AFTER THE DUST SETTLED (Countdown to Armageddon Book 2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
AFTER THE DUST SETTLED

 

 

Darrell Maloney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2014 by Darrell Maloney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Recap of Book 1 of This Series,

 

COUNTDOWN TO ARMAGEDDON

 

     Scott Harter was nothing special. An ordinary guy living in the suburbs with a typical family and a dog named Duke.

     If anything set Scott apart from everybody else, it was his extraordinary luck. All his life, he seemed to be in the right place at the right time. He’d started his business at just the rig
ht moment, getting in early on what would become a booming self storage market. He seemed to know when and how to play the stock market so that his money grew at a steady pace.

     And he took most of it out of the market to invest in real estate. Just before the market took a huge downturn in 2007.

     It was also his good luck that drove him to dig inside a storage locker when its renter defaulted on his contract.

     And maybe just a little bit of curiosity as well.

     What he found in the locker didn’t make much sense at first. Some old maps of the heavens. A lot of literature about the Mayans. And a journal, left behind by an old college professor who seemingly vanished from the face of the earth.

     Scott read the journal. And the more he read, the more concerned he got.

     “The Mayans never said the world was going to end,” the old professor wrote. “They said that December 21, 2012 started a new era. An era they called ‘the last period of progress.’”

     The implications were worrisome, and drove Scott to investigate the clues the mysterious professor had left behind.
He’d noted that the Mayans had identified every one of the planets and all their moons, even though they had no telescopes. The Mayans learned to predict earthquakes and tidal waves. Modern scientists still couldn’t do that, even with all their knowledge and fancy equipment.

     And then Scott found the answer he’d been looking for. It turned out the Mayans could also predict solar flare activity. They discovered that solar storms, like most other things in the universe, run in cycles. Just as earth had seasons of increased storm activity, so did the sun.

     But where earth has a hurricane season each year, the sun’s storms happened less frequently. Every two hundred years, give or take a few.

     The professor noted that in 1820, a mysterious thing happened on a global scale.

     Millions of people around the world suddenly felt nauseous and disoriented. Many of them threw up or fainted. Farm animals lost their balance and fell over.

     Doctors at the time had no answers for the malady. But it only seemed to last for a few hours, and left no long term effects. So it went down in history as one of those things man just wasn’t meant to understand.

     The Mayans also foresaw the coming of technology. Archaeologists had deciphered Mayan hieroglyphics that spoke of machines which allowed man to travel about without the aid of animals. They even described airships and radio waves.

     And the Mayans seemed to understand somehow that the reason the 1820 event
would cause no real harm was because there were no powered machines.

     But during the “last period of progress,” there would be plenty of them.

     And just as the Mayans had seen the planets and their moons without the aid of telescopes, they also knew, beyond all reason, that the cyclic solar activities around the year 2020, give or take a few years, would cause unfathomable damage.

     But not to people. The people might get sick or dizzy. That would be a minor inconvenience.

     The machines, on the other hand, would take the big hit. For when the massive solar flares sent electromagnetic pulses streaming toward the earth at half a million miles an hour, it would affect anything electric. Or electronic. And while humans and other mammals might throw up or feel faint, the machines would be shorted out.

     Forever.

     But Scott did his homework, and his research. He discovered that scientists had long before developed something called a Faraday cage, which had the capability of protecting electronics and electric items from the electromagnetic pulses, or EMPs.

     And he figured out how to build modified versions of the Faraday cages.

     Scott knew that when the EMPs bombarded the earth, everything with circuits and batteries would cease to function. All the vehicles on the roads would stop dead in their tracks. Airplanes would fall from the sky. The entire world would experience an immediate blackout.

     People would wonder why their televisions and lights didn’t work. They’d try to call the power companies to complain. But their cell phones wouldn’t work either. They’d get into their cars and their cars wouldn’t start.

     And the world would quickly descend into chaos.

     It was an ugly vision.

     But with the mysterious professor’s notes and the research Scott did at the library, he had the tools he needed to prepare for the inevitable. He had the know-how and the drive. What he didn’t have was the time.

     A big problem, as Scott saw it, was that the Mayans weren’t very specific. The professor said that the solar storms came
about
every two hundred years. He’d commented in his notes that it was akin to predicting on which day the first snowstorm of the winter might come. It was obviously coming. But pinning it down far ahead of time was just a little bit harder.

     Once the window opened on December 21, 2012, it might be a day before the EMPs hit. Or it might be several years.

     Scott had been a pessimist pretty much his entire life. So he did what was prudent. He hoped for the best. But he expected the worst.

     He enlisted the help of his girlfriend, Joyce, and borrowed from the bank to purchase a section of land in the hill country above
San Antonio. Far enough away from the city to be safe from the turmoil that would engulf the urban areas. And rural enough to be able to grow crops and raise livestock.

     For the better part of two years, the pair worked against the clock, praying each day that the EMPs would hold off a little longer, until they were finished.

     Finally, their compound was ready to occupy. They’d prepared a large field for growing crops. Enlarged a small playa lake and diverted a stream to fill it; then stocked it with fish.

     They’d built a tall security fence around most of the compound, to hide the fact that they were keeping cattle, pigs, chickens and rabbits on the inside.

     And most importantly, Scott built a huge Faraday cage, the size of a two car garage. Inside the cage he’d placed the small things they’d need to carry on the lives they’d become accustomed to. The television sets and microwaves and video games.

     And the important things, too. Batteries. Spare parts to get the vehicles running again. Spare pumps and transformers and surveillance cameras.

     On the day the EMPs came, Joyce and the rest of their small group were all in San Antonio, ninety miles away from their safe haven. Everyone except Scott, who was still at the compound.

     It was a school day, and Scott’s boys were in class when the lights went out.

     They were well versed on what to do. Scott had drilled them many times. They each removed a black backpack from their lockers and headed for their house in the suburbs. On foot.

     Inside the backpacks were water and food for their journey, and a tiny Faraday box containing a walkie talkie and batteries.

     The boys’ mother Linda was sitting in traffic when her car died. She looked around at dozens of other motorists getting out of their cars and cursing. Then raising their hoods and scratching their heads. And she noticed that the stop lights were no longer working. Neither was the marquee outside a movie theater she’d been reading a few moments before.

     Joyce, Scott’s girlfriend, walked out of her darkened office just in time to see a commercial airliner fall from the sky.

     They all knew what had just happened. And they knew what they had to do.

     Coming from all different directions, the group gathered at Scott’s home in north
San Antonio.

     And they had an unexpected guest. Scott’s oldest son brought his girlfriend, Sara.

     “Her parents are in St. Louis,” he’d explained. “I couldn’t leave her all alone to fend for herself. She wouldn’t make it.”

     The group welcomed Sara as one of their own. But Linda, the boys’ mother and Scott’s ex-wife, could see that Sara had a secret she was keeping.

     Scott, meanwhile, had removed a four wheel drive utility vehicle from his Faraday barn and was high-tailing it south, following a string of high tension power lines that would never work again.

     He was ninety miles away, and wouldn’t make it until after nightfall.

     Once the group was together in the city, they spent the next day preparing for their long journey back to the compound. Knowing it was too dangerous to travel during the day, they napped and waited for the darkness.

     When night fell the second night after the blackout, the riots started all over the city.

     But this group of six, and a black lab named Duke, were headed out, slowly working their way north to the compound. Traveling in a group slowed them down. It took two full nights to get there, but when the sun broke over the horizon at the end of that second night, they were safe.

     The world around them was going mad. In the cities, people were outraged at the electric companies for not having the power back on. The water was no longer flowing, and people were getting desperately thirsty. They were angry and looking for someone to blame.

     The vehicles weren’t running any more, and the streets were littered with abandoned cars and trucks.

     Even the police and fire crews were helpless, and having to resort to riding commandeered bicycles to help those they could get to.

     All the ugliness of mankind came out. The looting started, and then the violence. Buildings were set on fire and cars were overturned. The decent people holed themselves up in their houses. The bad roamed the streets, looking for whatever they could plunder.

     At the compound, the group of six was safe. But there was a lot to be done.

 

 

And now, Part 2 of the series,

 

AFTER THE DUST SETTLED

 

 

-1-

 

     It was just past sunrise when they’d pulled the two Gators into the compound. And they were exhausted. Scott ached over the entire length of his body, from sitting on that damn seat, creeping along at three miles an hour so their engines wouldn’t attract the wrong attention.

     He was stiff, and sore, and beat. But he couldn’t go to bed. Not yet.

     It had been two full nights and a day since he’d left the compound. The livestock needed to be fed. The damage needed to be assessed. He had never really been sure what kind of damage the EMPs would cause to his small wind turbine. Or to the array of solar panels on the roof of the main house. He knew the turbine’s generator would be shorted out. And that wasn’t a problem. He had a spare in the Faraday barn. What he wasn’t sure of was the wiring. If the wiring wa
s fried, he’d be hurting. It would take several days to do a rewire. And that would mean several days before his elaborate system of surveillance cameras would be working again.

     He fed the horses and the cattle. The pigs saw him coming and raised a ruckus, chastising him for leaving them so long without food. He hated pigs to begin with. They were a pain in the ass. But he couldn’t live the rest of his days without bacon. So the pigs were a necessary evil.

     The chickens and the rabbits were next. The rabbits were caged separately. Three males in one cage, three females in the other. Tomorrow, he’d set them all free within a large pen in the back of the compound, so they could start doing what rabbits do best. But he’d have to keep a watchful eye on them, until Duke was used to them.

     Duke had never been around rabbits. And he was as gentle as a newborn baby, so Scott was pretty certain he wouldn’t jump over the low fence and kill them. At least not intentionally. Duke was five years old, but still full of puppy. He loved to play. If the rabbits were in an
y danger from old Duke, it was the chance of being nuzzled to death.

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