They’re Gone

In the morning, I awoke to the sound of unrest in the street. It seemed there were crowds of restless, angry people wandering, many of them walking down the middle of the avenue and across the lanes, disrupting traffic as they went. I could smell smoke. There were fires. Here and there, police sirens could be heard, the electronic scream a reminder of who was still in charge. Something, something unprecedented, was happening.
I launched my browser. No internet connection. OK. So my internet is down too. Hmmm. I checked for email on my phone. Nothing. No network. Outside, a siren, unlike any I had ever heard, began to wail. I was going to have to leave my apartment and go outside if I wanted to know more. I made my coffee, I got dressed. I didn’t even bother taking a shower. I guess I was afraid that I would miss something if I didn’t leave immediately.
Outside, groups of people wandered around. Disorderly, shouting. A police cruiser sped by. “what’s going on? what is happening?” I asked a group of four younger guys as I passed them on my way to the Max. “We don’t know. Nobody’s phone works.”
I continued on my way and again, my brief encounters with strangers produced the same results, people had no idea what was happening, other than nobody’s phone was working. The internet had DIED.
The siren had stopped. I arrived at the Max. Not surprisingly, it was closed, but a crowd was gathered in the parking lot. One got the sense that something awful had happened – was still happening. A lively debate raged between two individuals who speculated on the possible cause of it all.
“They’re hiding something from us!” Shouted a fat, goatee’d hipster type. “That’s just a conspiracy theory” countered the other, a boring looking academic, overly-dressed for the almost riotous mood of the crowd.
In the distance, what sounded like gunshots could be heard. Then an explosion. More police cruisers racing past.
Someone not far behind me told someone else “yeah it started about 2am.”
I would have been in bed sleeping by then. Someone had to know what was happening. I continued my trek to discover the truth. Everywhere was the same. Confusion. Not really much violence – there was the odd fight happening here and there given the number of angry people out and about, yet people generally weren’t angry at each other.

Then, it happened.
Suddenly, and almost throughout, there was tumultuous sound of thousands of smartphone notifications, of many varieties calling out in unison. The effect was amazing, all these people, apart from those who didn’t already have their phones in their hands, pulling theirs out of pockets or purses. I checked mine. I had a single text message. “STAY CALM”.
“What the F***?!”
I could tell by the reaction of a girl nearby that she had received a message much like mine. “Stay calm?” I asked her. She nodded. Everyone had simultaneously received this message. Who sent it? What could it mean? After a minute or so, my phone rang. So did everyone’s.
I looked with nervous anticipation at my screen which simply said “incoming message”. I answered it. I pressed the phone to my ear. What I heard next was the voice of the President of the United States of America. Here is what he said.

“Citizens of the world. Good morning. It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you today of the events of the last 6 hours. it was just after Midnight, Eastern-time, that my joint Chiefs of Staff informed me of the imminent attack. I was briefed that within the hour events would take place in the Middle-East that would plunge our entire planet into the deadliest, and most fiery, final World-war. We had to act, decisively, without hesitation, and immediately, to prevent the further billions of deaths that would have occurred had we waited.
“For this reason, on the advice of Secretary of Defence Mattis as well as that of other military commanders of our Naval, Air and other armed forces, I authorised a full and total nuclear attack on the Russian Federation. All Russian military, nuclear and aerospace capabilities have been swiftly annihilated. Our superior cyber-intelligence and electronic espionage capabilities also allowed for the immediate location and termination of all Russian nuclear-class submarine and ICBM-launch assets. Moscow has been struck with no less than 200 megatons of hydrogen-bomb hell-fire. Every other city in the Russian Federation, with a population of 10,000 people or more, has been hit and is no more. Russia is gone folks.
“Furthermore, Iran is gone. They have met with the same fate. And also Syria. And Turkey. North Korea too. Gone. Good riddance. Today, terrorists the World over learned not to mess with America.
America is great.
“Today a new chapter of peace begins in the World, a peace where America decides things. Today, America is great again.

The President continued to yammer on, and many around me continued to listen. I couldn’t. I hung up. I felt sick. I had always thought that the Russians would have more than put up a fight if it ever came down to it. I never dreamed, ever, that it would come to this. I walked off. Best just go home. The tears began to stream down my face, but I did my best to hide them, just as I passed others who cheered, morons, idiots who didn’t have enough brains to understand geopolitics but just enough appetite for drama and a lust for the pain of others. I hurried on. From time to time I caught glimpses of other faces, shocked, one or two here and there, few and far between the grins of the wicked and foolish. The evil. For what had just happened was truly evil. I imagined a civilisation, suddenly wiped away, banished to the waste-bin of history. History is written by the victors. I staggered home in disbelief.

To be continued…

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