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!