Thursday, August 19, 2010


Click play for some mood music

We've been worried all this time about 'The End.' We've fucking endured everything from Reagan's Cold War paranoia to crazy Arabs blowing everything to bits - including themselves. As I write this, I find funny that 'The End' probably doesn't come from a war or a bomb. It very well may have started out as a pig virus in Mexico.

Last Summer, The CDC said it would be here by October and they were right. I don't know why I'm writing this all down because like the Avian Flu and Mad Cow, I'm sure it'll blow over. The wife doesn't think so but I tell her that we live in The States. We have meds here. It's civilized.

But then again, civilizations average a pandemic every 30 or 40 years. Doing the math, I figure we're more than due. And with global networking, all it takes is a few hours and a plane fight to kick-start an outbreak. Maybe I see too many movies.

Here's hoping I look back at this in month and laugh.

I watch the news at night like a fiend. I can't get enough. Hundreds of thousands of cases reported worldwide. This thing travels fast and strong and kills you slow. They say the effort to produce a vaccine is starting. I keep repeating the word, "effort."

The neighbors head for their cabin in the country and all I can hope is that they don't bring it with them.

They're now calling it ZEUS because it's the Greek God of outbreaks. Watching images of freeways overloaded in both directions has become a nightly ritual and I ask myself if mass migration has ever gone well? When the wife brings up leaving, I point to the TV.

People are now starting to stay home from work and school and it's obvious the system is starting to show cracks. Looking at the boys, I pray for the country's infrastructure.

The vaccines are slow going and they say that armed guards are protecting hospitals because they're closed. The system did what it could. It tried.

It's official: A State of National Emergency is declared and they whisk the President to some undisclosed location. The National Guard arrives in major cities but I think it just may be too late, though. Again, I see America is unprepared. Didn't we learn anything from Katrina?

The CDC reports that the global ZEUS epidemic is no longer containable. We all thought this was gonna pass, myself included. When did it get so real? They say that all U.S. ports have shut down and that the delivery of liquid fuel have stopped.

We're officially landlocked and I can tell that the real chaos is now only starting. Supermarkets are overrun and the looting for food is now the biggest issue in the nation.

My wife calls our neighbors to see how the countryside is faring and she says that people are taking it day by day, but it's better there. She says again that we should stay with her family in Vermont but I still think it's smart to sit tight.

The army of labor that mans the country's communication system is showing signs of wear. Power supplies have started to weaken and the fuel shortage has triggered many blackouts across the nation.

We throw away half of our food supply, useless without the freezer.

I can't keep the boys occupied without power. The battery-powered transistor is now the only lifeline of information we have.

I clutch the flashlight.

The good news? The radio tells us that the pandemic has burned itself out and that if we weren't sick by now, we probably won't be. The bad news? Urban centers are uninhabitable and have become trashy wastelands. Thousands of bodies, limp and lifeless, pepper the nation's streets with garbage and dead animals. And so do cholera, dysentery and famine.

Six blocks up, I hear that gangs have begun looting homes. I prep my hunting rifle and order the wife and boys to the basement.

Hours later, I had to take someone's life. He looked about 30. He was foaming at the mouth and talking gibberish. Nevertheless, he entered my home uninvited and it didn't take much to pull the trigger.

This morning, I packed the SUV with the wife, the two boys and just the bare essentials. I touched the wall of my home for the last time and said goodbye to the memories.

As we headed to Vermont, we quickly discovered the freeway on-ramps were all blocked by rifled gangs in abandoned cars. They pretended they were cops but I knew better.

I had to conserve the gas so we're at Thompson Park now with the SUV hidden by bushes. There's a water fountain 15 feet away and the family tries it. I may not be able to check in until we're safe. Truth be told, I have no idea how to get us out of here.

But I tell them I do...

ART: Thanks to the Flickr accounts: aubri, briantmurphy and gimli82. Music: "HELLoween" by Finger Painted Death and Q-Fabric(Ambient Fabric). Download it HERE.

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  1. This reminds me of a movie years ago: Fort Apache the Bronx was it? I can't remember. Like I keep saying when it comes to politics and everything else, there's no place to hide!

    Good story. I'll be up all night planning my escape.

  2. Very accurate, I think. Strong stuff, truth. Well done sir.

  3. Wow. This is eerily reiminiscent of SARS. Scary because it COULD happen. Peace...

  4. This turned my blood to ice water, Anthony. Brilliant portrayal of how fast things can fall apart, how vulnerable we can be made, and how quickly. Tight, concise prose as always, and the taut storytelling style is pure gold.

  5. Never disappointed with you. Never. I enjoyed every word.

  6. Scary because it's only this_far from being true. Excellent stuff, Ant, excellent stuff.

  7. Oh, I just love these end of the world survivor stories. Love them. My absolute favourites.
    And you, Anthony, have just proved that you're as good as the masters.
    *bows to the Joisey boy*

  8. The music added to the chill of this tale. Scary stuff that is in the realm of possibilities.

    Last sentence is fearfully powerful.

  9. Thanks all... I find this story interesting because unlike most end of days pieces, this does NOT involve a nuclear winter so the basic infrastructure of the country is sorta still there. Sorta... I wonder what his world will look like in say, 10 years. Back to normal? Good question...

  10. Would HERA make a good suppressant for the disease?

    Enjoyed your sick tale, Anthony. Tonight I don't believe in too many ends. You and me? We'll make it. I've got 'tussin.

  11. Good story! This is quite scary because I always wonder if something like this might actually happen. It certainly doesn't look like the world is in as bad a shape as in, say, King's The Stand, but it still doesn't look like a happy place to be.

  12. Excellent story Anthony. I love end of the world stories because they help remind us just how real the end can be. Your story is chilling in how it is presented in an everyman voice, nicely done.

  13. Masterfully paced drip feed. Like a slow spreading virus itself. Sadly it does suggest the survivalists up in the Wilds of Idaho would prosper by such an outbreak...

    marc nash

  14. I bow to anyone who has the emotional strength to write such stories, Ant, and an extra bow to you for doing such a fabulous job with this.

    The music definitely added, but even without it, this is absolutely chilling. It made me think of the cholera outbreak in, what was it, the late 1800's?(I'm terrible with history and grateful for the internet). :)


  15. I love this kind of story! "some say the world will end in fire, some in ice." - I say it will end with a plague.
    Great stuff!

  16. Stark, eerie, and chilling. The photos you chose were perfect illustrations to your story. I don't know how you do this every week, Ant, but I'm glad you do.

  17. Awesome, Anthony. Just awesome. It had everything in writing and backed up by great photo's and music. You are indeed a very talented writer. I look forward to your writing every week. Well done, mate.

  18. This was riveting. Very easy read, very frightening.

  19. Great photo choices, but he first one is fantastic. Chilling and excellent story telling about a very possible future. Nice work, Ant.

  20. I'd like to have a private conversation with you - discuss some possible happy endings. Perhaps? Maybe?

    I knew the journey you were taking me on, yet I still wanted to go.

    One thing I really enjoyed was the POV. It felt personal. A journal I happened upon in an old, dusty car. I found it, picked it up and started reading . . . and this was the story of the family. Excellent.

  21. Fantastic. The spare, journal style voice only serves to make this more real and thus, more chilling.

  22. The soundtrack certainly added to the chilling... uh

    Great story. It felt very realistic and also worrying. I hope you'll never be right. ;p

  23. Stark, scary and totally plausible...damn, man, you know how to raise questions about the present and the future. Fantastic piece!

  24. Ant, I can't believe you did this to us. I saw the end coming and I said there is no way he would stop now.
    Great flow and drama.

  25. Wanna hear some irony? I'm reading in the middle of the night because I can't sleep. This story, my friend, is not helping. Very scary tale. And especially because we live in an urban locale. Pass the tranquilizers.

  26. Disturbing stuff. Well done. Stories like this always get me because everyone knowns that during an apocalypse nerds are the first to go...

  27. Good golly miss molly, ANT! What a way for me to start the day!! You've got me wanting to go store water in the basement. Great writing about a scary subject!

  28. Some folks don't like to admit it, but it really wouldn't take much for the whole system to break down. Grocery store shelves can be depleted in a couple of hours, in a lawless state thugs with guns would indeed roam the streets, etc. It's worth asking: who are we at bottom?


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