Everybody took credit for it but in the end no one really knew who did it. We’d all heard about the effects of an EMP. An Electro Magnetic Pulse was supposed to temporarily interrupt all forms of electronic communications including the Internet, radio, telephone and television. Even electrical power distribution would be stopped. No one ever said how long “temporarily” was supposed to be, but since the whole thing was theoretical no one paid much attention.
The world hasn’t had any type of electronic communications or central electric power for over 2 years now. It started the day that 2 massive nuclear bombs were detonated in the upper atmosphere over the Arctic and Antarctic Circles. Like I said, a lot of groups took credit for the detonations but no one really knows who did it. All investigative news organizations were rendered virtually blind and deaf by the event.
Even generators wouldn’t work. The engines ran but the power would not transmit through the cords. No power, no communications. Older gas powered cars, trucks, trains and planes without computer circuitry still operated, but all types of fuel were a precious commodity. Plus, the lights would not work on any vehicles, limiting most transportation to daylight hours.
All fuel pumping had to be done by hand. Governments quickly issued ration cards similar to what the United Stated endured during the Second World War. The average U.S. citizen received an allotment of 2 gallons per week, which was generous compared to most other countries. There were gas riots across the globe at first and most countries responded with military force. It didn’t take long for people to realize that their violence would just be met with greater and more effective government violence. Horses and carts were in high demand.
While many people said we had been “bombed” back to the Stone Age, things were not that primitive. While there was no air conditioning or heating, people still lived in insulated buildings. They were still uncomfortably cold or hot, depending on the season, but they had shelter.
Money became a global issue. We had all become addicted to direct deposit and our ATM and credit cards. 2 years after the disaster, most of us are still trying to access our funds. The run on the banks immediately after the disaster depleted most bank cash reserves in a few days. Governments issued scrip, supposedly for the amounts people had in savings and investments. This ersatz currency soon became all but worthless. Much like Germany during the end of the World War II, it took a wheelbarrow of the government paper to buy a loaf of bread.
Barter became big business and that’s how most people survived. The economy was now based on a revolving door of consumer goods that were traded back and forth everyday to provide the necessities of life.
Water was an even more precious commodity than fuel. Enterprising entrepreneurs with strong backs soon began offering to dig wells in exchange for whatever goods they needed. Manual pumps, used mostly for decoration before the explosions, became rarer than diamonds. If you had a functional water pump, you could make a fine living selling water to your neighbors. At least that was the case before the government instituted mandatory sharing laws.
Without the Internet, TV or radio, we got our news from hand printed newspapers. The news was days or even weeks old by the time the papers were delivered, but any word of the outside world was welcome. There were reports of people going into deep depressions after being deprived of the Internet. I swear I still see young people walking and staring at their hands like they lost a dear friend.
Suicides were commonplace. Although we all live in hope that one day the effects of the EMP will end, many folks would rather die than live a mid-19th Century existence. Church attendance was up as people flocked to houses of worship to pray for the restoration of power.
Some rural communities were reported to be thriving. People spent a lot of time outdoors and it was easy to see the art of conversation being reborn. Whole towns would gather together for cookouts, picnics and old-time outdoor band concerts. There were many food shortages but many governments instituted “community garden” programs. People who used to turn their heads at the sight of vegetables were happy to fill their bellies with corn, potatoes and other crops that flourished locally. Farming was difficult as all irrigation had to be hand pumped. Farmers, always a resilient lot, were equal to the challenge.
With everyone having to do physical work just to survive, I noticed my neighbors and myself getting more fit and trim. There was even an article in the newspaper about the decrease in heart disease and cancer. This was a very good thing because none of the sophisticated scanning and diagnostic equipment doctors had come to rely on was now totally useless.
Many factories, long closed in this country, began to reopen and produce necessary goods, including manual pumps, wood stoves and other necessary items for our powerless lives.
After the initial shock of the event, I noticed everyone seemed a lot friendlier. Folks were speaking with and helping their neighbors. Hell, I even met the family who lived next door to me. I had lived here for 8 years and only said hello the them once before the blasts.
The conflicts in the Middle East continued for a brief time, but soon both sides ran out of ammunition. Many cease fires and peace treaties were born out of a lack of war materials. You can still read about some ongoing civil conflict occurring in a few Third World Countries, but now these were being fought with bows, spears and swords. No real threat to world peace.
There are still editorials in the newspapers speculating on who is responsible for the Arctic and Antarctic blasts. Given the size of the bombs, an estimated 20 megatons each, and the fact that they were on missiles, it had to be a major country. It was at least someone with access to a country’s nuclear arsenal. While there are many nuclear bombs unaccounted for from the old Soviet Union, the fact that the detonations happened at precise locations indicates a group with very sophisticated technology. Of course it had to be a group who would have suspected that their technology would be useless along with everyone else’s after the explosions.
“I think it’s coming back today,” has replaced “How are you?” as the common greeting among people. Hope does spring eternal. I’ve read articles by scientists who gave specific dates and times for the power and communication coming back. They’ve all been wrong so far.
When and if it does come back, it will be interesting. All cellular phone and computer, TV and radio companies went out of business pretty quickly after the explosions. Most cell towers have been dismantled so the metal could be repurposed in construction projects. I even have a neighbor who used to say his old computer was boat anchor when it froze up. Now, he uses it as such for his small sailboat.
Speaking of boats, tall ships are really in demand these days. They are the only way to get goods and people across the oceans. There are quite a few new shipbuilders who are constructing large sailing vessels. I hear one will be able to carry almost 200 people when it’s finished and can make the Transatlantic crossing in under a week. And some enterprising builders are experimenting with steam power.
We live in amazing times.
(All posts ©2014 – No portion of this text may be copied and/or pasted elsewhere without written permission of the author.)