April 15, 2013
I had been outside, working in my garden on a beautiful spring day. I had not a care in the world. Even though there was a worrisome, unnamed heaviness in the air . If you had told me of the coming trouble that this day would signify, I would have used my cell phone to call up the local loony bin and make a reservation for you. That was back when you had pocket access to speak to nearly anyone around the world. That was back when, you could get into a gas-powered car and go two miles to the local Wal-Mart and get food, clothing, and the latest electronics. That was back when electricity was plentiful, and you didn’t have to depend on sunlight to see where you were going. That was before the Goon squads began to gathering up my neighbors in the middle of the night. It seems like it was an eternity ago, but it has been only four years since we abandoned the cities, though the rural areas were not much better. If you didn’t know someone or have something to trade, you were considered the unwanted. Needless to say, the U.S. dollar was worthless. Food, weapons and medicines became the standard currency.
Farmers and ranchers defended the properties fiercely, the rule of law was undone, simple trespassing often led to murder. Looters were killed on sight. The doom-speakers and the survivalists would have boasted about their correct prediction the coming calamity, if they hadn’t been overrun by the “food stamp” hordes. The irony is that if they had kept their mouths shut, and gathered the food and supplies in secret, instead of selling it over the internet, they might have never come under attack. Even a stopped clock is right on time, twice a day. Television personality Glenn Beck was killed by an angry mob, after his security failed to keep the crowds at bay. The report of the attacks, was one of the last few reports broadcast over the airways before the power grid collapsed. So, April 15, 2013, became officially the last day of sanity in the modern world.
It all began in a place called Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates, (Saudi Arabia) with a perceived insult. The insult was a handshake that had been presented with a left hand, an insignificant incident to most of the world. But this handshake would topple the world’s most powerful governments. Some analyst have said that the handshake was the tip of the iceberg to the growing thousand-year long conflict. They say that it was the earthquake following the dispute that triggered the global chaos. Many others say that it was neither. It was just time for the teakettle to boil over, but whatever might have caused it, our history was re-shaped that day.
My wife had come home from work via the 7-Eleven getting some gas and I hoped, a 12 pack of beer. I was watching Entertainment Tonight on TV when she called out to me, as she came into the kitchen. ” Honey, turn it on the news! ” she exclaimed. She ran straight to the remote, before I could even get my feet off the couch. “There are long lines forming at the gas pumps, just like it did on 9-11! It look like the whole gas station staff is at work down there, and they say gas prices are tripling! I noticed that lines were forming at gas stations along the freeway as I was coming home from work and stopped at that 7-11 down the street from us to see what was happening! I tried calling your phone, but it took a while to get a dial tone and then you didn’t answer! Do you have gas in your truck?” “No, my truck uses diesel!” I replied in a somewhat sarcastic voice. “You know what I mean!” she said in an exasperated voice. “Is it full? It’s already six dollars a gallon now, and three times that is $18.00! If it needs fuel, you’d better go down and get it while you still can!” She switched the channel over to CNN, and drew my protest. “No fair ,that’s foul play! Now I ‘m going to miss what Justin Bieber said about Anne Frank.” I said throwing my hands up. She glared at me with her signature “I’m real close to throwing this remote at you” look. The news announcer was narrating a scene that showed people in the Middle east loading shells into cannon and firing AK 47′s rifles. Both of us watched in silence as the melee played out on the 120 inch screen. I’m sure that both of us thought at that time, that this would be another short-lived crisis, much like the one following September 11, and all the other minor scares that followed it. We both thought wrong, as did the rest of the world.
It became apparent to everyone that this crisis was not going to go away quietly, like it had the times before. The stores were boarded up after their inventories were exhausted, the words “NOTHING ELSE LEFT TO STEAL” was painted on the ply board covering. Trucking industry refused to deliver because of the skyrocketing price of fuel and the lack of security. In the first few days, semi-trucks were being hijacked all over the country. Fuel truck drivers were being forced to the side of the road and the drivers executed. It simply was not safe to haul anything, even with a police escort, starving people would resort to anything to find food. The internet and cell phones fell first, followed in quick secession by the electric power, natural gas and water. And even though martial law had been declared, it wasn’t long until the soldiers assigned to protect order, decided to gather for themselves. They became the looters, the hoarders, and the well-armed bands of roving warlords, gathering people in the night to use as slaves. It was if someone had left wolves to guard the sheep.
Three weeks out, even the most beautiful cities became transformed into Mad Max’s worst nightmare. Yes…..about three weeks out, I would say that our digital world was in its final death throes. Right before we abandoned the city, I traded my sequestered neighbor’s Dalmatians for a pickup trailer and mule. I not sure if they wanted the dogs for breeding or for food, but I needed the mule and trailer to try to get out of the city. The roads are filled with disabled cars and other debris, even if you had a vehicle, there is nowhere to drive. That is, unless you had a tank or bulldozer to push the refuse out of your path. There was something that the doctors had called a pandemic, that swept through right after the collapse of civilization. Killing a bunch of people, many of whom were killed just trying to get to the hospital, and being mistaken for looters. I saw most of these tragedies first hand, many others were I heard about over the radio. It was the regular AM/FM radio at first, then shortwave and C.B. radios later, as the stations emergency power gave up the ghost. I’m glad I held on to my dad’s old C.B. radio, it was the only thing in his life, he was right about. Nearly everything is pretty much like it was in the late 1800′s now. With pockets of technology scattered here and there. Slavery in some areas, indentured servitude in others, but no outright lawlessness anywhere. In any given group of survivors, there are six women to one man. This have changed the dynamics of “families” every where. Most of the imbalance in the genders was mostly because of the fighting after the SHTF. There was always a disparity because the women out birthed the men, and lived longer than their male counterparts.
Some people said that we lost over half the world’s population, in the first six months. Most of the losses were from the so-called “civilized” countries, due to the pandemic. The underdeveloped nations seemed to weather the storm a little better than most, I’d guess because the loss of comfort level was far less profound with them.
Well , it has began to warm up a bit, and time to get back to work in the aquaponics gardens. These dog-gone early spring mornings are a kind of a mixed blessing. The sunshine is beautiful, but there’s that winter wind blowing out the North, that keeps it a bit chilly. My Grandma used to call it ice-cold sunshine, and I’d reckon it’s a good name for the times we are living in, here in 2017……………….