TEOTWAWKI: The Long Walk Home, ch.3 “What Do We Do Now?”

Posted on August 17, 2009. Filed under: Fiction, The Christian Survivalist |

The last airplane crashed about a mile to our north, northwest, about 25 minutes ago; four planes down in 10 minutes in our vicinity. In the distance though, closer to DFW airport, I saw many more columns of smoke indicating other crashes. The sky was already getting dark with smoke. About 60 employees and contractors gathered together in the west parking lot- dazed, frightened, coughing and choking from the burning jet fuel and debris, some in shock, a few with some cuts and bruises from the debris that hit our property from the Airbus that crashed just a block or two northwest of us, one dead. Each department head accounted for their people; my partner and I, along with the engineers, accounted for the contractors. After about 5 more minutes of counting heads and figuring out who had left the building for lunch, we informed the data center manager that all were present or accounted for. The ones who had gone to lunch, however, were about to surprise us with more bad news.

Stan, the DC Manager, and George, the chief engineer, asked me to meet with them and the department managers briefly. That was unusual.

“Ryan, tell us what you think has happened here. What’s going on?”

“Well sir, as I was telling you earlier, I believe this is a nuclear attack. Specifically, I think we have been hit by a very high altitude nuke that generated an EMP effect knocking out all electrical and all unprotected electronic circuitry. The lights went out and the gens did not come on; all cell phones are dead, and, obviously, all the jets in the sky have crashed. This means not only that we are at war with someone, but that, at least our part of the country may have been sent back to the 13th century over night.”

“Look at the road over there.  See those two cars and that truck down there? Why are they stopped in the middle of the road? An EMP blast will in all likelihood fry out the computers and ignition system of modern cars. This is looking beyond bad, sir. I suggest that we test the parked cars to see if any will start and run. But you better have a talk with the people soon.”

George chipped in, “Boss, I think he is right. If it was just a power outage the phones and cars and planes would still be working. The only thing in my studies and experience that can do all this is either an EMP blast, or an extremely powerful solar flare. But a couple of the guys did report seeing a bright flash in the sky, away from the sun. This is an EMP.”

“How bad is this going to be? What are the broader effects,” Stan asked.

“Well, it depends on how many bombs there were and how much of the country has been affected,” I said. “If there was just one bomb and only about 1/4 to 1/3 of the country is affected then we might only be down for a few months at best. But if they hit the whole country…we might be looking at having no power for years.”

George agreed.

About that time a couple of guys who had been out to lunch came walking down the street, Andy and Jim. They came up to Stan and Andy said, “We were on our way to lunch on the highway and we saw a flash in the sky and my car died, along with most other cars. It was weird, traffic just coasted to a stop all around us. Then we saw the jet crash behind us. We thought it had hit the building!”

Jim added, “Yeah, we started walking back and saw several more planes go down. It looks like the end of the world! The closer we got to the building we realized that big jet had missed the building but was partially blocking the north bound side of the highway. The fire was so hot we had to cut across the field on the west side to get here. It looked like a few cars got hit too. Why isn’t the Fire Department on the scene?”

George quipped, “For the same reason your car stopped working, and all the phones, and all the power grid. It looks like we are in nuclear war with somebody.”

By now a few other employees who had gone out to eat were arriving back on foot with similar stories of the power going off in restaurants, cars not starting, airplanes crashing. The mood was grim but getting desperate.

George turned to the manager, Stan, and asked, “What do we do now, boss?”

“I’m open to suggestions,” Stan said.

I decided to offer some suggestions and said, “Sir, we have already accounted for all our people except for a couple more who went to lunch. We have one fatality, Jerad, but no one seriously injured. We have no communications and no transportation. No 911 services. It doesn’t look like we can secure the building since the electric locks fail in the open position and it doesn’t look like any more work is going to be happening anytime soon.”

“I think that the best course would be to have everybody try to start their cars just to see if there are any working. Maybe an older vehicle will start.”

“We did see a couple of cars still working, and you’re right, they were older,” added Jim.

“Then we need to have everybody get their personal stuff from their workstations and prepare to walk home. I would recommend that we give them a little talk before, so that everybody knows what kind of disaster they are facing. You might want to send people home in groups according to where they live so they can have the comfort of company on the way. Some of these folks live quite a ways away. I live 30 miles away myself.”

“OK, Ryan, that sounds good. I just can’t imagine sending all these people home on foot, though. But it looks like that might be the only way. ”

“Alright, let’s call everybody over here.”

George, Liz and I walked around the disoriented group and told them to come over so that Stan could address them.

Once they had all assembled, some in tears, some still in shock and disbelief, Stan addressed them:

“Alright guys, listen up! I know everyone is upset and scared but we have to pull together now to get through this. From talking with security and engineering, to the best of our knowledge this is what is going on. It appears that we are in a nuclear war of some kind. We don’t know with whom and we don’t know how bad this is. What we do know is that we apparently took a high altitude nuke explosion that has knocked out all power. That’s why the lights went out and the gens did’nt turn on, the airplanes have crashed, our cell phones are dead, and most cars are dead.”

With that last comment there went up an audible groan from the crowd of employees.

“What I want everyone to do now,” continued Stan, “is to go and try to start your cars. The reports are that most cars are no longer working due to the electronic components getting fried out due to the EMP effect of the nuke. It may be that some older cars still work. Once you try your car come back here and we will figure out what to do next.”

All of us walked over to our cars. I was on the far east side of the parking lot along with Liz; as we walked to our cars we heard a lot of nothing. Then, we heard one deep rumble as Bob the engineer’s car sprang to life. It was a 1968 Camaro he had restored. Then another car sprang to life, giving us more hope; it looked like a very old Honda. I reached my car, pulled out my keys and unlocked the door. I sat in the driver’s seat, inserted the key and prayed, “Lord, let this car start!”

Nothing. Dead as could be. I looked over at Liz and she was pounding her steering wheel in frustration. We both got back out of our cars and locked and shut the doors.

“Well it looks like a long walk home, ” I told her.

“Yeah” she said, with tears forming in her eyes. She lived even further west than I did, about 35 miles.

When we all gathered back around Stan it was reported that there were all of two cars working. Two cars and about 70 people now counting contractors and those who had returned from lunch.

Stan again addressed the employees, “OK, now what we are going to do is go back inside to retrieve our personal stuff, and then we will be dismissed to go home as best you can. Team leaders will lead your teams in, but it will be dark. so try to find some flashlights.”

“Stan,” I interjected, “security has a couple of lights at the front desk I can give out to help.”

“OK, thanks security! Right now I want everyone to go inside and get what you need to carry and then meet back here in about 20 minutes.”

I pulled Stan aside and said, “You might want to distribute some items from the vending machines. These people might have a long day and night ahead of them.”

“Hmm, hadn’t thought about that. George, what do you think?”

“Well I don’t know if we have enough cash laying around to get the stuff out, what d’ya want me to do, break into the machines?”

“I guess so,” said Stan.

As the crowd headed toward the doors, I told Liz to go to the front and get the spotlights to the engineers and prop the front doors open for light. Then I turned back to Stan, “You’ll need to figure out some equitable way to distribute the food and drinks from the vending machines. You don’t want people to start panicking and fighting over food. It can happen.”

“Sure, that makes sense, Ryan. Why don’t you get with George on this and you guys protect the food and we will distribute it somehow.”

I went back in to the building and down the dark hall to George’s office.

“George, you in here?”

“Yeah Ryan, what’s up?”

“Stan wants me to assist your guys in securing the food from the vending machines so that we don’t have some kind of stampede.”

As George’s crew went around to all the vending machines they used a pry bar to open them up, loaded up what carts they could find and brought them to the front. The plan was to have people come get their share according to how far they had to walk to get home. It made sense to give folks with the furthest journey ahead of them first choice of the food.

After about 30 minutes we had all the stuff out front on the carts. I briefed Stan on how it ought to be dispersed and he agreed. We then organized everyone by departments and figured out how far from home they were. We decided we had enough food to give out two items per person for those that lived 20 miles or further and one item per person under twenty miles. Everybody got two drinks, either a water or a juice and then a soda. The whole process took about another 30 minutes. It was now about 2:30pm, 2 and 1/2 hours into the disaster.

Theresa was crying as she came up to claim her food ration and said, “What about Jerad’s body? What do we do with him?”

I waved Stan over and asked him about Jerad.

“Wow. I don’t know. Should we bury him? Won’t that get us in trouble with the law?”

“Sir,” I responded, “I think the Law has a bit much on their hands right now. Frankly I don’t know what to do with his body. We can’t just leave him there in the parking lot though.”

George suggested we get a burial detail.

“Well, that will take a couple of hours at least,” said Stan. “I’m just not comfortable with burying him. It doesn’t seem right.”

One of the engineers, Daniel, suggested that we place his body in his car. That would protect him from the elements and wild animals, yet not be as final as burying him. Stan and George both liked that idea.

Stan went to Jerad’s team lead and told him to get some of his people to carry Jerad to his car and place him inside it. They searched his pockets for the keys, then carried him off.

At this point, feeling the unction of the Holy Spirit, I suggested to Stan that before we send these people away, possibly into a future that was to be as dark as any of us had ever thought about, perhaps it would be good if I gave a brief sermon to address the disaster and give the people some hope. I knew that there were very few Believers who worked at the data center; it had been my observation that it was a pretty wild bunch of folks. Stan, though a scoffer himself, reluctantly agreed. “But keep it short,” he instructed.

We gathered everyone together and divided them into groups according to their destination. The two guys with the cars that still worked got about 10-12 people who would cram into the two small cars so they could give them a lift. There were quite a few people shivering in the cool fall air because they had not worn a coat. Many people don’t wear coats in the cold months because they just go from their house to the garage to their car, drive to work and go from the car into work. They were in for a very cold walk home.

Stan got their attention and began to address them….


Chapter 4 here:


Preceded by chapters 1:


And 2:



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