smile. The world as they knew it might have ended, but life goes on. Life was what you made of it.
They were traveling at about twenty miles per hour. Two miles down the country road, Jim slowed down and stopped. Joe thought to himself, And you thought the steering was bad. Using power brakes without power was not an easy thing to do. He just barely managed to get his truck stopped without bumping into Jim’s old truck. Once Joe had the truck stopped, he was able to look around and see why Jim had stopped.
There was old Fred standing by his mail box. Jim got out of his truck walked over to him. Before he could say a word, old Fred said, “She’s suppose to be here with the mail at 10:30. Here it is, 11:15.” He was looking at his watch. “She’s forty-five minutes late. I tell you, when I ran the mail, I was never this late. Not ever. I made sure of it because people are always waiting anxiously for their mail. It’s important to be on time. People appreciate it when you do your job right and are on time. What’s wrong with this younger generation? Can’t they get anything right?”
Jim smiled at Fred. “Hey Fred, is your car running okay?”
Fred stared at Jim for a few moments like he lost his mind. Then Fred said, “Of course, my car is running fine, you damn fool. How do ya think I got it up here? You think I pushed it?” Jim smiled, thinking what a sight that would be. Seeing old Fred, who was eighty-one years old, pushing his car uphill using his cane. Jim laughed. Then he asked, “Have you tried to start your car since you’ve been waiting here?”
Jim sighed deeply. “Fred, could you please try to start your car?”
Fred looked at Jim strangely and said, “Why do you want me to?”
“To see if it will start, of course.”
“Why wouldn’t my car start?”
Jim was getting a little exasperated by this time and said, “Fred, would you please go try and start your car? I will explain after you try it, okay?”
Fred looked at Jim like he was dealing with a mentally defective person and said, “Okay, I’ll try to start my car.” He slowly walked over to his car and opened the door. He got in and sat down. He put the key in the ignition and turned. Nothing. No sound, no clicking, nothing.
Fred looked over at Jim. “What in the heck did you do to my car?”
Jim turned around and looked at Joe and Jane, sitting in their truck waiting, then turned back around and looked at Fred. Jim didn’t say anything for a few moments and Fred spoke up again. “Jim, what did you do to my car? You know I can’t afford another one. You had better fix it right now or I’ll get the Sheriff on you.”
Jim had his hopes dashed. He had hoped they had been wrong and what happened to their vehicles was just some bizarre, unexplainable thing. But this, this confirmed what they thought had happened. Jim started to feel sick to his stomach. He reached out his arm and braced himself on Fred’s car. His knees were feeling a little shaky.
Joe saw Jim reach out to grab Fred’s car. He turned to Jane and said, “Stay in the truck. I’ll see what has happened. No matter what, just stay in the truck.”
Jane said, “But this is just old Fred. He might need something after he is told about the EMP. He might have a heart attack or something.”
“I’ll call out to you if he needs your help all right?”
Jane looked at him. “Nothing will ever be the same again, will it?”
Joe reached out and caressed her face for a moment. “No, it won’t.” He got out of the truck and walked over to Jim. Fred was asking Jim if he was all right. Jim looked real pale and was just staring at the fender. Joe said, “Jim?” Joe said louder in a firmer voice, “Jim.”
He reached out and shook Jim’s shoulder. Jim looked at him. “What?”
Joe said, “Fred has been talking to you and you didn’t hear a word he said.”
Jim looked at Fred. “I’m sorry, Fred. I didn’t mean to ignore you. You just don’t understand yet about what‘s happened.”
“I know what happened. You did something to my car and now it won’t start. I’m going to call the Sheriff on you,” Fred declared.
Jim and Joe exchanged a look. Jim said, “Go ahead, Joe, maybe you’ll have better luck getting his attention and explaining what has happened then I’ve been able to.”
Joe turned to Fred. “Fred, my truck won’t start, either. All of Jim’s vehicles except this one won’t start. The power is out, too. Jim can’t get his generator to work. And his watch is dead. All electrical and computerized things have stopped working. We think an EMP has been set off. If it was an EMP that went off, we’re all in big trouble.”
Fred asked, “Did you say a TNT went off? Is that like a bomb? Are the Russians invading?”
“I said an EMP went off,” explained Joe.
“That‘s what I said, A TNT went off.”
Joe looked at Jim and then looked back at Fred and said, “I said an EMP went off. An EMP is an electronic magnetic pulse bomb. A high altitude nuclear bomb was set off. It fried all electrical circuitry. Nothing electronic will work. That’s why Jim’s old truck will work when your car won’t start.”
Fred said, “Oh, one of those. So, we don’t have any electricity and our vehicles won’t start.”
“Yes, one of those. And no, we don’t have any electricity.”
Fred asked, “Are the Russians invading us, do you think?”
“I don’t know if they are or not,” replied Joe.
Fred said, “When I was real young, we lived with no electricity, you know. I guess I’ll just have to live without it again.”
“That’s right, that’s the attitude to have,” said Joe.
“Fred, you live quite a ways back. Do you want me to give you a lift home before I tow Joe and Jane home?”
“Thank you, Jim. I would appreciate a ride back to my place. It would take me a long time to walk home these days. I’m not as young as I used to be, you know.”
Jim and Joe walked back to the trucks. Jim unhooked the chain from the back of his truck. He turned to Joe and said, “I’ll be right back as soon as I get old Fred home.”
“We’ll be right here waiting for you.” The two men smiled at each other.
Jim went over to old Fred and helped him get up into the truck. They drove away down the road. Jane got out and walked over to Joe. “How did he take it?” she asked.
“A lot better than any of us have. He said when he was younger he lived without electricity and can do it again. Not that he’s really going to have a choice in the matter,” Joe said.
“Good attitude to have.”
Joe smiled. “I said the exact same thing.” Joe grabbed her hand. “Let’s wait in the truck.” They walked towards the passenger side door and Joe opened it for her.
“Thank you, kind sir.”
Joe smiled and bowed. “You’re welcome, my lady.” Jane giggled and got into the truck. Joe walked around to the driver’s door and climbed in. Jane started to say something, but changed her mind and stopped. Joe was looking all around, on the alert. Now wasn’t the time to talk about things. Joe would just be distracted and this was not the time to have a serious conversation. Jane waited in silence. Joe would let her know if he saw something. He’d talk when he had something to say.
Jim’s truck rattled towards them. Joe looked over at Jane and saw that she was deep in thought. He could just imagine what her intelligent mind was coming up with. I bet she figures it out before too long. He said, “Jim’s back.” Jane looked out the windshield and saw Jim pulling up. Joe got out of the truck and waited for Jim to position the truck to reattach the tow chain. Joe called, “Everything go all right?”
“Yeah, I got him home and he was going on about needing some things from town. I told him I would be back tomorrow and see what I could do for him. Right now, I need to get you two home.”
“Thanks. I am kind of anxious to get there.”
“It’s not even noon yet and it has already been one hell of a long day, huh?” commented Jim.
“That’s an understatement, for sure.” The two men reattached the chain and then got into their trucks. They were on their way home at last. When they rounded the last bend in the road and saw their place, Joe was relieved. They made it. He let out a sigh in relief. Everything he needed was there. Not knowing that everything was undisturbed and safe was had really worried him. This is what he had been preparing for. Well, not this exactly, but he knew something was going to happen eventually. It had to because they had all been living on top of a house of cards that was gradually getting more and more unstable. It was just a matter of time before things started falling down around everyone.
They all got out. The men unattached the chain and Joe put it in the back of Jim’s truck. “Thank you for the ride home, Jim. I hope Marge is feeling better soon. Please keep in touch with us and let me know if there is anything I can do to help,” Jane said.
“You’re welcome. Marge will be all right. It was just a shock to her, you know. I’ll keep in touch, don’t you worry about that.”
Joe said, “Thanks Jim. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you. I owe you one, neighbor.” They shook hands, then Joe walked with Jim back to his truck. Jim opened the door and sat down. “You should go home and button everything up tight. It could get real nasty, real soon around here.”
“No way, I’m going into town and see what has happened. Maybe they have some news there. I’ll let you know what I find out.” Joe watched as Jim drove away. When he was out of sight, he went into the house.
Joe paced from one side of the kitchen to the other. He had kept all his emotions and feelings under control until now; he hadn’t wanted to scare everyone to death with the true reality of the situation they were in. He lifted the phone receiver and looked at it. Jane looked at him strangely and said, “Its dead, remember? Duh.”
He slammed the phone down. He yelled, his voice shrill, “I have to talk to Preston. I have to tell him The Shit Has Hit The Fan. That it has really happened. I need him here. Now.” He started pacing back and forth again. He stopped and turned to her and said in a very tight voice, “This is a Red Alert. This is no joke. I am not overreacting or anything like that. So get that out of your mind right now. You just don’t understand yet. But, I’m going to explain it to you. All it takes is one EMP to take out the whole United States. Just one. Some other country did this. It doesn’t even matter which one. But what it does mean is that we would have retaliated back with an EMP of our own. So we now have two countries without power. Do you think that it will end right there? No, it won’t. Everyone will get in on it. Any country that has EMPs will be taking this opportunity to retaliate against any country they have a grievance against. And the next thing you know, the whole damn world will be in darkness. Before this day is over, there probably won’t be a civilized nation left with power. Only things that have the proper shielding will still work, and let me tell you, that will be such a small amount that it isn’t even worth mentioning at all. The whole world will be in darkness by the end of this night.”
He paused for a few moments. “It means there is no stock market anymore. No credit cards, no bank cards, money means nothing now. What can people do with money when there are no banks? There will be no way to buy food or anything. Hell, the food can’t even be delivered to the cities now. No delivery trucks will be working. So what good is the money they have in their pockets, if there’s nothing to buy? Look at the big picture here. This is like dominoes. Everything is falling down. There is no way to even fly in care packages and food to the cities if it could be done. Airplanes don’t work anymore. Well, maybe Air Force One does. But that isn’t going to help us any. Can you imagine the riots? The chaos this is going to cause? I bet there was fighting everywhere on the freeways and highways after all the vehicles stopped working. People always have to find someone to blame. Look at all the cities that were already undergoing riots and fires and just plain down right chaos. All hell is breaking loose right now.
“But it is nothing compared to what is coming. What do you think is going to happen when the people understand that this can’t be fixed? That things aren’t going to get better? That there is no government left right now to help them? What are they going to do? And even if there was, they would have no way to help them. The shit has really hit the fan. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. This is it. There is no going back now that someone pushed the first red button.” He took a deep breath. “That is why I need Preston to get here now. In a few days, it might be too late for him to make it out of the city. Remember how quickly those other cities ran out of food? The stores were emptied out in one day. One day. And that was with the power working. Well, imagine what it will be like with no power, no vehicles working and no food.”
Jane got paled at the picture Joe was painting of the situation. She felt her stomach rolling. She was going to be sick. She had tears running down her face. “Oh my God, this is hell on earth,” she whispered.
Grid Down: Book One Reality Bites
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