by James Van Pelt
Never start with the weather. But what if the weather is the whole story? Solar weather to start with, but also the weather as I write this? Wind rattles the windows. It whistles, moans, and whispers like sheets sliding on sand. Rain taps its fingernails against the glass. Electricity went out hours ago. I find matches in the drawer by the stove, but it takes a while to locate the candles stored in a box with the Christmas decorations behind the suitcases and winter coats. Good thing the phone has a flashlight built in, as long as its battery holds out. No phone signal though. Turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to save energy. It's funny how useless a building feels without power. Wind stole the house's voice. Family is away visiting back east. No kids. No fans. No refrigerator. No television.
Although, to tell the truth, I don't miss continuous disaster coverage. Magnetic storms. Coronal mass ejection (a CME). That's what they said before the lights went out, but they said the event would be just a few hours, and it shouldn't affect cars! I don't think the authorities know what's going on.
Show, don't tell. Drama is in action, they say. So my actions stretch to two days and then to three. I chop down the maple tree in the backyard for the wood stove. Have to clean out the flue. Haven't put wood in that stove for fifteen years. It's a gas-heated home, but the gas isn't flowing either. Dropped below freezing last night. Shut the upstairs doors and placed rolled up towels to block cold air. No radio. Car still won't start. Neighbors are testy. I'm not going to show my emergency supplies in the basement to anyone. I certainly won't tell them about the bagged rice and cases of canned goods. Let them laugh at my survivalist habits now! Ride my bike a few miles through the neighborhoods. People stay inside. It's a suburban ghost town, except for the inner-city refugees. People who live in apartments and condos aren't survivalists, I guess. When the food from their cupboards goes, they're done. Supermarkets near downtown must have emptied in a day. Now they're on the move.
Only one coincidence per story, and it can't resolve the conflict. That's easy to say for writing fiction, but coincidences happen all the time. Everything is a coincidence, if you think about it. So, what if there was a CME at the same time as an enemy EMP? The magnetic effects caused by the squashing of Earth's magnetic field would run a charge through electrical lines, frying transformers and anything plugged into a wall socket, while the EMP would knock out everything else that's electrical, like cell phones and cars. Are we under attack?