Grid Down: A Story of Survival in the Collapse

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Chapter Two: Grid Down

Nathaniel Greene’s Diary

The roar of helicopters didn't disappear for a while. I watched them disappear over the treeline beyond the complex. People from neighboring apartments milled out below gawking. I was sure they heard the explosions. They were definite murmurs among them.
I suddenly remembered I had my radio in my hand. It was playing something. An emergency broadcast. I turned it up.
It was something about a civil danger warning. The local authorities were warning the people in and around the city to go home and stay indoors. Lock all windows and doors. Taking my attention from the chopper's to the radio, I went back inside and turned it up.
I found myself somewhat frozen in place. I couldn't help but wonder what could be going on that the local government would order all civilians inside and off the streets. How many more were out on the roads and trying to do that very thing? If anyone heard this message, how quickly would word of the alert spread?
I then considered myself. I was safe at home but now I was trying to figure out just how safe I was. Was the danger nuclear? Had terrorists bombed another rpower plant or worse, detonated a device? Would I even know? Or was if biological? Had someone released a biotoxin into the air? Or was it chemical? Just like the explosion at Vera Chemical Plant outside town?
Did I need to seal my apartment? No, the alert would've said so if there was a danger. Or would it. This was the government.I wasn't sure how well I'd fair sealing myself in for an extended period. I had the supplies. But I remembered the Covid lockdowns. I remembered the depression. And the world as I knew it wasn't ending.
I needed to know more.
I took a look at my watch, it was just past 7:00 pm. The sun was going down and night was about to fall.
I went and grabbed my Baofeng from a box and switched it on. I turned it to 457.67 megahertz and keyed the mic.
"Snake Doctor to World Historian." I said.
I was answered with white static.
"Snake Doctor to World Historian," I repeated.
No response.
I checked my watch again. He should've been home and on air.
When I moved into my apartment two years ago, I had decided to get into amateur radio. I essentially wanted a network of people, Preppers preferably, who could contact for information should the need arise. So I bought the Baofeng and began saving up for a base station with a portable external antenna. And I started searching. Eventually, I met a friend at my college who was into amateur radios and wanted a radio buddy.
Jake Spencer was the kind of guy who most people found a bit peculiar. I on the other hand saw him differently. We shared a lot of common interests including disaster prepareness. While he was more of a conspiracy theorist and I a realist, we both had a mural understanding about the fragility of the system and society. So when I had proposed we form a small amateur radio network between ourselves and anyone else interested, he didn't turn me down.
To this day, including ourselves, we had four members all spread out over the city. We all had HAM radios of some kind and did our best to stay in contact, making sure that we could contact each other in case of emergencies. To insure that, we each kept handheld radios with charge spare batteries and solar chargers in case we could use our stationary radios. At least the others did, I never got my base station for financial reasons. No, I didn't spend the 50 or so bucks have a HAM radio license nor an official HAM callsign. In this intance, I didn't care. This was an emergency and that trumped all the rules.
The emergency broadcast message was repeating in the background on my Voyager radio as I contemplated my next moves. That's when a knock on my front door caught my attention, braking my train of thought.
I went over to the door and peered through the peep hole. In the shadow of the hallway, I couldn't make out the figure standing at my door.
I was about to shout "who is it" when a female voice called out through the door.
"Nathan! It's me Vikki! I need help!" The voice shouted.
I didn't hesitate. I nearly three open the door to find a woman, a latina standing, blood covering her. The sight of her bleeding was shocking enough but I was further put off by the man she practically held over her shoulder who was also bleeding and looked to be semiconscious.
"Vikki what the-" I started to say before Vikki interrupted me.
"It's Zack. Car accident. He needs medical attention," she said, "This was the only place we could walk to."
"Come in! Come in!" I told her taking the man she held be y his arm. I practically had to drag him in.
"Careful," she said as she walked in and closed the door, "I think he has a broken rib or two."
I carried Zack over to my couch and sat him down. I looked back at Vikki and asked, "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she said, "He's the one in trouble. He has at least one broken rib. Maybe two. Likely a concussion. He pretty much headbutted the steering wheel."
"How? Didn't the airbags deploy?" I asked.
"Damn things didn't deploy." Vikki said shaking her head.
I eyed her forehead. It was bleeding too. But I suspected the blood covering her tank top and arms were more of her boyfriend's blood that her own. Which was a bit of a relief on my end. But I couldn't help feeling worried more about her than the man on my couch.
That wasn't fair to Zack, I told myself.
"I tried to call 911 but the phones aren't working. We waited for some cop to show up but no one came," Vikki continued. "We waited for half an hour before I decided to move him here. He started to collapse once we got to your complex. I'm scared he may have hit something vital."
Viictoria Ramirez was a med school student. I was a college kid who barely knew where he was.going in life running pizzas for a living. I wasn't sure if she was talking to me expecting me to be able to do something or if she was ttying to process the events in her own mind. I didn't stop her, I knew all too well about trauma.
"I don't know what the hell is happening or why. But people are going crazy outside. Heard some dude pass by us saying that the world was ending." Vikki said as I examined Zack.
I lifted his shirt and examined his rib cage. It was quite bruised. Obviously, a rib or two was broken. It looked like Zack, in his barely conscious state, was having trouble breaking. But it wasn't raspy or strained. Just tense. Likely due to pain. And he wasn't bleeding out of his mouth so nothing was punctured.
Nothing six weeks of relaxation and rest would fix. Of course, I knew jack on how treat a broken ribs outside of ice and pain medication.
"Well, he ain't dying," I said getting up.
I walked over to my refrigerator and opened the freezer part. I put some ice in a plastic bag and grabbed one of my dish towels. I went to apply the ice but Vikki took them from my hands saying that she'll do it.
She knelt down by her boyfriend and laid the towel over his rib cage before gently laying the ice bag on it. Zack tried to say something but it came out slurred and tense. Vikki told him to be quiet and to not speak.
Turning to me, she asked, "Do you have any bandages?"
I went over to the boxes of prepper stuff in the corner nearby and found my first aid kit which I then handed over to Vikki. She took it without a word and popped it open. I watched as she began tending to Zack's head wound.
I loved watching her work. Given my inexperience with medicine, it seemed like an art. In a morbid way. Vikki was a med student but I could tell she knew what she was doing. From sterilizing the wound and cleaning it to wrapping his head in gauze waps and securing it, she moved with a gentle grace that any man would want his girl to have.
Zack was slucky to have her. That was for sure.
When she had finished. She relaxed and just stared at Zack. No doubt her adrenaline was subsiding and she was attempting to take in what had happened.
"Come on, let's get you cleaned up," I told her.
She paused for a moment before nodding.
I took her to my single bathroom at the end of my apartment's hallway. Vikki flipped the light switch but nothing happened.
"Power's out," I told her nonchalantly as I placed one of my Tac-lanterns onto the counter and turned it on. It was bright enough to illuminate the whole room.
Vikki didn't say anything as I set the first aid kit on the counter and went back into the hallway to grab a rag, a small towel, a bag of cotton balls, and a bottle of alcohol from my bedroom closet.
She was sitting on the edge of the tub just staring off into space when I returned. Her eyes met mine as I reentered the room, items in hand. I saw her eyes switch to and linger on the alcohol in my hand.
"Don't worry, I won't use too much " I said attempting to be more reassuring.
I'm sure she didn't want me to see it but she cracked a slight smile.
"Just do what you need to," she simply replied.
And so I did. I started with the rag. I wet it with some of the water in the tub. The water level had come to a rest halfway. The faucet was still technically on but no water was coming out. I switch it off and set out gently wiping as much blood from Vikki's forehead as I could.
She winced only slightly when I dabbed the area around the small gash in the middle of her forehead. Once the blood was cleaned up for the most part, I then grabbed a few balls of cotton from the bag and quickly dipped them in the alcohol. I saw Vikki brace herself for the inevitable right before I pressed the cotton balls on and around the wound.
"So, how did the accident happen?" I asked suddenly as I did so in an attempt to distract her from the pain.
"We were out shopping. We were on our way back when we came to this intersection," Vikki said. "We noticed the traffic light was out. Zack was driving. He decided to go through it slowly but some other a-hole didn't. We both didn't see each other in time."
"Dang," I could only say, "How's the other driver?"
"Dead," she said rather coldly, "He didn't have a seatbelt on. I checked. Head must've hit his windshield upon impact."
I briefly stopped before saying, "Wow, I don't know what to say."
"There isn't much to say," she replied just as coldly.
I knew her indifference had to be attributed to her still processing the events of the day rather than genuine lack of care or empathy. I knew her too well.
After I finished cleaning the wound and started for the neosporin, Vikki asked, looking me right in the eye, "What the hell is happening?"
"It's just a power outage." I said as I began applying the gauze and bandage.
"Just a power outage?" She repeated, somewhat incredulously, "I heard those explosions too. And the helicopters. Our radio went dead in the car right before that. The I get here and I see you got your survivalist stuff out. What aren't you telling me?"
"Okay," I said, "In truth. I don't know. I think we're under attack but I don't know by whom or why. I don't know why those chopper's were flying by. It could be a coincidence. Or it could be a omen. I just know a state of emergency has been declared and the authorities are advising we hunker down for the time being."
"Heard it on my Shortwave radio," I told her, "They must have a NOAA radio station still running. That's how I heard the emergency broadcast."
Vikki sat silently. No doubt digesting what I said.
"So it's those militia terrorists again?" She said, a bit of dread in her tone.
Vikki had grown to hate the militias being talked about in the news. She said so. She didn't like guns and she didn't understand why a bunch of men and women formed groups and trained privately in the woods. She definitely didn't understand what she saw as my sympathy towards those groups. In truth, I didn't exactly sympathize with them. I understood them. I also understood there were many different kinds that existed for various reasons.
In recent history, the mainstream media had spotlighted the more extreme and radical militia groups operating in the west and deep south and their recent actions. They had good reason to. Over the past two or three years these groups had become more increasingly active. They opposed the current left leaning presidency and the left leaning Congress. They more than disagreed with how the country was being run and how the right were being demonized. Of course, it wasn't like they could really defend themselves. Ever since the Trump presidency, they never had accepted the legitimacy of his successor Joe Biden or the one after him. And when a democrat won the presidency again following Biden, most were sure fraud and a globalist conspiracy of some sort had rigged the elections.
Most rattled their sabers when they got the chance at rallies and protests then went home. Other more extreme groups chose to actually do something about their grievances. That meant kidnappings, executions of some public officials, bombings and other acts of domestic terrorism. They were small acts and not very widespread or cooridinated. But plots and threats for bolder actions were constantly being thrawted by the FBI and Homeland Security.
But it wasn't just far right extremists that were stirring up trouble in recent years. The unjust killing of black men at the hands of the police didn't end with George Floyd in 2020. There were more. And with them came riots and protests. Some were small while others surpassed the George Floyd protests. After these far right militia groups began threatening BLM protesters with violence if they continued to riot, left wing militias similar to the NFAC and other groups began showing up to counter the other milita's presence.
Two particular militias began their rise as a result of this ongoing civil conflict. The Knights of the True Republic and the Anti-Right Commissars. These extreme right and extrem left groups were what continued the conflict. Though suppressed they both were just simply biding their time. At least I suspected they were. And it was evident by the increasing number of members and branches across all fifty states and beyond.
There were accidents. There were deaths and reprisals. Some escalated into semi-wars where two or more groups were locked in perpetual retaliation. Only the national guard could stop them. And that usually involved armed intervention.
Some continued to fight each other but a growing resentment against the government began to grow among them. While they couldn't disagree more when it came to politics, radical militia groups on both ends shared a mutual loathing of the establishment. And as time passed, both were growing ever bolder in their plans. Both in scale and audacity. And with this EMP or whatever took down the grid, I wasn't playing off the possibility that they would take advantage of the situation or more.
Really, for me, I never questioned if someone or some people would launch a major attack on the nation's infrastructure. It was inevitable.
"I don't know if it's the extremists." I said. Doing my best to reassure Vikki. "Could be opportunists from another country. Or it could all be an accident."
She just eyed me skeptically.
"You always were a horrible liar," she said with a shake of her head. She then winced and held it.
" Woah, I wouldn't make many sudden movements," I said, "Zack isn't the only one who may have a concussion."
I went to gently hold her hand and them her head but she recoiled back and got up.
"We won't be hear long. We just need a place to stay for the night," she said suddenly.
"Yeah, sure." I said, "I would offer you and Zack my bed but I don't think you should move him."
"You got a sleeping bag?" She asked.
"Sure," I said. " I'll roll you out one."
"First things first though," she said eyeing me, "I want to hear that emergency broadcast."
As Zack continued to rest on the couch, I showed vikki the emergency broadcast on my radio. She listened to it two times before folding her arms.
"Well that tells us nothing," she said annoyed.
I turned off the radio and replied, "Other than that they don't want the civilian population to panic."
"How do you figure?" She asked.
I took a breath before replying, "If they wanted to, they could tell us what going on. But they didn't. Which means they didn't want to. Yet they still wanted to warn us to get off the streets. My guess, some serious crap is going down as they don't wanna cause a panic."
"You seem to have that thought out," she said in a tone that I couldn't tell if it was complimentary or slightly cynical.
I ignored it and said, "You and Zack may wanna stick around for a little while. At least until this gets lifted."
She shook her head.
"We got to get back to our apartment as soon as possible," she said.
"Why?" I asked.
"Just do," she said, clearly not wanting to tell me anymore.
I dropped it.
A silence befell us as we sat there. I glanced at my watch. It was a little past four o'clock in the afternoon.
I wondered if he made it home? I wondered to myself.
That's when the crackle of static broke the silence. It slightly started Vikki. I even jumped a bit. I looked over to my Baofeng radio which sat one of my boxes in the corner. I had completely forgotten I had left it on.
"World Historian to Snake Doctor, come in Snake Doctor!" a voice crackled through the radio's speaker.
Viki gave a me a silent look that asked me who the heck was that. I didn't acknowledge the look before I ran over to the Baofeng and picked it up.
"Snake Doctor calling World Historian." I said back into it.
I waited a moment before a response came back through.
"This is World Historian." The male sounding voice replied, "God Almighty, am I glad to here your voice!"
I breathed a slight sigh of relief. It appeared my buddy Jake had made it home.
"It's good to here your voice too," I said. "You at base camp?"
"Alive and well." Came the response. "You?"
"Same," I replied, "What's going on your end? Why did you miss radio contact?"
"All hell has broken loose. There are gunmen running around fighting the police." Jake replied from the other end.
Vikki, who could hear the conversation, got up and came over. I gave her a brief look as.i was sure she heard my friend's words.
"Say again, World Historian? What gunmen?" I replied.
"I say again, downtown is swarming with gunmen. They're shooting civilians on sight. Police too. They bombed the police precinct next to my apartment." Jake said.
His voice was tense and quick. He was scared.
"Do we know who they belong to?" I asked.
The was a pause before a response.
"No way to tell. Could be jihadists, chechens, cartel, the KTR, KKK or ANTIFA for all I know." Jake said, "But it's a frickin warzone!"
"What about the Guard? My complex got buzzed by Apaches and Blackhawks earlier," I said.
"Maybe. I'm hiding in my safe room until this crap blows over. If it does." Came the response.
There was a pause as I considered my next question.
"What about the others? Have you made contact with Vector or Angel?" I asked.
"Negative. Most of the guys don't seem to be on air yet. With the power out, I doubt most will." Came the response.
Another pause before the Jake added, "The whole darn grid is down. At least around the city. Likely others. I was listening to the news before the lights went out. They just started reporting bombings in and around many major cities along the East Coast and Midwest. New York, DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte, Charleston, even New Orleans. Comms are down across he entire east. Power too. This was an attack, Snake Doctor. A large one. Some one is making moves and all we can do is frickin watch."
"Yeah, no crap," I said adding a little chuckle at the end. I didn't find none of this funny, not in the slightest. But I often did that when I was confronted with serious situations. Adding, I said, "The government activated the emergency alert system but they're not telling us anything. They just want everyone to shelter in place for the time being."
"Best you do. It's a frickin war. Fires are burning and people are shooting. Can't even tell you how many are dead right now. Radio aside, no one can call for help. It's madness."
There was another pause. During the pause, I could hear what sounded like gunshots in the background.
"We knew this would happen eventually," Jake said.
"And we prepared for it," I said back. I must have sounded unsure about that statement as Jack didn't agree.
"Nothing could've prepared us for this," he said plainly.
"Then we wait it out. And try to stay safe," I replied quickly.
"Yeah, not like we have much of a choice. Listen, if I don't make it through this, tell-"
Jake was cut off by a sudden burst of static. I tried to tune the frequency a bit to compensate but it was too strong.
"World Historian, that's a negative, repeat," I said into the Baofeng.
The static continued and soon Jake also know as world historian was drowned out and replaced by white static. After a few failed attempts to regain the signal, I turned off the radio and lowered it.
I looked at Vikki who's face told me everything I needed to know about what she was thinking. I was sure my face betrayed my thoughts as well.
That's when the distant popping of gunfire and thunderous explosions could be heard in the silence. For the first time, I felt really afraid. I had so many questions but no one to answer them. One thing I did know, as the sun set out of sight and the darkness of night fell on us, this was about to be a long night.

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