By Jay Mouton
My recent novel, Apocalypse Awakening, is first and foremost a work of fiction. It is a story. It is one of those what if this happened adventures! It’s important to remember such aspects of fiction when one is reading fiction. Yeah, I know I’m pointing out the obvious. Still, many forget the simple fact that fiction is fictional. Yep, a no brainer—right?
Not so much.
I spent over a decade of my life teaching college literature courses, and we covered a great deal of fiction. For the most part, it was fun to delve into various stories with well over a couple of thousand students over the years. It was also a learning experience, as time after time I got the chance to re-experience so many stories with so many people. We got the chance to live inside fiction: made up stuff. And I never let my students forget this “made up stuff” aspect of fiction.
|Imabe from en.wikipedia.org|
Fiction isn’t real life. Fiction isn’t the record of things that have happened. Fiction isn’t what is, was, or what will be. Fiction is what could be, and that, for me is where all those adventures begin.
Apocalypse Awakening was written in late summer of 2014. I wrote this novel for two primary reasons: I’d written four other novels in my life, with the last having been written in 1993—I wanted to see if I still “had another novel in me”. My second reason for writing Apocalypse Awakening was this little voice in the back of my mind that kept asking, what would happen if we were expecting to wake up on the morning of November 9th, 2016 with a brand spanking new president and instead woke up to a country under nuclear attack?
We’ve got the 2016 presidential election coming up very soon. We all have our various beliefs, ideologies, friends, family, and the like. As such, many of us believe that this presidential election is going to have tremendous and very long lasting effects on our nation. That’s a given. But what would happen if nefarious forces threw the ultimate of monkey wrenches into the works on election day? What would be the repercussions if a nuclear bomb was detonated in a major metropolitan area? While other US presidents had to contend with the specter of nuclear war, such as JFK did in 1962 with the Cuban Missile Crisis, never has a president had to deal with the aftermath of an actual nuclear attack.
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
That’s not to say that other national crisis have not shaken the pillars of society at large. Nobody can forget the carnage and destruction that Hurricane Katrina wrought to the Mississippi Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. New Orleans was awash, homes, belongings and corpses floated down the streets. The National Guard was activated, along with FEMA. The Big Easy looked as though someone had indeed dropped the big one.
I still remember the TV coverage from the Superdome, the NFL stadium that had been commandeered as a refuge for those unlucky enough to have stayed in New Orleans during the storm. Outside was a seething mass of displaced people, young and old, streaming like refugees toward the only place big enough to house them, if only temporarily. Inside, the situation was grim as everything from food and water, to sanitation was in short supply. Tempers flared and crimes took place. Looting occurred in New Orleans and the surrounding area where police were all but helpless to stop it.
Of course, the Big Easy was hardly the only city in the country forced to weather the storm of civil unrest after a natural disaster. The New York City Blackout that occurred on July 13, 1977 was another prime example. It all started on a sweltering July evening with thunderstorms that struck a power substation at 8:37 pm. This caused an overload that took out two additional transmission lines. This event and another lightning strike caused the power company dominos to fall until an hour later most of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx found itself in the dark.
While an inconvenience, the event hardly ranked up there with other disasters. Yet during the next 13 hours, as the power remained stubbornly out, things took a turn for the worse. A quote from Wikipedia sums it up nicely:
Looting and vandalism were widespread, hitting 31 neighborhoods, including most poor neighborhoods in the city. Possibly the hardest hit were Crown Heights where 75 stores on a five-block stretch were looted, and Bushwick where arson was rampant with some 25 fires still burning the next morning. At one point two blocks of Broadway, which separates Bushwick from Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, were on fire. Thirty-five blocks of Broadway were destroyed: 134 stores looted, 45 of them set ablaze. Thieves stole 50 new Pontiacs from a Bronx car dealership. In Brooklyn, youths were seen backing up cars to targeted stores, tying ropes around the stores' grates, and using their cars to pull the grates away before looting the store. While 550 police officers were injured in the mayhem, 4,500 looters were arrested. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_blackout_of_1977
|Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org|
Unlike the Great Northeast Blackout of 1965 that left 30 million in the dark and resulted in little loss of property, the 1977 blackout was a different story altogether. Whether it was a combination of the heat, the economy or just a case of human beings devolving due to their inherent baser instincts, the rule of the mob is a lot closer to the surface than most people think.
So that leaves the question of what could happen were terrorists to set off a nuclear device in one or more US cities? Imagine the breakdown in society that would occur if after a major disaster, the government was unable to promptly respond and the populace was left to its own devices. One of the reasons that the US and the USSR held back the dogs of war during the Cold War wasn’t just due to the fact that they were terrified of unleashing global thermonuclear war. They were even more terrified of the nuclear winter that scientists on both sides predicted was sure to follow. As bad as mushroom clouds and fallout are, the resulting decimation of crops due to the millions of tons of soil that would be lofted into the stratosphere meant certain starvation in the aftermath of a nuclear war. In essence, the only way to win was not to play.
Today, there are nine countries known to have the capability to produce atomic bombs, with at least two others, North Korea and Iran close to having the bomb. So you have to ask yourself what the odds of a terrorist organization getting their hands on enough fissile material to make one or more bombs would be.
Yep! Apocalypse Awakening is Fiction—for now!
You can read sample chapters of Jay Mouton’s Apocalypse Awakening on GoodBooks.Online
*(Apocalypse Awakening 2016: Book II is scheduled to be available in early September, 2016)