Monday, July 15, 2019
The Porter’s house was even calmer than the Davis’. Despite having five extra little girls plus Eddy, everything was going as well as could be expected. Jill was getting the children back to sleep, and Bob had just finished sealing off the house. Thank God the baby did not wake up. Based on his training Bob was confident they were safe from conventional fall-out, and he had done all he could to safeguard his family and little guest.
As he was taping up the front windows, he saw the majority of his neighbors out in the cold getting into their cars and driving off. Just after he got the last window sealed on the back of the house, he saw it. Gray ash falling from the sky very light, but definitely there it was against the newly fallen snow. He had no actual data to go on, but he reasoned that with the wind uncharacteristically, coming off the lake to the Southwest, the fallout was coming from downtown Chicago. Not good, he thought … not good at all.
They were having another winter like they had in 2014, cold and snowy as hell. The last 10 had all broken records for being warm, so it was a shock to people who were not used to the way winter used to be. Hardly anyone doubted climate change anymore. The few last deniers, who were being paid by the dying fossil-fuel industry, were on the old Internet and cable news shows once again lying through their teeth for money.
Somehow the Porter home still had power, and they were staying warm. He guessed the wind generators just out of sight from Chicago on Lake Michigan were running at full blast. The wind was blowing quite well outside, and he knew it was howling on the lake.
He actually had two pallets full of bottled water that he was going to deliver to the Ice Cycle Bike Race scheduled for next Saturday on Lake Michigan’s frozen surface. The things people think of to do. Exercising longer than to keep in shape, was stupid in his mind and a waste of time. That race is not happening now, he thought.
He moved both pallets of water a couple of gallons at a time from his heated garage down to the basement where it would always be 50 degrees or so despite what was going on outside. With the wind farms offshore their power was cheap, he could afford to have a heated garage.
They were in relatively good shape if nothing else happened. He managed to get a text message through and a reply from all the parents of the little girls but then nothing since. His radio died, and it used the old-fashioned kind of batteries and not the LiFePo that everything else used nowadays. These types of cells powered both of their cars and were why he still had power. The vehicles could be used to power the house in emergencies.
Battery technology had really taken a leap in 2018 when that single Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada started pouring out more lithium batteries per annum than had previously been produced worldwide; just one factory.
Time to go to bed. His mind was wandering.
Jill’s mind was running on overload, but she kept it from showing. She knew that if she panicked, the kids would all feel it, and then all hell would break loose. She had to trust Bob, and thankfully that was easy to do. He was messy and sometimes pretty thoughtless, but there was nobody better in a pinch than good old Bob. He had taken every course on disaster management from the old FEMA and now the new NEM, all via the Chipnet and the aging Internet.
Both he and his wife had implanted Chips, and they both loved them. It really helped keep their sexual drives alive. The most popular app on the Chipnet was one that basically fooled your brain and made your partner look like anyone you wanted them to. The inventors of the Chip must have known that it would be used for this kind of thing. Bob had been making love to the old movie star Jennifer Lopez (as she looked in 2009) for the last three weeks. Jill had been loving it up with that new heartthrob Kid Karsten. It wasn’t cheating. They both knew exactly who they really loved. It just kept things fresh, and boy did it work.
Anyway, enough of that, she thought, time to concentrate. We have plenty of water. Martha will take some extra care, but nothing they couldn’t and hadn’t handled before. They had baby-sat for her when El and Brian had gone on their second honeymoon. Because of the Chip, she and Bob never had to leave the house again to keep love alive. El and Brian were kind of old-fashioned, which was why they liked the Porters so much. Boy, the thoughts that run through your head at a time like this.
Back to Martha. She would need that medicine that keeps her lungs clear, and that could be a problem. They only were given a three-day supply which should have been enough. We’ll work on that challenge later, she thought.
The Chips were not working either. They lasted a bit longer than the cell phones and fiber optics, but not much longer. Bob had been able to connect with Brian and the other parents’ phones or Chips for a brief time, but then it had gone dead. She missed it already. Chip withdrawal she surmised. She had downloaded an article on the subject and thought about it or placed it in her Memory, as they say.
Bob had mentioned that many of the neighbors were panicking and doing the worst thing you could do: going outside while the fallout was its most deadly. Many would be dead soon if the experts were right. She hoped the Davis’ were smart. They had the old Internet, but not the Chipnet, so maybe they had time to tap into it and get the facts about the fallout.
That was one of the coolest things about the Chipnet. Everything on it was vetted and proven science, or it was not allowed on. Unlike the old Internet; the scientific community, backed by the Federal Government, made sure everything was factual. There were many checks and balances, so it was sometimes very slow to have the newest ideas placed on the Chipnet; However, if it was a regulated fact or vetted theory, it eventually made it on.
The ChipApp Bob and she used to spice up their sex life was a sanctioned App, so there were some other very exciting things in the Chipnet besides science as well. I guess the folks that studied human sexuality knew their stuff because it sure worked for them.
The science was always exact, and you could count on that. In this case, Bob had all sorts of knowledge about fallout and dirty bombs in his Memory and that was why they were not going anywhere. They would shelter in place until told otherwise.
Sunday, May 19, 2019
“Hell NO!" Ellen bellowed. “We’re getting in our car and getting the hell out now!”
“JEN, YOU GOT YOUR CLOTHES ON YET! MOVE IT JACK!” She yells as she gathers up her clothes and rushes around the room.
This went on for 10 more minutes, which is usually how long it took Ellen to come to the correct conclusion and luckily, true to form she did. The next two hours were spent sealing up the house. They almost forgot the fireplace, but remembered; they hoped, in time. There was no news on any of the live half-hourly reports, just the same-old instructions. They carefully drained half of the water out of the water heater and left the rest for safe keeping. They used every pot, pan, pitcher, plastic tub and all they could find. Luckily, they had a 60-gallon model. Ellen liked long hot showers. He had almost gotten one of those
In the past, both Brian and Ellen were considered “black, But both were raised by fathers of northern European heritage, and Ellen’s mother African-American. And in his case both his parents were labeled “white.” They both had wonderful childhoods growing up in diverse neighborhoods, he in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and her in a rich suburb of Detroit, Michigan. She was biological, and he was adopted. The point being neither of them really grew up with open prejudice. They were for all intents and purposes, just your average middle-class Americans who happen to have some visages of a past African heritage.
Ellen was very black considering her father was white as snow. This still caused comment around the dinner table by nasty relatives, even in this day and age. Her parents knew, and more importantly her father knew, that she was his. Quite frankly, if you changed the color of her skin, she looked quite a bit like her dad, and he was as handsome a son of a gun as she was beautiful.
Martha was as pretty as you could be. She just couldn’t feel or move anything below her shoulders. However, she could use those muscles to move prosthetic arms and hands. It was amazing what they could do in 2024. Just yesterday her own arms and hands were being fitted for a powered exoskeleton. When she finally got inside the “skeleton” it would let her move unaided.
When she became of age, she would have a chip implanted, enabling her to run and jump with the best of them, at least in her own mind. She was addicted to the 3D virtual glasses her dad broke down and got her.
Her parents had not forgotten about her being at the Porters but there was nothing they could do but wait it out. Brian and Ellen were very confident that the Porters were taking good care of Martha and the other children at the sleepover. Eddy despite his stated preference for other boys, loved Martha and would wait on her hand and foot if she let him.
Jill and Bob Porter were the absolute best people for Martha to be with for now beside her own family. Jill was a registered nurse, and Bob a paramedic. Martha was in good
Monday, April 22, 2019
He was awakened first by a very loud and far away explosion. The second time it was the sirens. These were not so far away.
His sleep-drugged mind started to grasp the reality of what was happening, and it didn't like what it became aware of.
The tornado warning sirens for God’s sake! Why the hell were they doing going off at 2:36 am? It was February. He didn’t think there had ever been a tornado in February in Downers Grove or Downers Grave as some jokingly called it.
Damn that siren just keeps going and going.
Ellen rolled over from her side of the bed and punched him mumbling that he had better turn on the radio or TV and find out what was going on. Brian was going to ignore her when Jennifer; his six-year-old came in and jumped in bed with them whining that she was scared, and the sirens were too loud. Within seconds, Jack came running as well. He was
Jennifer was all elbows and knees. She was very thin yet athletic and took after her mother. The former Ellen Ryan was a college athlete in two sports, volleyball and soccer, and Jennifer would excel as well; he was sure. Jack was all boy but did not have the killer instinct you need to excel. He was just a good kid and never gave anyone any trouble and could keep himself occupied for hours with his toys.
Martha was at a sleep over at the Porters across town. She was 9 and very social. She was their first child and was adopted. She was a quadriplegic. The rest of the family was biological. Hopefully, the Porters were taking good care of her and their other six girls and Eddy.
Eddy was a 9-year-old boy who was obsessed with his neighbor, Martha. He would not leave her side. Hence, he too was on the, otherwise all girl sleep over. .
His women (please don’t tell anyone that he thought of them as HIS women) were always throwing and hitting things with sticks and bats and breaking things. He spent most of his early life fixing the stuff
Brian stumbled down to the living room and tried that one and then to the den. Nothing was working. He didn’t expect the 3D to work, but was hoping for good old 2D at least.
The freaking siren was still going off. They were only four blocks from it. He remembered that he had a Red Cross labeled emergency radio that he bought when they first adopted Martha. It was like Fibber Magee’s Closet in the den storage, but he found it under the back packs. It had a built-in generator that you cranked if you didn’t have working batteries. There was no commotion upstairs, so Ellen must have used some of her magic to keep them all under control and feeling safe. She was amazing at that.
He started cranking until he got tired and turned it on and started to tune through the stations. Radio pretty much disappeared as a medium. Not even talking heads were on it now as everyone who wanted that kind of thing had their Chips or Smart Glasses and with those, you could get all you wanted from anywhere in the world
The totally annoying sound of the Emergency Alert System was just finishing when he finally got a signal, and the robot voice was coming on.
“This is the Federal Emergency Alert System
For the foreseeable future, everyone who lives within 30 miles of the Chicago Loop, is ordered to “shelter in place." Stay in your homes and allow the first responders to attend to emergencies.
“As a precaution, plan to stay in your homes for the next 72 hours. Seal all the windows and doors with an airtight seal such as plastic bags or blankets. Stay inside and wait for further instructions. Seal your living space from outside contamination. Do not go outside.
“If you cannot
“If possible shelter in a room that contains a water supply. Your hot-water heater tank is a good source for water. Turn off your water supply from the inside. Do not go outside. Drain your hot-water heater and use that water for consumption for the next three days. Ration it carefully, use it only for drinking and wait for further instructions.
“Special precautions are needed if you have gone outside within the last 30 minutes and are in an area that is within the contaminated zone. Once again, this is defined as anyone currently within 30 miles of downtown Chicago. If you have been outside, you must separate yourself from the rest of your household.
“You have likely been contaminated by radioactivity and will put others in danger if they come in contact or close proximity. Radioactive particles can be airborne and if ingested or breathed into the lungs, they may be harmful.
“Fallout will adhere to your clothes and even skin. You must avoid all contact, including airborne, with your other household members…”
The radio faded, and Brian started cranking again.
What the hell is going on, he thought. They still haven’t said what happened. I guess it involves radioactivity. His mind was
“Three: Collect and save your water for drinking only.
“Four: Wait for the all clear or further instructions before leaving shelter.
“Five: Do not attempt to self-evacuate at this time. The outside temperature is 13 degrees and expected to be colder tomorrow and in the minus range on Friday.
“Six: Nuclear fallout is only dangerous if breathed in or ingested and has a half-life of several days. This means that the longer you wait and shelter in place the safer you will be.
“The authorities are doing all we can under the circumstances. Once again, shelter in place and do not go outside. This includes the metro Chicago area and surrounding communities. Multiple explosions have been reported, and some have caused the spread of nuclear fall-out.
“Once again, stay inside and tape up your windows and doors with duct tape and plastic sheets or cut garbage bags into sheets. Seal all your windows and doors.
“There will be another transmission in 30 minutes at 3:00 am Central Standard time. There are no regular broadcasts at this time. This message will repeat for the next half hour.”
Well, he didn’t need to hear that again. What the hell was he going to tell Ellen! He had to get to work and fast. He ran upstairs trying to picture how he was going to break the news. Ellen was the type of person who started out saying” no” until she thought about it. Once she had time to digest information, she was as logical as can be but her initial reaction was almost always no and sometimes hell no!
Billy Gianna took his last bite of a Butter Burger when he was impaled by 103 plastic straws driven into his body at the speed of sound. We mention Billy not only for the fact that his death was unusual, even for an atomic blast. He was killed by ten well placed plastic straws thrust into his body by a nuclear wind. He too stayed alive long enough to comprehend the pain and his own mortality.
Like Megan, he lasted close to a minute and looked on in fascination and revulsion at the ripped apart mess his body had become.
You see; Billy was an exercise nut, gym rat and tri-athlete. How his body looked, and how he could make it look better, consumed most of his waking hours and at least three hours a night of dreams. He exercised over four hours a day.
Now he looked in growing disgust at the bleeding pin cushion his body had become. To make matters worse, one straw drove deep into his right eye and through to his brain. While the other eye was awash in blood from three other straws that had dug gaping grooves in his scalp but failed to penetrate his skull.
Billy hated blood and, in particular, his own. He suffered from
It was demonstratively less upsetting than having your lower half disintegrate before your eyes, but not by much.
Billy too would be remembered for a magazine spread.