The Day After

Exclusive to STR

March 26, 2007

It was nothing like the ABC -TV special from November of 1983 (save one element) -- but it was November. 2008. The day before the presidential elections, to be specific.

That one element was the use of Soviet-era "suitcase nukes." Within bare minutes of each other, four of them detonated in various parts of the country. Though three of them occurred in different time zones, they all exploded during early afternoon hours, as follows:

* 3:03 PM at the base of the Sears Tower in Chicago, easily leveling the entire building, and taking a 10 square block radius of structures and people with it.

* Ditto 277 Park Avenue in New York (formerly the Chemical Bank Building ), dwarfing the World Trade Center downing on 9-11-01 . In the blast--every bit as destructive as the one happening almost simultaneously in Chicago--the Union Carbide Building across the street was reduced to a steel skeleton, it's multi-layered glass reduced to shards, raining shrapnel and debris down on a mostly going-home-from-work crowd. In turn, most of them never made it there.

* The Space Needle in Seattle had its base blown away at 1:16 PM local time, sending the structure literally toppling over as the brunt of the blast ripped through the streets below, killing thousands.

* 1:17 PM Pacific Time saw the end of Citigroup Center in L.A. 's financial district, wreaking havoc and chaos throughout the greater metro area. Initially, rumors circulate that earth tremors felt from the blast are a seismic earthquake stemming from the San Andreas fault line, though such speculation is rapidly proven false. The truth, naturally, is far more grim.

Within two short hours which few across the country even notice pass, President Bush takes to the airwaves with a message for the American people, and the world. The elections are to be "postponed." A "temporary" state of martial law is now in effect in all 50 states, including all overseas dependencies and territories. Further information as to who is responsible for these "barbaric acts of terror" will be made available pending a full investigation by Homeland Security. No further questions.

As night descends across the continent, and most of those who can and do sleep manage so only in a state of exhausted unreality, TV and radio are ablaze with continuous coverage of the day's horrific events. Scores of commentators and on-the-scene reporters offer their spin straight through the wee hours. All branches of the armed forces and law enforcement are fully mobilized and remain on high alert. The color-coded Terror Alert Level is of course, in the red with a capital R. Millions await with bated breath for any possible follow-up attack. Tension permeates everything.

Dawn sheds its light on a radically altered world. The New York Stock Exchange need not even open its doors. The Dow Jones Industrials and the S&P 500 have crashed through the basement. The Blue Chip Index is a cascading shambles. In turn, all major polling places are closed. Where some voting does occur, it is strictly in rural areas, and then only under police guard. Local officials vow to hold the results "in confidence" until such time as the elections are officially rescheduled. Those across the country who attempt to adhere to some measure of normalcy by traveling to work are witness to an almost surreal increase in police presence, coupled with an Orwellian abundance of military activity. The PATRIOT, Military Commissions, and John Warner Defense Authorization acts are now in full force. Openly, the Bill of Rights and Constitution are now "suspended indefinitely." Checkpoints, demands for identification, and searches of persons and vehicles are conducted frequently, at whim, at gunpoint, and without warrants. The slightest of verbal argument means immediate arrest and jailing without traditional habeas corpus. Numerous KBR/Halliburton "detention facilities" are quietly readied for use across the nation. The patina of fear increases.

At noon , the president is ready to talk to the American people again. Intelligence sources have determined that Iran is responsible for the attacks. Accordingly, U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf , Middle East , and elsewhere are readying for a massive retaliatory assault. A few brave reporters, still not acclimated to the idea of the First Amendment no longer being respected, ask questions regarding a few inconsistencies in the government's reporting of the attacks. They are shouted down as "helping the terrorists," physically removed from the White House press room, and subsequently placed under FBI surveillance. Of course, their questions are never answered, fueling numerous "conspiracy theories" such as those surrounding 9/11. The press largely ignores these--albeit now they are "officially" (read "openly") required to do so. Hosts of Internet websites that question the government's account of the previous day's events are ordered to be investigated by law enforcement.

As the day progresses, there are rumors that China and Japan have vowed to cease purchasing U.S. Treasury certificates--particularly if Iran is attacked. As well, several Asian banks have, with a preplanned lack of fanfare, begun dumping U.S. dollars onto the world currency markets. Uncle Sam counters by threatening to utterly repudiate all federal debt. This rocks the global financial world, as does Ben Bernanke's grim revelation to the effect that interest rates will go double digits within days unless restraint is exercised on all sides, and immediately. But few heed this advice. Things have gone automatic pilot by now; a line of rapidly toppling dominoes.

The first F/A-18 Super Hornets, B-52's, and B-1's begin streaking into Iranian airspace, and in the "Homeland," banks, supermarkets, hardware and Army-Navy stores are besieged with customers. Robberies skyrocket. Riots break out. L.A. itself is 1992, redux. Wal-Marts across the country put a voluntary freeze on gun sales. Many of them are looted by force. Pockets of armed confrontation break out sporadically between citizens and the police/military (there is no effective difference now). The lessons of Waco , Ruby Ridge, and Katrina have not been forgotten. Before the end of the next 24 hours, there is actual talk of secession and open civil war.

Iran is devastated in the initial air strikes, but with heavier than expected American losses -- better than two dozen U.S. aircraft are taken out in the first sorties. This is nothing, however, to the attack's indirect effects. The entire Middle East becomes a fuel reserve set ablaze. Syria declares war on the West. Lebanon and Palestine , driven by Hezbollah, make an all-out, now or never assault on Israel . The continuing violence in Iraq surges in an unprecedented tidal wave. Saudi Arabia , Jordan , and nearly all other Arab states align themselves openly against Tel Aviv--and by implication-- America . Like a joker flung into a hand of high-stakes poker, North Korea announces it will no longer honor any nuclear disarmament agreements it has entered into at six-nation talks. This, in light of everything else, goes almost entirely unnoticed. A U.S. ship is sunk by missile fire in the Persian Gulf , and there is talk in Washington of limited use of nuclear weapons. Russia announces it is severing diplomatic relations with the United States . In a sense, this is nearly inconsequential. The United States , as such, has by now--for all intents and purposes--ceased to exist.

Impossible? Improbable? A far less devastating kickoff than the one I've hypothesized, I'd wager, is all that would be necessary to evince similar results. And while I'm totally in favor of an end to all states, including the United ones, the end goal is a peaceful and prosperous global society with only the market as a ruling force.

So long as we remain poised here on the tedious precipice of government's insane trajectory, we stand in very real danger, instead, of total immolation.

Your rating: None
Alex R. Knight III's picture
Columns on STR: 153

Alex R. Knight III is the author of numerous horror, science-fiction, and fantasy tales.  He has also written and published poetry, non-fiction articles, reviews, and essays for a variety of venues.  He currently lives and writes in rural southern Vermont where he holds a B.A. in Literature & Writing from Union Institute & University.  Alex's Amazon page can be found here, and his work may also be found at both Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.  His MeWe group can be found here.