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Authors: K.D. Kinney

Enduring the Crisis

BOOK: Enduring the Crisis
4.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Amber Dusk Publishing
Boise, ID

ENDURING THE CRISIS Copyright © 2016

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Tammy checked the time on her phone. It was one of those evenings where there was too much going on and not enough time. She was lucky she made it to the cannery when she did to pick up all the buckets she ordered after she lucked out on the killer deal on the stack of rubber trashcans and totes she bought at the overstock store. They would be great for storing some of their emergency supplies that were overrunning the garage or just plain useful in an emergency. Now if only the stoplights would cooperate. Boise stoplights were the worst. She was already late to pick up Mae from school and had to swing by in the ancient beast suburban to pick her up.

“Hi, Mom. Why’d you bring old Betsy?” Mae asked as she climbed in the front seat. The ten-year-old actually loved old Betsy because it didn’t have an air bag and when they were close to home, she could sit in the front.

“It was either get you now or make you wait while I swapped cars at home.” She checked the time again. There never was enough time during the day anymore. She was going to have to miss Zoe’s volleyball game. Her phone dinged and she handed it to Mae.

“Tell me what it says.” They were stuck in the traffic from the elementary school and it didn’t help that the high school was so close that all the teenagers were heading home too. “Why do both schools get out at the same time?”

“Charlie says she wants to go to the store before band practice.”

“For what?” The light was still red so she took the phone from Mae and called Charlie. “You don’t have enough time to make it to the store and be back at practice before it starts.”

“I do too. I just need something to drink. It’s going to be hot and the store is closer than the house,” Charlie argued, which is what the sixteen-year-old loved to do with her mother all the time.

“What’s that in the sky, Mom?” Mae asked.

Tammy held up a hand for her to wait a minute while she finished talking to Charlie before the light changed. “Fine. Be careful. It’s crazy busy all over.” When she looked up, a yellow and orange glow shot across the sky off in the distance illuminating the clouds as it spread. “That’s weird.”

“Mom, I’m always…” The phone call dropped and a horrible static screech hurt her ear.

Tammy looked at her phone. It was dead. “What the heck?” She tried the button on the side to turn it back on.

“Where’d the music go?” Mae fiddled with the dial on the radio. “Mom!” she yelled right as the cars passing by in the other lane crashed into each other. Transformers on the power poles exploded with fireworks and showered sparks all over the place.

“What’s going on?” Tammy couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The orange in the sky turned to a bright glowing yellow, more cars around them crashed into one another. One almost veered into the suburban. She couldn’t go anywhere while stationary vehicles surrounded her at the stoplight. The taillights on the cars in front of hers went out but the suburban was still running.

“It can’t be.” The fear from the crashing car nearly hitting hers turned to immediate dread, tightening her gut. “I need to find all your sisters now.” She gripped the steering wheel.

People climbed out of their cars totally confused as to why everything had crashed or stalled. No one seemed to understand what was going on. However, she knew why her vehicle was one of the only ones on the road that hadn’t quit. The old beast was pre-electronics. No computer components. And she had a pretty good idea what had happened and she’d never been more thankful that they owned the old suburban.

It had to be an E.M.P. event. Whether it was from the sun or a nuclear attack, she had no idea. But it didn’t matter. She needed to get her girls and go home.

Charlie was closest but the one thing that was going to make getting to her impossible was the number of stranded cars on the road. No one bothered to pull over or get out of the way. She chewed on her lip. Charlie was the other way, back at the high school, and her daughter’s car probably wasn’t going to start. Fortunately, Zoe and Holly were at the junior high and could walk home. But would they have enough sense to figure out they needed to hurry home?

What really worried her was Amanda was at the university downtown. It wasn’t that far to drive but her car was probably disabled too. It would take some time for her to get home on foot. Trying to drive the suburban down there to find her daughter would prove to be a bigger challenge and possibly a waste of time with no way to contact her. Her oldest was eighteen and old enough to take care of herself though. She could probably get home safely on the greenbelt along the river.

“Mom, what’s happening? Why have all those cars crashed?”

“Something has happened that has probably fried the computers in their cars. We’re lucky. Old Betsy is so old, she doesn’t have any computer parts. We need to go back and find Charlie before we go home. Her car is probably dead too.”

Mae’s eyes were wide as she took in the chaotic scene around them. Smoke billowed out from under the hood of one of the crashed cars in the middle of the intersection. People gathered around to help the ones in the wrecked cars. Fortunately, everyone else had been driving slow enough that the damage was minimal.

She turned the suburban into the other lane where she had some room. Every person that stood on the road outside a disabled car looked at her in stunned disbelief.

“Excuse me, excuse me, sir. Don’t mind me in my perfectly fine running car. Just going to claim my kid. Stupid beast of a car. Hard to drive through this.” The progress was slow as she drove up past the elementary school, weaving around the stalled cars and the people in the road. She pretended as if she didn’t notice when they glared at her or when they flipped her off because she was the only moving car on the road.

“Why are they so rude?” Mae asked.

“Because they’re jealous, I guess. Why don’t you read a book or look at something so you don’t have to see them be unkind.” Something hit the back of the suburban. “Okay, that was rude.” Tammy sped up to get away from the jerks.

She drove through the school parking lot, full of teenagers milling around and lost as to why nothing in the parking lot was working. She reached the band room and all the kids were standing outside the door.

“You see Charlie yet?” she asked Mae.

The little girl rose up higher in her seat, scanning the group of kids. “There.”

Sure enough, Charlie’s red hair reflected sunlight unlike anyone else in the crowd. Tammy pulled up as close as she could to the mob.

“Charlie!” she yelled.

“Why is your car the only one running?” one of the kids asked.

“It’s old.” She waved at her daughter. “Come on, kiddo. We need to hurry home.” Tammy’s anxiety was building. She desperately wanted to be back at the house and check on her other two. Hopefully Amanda had a clue that she needed to hurry home and was on her way. She was the most aware of what a disaster an E.M.P. event would create.

“My phone died when I was talking to you. I wasn’t trying to be rude.” Charlie leaned on the window.

“I know. Get your things. We need to go home. In fact, get whatever you have here, everything that belongs to your in your locker, and hurry. It might be some time before you return to school. Really hurry.”

Charlie frowned and was about to argue. Why were sixteen-year-olds so obnoxious?

“You know what this is.” Tammy whispered and glared at her daughter for choosing to be obstinate right then when there was no time. “Think about it. We talk about this sort of thing when I bring home food storage and we make our seventy-two hour kits. This is what we’ve been preparing for. Don’t chat with your friends, get your crap, say some really quick goodbyes, and be back in this car in less than ten minutes.”

Charlie’s face turned white as she nodded and did as she was told.

“Mom.” Mae looked at her mom with fear all over her face.

“Yes, babe?” Tammy softened her voice.

“This is scary, isn’t it?”

“A little bit.” She gripped the steering wheel tight again and did her best to smile to reassure her daughter. She had no idea if they’d be okay so she didn’t want to scare her youngest while thoughts about what they might be in for raced through her mind. “How about you climb in the backseat before Charlie comes back?”

“What about Daddy?” Mae asked as she tossed her backpack over the seat.

“I don’t know. I can’t call him and find out if everything is working in Alaska. We just have to make the best of this situation on our own. We’ve practiced so…” She trailed off lost in her own thoughts about how easy it had been to pretend. It wasn’t pretend this time. As prepared as she was, she had never really wanted to experience the day when the grid actually went down.


Every day Ben had been away from his family and worked in the remote fishing village near the mouth of the Togiak River was getting harder. Especially when he knew winter was about to arrive in the Alaskan Bush which meant he was close to wrapping up the job so he could return home. He’d never been so homesick in his life.

Being next to the ocean wasn’t easy. It was always cold and windy. Far too much rain and it never felt like summer had actually come at all. He missed his home in Idaho so much that it was starting to show as his patience wore thin with the few people he had left on his crew.

“Johnny, what’s the deal? Why’d you stop?” He called to the kid running the excavator.

“Look, boss.”

Ben squinted at the erratic billowing trail that formed behind several planes streaking across the sky. That was something he had never seen in all the months he’d been there. It wasn’t really a chem trail behind any plane he’d ever seen. He leaned back in his truck and suddenly knew what kind of trail it was.

“Have you ever seen that before, boss?” Johnny asked.

“I was going to ask you the same thing.” He checked his phone. He tried to Google ‘Missiles in Alaska’. ‘Nuclear warheads in Alaska’. Nothing was working. But it was always sketchy internet on his phone. This time was strange though. Or maybe it was the feeling of dread gripping his heart. It had been bothering him how long he had been out of the loop on current events around the nation and the world. Perhaps all his prepper mentality was getting the best of him.

He called his boss in Anchorage. “Hey, Dave. Is there something going on? I saw some sort of missiles streaking across the sky moments ago.”

“Really? I’ll check the news. Hold on.”

Ben sat on the phone a really long time as he waited. It seemed Dave forgot that he was waiting for him. He could hear his boss talking excitedly to other people in the office.

“Dave! Hey, what’s up?” Ben tried yelling in the phone. He didn’t dare hang-up so he listened to see if he could hear what they were saying. It seemed like forever before Dave remembered that Ben was still waiting for him.

“It is speculation at the moment but it sounds like there were nuclear warheads launched from the North Koreans or China. They don’t know for sure who it was just yet. Our defense system was activated and we took the ones out that were headed for us. It sounds like there were a few that hit the lower forty-eight, though. They took out the grid, Ben. Power and communications are out across the whole country and the southern part of Canada. I can’t believe this.”

Ben blinked several times in shock. “How do I get home?” he asked.

“I don’t know. Planes are grounded. We don’t know how long yet. You can’t fly out, that’s for sure.” Dave covered the mouthpiece on his phone as he spoke to someone. All Ben could hear was muffled discussion before he spoke to Ben again. “Let us figure out what’s going on. We need to get all of you guys back to Anchorage no matter what while this crisis is going on. You don’t want to be stuck out there if food gets scarce. At least the Yupiks know how to survive.”

“I have to get home.” Ben clenched his hand to stop the trembling.

“Yes, first things first. We need to get you to out of the bush and back to civilization. I’ll call you back as soon as I can.”

“Thanks.” Ben hung up and watched the sky as the missile trail slowly evaporated. He knew before he tried calling home that it would be pointless. He tried anyway. The call was dropped. He tried a few more times. The same.

“Hey, boss. Are you okay?” Johnny leaned on the door of the truck.

“I’ve been better.” He tossed the phone on the seat before rubbing his head. It really didn’t matter how close the job was to being finished or if it would freeze next week. There was only one thing that concerned him. “I need to go home.”

BOOK: Enduring the Crisis
4.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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