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Nuclear Winter

October 8th, 2005

It snowed in October. It didn’t just snow, it blizzarded doomsday. Airports shut down. Cars utterly ceased to function. Nobody said anything about fallout, about the electromagnetic pulse result of a high-altitude nuclear detonation…but the effect was the same.

It felt like losing a limb–like an important part of my body had disappeared. I kept trying to flex fingers I didn’t have.

I spent hours sitting in an airport lounge with Sawyer from Lost, trying not to let things deteriorate into frustrated shouting. At last we gave up waiting for the schedule monitors to come back online. We bade each other courteous goodbyes and went out to try to figure out what the hell to do withourselves.

I ended up staying with my family in the house of a kindly old lady we didn’t know. She tried gamely to fix us meals from canned food and leftovers, while outside the level of panic and desperation rose steadily. We went out one morning (it was still snowing), to find people packing canoes and small rowboats with all their worldly possessions and setting off down the rivers. We asked what they thought they were doing. “Getting away from the tribes,” they said.

Tribes?

I ought to note I’d been reading Wizard and Glass. Midworld was caught in the throes of post-apocalyptic power struggles for control of what technology still functioned. So apparently was this world. An absurdly large angry mob was approaching our position from the west. The locals who were left began to organize defense. One rather goofy-looking guy with military training (resembling Joxer from Xena) took the responsibility of planning our defense. He wanted us to keep 80% of our forces in reserve, engage them with skirmishers, make them commit, then hit them full force.

It was a fine idea, but we needed scouts. We needed to know their strength well ahead of time. “Anybody want to volunteer?” asked Joxer.

I did.

Horribly underdressed for winter travel, I set out nonetheless, slagging westward across the suburbs through two-foot drifts. The enemy, as it turned out, numbered in the tens of thousands. Nothing we could do had a chance of stopping them.

The last thing I remember is standing on the front lawn of an abandoned house, looking up at a maple tree, its foliage blazing orange against the snow.

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