Copyright 2017 Dell Sweet all rights reserved.
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High summer: Plague year one
The first quake had been minor, the last few had not. The big one was coming. The satellite links were down, but Doctor Alan Weber didn’t need to have a satellite link up to know that. He touched one hand to his head, the fingertips came away bloody. In any other circumstances he would be hurrying to get his head wound taken care of, but these were not just any circumstances. The entire world was ending and it was a miracle to him that he had made it through the complex above and down into the control room of the facility before it had been supposed to automatically lock down. His office was a shamble, but his secretary had met him in the hallway having ridden out the quakes in the supply room, between the tall rows of steel cabinets: Together they had made their way to the office.
All main-line Comm links were down, probably because of the loss of the satellite systems. Underground back-up cable Comm: Down. The facility was in bad shape, and he was not kidding himself, there was no help on the way. No hope of reaching the surface and the worst was not yet here. He was probably lucky to have made it down the six floors to his office from where he had been. There was an automatic lock-down program that would shut down the entire facility within seconds of an attack or catastrophic event, it had failed somehow.
He laughed to himself, he had, had to lock it down manually once he had made his way in or else it would still be open to the world. He had blown up the two main entrances to the facility, sealing his own fate as he sealed it off from the world above.
He had spent the last several years here in the Canadian wilderness running the chemical countermeasure unit at the base. He had worked on a top secret virus designed to prolong human life in cases of extreme deprivation: Nuclear attack, war and other unlikely scenarios. He had spent the last two weeks working up to this event from his subterranean office complex. All wreckage now. Still, he had sent operatives out from here three days ago to do what they could to seed the virus: Following his final orders sent down through some now probably non-existent chain of command. He had heard absolutely nothing since, and believed that was because there was no one left in command any longer.
The virus was so secretive that no one beyond the base knew the true nature of it. Even the politicians that passed bills for funding while looking the other way had not truly known what they were funding. A couple of well placed dollars in the pocket could buy a great deal of silence.
Several Army bases had secretly been infected and studied. The commanders of the armed forces had, had no idea that anything was being tested on their men. The troops had done well, surviving their training with little food and water much better than they usually did, but over the next week nearly every bird in the area had died. Some side effect they had not been able to ferret out.
That virus build had also been crippled. It had a built in self destruct mechanism to kill the virus after a short amount of time. In fact that same version had been kept as an antidote for the newest version which had no such mechanism and would go on reinfecting indefinitely.
The entire virus design and its capabilities were top secret. Top secret. And usually Top Secret meant dozens of people knew, but this time it had meant that it really had been Top Secret. Withheld from the public, and even those in charge for years had known nothing of the true nature of the virus.
Last week had changed it all. Last week the news had come down from the finest scientific minds that an extinction event was about to take place. Up to ninety percent of the world population would likely be killed off as events unfolded. It was not a maybe, it was an absolute.
The public knew that there was a meteor on a near collision course with the Earth. They had paid off the best scientists to assure the public it would miss by several thousands miles. A lie, but they had found that even scientists were willing to look past facts if their own personal spin put a better story in the mix. A survivable story, and so some had spun their own stories without prodding. From there the internet had picked it up and run with it. From there the conspiracy theorists, and by the end of the week the meteor was survivable. The story that the meteor would destroy the planet was now a lie made up by commanders of the rebel alliance in the Middle East to take the focus off their actions, the public believed what it wanted to believe.
The truth was that the meteor might miss, barely, a near miss, but it wouldn’t matter because it would contribute to a natural chain of events that would make a meteor impact look like small change.
The big deal, the bigger than a meteor deal, was the earthquakes that had already started and would probably continue until most of the civilized world was dead or dying. Crumbled into ruin from super earthquakes and volcanic activity that had never been seen by modern civilization. And it had been predicted several times over by more than one group and hushed up quickly when it was uncovered. The governments had known. The conspiracy theorists had known. The public should have known, but they were too caught up in world events that seemed to be dragging them ever closer to a third world war to pay attention to a few voices crying in the wilderness. The public was happier watching television series about conspiracies rather than looking at the day to day truths about real conspiracies. The fact was that this was a natural course of events. It had happened before and it would happen again in some distant future.
In the end it hadn’t mattered. In the end the factual side of the event had begun to happen. The reality, Alan Weber liked to think of it. And fact was fact. You couldn’t dispute fact. You could spin it, and that was the way of the old world, spinning it, but the bare facts were just that: The bare facts.
The bare facts were that the Yellowstone Caldera had erupted just a few hours before. The bare facts were that the earth quakes had begun all around the world, and although they were not so bad here at the northern tip of Canada, in other areas of the world, in the lower states, in foreign countries, third world countries, the bare facts of what was occurring were devastating: Millions dead, millions more would die before it was over, and this was nothing new. The government had evidence that this same event had happened many times in Earth’s history. This was nothing new at all, not even new to the human race. A similar event had killed off most of the human race some seventy-five thousand years before. The space race had been all about this knowledge. A rush to get off the planet and settle elsewhere on an older, more sedate planet before something that had already happened time and again happened once more.
The virus was an answer, help, solution, but Alan Weber was unsure how well the solution would work. It was, like everything else, a stop gap measure, and probably too little too late. And it was definitely flawed, but he had temporarily pushed that knowledge away in his mind. Even now as he sat and waited for the end, which would surely come, out in the world operatives were disbursing the virus that could save humanity.
He thought for a moment, “Or destroy humanity,” he added aloud.
There were no guarantees, and there was strong evidence to suggest the designer virus did its job a little too well. Designed to help prolong life, there were rumors that it could raise the dead. Some scientists who had worked with the virus in the now destroyed facility had nicknamed it Lazarus.
Alan had seen evidence to support the rumors that it could raise the dead, or the near dead for that matter. He had been present when a test subject that had been pronounced dead had come back. Weak, half crazy, but alive again.
As the hours and then days passed the subject had become stronger, seemed to be learning from the situation it was in. The decision had been made to kill it: Even that had been difficult to do. Even so, he knew that it was the only hope for society. There was nothing else. The military machine was dead. The American government was dead. The president, from reports he had read, assassinated by her own guards.
While most of America had tracked the meteorite that was supposed to miss earth from their living rooms, and had been side tracked by all the trouble in the Middle East, he had kept track of the real events that had even then been building beneath the Yellowstone caldera and many other places worldwide.
Yesterday the end had begun, and the end had come quickly. Satellites off line. Phone networks down. Power grids failed. Governments incommunicado or just gone. The Internet, down. The Meteorite had not missed Earth by much after all, and the gravitational pull from its mass had simply accelerated an already bad situation.
Dams burst. River flows reversed. Waters rising or dropping suddenly in many places. Huge tidal waves. Fires out of control. Whole cities suddenly gone. A river of lava flowing from Yellowstone. Civilization was not dead; not yet wiped out, but her back was broken.
In the small military base of Ostega that had rested above the defense facility near the shore of a former lake, the river waters that fed it had begun to rise: The chemical countermeasure unit, several levels below the base in the limestone cave structures that honeycombed the entire area, had begun to succumb to the rising river waters. By the time the surviving soldiers from above had splashed through the tunnels and into the underground facility, they had been walking through better than two feet of cold and muddy water. Shortly after that the pressure from the water had begun to collapse small sections of caves and tunnels below the base that fed the unit: That damage had been helped along by small after-shocks.
Alan Weber watched his monitor as a wall gave way and the main tunnel began to flood. It was only a matter of an hour at the most before the water found its way to him. He sighed and then relaxed back into his chair, reached down and pulled the lower file drawer open, and lifted out a partial bottle of scotch. He leaned forward and Bobbi Trevers cleared her throat in the silent observation room. Weber smiled and turned toward her.
“I suppose you have been watching, Bobbi?”
She only nodded.
He nodded back. “Share a drink with me?” He turned away, not waiting for her words of agreement. He heard her settle into a chair next to him as he pulled two plastic cups from the sleeve in the bottom drawer, left over from the Christmas party last year, and began to pour.
“I don’t usually agree to drinking on the job, but this is a different set of circumstances, isn’t it?” His eyes met her own as she nodded weakly.
“It’s almost over, isn’t it Doctor Weber?”
“I’m afraid so… Call me Alan, Bobbi… Is it okay that I call you Bobbi?” He finished pouring the scotch into the plastic cup. He had stopped at just an inch in the bottom, wondered why and then filled the cup half way instead.
Far above the Earth, satellites continued to orbit importantly.
The north American continent lay sleeping far below. A wide inland sea had formed in the middle, fed by a huge river that stretched from the former Hudson bay to the middle of the continent. Small in places and easily crossed, no more than a river: Wide in other places as if it truly were a sea.
The state of Alabama had been divided in two along with most of the lower half of the former state of Florida. What resulted was the loss of the lower, southern half of the state. What remained now sat nearly forty miles out in a shallow bay that was quickly turning to sea: An island, the water surrounding it growing deeper as time moved on and the gulf reclaimed the land.
The upper north eastern section of the continent had already pulled apart and begun to drift. Although it was imperceptible, the two land masses were inching away from one another, and ultimately would be separated by a new ocean. And become separate, smaller continents.
The eastern end of the former United States, was also drifting away from the northern section of Canada. The massive earthquakes had also severed the state of Michigan, turning it into a virtual island.
Toward what had been the north, the St. Lawrence river basin had widened, pushing the land masses further apart. The Thousand Islands bridge spans had toppled, and slipped into the cold waters. The other bridges that had once spanned the mighty river had also succumbed as the river basin had split and pulled apart.
The new continent had severed her ties from Nova Scotia, as she had been pulled south and slightly east, to begin her journey. Only the province of New Brunswick, and a small portion of Quebec remained with the continent. The rest of Canada was severed from them by the wide and deep river, more like a huge lake in places, that surged from ocean to ocean.
Most of the north American continent was now in a sub-tropical climate as well. The poles had been displaced by the huge force of the multiple earthquakes and volcanic blasts which were still ongoing. The old polar caps were melting, and it would be thousands of years before they would once again re-form in their new locations.
The run-off from the melting ice would eventually reach the oceans and even more land mass would be sacrificed to the waves before the polar caps would be re-formed.
There were only thirteen full states left on the small continent. The two former provinces of Canada, one of which was only a small fragment. And parts of five former states, the largest being Florida.
Before the dawn, fires could be seen burning unchecked in many major cities, pushed with the help of freak winds the flames continued in all directions, occasionally fueled by chemical, and oil facilities, as well as numerous other flammable sources they encountered. The world began its fall.
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