It’s early Wednesday morning and something inside of you wakes you up before the sun rises. The house is completely silent and as you start to focus, you sense something is different. At first, the darkness seems natural until you realize the red LED display of the alarm clock is dark too. Out of habit, you turn the knob on the light and remember that if the clock is off, so is the power to the light.
Outside, the street lights are dark and as far as you can see there is no light at all. Strangely enough, even the radio tower lights are not illuminated. Somebody is going to pay hell for that. You don’t think about it right away, but the sky is empty too. Not one single jet is making its way into the airport for the early morning traveller flights. You wonder if the factory will be affected by the outage. Turning on the cell phone, you get a full battery indicator but no signal bars. Now that really is odd. There was no storm last night so it can’t be lightning.
In the distance, you hear sirens from either a police car or an ambulance. It quickly speeds off into the early morning dawn and quiet returns. As the sun slowly breaks the horizon, others in your neighborhood start to emerge from their houses. Does anybody know when it happened? Have you tried tuning into the radio? All the stations have nothing but static. Most people go back to their houses to wait out the outage. They will have a long wait.
Instinct kicks in at some point. As the day goes on with no change in the situation, you start to look around your kitchen. Food. How long will the outage last? You, your wife and two kids may have to subsist on what you have for a while. So what do you have? Then you remember that the oven is electric and of course so is the microwave. Fortunately you have some soup and beans. Tuna and some spaghetti sauce will be able to be consumed but you don’t have a way to heat the water for the noodles.
The refrigerator has a weeks worth of perishables. What temperature will they go bad at? You remember to warn the kids not to open the door unless its an emergency. The day drags on. You realize how much your life depends on the internet and the TV that sit blankly staring back at you. No information, no games, no sports, no anything.
Thoughts of security come creeping in around the edges of your mind. You see cars moving out on the street and wonder where they are going to or where they are coming from. Without communication, how would you tell the firemen or police that there is a problem. You live in a quiet college town but fifteen minutes away by car are neighborhoods where people are used to the sounds of screaming and gunfire every night. How long will it be before they come to places like yours to seek food and supplies.
By late afternoon, your curiosity overcomes your fear. You need to see what else is going on around you so you pop the emergency lever on your electric garage door. As you start the car, you remember that you were going to fill the gas tank this morning on the way to work. Leaving your driveway, you can see neighbors peeking out from behind closed curtains.
Driving into the center of town, you see few vehicles but lots of people in the close rows of houses sitting outside. There are no lights on at the bank and you remember that you have about 27 dollars in your wallet. ATM’s need power too. The gas stations are closed and outside of the supermarket there is a long line of people waiting to get in. Some emerge on the other end with gallons of milk and bread but its obvious that whatever is in the store will be gone soon enough. At both the entry and the exit stand men with shotguns.
At the edge of town sits one of the three police cars the borough has. The cop is outside talking to some folks that are driving down from the town just north of here. You pull over to listen. Their power is all gone too. Stores closed. No food. No gas. The cop tells them to turn around and go home. In his patrol car radio, you can hear similar reports from the south and east side of town. No power anywhere.
You turn the car around and head home. Some neighbors have gathered at the top of the street and several are openly wearing firearms now. Dave, the big bellied factory worker you say hi to at the mini mart is sporting what looks to be an M-16. He is the one who seems to be leading the discussion. They talk about a night patrol if the power doesn’t come back on. Suddenly batteries and weapons seem to be a pretty hot topic.
Inside the house, the wife and kids are sitting in the semi-dark. Empty cans of food are sitting on the counter and she tells you that the water stopped working about an hour ago. No washing water, no toilets, nothing. You have an electric hot water heater anyway so all you would have gotten was lukewarm.
The kids start to cry and you can see that your wife is not too far behind. Maybe, truth be told, you would like to shed a few tears too. But you won’t. Not now anyway. As darkness falls, you put the kids to bed. You won’t sleep much tonight. Hopefully the neighborhood patrol won’t shoot anybody tonight.
At about three AM, you hear the first sound of the helicopters. Lots of them from the incoming sound. They have large spotlights on the bottoms and are moving slowly. One comes to a standing stop over your neighborhood and you can see the spotlight move around. A loudspeaker breaks through the whirring of the blades:
“This is the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Stay in your houses until you receive further instructions. Pack one suitcase per person and leave all arms and ammunition on the front porch of your house. No exceptions. Tune your radio to AM Radio 800 at 6 AM tomorrow morning for complete instructions. The President has declared a national emergency and protocol 1 is now in effect. Anyone outside of their homes before they are instructed will be considered hostile and dealt with severely”
With that, the helicopter moved to the next neighbor hood and repeated the message.
At 0600 the next morning, your family huddles around the small radio in the living room. The announcer comes on.
“This is an emergency broadcast from the regional Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Department of Homeland Security has determined that the following areas are in danger of insurrection against the lawfully elected government of the United States.”
Your area is only one of many revealed.
“In the interest of public safety, you are to be temporarily relocated to one of six FEMA relocation facilities where you will be fed, cared for by medical personnel, and secure from any threats. No firearms will be allowed to enter the facilities for everyone’s safety.”
“This relocation will be temporary and will only last as long as the crisis exists. Vehicles will enter your area at 0900 to begin evacuations. The evacuating troops will be easily identified by their blue helmets. Because of the imminent nature of the threat, anyone found resisting will be removed from their groups and placed in a holding facility for disposition”
“This is for your own safety. Further instructions will be given at the facility you are assigned to.”
It couldn’t happen here, could it?